WARNINGS: Angst; slash; light lemon.

AUTHOR'S NOTE:I've done some lurking around here, and I've determined that there's an agreement between Adam-12 authors that adult-themed stories can be categorized as T-rated so that they can get traffic, since nobody bothers to check the M-rated section. While my story likely doesn't have the same kind of "mature theme" as most of this category's fics, I would greatly appreciate the same kind of tolerance that is shown to other authors of this fandom. If you're not a slash fan, I understand, but I think I deserve the same treatment as anyone else around here.

That being said, I openly admit that this fic is a little goofy, although I swear on my life that it's nowhere near as offensively disturbing as the other Adam-12 slash I've found around the internet. A little angsty maybe, but I promise that your soul won't hurt after you read this.

Also, I'm aware it's open-ended, but that's intentional, should I decide to write a sequel. Gotta plan ahead!

EDIT: Thanks to Bamboozlepig for some corrections, and a warm welcome to the fandom.

On the first day he was assigned to Malloy, he should've asked for a different partner. One look into those baby blue eyes should've been enough to tell him, Get out now, while you still can.

He should've done something because it barely took a few weeks on the job for Jean to comment on the new spring in his step, the smile he wore after work even if it had been 459s all day, and the way he suddenly seemed to take more care that he always looked and smelled nice. It wasn't a month until she caught onto the reason for the changes and her delight turned into anxiety. In two months she sat him down solemnly one night and begged him to tell her if her suspicions were true.

Sometime before that happened he should've talked to the watch commander – before it became too much and he couldn't hide it from her anymore. But he held on because he couldn't deprive himself of the way he felt around Malloy. At first it was no different than the way he felt about any good-looking man, but it didn't take long for him to see it was more than that. He could dismiss simple attraction, but this was no passing fancy. He craved Malloy's approval, dreamt about his smile… a pat on the shoulder was sheer bliss, and a discouraged frown kept him from sleeping soundly all night.

When Jimmy was born, he'd promised Jean that he'd keep it together and it wouldn't be an issue. Everything would go back to normal, and if something did get out of hand, he'd request a different partner because he didn't want it to affect his work. It seemed to satisfy her, and he did his best to keep his word, but he knew he was getting more and more attached to his partner despite his promises.

A long time passed. On the surface, everything must have looked so normal. He almost began to believe his own charade. Although he never forgot how it really was, he kept it buried deep inside and tried not to think about it.

It was a 273D that finally brought it back up. It didn't seem like much, but something about it lingered in his mind longer than other calls like it. He came home on the day it happened and Jean kissed him on the cheek.

"Supper's ready," she said. "Jimmy's napping, but I'll wake him up after you eat."

"I'm not really all that hungry," he said.

"You're always hungry after work," she replied. "Are you sick?"

"No, just not hungry. Pete and I had a big lunch, anyway." He smiled and hoped she'd drop it. "I think I'll just watch some TV and go to bed early."

"Did you have a bad day?" Jean asked, sympathetically.

He shook his head. "I'm tired."

Always the good wife, she shrugged and hung up his jacket. He headed to the living room and settled on the couch, letting out a comfortable sigh. She brought him his beer and sat across from him in the easy chair.

"Any interesting calls?" she asked.

"Another burglary in Long Beach. It's starting to look like a pattern—they might be related so we're gonna do some rounds tomorrow where we think they might hit next."


"A few neighbor disputes, graffiti complaints, things like that." He recalled the day's events and smiled as he tried to ease into the one that nagged at him. "Then there was this family dispute. You'll never believe what happened."

"What happened?"

"Well, we got there and the PR wouldn't tell us where her husband was. I thought maybe she was letting him hide 'cause she was scared he'd come after her again. But Pete figured it out."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah. The whole time we were questioning her, her roommate was standing around watching us. Kept giving us the eye. She looked like the 'bohemian' type; I figured she just didn't like cops. Then all of a sudden, Pete tells me to go request some backup, and specify that we need a policewoman."

Jean said nothing, but her expression suddenly became much more interested.

He sat up as he finished the story. "Turns out the roommate was the one who beat the gal up. They were, uh, a couple, you know?"

He realized that Jean had taken to seriously studying her fingernails. When she didn't say anything, he made the mistake of continuing with his story.

"Pete just seemed to know what was going on with the women." He nursed his beer and paused before he said the next thing on his mind. He wondered if it would really be appropriate, but he hoped Jean would understand. "To tell you the truth, I'm a little nervous now. If he can pick up that quick on someone he doesn't even know…"

Jean stood up in the middle of his sentence. She started heading into the next room without looking at him.


