It was nearly three in the morning and between the adrenaline of taking down the SIS guys and the admittedly mild, but nonetheless noticeable effects of the cocaine they’d inhaled in their little Storm Front, Wes really just wanted to pass out, but he couldn’t quite wind down.
He had been expecting the knock on his hotel room door. He knew who would be standing there before the standard ‘shave and a haircut’ rhythm had finished.
Despite having stayed to write their reports and getting confirmation that their punishments were being revoked, Wes had said good-night to Travis in the parking lot with the heavy feeling of something still being unfinished. He knew Travis felt it too, there was something in the way they both kept asking inane questions and stalling as they headed for their cars, like they knew they weren’t done with the situation, but neither knew how to take that last step.
“Hey,” he said lamely as he opened the door and stepped out of the way.
“You don’t seem too surprised to see me,” Travis said as he closed the door behind him.
“Are you surprised to be here?”
“There we are,” Wes said, wishing he sounded more sarcastic than either exhausted or resigned.
“Here we are,” Travis agreed, hands shoved deep into his jacket pockets, not more than two steps into the room, rocking on his heels.
Wes collapsed onto the end of the bed and waved at the lousy chairs by the window and the other half of the bed. He waited until Travis moved to sit on the edge of the bed facing out the window, staring at the traffic below. “This is kind of ridiculous.”
Travis snorted a short laugh. “Only kind of?”
Wes scooted up to lean on the headboard. “A year of couple’s therapy and we still can’t share a bed,” he quipped.
Travis’ head spun around so fast Wes had flashbacks to watching The Exorcist as a kid and not being able to sleep for a week. He sighed. “Get up here and stop acting like an idiot,” he grumbled, patting the pillow on the other side of the bed.
Travis sighed again before kicking off his shoes and shifting around to sit parallel to Wes, his knees drawn up against his chest.
Wes deliberately relaxed his body, uncrossing his arms from in front of his chest, leaning his head back against the wall. “A year of couples’ therapy and we still have a hard time talking to each other. Really, really talking to each other,” Wes amended his earlier statement.
“I feel like there’s still something unsettled about all this,” Travis said into his knees. “We got those SIS bastards for the diamonds, for Pack-Man’s murder, for all of it. We’re reinstated, we’re still partners, hell, if the captain’s to be believed there’s talk of someone pinning a damn medal on us for this… and yet…” He shrugged, not sure how to end the thought.
“Yeah,” Wes said slowly.
They both turned to watch the cars passing on the busy street below for a long time. When the silence began to get uncomfortable Wes got up and went to his fridge and pulled out two beers. He opened them both and handed one to his partner. “Here.”
Wes collapsed back on the bed again, his feet stretched out in front of him, his fingers nervously picking at the label to his bottle.
They drank their beers slowly, fidgeting next to each other until Travis finally took a deep breath and said, “I’ve killed in the line of duty before. But until that fucker told me he murdered Pack-Man, I’ve never wanted, really, really wanted someone dead. You were… kind of right. I don’t know that I wouldn’t have killed him that night. I don’t know that I would have, but for the first time in my life… I couldn’t say for sure that I wasn’t going to and have been completely sure that I was telling the truth.”
“I know,” Wes said sadly. For all the times he’d wanted to prove Travis wrong, to one-up him whenever he got the chance, this time he just wanted to make the point that for all their arguing, all their difference of approach, he knew his partner well enough to know that there was at least a fifty percent chance that it would have not only ended badly for Crowell, but that it would have ended even worse for Travis no matter how it went down in the end.
“You know why I never said ‘thank you’ before, right?” Travis let his beer bottle hang between his knees.
“I always figured that, you know, it seemed stupid to thank a guy for threatening to put a round into you.” Wes found that he couldn’t meet Travis’ eyes as he spoke. It had always seemed so damn important that Travis thank him, but he’d never stopped to think of why.
Travis shook his head. “I knew it wouldn’t be enough.”
