A/N: Spoilers if you haven't seen the episodes "A Time to Hate" or "Forever Blue". This is a (mostly) canon slash fanfic that will contain violence, mature themes, and coarse language. Please keep in mind the homophobic language is only in keeping with the context of the time period of when the episodes took place.
Canon alteration: Above two episodes are combined, so AU. I also adjusted the "Forever Blue" timeline so that all the events of the episode take place in June/July 1968.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, except my original characters.
"Normal" was exactly how Saturday, July 27, 1968 began.
Doing double shifts was a regular occurrence for the officers of 5th District of the Philadelphia Police Department. Even though a massive recruitment process was underway, the Force as a whole continued to lack adequate manpower. So, having a wife and three kids to support, patrolman Jimmy Bruno had readily volunteered earlier in the week to do an extra twelve hours that Saturday, to help train a couple of rookies and patrol North Philadelphia.
After five years on the force, Jimmy had come to know the filthy alleyways of North Philly better than his own neighbourhood. He just knew a busy shift awaited him; a broiling day with a cool night attached often equaled extra trouble in an area already overrun with problems.
The first call had been a domestic one. After several noise complaints, Jimmy and rookie Joseph Malone had driven over to a rundown apartment block in Fishtown. The slight breeze from the nearby river did nothing to ease the stagnant air.
Swiftly, Jimmy and Malone barged into the apartment building and raced up to the third floor. They sweated profusely as they followed the loud shouts coming from apartment 314.
Malone gave the battered door a timid knock. "Open up."
"Christ, ya gotta be louder than that!" Jimmy hissed, giving the door a heavy thud. "Police! Open up!"
The arguing on the other side of the wall ceased as china smashed to the floor. Hesitant footsteps began to pad up to the door.
After calming the couple down, Jimmy and Malone directed the couple to the kitchen table, where the husband and wife glowered at each other from opposite ends.
For several minutes, the couple continued to mutter amongst themselves, but Jimmy and Malone at last found out what had caused the arguing - the wife had flown into a rage against her husband because he had popped her inflatable bath pillow with a fork.
The husband, his fat belly poking out under a too-small muscle shirt, was unapologetic. "She's spendin' more time with that god-damned pillow than me!" he bellowed, running a hand through his tangled, greasy hair.
"Of course! It's better company!" the wife spat, metal curlers still in her hair.
With a smile trying to tug at his lips, Jimmy barked at the couple to shut up.
The couple fell into a stunned silence. A soft spoken man with fine features, Jimmy hadn't given the impression of being an intimidating force. Jimmy hid a smile. He had learned early on in his policing career that sudden displays of unexpected emotion were his greatest weapon in gaining control of volatile situations.
Wanting to get away from the boiling apartment that smelt of rotting cabbage, Jimmy racked his brain for a solution to the couple's dilemma, something that should have been easy for him after ten years of rocky marriage. In the end, Jimmy suggested to the husband that he buy a new pillow to show his wife how much he valued and missed her company.
Once they were certain things would be under control, Jimmy and Malone sprinted out of the apartment building. It was a relief to have cool air blowing through the open windows onto them as Malone sought to impress Jimmy with his driving skills.
The first eight hours at their end, Jimmy dropped Malone back off at the stationhouse. Captain Alfred Stinson had thought it best for Malone to take a breather before beginning the night shift of his packed training schedule.
Jimmy then embarked on his next eight-hour training session, which quickly turned into a comedy of errors. While Malone seemed a promising officer, Alphonse Bon Boivin was clueless. In the car he couldn't even figure out how to operate the patrol car's radio properly. Right there, Jimmy began to have serious doubts about his charge's future on the force. But the officer was a patient man and willing to give the stammering rookie a chance to prove himself.
But Jimmy's reservations were soon proven true. Towards the end of the shift, the pair had begun to drive back to the station after breaking up a bar brawl. But they never got there. Bon Boivin crashed their patrol car into a fountain after forgetting to turn. While both men were fine, except for some soaked feet, the car was a write-off. Jimmy's boss, Lieutenant Tom McCree had fired Bon Boivin on the spot. Short-staffed as they were, there was only so much quality in the caliber of recruits that could be compromised.