She couldn't contain herself. She burst out, "I thought you said you were over it! You said you didn't even think about it anymore!" Now he knew why she didn't want him to see her. Her voice trembled like she was on the verge of tears.

"I don't think about it!"

"Well, you're thinking about it now, aren't you?"

He sighed and tried not to be mad. "Jean, it's not something I can ever forget."

"Maybe not," she said, turning around again so that he could see her. The tears were slowly beginning to run down her cheeks. "You promised you wouldn't bring it up again."

"I'm sorry," he said, earnestly. "That's all I can do, is tell you how sorry I am."

"You could do something about it," she offered. "You've had so many opportunities to do something and you won't."

"I can't!"

"Can't you ask your watch commander to find you someone else?"

"That's not going to change anything," he said, hearing his own voice getting harsher. "Do you think this is something I want to be?"

She stared dejectedly at the floor. "I suppose not. But at least you could've done something about him before it got out of hand."

"It's not out of hand."

She covered her face and struggled to keep herself steady. Finally, through her fingers, she said, "I've lost you, haven't I?"

"What do you mean, lost me?"

"You know perfectly well what I mean." She threw up her hands in despair. "I guess I never even had you to begin with, did I?"

"Jean, don't say that," he begged. Desperately, he rushed to her and grabbed her, holding her in his arms.

"Oh, Jim," she sighed, apparently out of tears. "I just wish you would've done something sooner." With another short sob, she added, "Because now, well, I guess it's too late."

A long, tedious week of sleeping on the couch later, he tried to forget about it, but it was no use. He still couldn't even get that weird call off his mind. He hoped talking about it would help.

"Hey, Pete," he said, casually one morning as they began patrol. "You know that 273D we had about a week ago?"


"How did you know those ladies were more than just roommates?"

"It was kind of obvious, don't you think?" Malloy shrugged.

"I couldn't tell," Reed said. "I mean, I guess they looked a little rough, but I think most ladies would after a fight like that."

"You didn't see all those womyn's lib magazines on their coffee table?" Malloy grinned.

"A lot of gals read those." Reed rolled his eyes. "Jean brings one home every now and then. That doesn't make her… you know." He openly smirked at the thought. If Jean was the one who leaned the wrong way, everything would be a lot different.

"I know," Malloy said. "It's just something you learn to recognize after a while."

"Yeah, I guess so." He couldn't think of anything else to say, although the brief exchange didn't answer most of his questions. As he pondered over the call, he caught himself gazing at Malloy's face. It was one of the many things that, anymore, he couldn't tell himself he didn't adore. That distinct Irish-American mug was so brilliantly expressive—boyishly endearing when Malloy was happy, but frighteningly stern when he was mad.

Not to mention the freckles. He knew from stealing a peek now and then in the locker room that those delightful freckles covered his shoulders and chest as well as his hands and face. And his eyes had a mischievous glimmer that betrayed his otherwise authoritative demeanor. Those tricky eyes soon caught Reed's stare, and barely had to turn away from the road to instantly read him.

"What's up?" Malloy asked.

"Nothing," Reed forced himself to look away and hoped he sounded convincing. He stared through the windshield, knowing perfectly well he didn't.

"You're sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure."

"Alright." Malloy shrugged, and the tone in his voice suggested that he still didn't believe him. "If there's something you need to talk about, you know you can tell me anything."

"Yeah, I know." He knew that Malloy wouldn't give up. He'd be thinking about it all day unless Reed got it off his chest. That tenacity was another one of those things he liked so much about his partner. The list grew every day, as much as he wished there wasn't one at all.

Before he could let himself drift off again, the radio piped up.

"1-Adam-12. See the man, public indecency, handle Code 2." The radio gave an address and Reed picked up the receiver.

"1-Adam-12, roger." Then, they were off. The address was a deli they'd stopped at a few times before on Code 7. As they pulled up, Reed tried to assess the scene. The owner stood out front beside a particularly tall woman. He stood like he was blocking her from leaving.

"Something to do with that lady?" Reed guessed.

"That's no lady." Malloy pulled on his hat and grabbed his billy club. Reed caught a glimpse of that mischievous glimmer in Malloy's eye. It didn't take him but a moment to see that Malloy's observation was accurate.

"Which one of you called us?" he asked, climbing out of the cruiser.

"I did. This creep's causing a scene in my deli," the owner explained.