“You brought the entire squad room down on you to keep me from making the most colossal mistake of my life. I spent my entire life just barely on this side of prison bars. If you hadn’t… gone to such extreme measures, I could have finally gone the rest of the way down that slippery slope. What you said in therapy… you were right the whole time. I might have killed him. I really don’t know. And I know that you put your own career at risk for me.” Travis took another pull from his beer bottle. “I’m not used to that. Not a lot of people have been willing to risk much of anything that they have and value for me.”
Wes sighed and moved to sit shoulder to shoulder with his partner. “Well start getting used to it.”
Travis smiled slightly but wouldn’t let it reach his eyes.
“You know what I always think of when that whole thing comes up?” Wes asked.
“The way you reacted when you heard me cock my gun. It wasn’t like you just froze because you knew there was a gun on you. It was almost like someone had a rope around your neck and yanked on it.”
“That sound… I could barely hear you over the white noise in my own head at that point, but that sound. I’ll be three days dead and still react to that click.” Travis let his head drop until his face was buried in his knees. Wes started to worry that the remainder of Travis’ beer was about to baptize his crappy hotel-issue bedspread. “Outside of t.v. or movies or whatever, the first time I heard that sound was when I was seven years old.” Before Wes could even ask Travis pushed on, “I had a foster brother… He was twelve and he knew where his dad kept his Sig. Whenever I wouldn’t do what he wanted me to, he’d get that thing out and point it at me. He got me to do… a lot of things. Of course this was only when we were the only two in the house. By the time either of his parents got home the gun was back exactly where he’d found it.” Travis shrugged like it didn’t matter that he’d been terrorized with a gun as child.
Not knowing what else to do, Wes shifted enough to get his arm around Travis’ shoulders. He was more than just a little surprised when Travis shifted to lay his head on his shoulder, but he didn’t move to shake it off. That feeling of things not being done, not being okay between them had finally lifted. He didn’t want to be the one responsible for putting that space back between them. Besides, there were worse things than having Travis Marks trust you enough to relax that much. “I would have gone to down Pawn Shop if you’d wanted to. You know, so we could stay partners.”
Travis pulled back and glared at Wes and Wes suddenly had the feeling of doing exactly the opposite of what he’d intended to.
“Why didn’t you say that?” Travis bit out, looking more confused than pissed… but a little pissed too.
“You said that it was better if we went back to our original divisions!” Wes snapped impatiently, “You said –“
“I said that if we wanted to start doing damage control on our careers, the best thing to do was to go back to –“
“We are something else,” Wes said, sliding across to bump Travis’ shoulder with his.
“I was willing to cut you loose if that’s what you wanted. You gave up being a lawyer to be a cop. And you’re a damn good one. I didn’t want to drag you down to –“
“Don’t you dare say it,” Wes cut him off.
Travis shrugged. “You’ve got a lot of potential in this department, Wes. You don’t deserve to have all that taken away because you kept me from being an absolute idiot.”
“Six months ago we both went for our guns. From that point on, whatever it was that came our way… we were in it together. We owed it to Pack-Man, and we owed it to each other. To see it through. To get it done together.”
“Doctor Ryan will probably have a thousand things to say about us being willing to do that whole, ‘if you love somebody set them free’ thing.”
“Love somebody, huh?” Wes asked with one eyebrow raised.
Wes let his head thunk back against the wall. “I can’t do this with you tonight. It’s three in the morning and we’ve been more honest with each other in the past twenty-four hours than we probably have been in the last four months. I’m tired.”
“You could crash here,” Wes offered.
Travis opened his eyes and scanned the room. “You sure?”
“Sure. It’s almost dawn, we’ve been up damn near twenty-four hours, we’ve been exposed to cocaine and we’re due for a pretty incredible adrenaline crash any second now. Neither of us should be operating anything more complicated than a shoelace.”
Travis gave him a goofy grin. “Can’t wait to tell the doc that we’ve progressed so far that we’ve actually started sleeping together.”
Wes pulled the pillow out from behind him and smacked Travis in the face with it before he got up and headed into the bathroom to change for the night and brush his teeth. Half way there he tossed over his shoulder, “At this point it’s probably better than you telling her I want to sleep with her. Again.”