There are two alerts in the calendar on Travis' computer; one on January first that says "TRAVIS CALENDAR ALERTS ONLY HELP YOU REMEMBER THINGS IF YOU FILL THEM OUT YOU FUCKWIT," which is a relic back from the days when Wes actually used the word "fuckwit" so he keeps it around, and the second one, on May seventeenth, that marks the day Wes and Alex's divorce was finalized.
Travis walks into the office expecting full-blown hurricane mode, but Wes' desk is empty save for yesterday's abandoned Caribou cup and an obsessively neat To-Do list on a purple legal pad Post-It. This is perhaps even more worrying.
In the five minutes that it takes Travis to walk from the elevators to the coffee machine in the break room, he gets no less than four significant looks as well as a pitying head shake. Then Kendall comes over and punches him in the shoulder.
"Ow," Travis says, "girl – "
"Do not call me 'girl,'" Kendall interrupts. "What are you doing here."
The fact that she's phrased that as a threat rather than a question, as well as the somewhat crazed look on her face, all come together to form a general air of don't poke the goddamn bear, and Travis proceeds with caution.
"I…work here?" he guesses.
Kendall smiles, the same one she uses when hacking into government databases. "Wes called in sick this morning."
"I figured," Travis replies.
Kendall stares at him.
"Oh," he says belatedly, "and I'm…sick too."
"You look pretty sick," she says. "Feverish."
Travis makes an attempt at a cough. "Yeah, wow, this is bad, contagious probably, I should just go."
"Feel better," Kendall says in satisfaction, and stalks away, off to dominate someone else in an incredibly cheerful manner, probably.
Travis stops on his way out to knock on the Captain's window and cough dramatically, but all Sutton does is roll his eyes, not even pausing in his phone conversation, which Travis figures is permission enough. Then on the way out he gets four more significant looks and a weirdly intimate hug from the uniform at the front desk, who pats him on the shoulder and says "look after him, man," with these big cartoon Bambi eyes, and seriously, Wes has a way more complex relationship with this office than Travis ever previously thought.
Wes has a house now, this really suburban two-bedroom in Pacific Palisades that gives Travis nightmares just a little bit, but it has a yard and a tree and a garage and numerous electric problems for Wes to obsess over, so actually it's sort of perfect. Travis drives up with more expectations: Wes frantically trimming the lawn with nail scissors, Wes reupholstering his couch with old pairs of jeans, Wes scrubbing all his dishes with a toothbrush, Wes redoing the trim with Sharpies. What he actually finds is none of these things, and maybe by now Travis should've learned that if it is possible for Wes to be contrary he will do it, even if he doesn't even know he's doing it, because it's, like, his destiny.
"What are you doing here," Wes says flatly.
"Uh," Travis says. "Is that pie?"
Wes looks down at his hands and then back up at Travis, like yes obviously I'm holding a delicious-looking pecan pie Travis are you stupid. "That does not answer my question."
"Did you bake that pie?" Travis asks gleefully. "Oh my God, you're wearing an apron. Wes. Wes."
Wes scowls. "Now comes the part where I slam the door in your face."
"You're not gonna slam the door in my face."
"No because you'd ruin that delicious pie, Wes, you made delicious pie! Look at you." Travis smiles hopefully. "Can I have some?"
Wes looks skeptical, which is ridiculous because Travis knows that Wes hates all nuts except for almonds so obviously he made this pie for Travis and why he's complaining Travis has no idea. "If you tell me why you're here."
"Will you let me eat it inside?" Travis asks. Wes raises an eyebrow. "With a fork. And plate. Which I...will clean, afterwards."
"Damn right you will." Wes thrusts the pie out in resignation. "Come in, then, and take your boots off or die."
"That's a little extreme," Travis comments, stepping inside and elbowing the door shut. "Wow, Wes, love what you've done with the 'ol place."
"Shut up." Wes crosses his arms in the middle of his big, blank living room. There isn't even a TV, for pete's sake. "Kitchen. Plate. Fork."
"Touchy." Travis weighs the risk of Wes glaring his face off for eating pie with his hands over a white carpet against the effort of walking into the kitchen for utensils and decides it isn't worth it. "Since when do you bake, anyway? I thought you said baking was for the bored and unemployed."
"Since forever. I have many talents and skills, Travis, that you don't know about. I am a well-rounded individual."
"Right," Travis says, and then stops dead in his tracks because oh my God, Paula Deen has just thrown up all over Wes' kitchen. "Oh, what the fuck."