"You better watch who you're calling a creep," the man in question snarled back in an unfortunately husky voice. He tossed his head back, flipping his long blonde hair out of his face. Reed could barely make out the wig's edge sticking out from under the bangs. "Anyway, it wouldn't have been a scene if you woulda kept your mouth shut."

"You expect me not to say something when I see some weirdo like you waltzing into my business like you own the place?" The owner scoffed and shook his head. "If it wasn't me, it woulda been someone else. You're not fooling anybody."

"You say that again, and I'll knock your teeth out!"

"I'll knock your teeth out, sicko!"

"Alright, both of you settle down," Malloy stepped between them and tried to take over. "Nobody's knocking anyone's teeth out while we're around." He nodded at Reed. "Let's give 'em some time to cool down. I'll talk to the owner. You can question Madame."

The cross-dresser rolled his eyes but said nothing.

"Would you step over here, uh, sir?" Reed stumbled over the title as he directed the man to stand beside the cruiser.

Away from the owner, the man backed down quickly.

"Look, officer, whatever that guy tells you, I wasn't causing a scene," he explained. "I just wanted to buy a sandwich, honest."

"Uh-huh," Reed said, taking out his notepad out of his pocket. He really wished Malloy would've handled this guy. He knew what to do; it was just that he didn't know what to think of it. Considering how he felt after that 273D with the lesbians, he could only imagine how long he'd be thinking about this guy. "You have a driver's license?"

The man sighed and opened his purse. Reed watched, noticing that his knuckle hair just didn't quite go with the glittering jewels in his rings. "There," he said, handing over the paper.

Reed stared at the picture. It was him alright, although without the mascara it was difficult to recognize him. "Mr. Davis? Is this your present address?"

"Yes!" the man stiffened at being called Mr. "Do you suppose you could do this any faster? I'd just like to get home."

"It's not gonna be as easy as that," Malloy said, approaching them as he finished with the owner.

"What? Why not? I didn't start anything! Surely you've figured that out!" Davis stuttered anxiously.

"Oh, sure," Malloy said. "I talked to the owner and it does sound like he started the incident."

"You see?" Davis said. "I'm innocent. Aren't I free to go?"

Malloy shook his head. "We're going to have to take you down to the station. You know you can't walk around like that in public."

"Oh, fine," Davis muttered, giving in without even insisting on hearing the charges— Reed guessed he knew them already. "I should've known better. I just thought I could pass this time, you know?"

Malloy nodded and said. "Do you know anyone you want us to call to meet us at the station with a change of clothes?"

"Sure," Davis said.


He looked sheepishly at the cops. "My wife."

After they dropped Davis off at the station, they were back on the road. Alone in the car with Malloy again, Reed's mind began to replay the events. It was the first time he'd ever encountered a transvestite, and he couldn't help but wonder just how much he had in common with the man. He didn't want to walk around in Jean's clothes, but he knew that a lot of people wouldn't care to know the difference. If there even was a difference.

"What makes a guy do that?" he asked out loud before he considered what Malloy might have to say.

"Makes him feel good about himself?" Malloy guessed.

"Being humiliated like that?"

"Not the humiliation." They stopped at a light and Malloy took his eyes off the road. "Folks are just different about that sort of thing, and some of them have to act out on it."

"Folks?" He hesitated to use the word, but decided to anyway. "Queers, you mean?"

"In so many words, yes," Malloy said. "Some of them are a little over-the-top, but they're not hurting anyone." He shook his head, frowning. "It bothers me that we have to lock a guy up just 'cause he wants to wear his wife's clothes when we should be out there protecting people."

"Isn't it protection? What about the guys who go after little kids?"

"That's different," Malloy said. "Just 'cause someone's a queer doesn't mean he's a monster."

"You really think so?" Reed was surprised to hear Malloy speak so passionately. He wasn't a particularly outspoken guy, and that he would have such a strong opinion about something like this was a little shocking.

"Don't you?" Malloy said. The light turned and he went back to watching the road. "What about that 273D you were asking about this morning?"

"What about it?"

"Those gals had their issues, but I wouldn't say they were perverts."

Reed shrugged. It wasn't comforting enough just to hear that Malloy wouldn't judge him if it was as simple as being a run-of-the-mill queer. He told himself he shouldn't ask the next question that came to mind, but something out of his control forced him to.

"What about guys who have wives but go around and hook up with other guys anyway?" he could hear himself sounding too intense, and he tried to calm down but couldn't. His voice continued to rise as he said, "Isn't there something sick about that?"

Malloy bristled a little as the conversation took such a sharp turn. "Jim," he said, stiffly, "I don't have all the answers."

