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Choice and Circumstances

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There´s a hand on the back of his head, curled into his hair, grip unyielding. His breath is coming fast, eyes scrunched shut. He tries to keep the sounds in, trying to regain a bit of his dignity, but to no avail. There´s a soft whimper, barely audible, but the other man notices it all the same.

He smirks down at him, tightening his grip and pulling his head back. Oswald hisses, arching back as much as he can in his position. The other laughs softly.

“Oh, you´re really desperate, aren´t you? Thinking you can find the stash like this?!”

Oswald doesn´t even deign that with an answer. There´s a sharp kick to his leg – of course it had to be the right one – and he grits his teeth to keep from crying out. Oh, this dumb fucker will pay for this.

“I´ll make you talk, you hear me?!”

Of course he does. It´s not like the man is just inches away from his face – frankly, this whole situation is just disgusting – and screaming at him, isn´t it? Oswald suppresses the urge to roll his eyes. He can already hear footsteps outside the crappy little apartment where he´s being held, and god, he really likes this moment. He smiles up at the other man, eyes bright and focused and without any fear showing in them – he knows that the other is disappointed and Oswald really really enjoys that look on his face – and the door crashes open, the man jerking back.

“Why do men like you always fail to factor in the possibility that I´m not working alone?”, he sighs, enjoying how the man´s expression morphs into a look of horror before he crumbles to the floor, screaming, a gunshot wound in his back. Oswald does roll his eyes this time.

Then Gabe´s at his side, pulling him upright. Oswald pats him on the back, and makes his way into the next room, kicking the man on the floor in the head in the progress – they both deserve this.

The stash of weapons he was after turns out to really be in this room. Why is it that Maroni always has guys like this doing his biding? Brutal, annoying and dumb. Just like their boss. Always trying to cross his plans. Predictably not succeeding.

Oswald turns to his men, gesturing to the crates behind him.

“Gentlemen, seems like we have a new branch of business.”

 

----------

 

“What do you know of human trafficking in this area?”, Jim growls. He has enough of their little games, this dancing around each other that Oswald seems to enjoy so much. He wants answers. Plain and simple.

“My friend! It´s such a pleasure to see-“

“Answer me.”, Jim cuts him off. No platitudes, no playing around this time. Oswald´s face darkens.

“You really believe I would- Who do you think I am?”

“You´re a criminal, a murderer, a thief, and who knows what else.”

“Who knows what else?! Maybe a friend?! Do you really think so little of me?”

Jim doesn´t have a clear answer to that. He despises what Oswald does, but not the man himself. Oswald´s clever, driven. He would have made a good cop, in another live. Jim can appreciate these qualities. However, there´s no respect for the lives of others, except those of a few chosen ones, and that´s something Jim can´t tolerate. Oswald´s first priority is always his own status, whereas Jim puts everyone else first. So, he keeps silent.

Oswald huffs, eyes turning cold. “Regardless of what you think, I do have some standards. I do what is necessary, not to be undeservingly cruel.”

Jim doesn´t have time to discuss morals. Not now. Not with lives at stake. Oswald seems to notice.

“I will look into it. Leave all necessary information with Gabe. I have business to attend to.”

With that, Jim´s dismissed. And, maybe for the first time when it comes to Oswald, he does as he´s told.

 

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He has everything he needs on his desk the next morning. Oswald´s efficient – and seemingly not afraid to just walk into the GCPD, where more than a few people are waiting for their chance to put a bullet into him.

They crack the case with ease and find enough evidence to make it airtight. It´s a victory. Jim feels sick.

He has his phone in his hand before he can think about it. As soon as he stares at the text screen however, his mind draws a blank. ´I´m sorry I thought you were the scum of the earth, but you´ve been a huge help, so I might have to correct some of my assumptions.´ just doesn´t have the right ring to it.

 

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He breaks down an hour later – maybe too late, since he´s sure that Oswald knows that they closed the case a while ago and Jim must seem like an ungrateful bastard – and sends a simple ´thanks´. It´s not enough, but he´s tired, emotionally from what he´s seen and physically, and he can´t think of something better to say, less he reveals too much. Giving Oswald too much information never turns out in your favor.

He doesn´t get an answer.

 

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The next time they meet – another one-sided exchange of favors, they both know that – the atmosphere has changed. There has always been a certain tension to their meetings, but now it´s more aggressive. Oswald knows what he wants and doesn´t care for compromises anymore. His position is secure – for now – and it seems like he won´t put up with Jim´s shit anymore. And he visibly enjoys his newfound power.

“Detective.” A curt nod, a smile that doesn´t even attempt to look like it isn´t fake. Jim clenches his fists.

“I need help.”

“Is it a life-threatening situation?”

“It might as well be.”

“Let me ask like this: Is your life in immediate danger?” Oswald´s eyes are fixed on the glass of wine in his hand. Seemingly disinterested. They both know it for the act it is.

“No. But other people could be -“

“It is none of my business. This arrangement is between the two of us. I do not care about any of these hypothetical people.”

