POST MORTEM: 'TO THE BONE' & 'ON FIRE'
A/N: Just a short drabble, inspired by the very emotional episodes 'To The Bone' & 'On Fire'. This could probably have been longer, but I don't really feel it needs to be. It is what it is.
He found them in Murphy’s Bar. They sat in a corner booth, opposite each other, drowning their individual sorrows in what looked like double shots of whisky. Neither was speaking, or seemed to even be paying the slightest bit of attention to each other. Really, if you didn’t know any better, by the look of them you might have thought someone had died.
Shaking his head, he walked over to the booth.
“I see you started the wake without me.”
Detective Bobby Goren and Detective Mike Logan looked up simultaneously to see their captain – scratch that – their former captain standing there and watching them with a small, amused smile.
“Your partners thought I might find you here,” Jimmy Deakins said by way of explanation. “Mind if I join you.”
Still neither man spoke, but Mike shifted over compliantly to make room. Jimmy sat, and looked from one to the other curiously.
“You know,” he said finally, “I appreciate your loyalty, but I only resigned. I didn’t die.”
Bobby raised his gaze to Jimmy, revealing eyes that were just slightly glazed over from alcohol consumption. He knew that look well, Jimmy noted. Bobby was just drunk enough to lose his inhibitions, which meant some fairly hairy questions and comments might just be coming his way before long.
“Why what, Bobby?” Jimmy asked, although he thought he already knew.
“Why let him win? You… could’ve fought it… And… And don’t give us that shit about giving the Department a black eye. It already had one from when we brought down Adair.”
“I don’t look at it as letting him win,” Jimmy answered quietly. “I really don’t. The truth is, I’d been considering retiring for the last six months. This just ended up being the catalyst.”
“You’re letting them send you off with a dirty cop tag,” Bobby pointed out. In his fuzzy state of mind, he wasn’t quite able to summon the appropriate amount of indignation and, consequently, the comment came out sounding sullen. To the annoyance of both men, Jimmy only laughed.
“They can think what they like. IAB can’t actually prove anything. I have my pension, and I have the respect of the people who matter to me. The brass can put it where the sun don’t shine.”
He’d hoped to get a smile out of at least one of them, but no such luck. Bobby looked back to his drink, while Mike hadn’t looked up at all.
“You really are upset at me for resigning, aren’t you?” he asked, amazed. “Mike? What about you?”
Mike continued to stare into the depths of his drink.
“Does my opinion even matter?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, it does,” Jimmy answered firmly. Mike did look up, then, and the guilt and misery in his eyes was almost too much for Jimmy to bear.
“It’s my fault.”
“What? You don’t seriously believe that, do you?”
“I shot the cop,” Mike pointed out dully. “That’s what started it all.”
Jimmy sighed softly.
“Okay, let’s set the record straight right now. Frank Adair was clearly just waiting for an opportunity. If not with the shooting, then he would have found another way. One way or another, he would have put the boot in. It was never about you, Mike. You were just the poor sap that Adair used to get to me. He might just as easily have used Bobby, or Alex and Carolyn. He could have gotten at me through the Garrett case… and to be honest, I’m surprised he didn’t try. But this is not your fault. It’s not, Mike. Get it through your thick skull. You have no reason to feel guilty.”
Bobby regarded Jimmy through half-closed eyes. “Then how about betrayed?”
That gave Jimmy pause. He sat in silence for a long moment, looking from one man to the other, and taking in their expressions before speaking.
“Is that how you honestly feel? That I’ve betrayed you?”
When neither replied, he decided it was time to move the discussion somewhere a little more amenable.
“C’mon, both of you,” he ordered them, letting his voice take on a familiar tone of authority. “Get up off your asses and come with me.”
“Where are we going?” Bobby wondered even as he and Mike slid out of the booth in automatic response to the command.
“Somewhere that we can talk properly. Let’s go.”
Ten minutes later they were ensconced in a cosy little all-night coffee shop with the strongest coffee on offer. Jimmy watched in silence for a few minutes while Bobby and Mike consumed the bitter brew, waiting until he saw some clarity returning to their eyes before speaking again.
“Feeling a little more alert?” he asked lightly. Bobby grimaced as he forced down another mouthful.
“What was the point of this?”
“Aside from trying to choke us,” Mike added, pushing the now-empty cup away from him.
“The point,” Jimmy answered, “was to sober you both up enough so you’ll both be able to remember tomorrow what I’m going to say to you now.”
Mike and Bobby exchanged glances, and then looked back at Jimmy, waiting silently for him to go on.
“My decision to resign was meant to spare hurt, not cause it. If you both are honestly feeling betrayed by it, then I’m sorry. I didn’t intend for that.”
“How are we supposed to be feeling, then?” Mike asked miserably.