Reed nodded, trying to keep himself calm.

"Why don't we take seven at one of these places along here?" Malloy said, gesturing toward some of the drive-ins along the boulevard. It sounded more like an order than a suggestion.

"I'm not hungry," Reed said, despite the tone in Malloy's voice.

"Neither am I, but you sound like you need a few minutes. I don't want you turning into a basket case while we're on patrol."

Reed shrugged but picked up the radio. "1-Adam-12 requesting Code 7," he picked an address at one of the restaurants and gave it, not really caring about where they stopped.

"1-Adam-12 okay," the radio replied.

Malloy turned the car into the drive-in and parked in the shade. "I'm gonna get a soda. You want anything?"

"No," Reed said.

He left him to wait in the car. Malloy was going to confront him—he just knew it. Not about what they were just talking about, he prayed, although he still wouldn't be in much luck if it would be about this morning's conversation. The older cop never quite let on to what he was thinking, usually letting his face speak for him, but Reed knew that he was a thoughtful, empathetic guy, and that he always worried about his partner. Another entry on that list, he thought.

Malloy returned and got into the car, handing Reed a paper cup.

"I said I didn't want anything," Reed said, taking the cup anyway.

"Maybe you don't want anything, you need something," Malloy replied.

He took a sip. Malloy was right. The ice-cold fountain soda was incredibly soothing, and he had to appreciate anything that helped his frayed nerves.

"Now," Malloy said after a few minutes of silence. "What's it going to take for you to tell me what's on your mind?"

Reed shook his head. "It's not important."

"It sure seems like it," Malloy said. "You've been a nervous wreck for the past couple 'a days. A week almost. Like I said, the last thing I want is for you to break down on the job. For your sake and mine. I have to look out for myself, too, you know."

"Yeah, I know." Reed sighed and savored his soda before it got warm. He figured there was no use in trying to hide everything from Malloy. He'd let out a little, but not much. "Just… an argument with Jean. That's all."

"Over what?"

"It's not important," he repeated.


"Well, okay, maybe it is important," Reed said. "But it's not any of your business, either."

Malloy raised an eyebrow and cocked his head ever so slightly. Reed knew right away what that look meant.

"I mean," he blurted, "I just don't want to talk about it." All he needed now was for Malloy to be mad at him, too. Between him and Jean, Reed felt like he just couldn't win for losing.

"Alright," Malloy said, finally, shaking his head. "If you're not willing to tell me about it, you'd better not let it get in the way of your job. Understand?"

"Yeah," Reed said, knowing perfectly well already just how difficult that was going to be.

Finally, their shift was over. The lounge was empty when they settled in to finish their reports. Reed started on his paperwork right away, but Malloy excused himself for a few minutes before he got to work. Reed thought nothing of it as he wrote, until he realized he was almost done with everything. As distressed as he was, he still hated it when Malloy passed his share of the paperwork off to him. Just when he decided to get up and go find him, the door to the lounge swung open.

It was Wells. It was probably only to be expected the way his luck was going today.

"Hey there, Jimbo," Wells said, sliding into the chair next to him. "Boy, what a day, huh? It just gets crazier out there all the time."

"Is that so?" Reed muttered.

"I heard about that cross-dresser you guys picked up today. Let me tell you what, I wish I woulda been here to see that! Say, which one of you had the honor of frisking him?"

"Ed, I'm a little busy right now," Reed said. "I'll talk to you later, okay?"

"Aw, poor Reed," Wells said, putting a hand on his shoulder in mock sympathy. "Pete's making you finish his share of the reports today?"

"Not if I have anything to say about it," Reed grumbled. "If you see him, will you tell him to get in here and do his own work?"

"Tell him yourself," Wells shrugged. "He's right out there in the hall talkin' on the phone."

Reed instantly felt a wave of anxiety sweep over him, although he couldn't entirely say why. It might've just been that he didn't want to admit to himself what came to mind. "By any chance, did you hear who he was talking to?"

"Nah, but it sure sounded heavy. He was practically whispering." Wells leaned back in his chair with his hands folded behind his neck. "I got out of there right away. I don't want to mess around with Malloy when he's that serious."

"Uh-huh. Ed?"


"You wanna keep an eye on these reports for me? I'll just be gone for a minute," Reed said. He rose from his seat and headed for the door.

"Sure, Jim, you can count on me," Wells said.

Reed walked slowly down the hall, trying not to attract any attention to himself. Sure enough, Malloy was standing in the hall by the watch commander's office, leaning against the wall with the phone pressed against his ear.