Jimmy's piercing blue eyes swept the parking lot. Man, what a boring day. He viewed the past hours of his day as a mere distraction; the best part of his shift had not yet begun. Nothing could compete with going out on patrol together for eight hours with his partner, Sean "Coop" Cooper. Coop normally did twelve hour shifts like the rest of the guys, but had somehow convinced the Captain to let him attend the wedding of a fellow Vietnam veteran. Jimmy hated the time he had missed with Coop. Their shifts were always exciting. His partner seemed to attract troublemakers and drug dealers with little effort. Even if it meant busting a few shins now and then, it couldn't be denied that Coop's cowboy methods were successful. In the year they had been together, their team had had more busts and convictions than any other in the precinct. In fact, they were such an effective partnership that they had earned themselves the nickname of the "Dynamic Duo." Jimmy knew the nickname incensed Coop; many a night spent drinking together had revolved around Coop's rants about how Batman was ridiculing and eroding the public's respect for law enforcement. But Jimmy knew Coop was secretly proud that his efforts were being noticed. People thought Coop was incapable of planning anything beyond boozing or picking up women, but Jimmy had come to learn otherwise. Coop had many plans for the future and he often discussed them with Jimmy as they drove around North Philly looking for trouble. Coop was pretty deep for all his reputation as the cowboy type.
But that's not really true; there's so much more to Coop than what he lets people see.
Having a free hour thanks to Bon Boivin's incompetence, Jimmy tried to think just what it was that made him love being Coop's partner. It had come to him with a flash. That's it. It's the conversations. And that we can talk about anything. Even the conversations about love are okay... sometimes.
For the past six weeks, Jimmy had tried to make sense of what had developed between him and his partner. After many sleepless nights, he managed to arrive at some semblance of peace about it, but the guilt of violating his marriage vows and the teachings of the Catholic Church continued to gnaw at his insides like a small animal. However, Jimmy couldn't deny that he and Coop shared a passion that he had never experienced with his wife, Eileen. Things were now at a point where Jimmy felt no day was worthwhile if he hadn't spent some part of it in Coop's company.
But for the past several weeks, it had been difficult to spend time alone with Coop outside of work. The guys had had to put in lots of overtime and Eileen would get upset when Jimmy wanted to make plans that didn't involve her. At the other end of the spectrum, Coop had kept insisting that he and Jimmy only hang at his place. Some days, Jimmy worried that his body would be torn in half by the two forces fighting for a piece of him.
Still, Jimmy had tried to put everything into perspective; he and Eileen had a newborn in the house for the first time in years. New babies always altered the dynamics of any relationship and Jimmy had figured it would take them all time to settle into the new state of affairs.
Hanging around in the staff parking lot, Jimmy sweated in the stagnant night air. The heat wave pounding down on Philadelphia was oppressive. Though the sun had dipped out of sight, no cool refuge had come with it. Jimmy reached into his pocket and pulled a handkerchief to wipe the perspiration off his brow when he heard a distinctive horn.
Jimmy felt his heart speed up a few beats as Coop pulled up in his red 1955 T-Bird, smoke screeching from below the tires as he took a sharp turn into the car park. A veteran of the raging Vietnam War, Coop had been one of many returning soldiers enticed into police training by the police department's financial incentives. Since Coop had never previously had a car of his own, the T-Bird he had longed for as a teenager had become his early Police Academy graduation gift to himself. He would tool with the car's engine whenever he had the chance, always looking for ways to go faster on the country roads he liked to race along on days off.
As their relationship had continued to blossom, it had difficult for Jimmy to conceal from the other officers the nervous energy that coursed through him when he glanced at Coop. With his dirty blond hair, deep blue eyes, and high cheekbones, Coop had always struck Jimmy as the archetype of the Hollywood cowboy. But none of the guys could have suspected Coop and Jimmy harboured feelings beyond the brotherly partner bond as Jimmy broke into a broad smile and headed over to Coop's car.