“Talk to me,” Jimmy encouraged them. “Be honest, tell me what you’re really thinking.”
His words were met with a long silence. Finally, Mike broke it.
“You pulled me off Staten Island, and gave me a second chance. No one else was willing to make that effort for me.”
“You’re worried the new captain might just decide to kick you back there?” Jimmy wondered. Mike didn’t speak, but answered with a quick nod.
“Mike, your record speaks for itself, and I’m not talking about what happened just recently. The work you’ve done at Major Case has been exemplary. If he’s a fair man… and I believe he will be, from what I’ve heard on the grapevine… then he’ll judge you on your current record, not on rumours and suppositions. Give him a chance, and you might just find he’ll be willing to do the same for you.”
Mike fell silent, staring at the tabletop as he contemplated Jimmy’s words, but he no longer appeared quite as sullen. Jimmy watched him for a long moment before looking around at Bobby.
“What about you, Bobby?”
He didn’t get an immediate response. He wasn’t surprised by that, though, and was content to wait patiently while Bobby gathered his thoughts.
“You… You get me,” Bobby stammered finally. “Aside from Alex, you’re the only one who does. How am I going to cope with a new captain who might not be able… or willing… to accept how I work.”
“I figured you’d be worried about that,” Jimmy murmured. “The truth is, I don’t have an easy answer for you, Bobby. I don’t know how he’ll react to you… to your methods. All I can say is to rely on Alex. I’ve already spoken to her, and she’s prepared to run interference between you and the new guy, at least until he comes to terms with how you go about things. But like I said to Mike, be willing to at least give him a chance. Don’t just write him off because he’s not me. You’ll learn to cope. You learnt to cope with me, remember?”
When Bobby looked at him questioningly, Jimmy laughed softly.
“You don’t remember your first few months with Major Case, Bobby? The entire squad was taking bets on which of us was going to crack first, you or me.” Looking around to see Mike watching curiously, Jimmy explained with a grin. “When Bobby first came to Major Case, it was as much a case of oil and water as you could get. We clashed right from the start, on virtually everything. I found out later on that about three weeks in, the other detectives in the squad had started laying bets on who’d quit first, him or me.”
“So what changed?” Mike asked, his interest piqued. Jimmy smiled at the memory.
“I went with Bobby and Alex one day, to observe them. I’d had some beat cops complain to me about Bobby’s methods at a crime scene, and I wanted to see for myself if there was anything to it. That day I saw the most incredible display of detective work that I’d ever had the privilege of witnessing. That day, I opened my eyes just enough to realise I had a brilliant detective working under me, and that I’d be a fool to lose him to another squad. So, the next time Bobby reported to me, I made sure I didn’t get defensive, or angry. I listened to what he had to say, and I made the effort to congratulate him on a job well done. It was the smartest thing I’ve ever done, and it didn’t take long after that for us to find a common ground. It hasn’t all been plain sailing, but it’s worked.”
Jimmy looked deliberately from Mike to Bobby. “Give the new guy a chance. For your own sakes, give him a chance.”
Mike and Bobby stared at each other for several seconds, contemplating that. Finally, Mike conceded with a nod.
“Yeah. Yeah, I guess we can do that.”
“For… For the record…” Bobby said tentatively. Jimmy raised an eyebrow slightly when the younger man hesitated.
“What is it, Bobby?”
Slowly, Bobby raised his eyes to meet Jimmy’s gaze, and Jimmy was mildly surprised to see a hint of tears there.
“We… I… I’ll m… miss you.”
It was a touching admission, and Jimmy felt a lump form in his throat at the sound of it. He reached out, and laid one hand on Bobby’s shoulder, and the other on Mike’s.
“You know I always had an open door policy when I was your captain. That doesn’t have to end. Anytime you want to talk, about anything, you know where to find me. The door will always be open.”
“Thankyou,” Mike mumbled, and Bobby just nodded. Jimmy paused, leaving his hands on their shoulders for just a moment longer before reluctantly checking his watch.
“I’d better get going. Will you two be okay?”
Again, Mike and Bobby exchanged looks. They had their partners, they had each other’s friendship, and they a former captain who was now just a good friend with an open ear. Yes, they were going to be fine.
“Yeah,” Bobby confirmed quietly, this time with a new confidence in his voice. “We’re okay, sir.”
“And for God’s sake, don’t call me sir, or captain, anymore. It’s just Jimmy now, okay.”
Small smiles tugged at the men’s mouths. Jimmy chuckled and shook his head. “Pair of clowns. I can’t wait to hear how the new guy deals with the two of you.”
Still chuckling, he left the coffee shop, leaving Mike and Bobby alone with each other, mild threatening hangovers and the sense that maybe, just maybe, things weren’t so bad after all.
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