"Yeah, I understand," he said. "No, I haven't said anything yet. I wasn't quite sure." He must've felt himself being watched, because he looked over his shoulder a moment later. "Hey, look, I'm gonna have to let you go. Thanks a lot. Yeah. Buh-bye."

"Who was that?" Reed asked right away.

Malloy ignored the question. "Jim, do you think I could have a word with you after you're done with the reports?"

"I did most of them," he said. "They're in the lounge."

"Where are you going?"

"Nature calls," Reed said. "I'll meet you in a minute. By the way, a word of warning. Wells is in there and he sounds like he wants to talk at someone."

"Thanks," Malloy laughed and smiled, but Reed could tell there was something on his mind. It must've had something to do with that phone call. He smiled too, and started walking to the restroom, watching over his shoulder until he could see Malloy go into the lounge. As soon as the coast was clear, he rushed back to the phone. He lifted the receiver and asked the operator to call the last number dialed from his location.

The phone rang twice, then picked up. "Hello?"

He knew the voice right away. A knot the size of a softball formed in his gut. It took him a moment before he could even speak.



"What did Pete want?" he asked, glancing around the hall, hoping nobody could hear him.

"Pete? Oh, he wanted to know how Jimmy was doing."

"Jean, come on."

She sighed. "He wanted to know why you've been so out of it lately," she said. "And I told him."

"What did you say?"

"I just said we've been having a few little arguments," she said.

"Is that all you told him?" Miller strolled down the hall and nodded at him. Reed forced a smile and nodded back.

Jean paused then said, "No. I… I told him everything."

Reed took a short, shaky breath. "Everything?"

"He wanted to know!" she said. "Don't get mad at me, Jim."

"Jean," he couldn't think of anything else to say. "Oh jeez, Jean!"

"Jim, I'm sorry," she said. He heard the phone click as she hung up.

He hung up, too, but stood in the hallway, reeling. So Malloy knew everything. He had to have been awfully suspicious to call Jean. And now it was all over. He'd said he wanted to have a word after they finished the reports—what was he going to say? He didn't even want to imagine.

The door to the lounge felt like it weighed a million pounds. Wells and Malloy looked up at him as he entered.

"Everything come out alright?" Wells asked, snickering.

"I finished the reports," Malloy said. "Let's give 'em to Mac and get out of here."

"Yeah." He could barely even recognize his own voice.

Malloy gathered up the papers and stood to leave.

"Hey, see you guys tomorrow, huh?" Wells said as they left.

In the hall, Malloy dropped the façade he'd put on for Wells and looked at Reed somberly. "I take it you called back."


"I figured you would've." He sounded terribly calm, considering the gravity of what he'd just learned. "When we go see Mac, let's ask if we can be assigned to different partners for a few days, okay?"

He couldn't bring himself to look Malloy in the eyes. "You go ahead without me, if that's alright."

"Jim, look," he said, forcing a smile as Brinkman strolled down the hall and nodded at them. Malloy nodded back. "I said I wanted to talk to you about this."

"I can't," Reed said. He turned and quickly rushed off to the locker room before he really lost it.

Malloy didn't follow him.

Reed almost wished he had. But he knew better than that. It would've caused a scene, and there was no way they could've explained their way out of it. He changed his clothes, completely alone in the locker room. He couldn't blame Malloy for not wanting to ride with him anymore, but the thought of it tore him up. Did this mean the end of everything they had together? He'd said the change would only be for a few days. And after that? Like Jean had said so many days ago, maybe it was just too late.

When he got home, the house was empty. He knew as soon as he walked through the door, but he also found a note on the kitchen counter.

It said, "Taking Jimmy to see my sister for a few days. You know where the food is. Don't call unless it's an emergency. –J."

He crumpled the note into a ball and stared at it in his hand. He knew he shouldn't have expected Jean to stick around as long as she had, but he still wished she was here. Fighting was better than being alone.

And what about Jimmy? He was too young to know why his mom and dad were unhappy, but he couldn't be totally immune to the bad feelings that were going around lately. He didn't deserve to grow up with a miserable, anxious mother and a degenerate father. He saw too many little kids with lives like that every day, and to think that Jimmy might have to face it was too much to bear.

That was likely why Jean was gone. He wondered if this was the first step toward separation, or even divorce. He hated to think about it, but what else could they do? What kind of relationship could they have if they tried to stay together, especially now? Was she just supposed to sit around and play the good wife while her husband ran around fawning over his patrol partner?