Coop emerged from the car still dressed in the suit he had worn to the wedding. As usual, his unruly hair was subdued with copious amounts of hair oil.
Playfully, Jimmy punched Coop's shoulder. "So," Jimmy asked, "was the wedding more fun than bustin' shins?"
Coop grinned. "Well, there were some hot chicks. And the booze wasn't half-bad, either. But nah, the whole thing was sorta boring. The goddamn speeches went on forever. Enforcing the law is so much more fun." And nothing beats being with you, Jimmy.
"Glad you think so. Today's been something, that's all I can say!" Jimmy declared, leaning against Coop's car and shoving his hands in his pockets.
"Hey, I didn't mean now!" Jimmy sputtered, straightening up. "I meant once we're driving. You start in fifteen minutes and you're still not changed. McCree's gonna be pissed if you're late even one minute."
Rolling his eyes, Coop asked, "Another scumbag you're afraid of, huh?"
"No." Jimmy sighed and his gaze shifted away from his partner. "I just don't want us getting in any more hot water. McCree's still pissed about that whole thing with Teddy Burke."
Coop flashed Jimmy a cocky grin. "I don't give a damn what McCree thinks of me. Besides, he's got better things to do with his dirty money than think about me, anyways."
Jimmy ignored the crack about dirty money. "Look, just get changed, alright? It's Saturday night. I got a feeling it ain't gonna be a quiet one," Jimmy replied, his brow furrowing.
Seeming to know he had crossed a line, Coop gave Jimmy a sharp salute, as he strolled into stationhouse and chuckled to himself. Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Always worrying about nothing!
Jimmy bit his tongue as Coop disappeared from view. That stubborn prick will never let the money thing slide. Even when he knows money's tight with a new baby.
Twelve minutes later, Jimmy chatted with some other officers as he waited for Coop to come back outside.
At last, Coop strolled into the parking lot at exactly ten PM. A small smirk crossed his face.
Jimmy knew Coop was elated that he had ticked off their boss by arriving right on time; McCree was always miserable when he didn't have someone to pick on. But it made Jimmy uneasy that his partner would risk his job just to make a point. Yes, Coop had the advantage of his father being a high ranking inspector in the main office downtown, but it was still a game of Russian Roulette Jimmy wished Coop would quit playing.
"Hey, Coop!" Jimmy yelled. "Go get the car ready!"
Coop walked over to the car and set up the radio as was normal protocol. When he finished, he walked over to the front of the patrol car and rested against the hood. Quit yakking, Jimmy, and get your ass over here!
Sensing Coop's limited patience beginning to thin, Jimmy began to make his way to the patrol car. He stopped when he noticed McCree approach his partner. He winced, sure Coop was about to be told off about something.
Fuck! What does the bastard want now? Coop immediately straightened up to his full height, his face all duty and honour. "One good thing that came out of boot camp was learning a good poker face," Coop had told Jimmy one time. "Now I can make them think I'm listening when I'm really a million miles away."
Jimmy was surprised when McCree only put his hands on his hips and ordered, "You two stick close in North Philly tonight. We've been getting armed robbery calls from under the bridge." Oh, yay, Jimmy thought. The bridge on Diamond Street is a hotbed for drug activity. This is going to be a fun night.
Wow, McCree's in a great mood tonight! Coop dropped his military stance. He smiled and swung an arm underhand in excitement. "Send in the bad guys!"
Chuckling, McCree said he'd try to scare some up for him before turning away and tapping Coop on the chest in a rare show of camaraderie.
Jimmy's mouth went dry. Weird. McCree always tells Coop off for wiseass remarks. He must have finally gotten some of that LSD.
Not seeming as mystified as Jimmy, Coop shrugged. He went over to the driver side of patrol car D108 and leaned against the door. Come on Jimmy, get your ass over here!
Then it happened.