“You cared before.” What his statement implied about Jim is left unmentioned.

“Different circumstances. I got something out of it the last time. What do you have to offer me, James?” Nothing, Oswald´s sure of it. Like the last few times. He won´t be used anymore, not with the current amount of power he helds. Not even by a ‘friend’.

There´s nothing he has to offer, and Jim´s pride is the only thing stopping him from begging. But it´s close. He grits his teeth and turns to leave. He doesn´t have to look back to know that Oswald has a knowing smirk on his face.

 

--------

 

It´s building up.

He cracks this case too, but there´s collateral damage. He´s furious. At Oswald. Most of all at himself.

Jim´s reluctant to admit it – even just to himself – but he slightly misses their past interactions. They too were just simple exchanges of favors, but with a real attempt at friendship – at least as far as Oswald had been concerned. He wishes he had reciprocated in some way, especially now with Barbara getting worse and Lee becoming more distant, he´s in need of a friend who´s not a cop. He can´t always rely on Harvey, burden him with even more worries than he already has to deal with – there´s Scottie now and they both deserve a bit of peace.

Oswald listens and doesn´t judge – most of the days at least – and Jim knows that what they have has no place for trust, but he can´t help but feel that maybe Oswald isn´t the worst choice.

The GCPD is still corrupt, there are still murders every day, and he´s so frustrated.

He goes back.

 

--------

 

“Enough with these games.”, he snarls, as soon as he´s through the door. Gabe´s right behind him, ready to throw him back out if Oswald shows any indication that Jim has overstayed his welcome.

Oswald barely glances up at him, but he´s tense, and that´s what makes Jim stop in the middle of the room. He´s not here to hurt or to scare or fight, he just wants this thing between them – whatever it turns out to be – out in the open, wants this fucking tension to ease so he can breathe again.

“You can leave us, Gabe. Thank you.”

Gabe nods, doesn´t ask, and closes the door behind him. Jim gets why Oswald likes to have the man around.

“What can I do for the GCPD today, Detective?”

“Nothing.”

“So you´ve come to arrest me.” It´s not a question. There´s resignation in Oswald´s voice.

“No.” Jim steps closer. Oswald frowns.

“Then what are you doing here?”

“I need your help with something.”, Jim mumbles. Maybe it´s a really dumb idea. There´s a bitter laugh from Oswald.

“Now who´s playing games, Jim?”

“It´s not- It´s a personal matter.” Jim steps even closer, until he´s right in front of Oswald´s desk. The other man involuntarily leans back, trying to maintain more distance, and stares up at him. It really is a bad idea.

“What is it, James? Some of us have actual work to do. I can´t just let other people handle everything, unlike a certain someone.”, Oswald retorts coldly. And there goes Jim´s self-control along with his plans and he´s beside Oswald without realizing he even moved, twisting his hands into the lapels of the other man´s jacket and pulling him up and closer. He doesn´t need anyone else making him feel guilty, he beat himself up over this enough as it is. Oswald scrambles for purchase, gripping at Jim´s arms.

“Going the well-tried route? Violence is effective most of the –“

Jim kisses him. That seems to shut him up, which isn´t an easy feat considering who he has in front of him. For a moment Oswald freezes, then his grip tightens further and he presses against Jim like he too was waiting for this all along. Because that´s what he´s been doing, Jim realizes. Waiting for this.

Jim steps back, allowing Oswald to fully stand and regain his footing, giving them some space.

“So that´s what this is.”, Oswald mumbles, refusing to break eye-contact. Jim nods, throat dry.

“What will happen now, James?”

“I- I guess I can think of something.”, Jim retorts and swallows. This is his choice.

 

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There´s a hand on the back of his head, curled into his hair, grip unyielding. His breath is coming fast, eyes scrunched shut. He tries to keep the sounds in, trying to regain a bit of his dignity, but to no avail. There´s a soft whimper, barely audible, but the other man notices it all the same.

He smirks down at him, tightening his grip and pulling his head back. Oswald hisses, arching back as much as he can in his position. The other laughs softly. Oswald glares at him.

“What? Just enjoying the view.”, Jim retorts. There are a few things Oswald would like to say about that, but he forgets them all as soon as Jim´s other hand continues to drift lower, over his stomach, just a soft caress, a stark contrast to the strong grip in his hair. Almost as if Jim´s afraid that Oswald will just leave as soon as he lets go.

Leaving is the last thing on Oswald´s mind right now, though. It would be a shame, since he almost got Jim´s pants open and Jim is working on the same thing. And then the annoying fabric is gone and he´s pulling Jim in for another kiss and fuck, it´s better than he thought it could be.

The tension´s gone, at least for the moment, and Jim can breathe again.

There´s a hand on his chest and Oswald looks him over. "You wanted a favor?", he asks, and Jim shakes his head.

"No. I´ve got you."

Oswald looks at him like he´s just grown a second head. "That, James, was incredibly cheesy."

"Shut it, I mean it."

***