Thinking about Malloy again brought him even further down. He threw the crumpled note at the wall over the sink, snarling and gritting his teeth in frustration. Where did he go wrong? He'd managed to hide it for so long, and all that it took was a couple of weird calls to ruin everything he'd worked so hard to achieve. His marriage was over, his friendship ruined… most importantly, he was completely alone.

That aloneness was made even more apparent by the next morning. Although he'd hardly been able to sleep, Reed dragged himself down to the station. He made sure to keep an eye out for Malloy, knowing that he just needed to keep it together until nobody else was around to see him. In the locker room, he managed to avoid him entirely, but when he got to the lounge, he caught Malloy sitting alone at the corner table.

"Morning, partner," Malloy said, showing no emotion.

"Hi," Reed said, side-stepping him and taking the last seat at a table with Wells and two lady officers. He did his best to chat calmly with them until roll call. The whole time, he could feel Malloy's gaze burning him through his uniform. When the time came for the morning briefing, he parked himself beside Russo and waited, dreading the moment he'd be back in the cruiser with Malloy. Much to his relief, he was assigned to Sanchez, and Malloy was stuck with Wells. He supposed Malloy must've talked to Mac after all, and Reed prayed he'd revealed nothing to the watch commander.

Day watch went by slowly, but with little trouble. Sanchez was a good cop, and they worked well together. He chatted loudly and laughed at his own jokes. Reed tried to let Sanchez's one-sided conversation comfort him on patrol. No matter what happened, Malloy had certainly been right yesterday—he needed to keep it together for everyone's safety.

Luckily, it was a mellow day. Two drunks, some parking citations, a few purse snatchers… the most interesting thing for most of the morning was a call about a couple of kids throwing rotten vegetables off an overpass. Reed found himself thinking about what he would've said about it if he were riding with Malloy. He pushed the thought away and forced himself to listen to Sanchez's steady dialogue. He had to keep his mind off of Malloy. Finally there was a call about a 211, but it turned out to be a false alarm. After that, Sanchez suggested they take seven, and Reed agreed.

They ate outside in front of a burger place. Sanchez continued his tirade and Reed listened half-heartedly. After a while, Sanchez finally said something that got his full attention.

"So, what's going on with you and Malloy?" he asked.

"Um," Reed stared at his food wrappers. "What do you mean?"

"Ah, you know what I mean!" Sanchez laughed. "You always ride with Malloy. How'd you get stuck with me today?"

Reed shrugged. "Just a change of pace, I guess," he offered.

"Gee, I wonder if they're planning on switching everyone around," Sanchez pondered aloud.

"Maybe," Reed said, wondering if Wells was asking Malloy the exact same thing. He wasn't even concerned about the other guys getting suspicious anymore. All he wanted was for everything to go back to the way it had been.

"Hey, are you alright?" Sanchez asked. "All of a sudden, you don't look so good."

"Food's not settling right," he said. "Let's get back on the road. That'll help."

"Yeah, okay," Sanchez said. "You need anything, let me know."

"I will."

The rest of the day went the same way. A few more calls came along, and their shift was over soon enough. It had been such a slow day, Reed managed to finish the reports in the cruiser on the way back to the station. They dropped the reports off with Mac and headed to the locker room.

"Hey, it was good working with you today," Sanchez said. "Let's just hope we see a little more action tomorrow, huh?"

"Yeah," Reed agreed. There was a big crowd in the locker room, and he could hear Wells in the middle of an anecdote.

"So the first thing we notice is that the left tail light is out," Wells said. "All we really wanted to do was pull 'em over and let 'em know that they needed to get it checked out."

"What's he talking about?" Sanchez asked, pushing his way into the circle of officers.

"Wells and Malloy got into a high-speed chase with a roach coach," Brinkman said.

"High-speed?" Wells laughed. "Sure, we were goin' a break-neck 25 mph at one point."

Most of the guys laughed. Wells had his foot up on one of the benches, resting his elbow on his knee like he was really getting into his story.

"Anyway, we chased 'em down for ten blocks almost. They finally pulled over when we turned the sirens on."

"So what'd you end up busting 'em for?" Russo asked.

"Oh, yeah. That's the best part of the whole story," Wells grinned. "We got out and tried to talk to the driver, but he thought he could pretend he didn't speak English and we'd let him go."

"And?" someone prompted.

"Well, I said to Malloy, 'Too bad you're not riding with Reed. He speaks Spanish, right? I bet he could really sock it to this guy.' And you know what? All of a sudden, Pete gets all sick to his stomach. His face was just about the color of the sidewalk. I thought he was gonna puke right there on the street."