Their fellow officer, Owen Murphy, was in the parking lot, but had hung back from Jimmy and Coop like he had the previous few weeks. Jimmy figured Murphy was still sore at Coop for the "fairy boy" remark that had humiliated him in front of the whole locker room. At the time, Jimmy was terrified Coop had exposed their secret. But when the encounter ended with Murphy storming away, Jimmy had tried to forget what had happened.
That conception shattered as Murphy walked by Jimmy and taunted, "Keep an eye on those bathhouses, Jimmy."
Jimmy's thoughts began racing. Shit! Murphy knows! How the hell does he know?
In a split second, all of Jimmy's priorities changed. He had to get away from Coop. If he got into that car, the whole world was going to know what he was. That couldn't happen. The secret he had been hiding for almost half of his life couldn't be exposed. God, if the other guys find out... it's the end!
His face hardening, Jimmy walked over Coop. He froze in place and gave Coop a cold stare.
Coop tried to figure out what the hell Jimmy was doing. "You gettin' in or what?!"
Trying to maintain his composure, Jimmy turned his head. He licked his lips and thought fast. "I think I'm going to take out a rookie." Jimmy almost sighed with relief. The rookie excuse was believable. Coop knew how short-staffed the precinct was.
Coop just laughed.
Jimmy didn't budge.
"You serious?" asked Coop, raising his eyebrows.
Coop gave Jimmy a surprised look. But since he was never one to let a little change in routine deter him, he just smiled and said, "I'll pick up some beer and meet you after, then." Then he turned away to get into the patrol car.
Shit! A confrontation Jimmy never thought he would have to have was now unfolding like a dry tinder set ablaze by a mere spark. He gritted his teeth and said, "I can't make it over to your place later."
Coop fell quiet, and Jimmy didn't blame him. They had been planning their early Sunday morning poker game all week.
"Why not?" Coop demanded, giving Jimmy a hard look of his own.
Jimmy tucked his thumbs into his belt and rocked on his feet. "Maybe it's time for a change," he said softly. He stiffened to keep himself from falling to the concrete below his feet.
Coop looked baffled. "What kind of change?"
Swallowing, Jimmy didn't say anything for a moment. He knew he had to look Coop square in the eye. "I wasn't thinking right when we talked the other weekend. And I haven't been right for a long time."
"What's going on, Jimmy?"
Unable to stand Coop's eyes boring through him like blue fire, Jimmy twisted his head away. "I ain't going to be making it over to your place no more," said Jimmy bluntly.
Coop lowered his head in astonishment.
Feeling relief that those searching eyes were no longer on his face, Jimmy didn't hesitate as he said, "You should get a new partner." He winced, sure Coop would now deck him with one swift punch.
Instead, Coop looked up. His hard eyes began to soften. "You afraid?" Coop asked in a low voice.
Afraid?! More like fucking terrified! "It's got nothing to do with that."
"I'm afraid, too," Coop whispered.
But you're not afraid of anything, Coop... "Look, I gotta get going," Jimmy said tersely, beginning to walk away.
"Jimmy, don't go. Please," Coop pleaded.
Jimmy turned around. What the hell am I doing? God, Coop. Quit looking at me like that. Please.
In a ragged voice, Coop reminded Jimmy, "We're the lucky ones, remember?"
Jimmy saw red. You fucking idiot! How the hell is this curse lucky? Jimmy ground his teeth. "I think you got it wrong there," Jimmy hissed. "I ain't a queer!"
Jimmy then turned around and began to walk away from Coop again. But he kept his pace slow as he waited. Waited for Coop to quietly call him back.
But Coop didn't say a word. Instead, Jimmy heard a car door slam and tires screeching.
Good God, what had he done? Spinning around, hoping to catch his partner, Jimmy shouted, "Coop!"
But it was no use. Coop and patrol car D108 roared out of the parking lot and took a right.
Jimmy stood motionless and felt a part of himself die. He wanted nothing more than to curl into a ball and shut out the world. But Jimmy knew he couldn't vanish from the hell he had just created for himself and Coop; police business still awaited.