Disclaimer: I don't own these wonderfully troubled characters, unfortunately.

The Partner Code

You don't keep secrets from your partner.

Jarek Wysocki stared at the empty space his new partner had been standing in only minutes before. For some reason, over the last few days he couldn't remember why he had allowed Caleb Evers to stay with him for so long. Until now. Now the reason was presented to him with stunning clarity.

Evers was smart, with acute observational skills, and he was brave enough to shove it into his partner's face when Jarek least expected it. He treated Caleb like a rookie when, technically, he wasn't, yet the kid didn't give up and never backed down from any challenge Jarek presented. Even when Jarek bent the rules and he could feel the disapproval coming off the kid in waves, Caleb didn't say a word to the contrary.

It's not me that's the problem, it's you.

The only thing Caleb had asked him for was trust. The only thing that kept them at arm's length from each other was trust. That was the root of his partnership problem, the reason why he dumped just about every person that rode with him after one day. Suddenly though, there was this college boy that wouldn't let it go, that was so determined to make this partnership work that he stood there and accused Jarek of breaking his own number one rule: no secrets between partners.

Jarek wanted, with everything he had, to be able to say that he wasn't afraid of anything. After all, he had an image to keep up. But he knew it wasn't true, no matter how much he strived for it. Plain and simple, he was afraid to trust anyone but himself. Ever since the last person he trusted up and left him for a promotion, he couldn't stand the hurt and so locked that part of his personality away. He knew in his mind that Teresa Colvin would never intentionally hurt him in any way, but in his heart, her leaving felt like a betrayal. He no longer had her to back him up, to keep him in check, at least, not in the streets.

And so Jarek went through an endless amount of partners, spending a lot of his time alone, until a car chase and a new partner by the name of Caleb Evers came along. This young new detective, almost fresh out of the Academy as far as Jarek could tell, was eager to please, eager to prove himself. He didn't think the kid would last the day. But out of nowhere, Caleb spotted one of the force's best kept secrets, Liam Hennessey, and exposed him, if only to Jarek, which earned him another day's ride.

By the end of the week, Caleb had somehow managed to slowly start tapping away at the solid walls Jarek had built around himself, creating cracks in the smooth exterior. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't stop himself from taking a shine to this kid, from actually wanting to be partners. So he did everything within his power to try and shake Caleb, but the man wouldn't back down.

Looking into Evers' personal file had been the last resort. He wanted a solid reason to boot the kid out of his vehicle the next day and he definitely needed one to be able to get Teresa's approval. She, of all people, should have understood, but no; she had politely told him to suck it up and then reprimanded him for looking at a classified file.

Now things were different. Caleb had just taken Jarek's world and flipped it upside down with a few well placed remarks and the most convincing argument of all.

You don't keep secrets from your partner.

He could see in his mind's eye the look on Caleb's face, the disappointed and hurt look, when the kid figured out that Jarek had read his file. That face said absolutely everything about how he had treated the kid in the last few weeks and most certainly during the last case. Strangely, though, Caleb was a closed book to Jarek, no matter how much it seemed that the younger detective wore his heart on his sleeve. He certainly hadn't found it necessary to tell Jarek about applying to the FBI.

Yet there was the answer. Caleb knew that Jarek didn't trust him, and he had decided to turn tables on the older man to show him what it felt like. To let Jarek know how it felt to not be in the loop, to have no way to predict what your partner was going to do next.

Jarek shook his head, realizing that he hadn't moved since Caleb left. Settling into the driver's seat of his car, he thought about his sudden epiphany about the younger man. Jarek knew that he wanted to make this right; he wanted to make this partnership work. He wanted to teach Caleb, guide him, and, most surprisingly, protect him.

Jarek allowed a small smile to sneak its way onto his face as he pulled out into the street. Tomorrow there would be tension between them, leftover resentment from tonight's argument, but for now he would let it slide. Tomorrow would also be a new day; the day he would start trying to trust somebody that wasn't himself.

Because you don't keep secrets from your partner. No matter what.

A/N: I usually don't write episodic pieces, but after this episode I felt compelled to write something because the script just left so much tension after that moment, and it absolutely begged to have something come after it. After not publishing for over a year, this was a nice little segway back into writing. Let me know what you think!