Reed looked at Malloy. Malloy was looking at him. He had an expression Reed had honestly never seen him wear before. He couldn't quite pin it down—he wanted to say it was sadness, but there was something else about it. Something deeper.

Walters laughed. "What got to you, man?"

"It was the smell," Malloy said, after a moment, still not taking his eyes off of Reed. "That truck reeked like a garbage dump."

"Yeah, by the time we finally got the guy's license, we found out his food handler's permit had been taken away, but he was selling chimichangas anyway." Wells laughed. "Boy, I tell you what, the longer we hung around waiting for the tow truck, I started feeling as sick as Malloy. I don't think I'll ever eat another taco, not after that kinda stink."

More laughter. Malloy was still silent as Wells continued telling jokes about smelly food. Reed slipped away from the crowd to his own locker, hoping nobody would pay attention to him as he changed. Just as he finished getting dressed, he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Jim?" it was Malloy.

"Yeah?" he said, his voice cracking.

"I never got a chance to talk to you yesterday," he said, so softly that nobody else would hear him over Wells' story-telling. "Suppose you stick around today?"

"I have to get home," Reed said, desperately, shrugging Malloy's hand away. "Jean said she was making something special for dinner." He pulled on his jacket and slammed his locker door harder than he'd intended, then rushed out of the locker room and down the hall.

"Jim," Malloy called, following him this time. "Wait!"

Reed ignored him and fought to keep himself from running straight to the parking lot. Outside, Malloy called after him again.

"Would you wait?" he sounded like he was getting angry. He walked quicker than Reed and stopped in front of his car, blocking him from opening the door. "I said I want to talk to you. Now why don't you stand there and listen?"

"Pete, I have to go home," he insisted. "Whatever it is you want to tell me, well, I think I can guess, okay?"

"Don't be so sure," Malloy said. "Maybe if you knew what I had to say, you wouldn't be acting like this."

"You asked to ride with Wells," Reed said. "That says everything I need to know."

Malloy made like he was about to say something else. Reed could see how frustrated he was—his brow was furrowed like it was when he was dealing with a real smart-aleck perp. Finally, he gave up.

"Alright, fine," he said, his voice low and dark. "If that's how you want it." With that, he turned and stalked back into the station. Reed watched him go, realizing that he could feel his heart pounding. His hands trembled as he struggled to put the key into the ignition. The entire drive home, he couldn't shake the look on Malloy's face from his mind. There were a few moments when he wasn't sure if he should even be behind the wheel.

When he finally made it, he parked crooked and stumbled through the door, leaving it ajar as he stormed into the house. He paced around the living room, the scene in the parking lot playing over and over again in his head. Why did Malloy insist on tormenting him like this? Why would he chase him down at the station like that? Wells' story said it all—stinky roach coach or no, Malloy had been sick today just thinking about him.

Everything he'd kept to himself for so long boiled within him, bursting out finally as pure rage. He was angry at everyone and everything. He was angry at Jean for leaving him; rather, for marrying him in the first place. He was angry at the department for partnering him with someone so irresistible. He was angry at Malloy for being so irresistible. Mostly, he was angry at himself, because just thinking about him again made his guts feel all tangled up. That look Malloy had given him in the locker room was just too much to handle. It haunted him. He balled his fists and swung at the air in a sort of grown-up tantrum, snarling, unable to form words. All he could see were those sad blue eyes, staring right into his own. He became so delirious, he could hear his heart beating frantically, and Malloy's voice calling his name.

"Jim! Jim!" it was saying. "Jim, I know you're in there!"

After a moment, reality began to sink in again. It wasn't delirium that had seized him. The beating was really someone knocking on the front door. Malloy's voice came again, and he knew it wasn't some anxious hallucination.

He staggered to the door on rubbery legs. Malloy stood on the other side, peering at him through the screen.

"Jim," he sighed. "You had me worried for a moment. Boy, you're a wreck."

"Why are you here?" he asked, his anger having cooled off into a gentler cynicism. "Why can't you just leave me alone?"

Malloy frowned. He opened the door without waiting for permission.

"I know you don't want me around, but I just couldn't let it go," he said, entering and closing the door behind him.

"Couldn't let what go?" Reed asked.

"You heard Wells' story," Malloy said.

"Yeah, what about it?"

"When have you ever known me to get sick over stinky food?"

"What does that have to do with anything?" he asked, not really wanting to think about Wells or roach coaches right now.

Malloy took a long time before he spoke. He just stood there with that look on his face—the one from the locker room. Reed still felt like there was more to it than just melancholy. That was the real beauty of Malloy's face. When he wanted to, he could show off so much feeling with just one look. Reed found himself thinking about it once again, like he had so many days ago in the cruiser. He adored Malloy's expressions, whether they were happy or angry, or this one. It was…

Longing. That's what it was.

No, that couldn't be. He was just trying to kid himself. He tried to turn away, but Malloy grabbed him by the arm to stop him.

"I needed to get ahold of myself. I thought riding with Wells for a couple days would keep me from thinking about you," Malloy said, softly. "I should've known I couldn't count on him to keep his big mouth shut. I just about broke down right in front of him today."

"Why?" It all seemed so unreal. He wondered if he was dreaming.

"It never got to me so much that I couldn't keep it to myself," Malloy explained. "Then you started asking me all these questions and I wondered if I was losing it and you weren't comfortable around me anymore. I thought I'd said something that finally tipped you off. That's why I called Jean. I wanted to know if you'd told her anything about me coming on too strong. I never would've guessed…" he tried to finish his sentence, but shrugged instead.

Suddenly that hand on his arm felt different. He'd been staring at the floor, but he managed to look up at Malloy's face. The longing was still there, but it wasn't so sad now. In fact, he could've sworn that there was a certain glimmer in his eyes.

"Pete, I…" Reed sighed. Before he even knew it was happening, his lips were crushed against Malloy's. Everything else seemed suddenly irrelevant. Even if only temporarily, it was all so distant. It didn't matter. Malloy's mouth was taught at first, but softened into the kiss. A familiar warmth began to burn in his gut as he pulled Malloy closer, bunching his paisley shirt in his fists. He pressed himself against the other man's body, and even as he could feel himself grinding Malloy's back against the door, it wasn't close enough.

"Pete," he groaned into Malloy's collarbone, feeling through his pants that he'd responded to the kiss just as quickly as himself. "This can't be real."

"Take it easy," Malloy whispered against his ear. He ran his hands along Reed's back and rubbed his face against his neck, planting a few light kisses as he spoke. "You won't resent me for this?"


Malloy eased him away from the door, backing him toward the couch. He sat down and Malloy crouched over him, unbuttoning his shirt to reveal his gloriously freckled chest. He slid the shirt onto the floor and bent to kiss Reed again. Reed struggled with his own shirt and groaned when he could finally feel his skin pressed against Malloy's.

Malloy broke the kiss again, this time to sit up and fumble with his belt, and then his pants. Reed watched, aching already, and with just a glance at the waves of silky red hair, he was trembling. He stared at what Malloy had to offer, wanting him so badly he couldn't think.

Malloy shifted his weight on the couch, kneeling at the foot and undoing Reed's pants. He pulled them down to his thighs along with his shorts, then put his hands on Reed's knees and took a few deep breaths.

"Pete," he sighed, "You don't have to—." He quickly gave up on the protest. Malloy's mouth was soft, slick, and hot. His fingers dug into Malloy's shoulders and neck. He sighed and couldn't keep himself from thrusting his hips. Finally, he stole a glance downward. Malloy coughed, but watched him through his lashes, the whites of his eyes still boasting that smart gleam. It pushed Reed over the edge. He gave a whimper as he finished.

A moment later, Malloy was by his side, holding him in his arms as he gasped for air.

"Wow," he panted.

"You're not done yet, Junior," Malloy huffed, still out of breath. Reed could taste himself on Malloy's mouth as he kissed him again, taking his hand and prompting him to finish what was started. He found what last bit of strength he had left, gazing at Malloy's face as he tried to do it correctly. His eyes were closed, his lips parted over clenched teeth. Sweat shone under his eyes. He pushed into Reed's hand and Reed kissed him, savoring the warmth against his lips as Malloy grunted in completion.

Exhausted, they sat sprawled on the couch, their limbs tangled. Malloy's head rested heavily in the crook of Reed's neck as their bare chests rose and fell, catching their breath. After what felt like ages, Malloy tilted his head and kissed him on the jaw.

"Well?" he asked.

"Incredible," Reed said, sleepily. "I never woulda guessed you'd know how to do that."

"I've had some practice. I'll tell you about it sometime." Malloy smiled with closed eyes, arching his back, getting comfortable on the couch. "You have anything to eat around here?"

"You're still hungry?"


"Well," Reed shifted so that he could look into Malloy's eyes. He grinned. "You know what I could really go for right now?"

Malloy groaned. "If you say anything about chimichangas…"