There is literally flour everywhere. And butter, and sugar, and those weird muffin cup things that you don't have to use a pan for because they're reinforced with aluminum or whatever, and also at least - at least - two dozen cookies. And muffins. With frosting.
Wes twitches. "I, uh." He grabs a rag and swipes at a streak of frosting on a cabinet - the cabinet? - ineffectually. The whole effect is kind of sad. "There's a bake sale?"
"Wes," Travis says, slowly placing the pie on the counter and making no sudden movements, "I am incredibly concerned about you right now."
Wes scowls. "Shut up. You're being weird again."
If anything this strengthens Travis' resolve, because Wes projects his feelings onto others like it's his job, and also he's looking a little obsessive about that frosting situation, okay, basically none of this is good. "I came over here to check on you man, to see if you were doin' alright, and dude, this is not alright. This is what we call a warning sign, Wes - Wes, have you been outside today? How's your pulse?"
Wes drops the rag abruptly and turns to a cupboard, grabbing a plate and slamming it onto the counter. "There, eat your pie."
"Did you make banana bread, too?" Travis asks. "It's only nine-thirty, man, how long have you been awake?"
"I'm fine," Wes says, crazed, rummaging through a drawer and emerging with a fork. "Here. Eat your pie."
"Travis," Wes interrupts, brandishing the fork in a very weapon-like fashion. Travis flinches back on instinct. "Travis, eat the goddamn pie and shut up."
Travis reaches out cautiously and grabs the fork. Wes fights it for a second before he visibly does a double-take and lets go.
"I'm not crazy," he says.
"Alright," Travis agrees.
"I'm just." He shudders, shoulders tight, and Travis actually winces on his behalf, it looks that painful. "I needed a day."
"Okay," Travis replies. "Okay, man. Hey. Let's go get a drink."
For a second, Travis thinks Wes might keep it up, since he's got that look on his face whenever somebody takes his stapler without his consent, but all he does is sigh heavily and rub the bridge of his nose. "You're buying," he says.
"Oh, very funny," Travis replies.
It sometimes feels like Travis has known Wes for forever, like he was always there, in the background, bitching about the food and judging Travis' life choices. It's weird, because sometimes Travis will be looking at an old photo and think to himself man it's weird that Wes wasn't in this shot I would've totally made him be in this shot and then he'll remember that it's a picture of his second foster mom from 1990 and that's fucked up.
Travis is done trying to figure out how that all happened. God and the Los Angeles Police Department both work in mysterious ways, or so they say.
Anyway it all usually makes more sense when Travis is drunk. Also when Wes is drunk. When they're drunk together it's the most logical thing in the world, which is probably why they don't do that a lot.
"Man," Travis says.
"I know," Wes replies. "I know, Travis. Travis, look at me. My glass is empty."
Travis does, and it is. "That's awful. Let me fix that for you, brother."
"I'm not your brother," Wes says, sounding confused.
"It's a figure of speech," Travis tells him, because Wes should know these things, Travis is here to help, really, "wait right there, okay, don't move. I mean it, don't move your body."
"My body isn't moving," Wes says, still somewhat perplexed. "Your body's moving, mine isn't."
Travis pats him on the head and gets up to order another round. As he walks away he hears Wes' forehead hit the table with a muffled 'thunk.' Mission fucking accomplished, he thinks proudly. He is such an awesome partner.
"I'm a great partner," he tells the bartender, because that feels like news that needs to be shared.
"Congrats," he says enthusiastically, or maybe not enthusiastically, maybe Travis is overinterpreting his tone a little. "What do you want?"
This isn't the kind of bar that Travis normally goes to; for one thing the employees are not hot women under the age of 30, for another it's a little hipster-esque and fuck that. But it had seemed like a Wes sort of place, and since this is Wes' needed day and all, Travis can be generous.
"I want," Travis says, "world peace, stricter gun regulation for private citizens and two whiskey doubles. Please."
The bartender, who is a typical bartender in that he humors the ridiculous drunk person waving money in his face, complies immediately. "Special occasion?" he asks, nodding in the direction of Wes. Travis swivels his head to look and confirms that yes, that is still Wes, and his body has not moved. Good work, Wes. "Little early for a night on the town, isn't it?"
Travis squints at him, trying to think of something logical to say that isn't we're alcoholics or it was either this or a nervous breakdown. "We're very old," he confides. "Drunk by noon, asleep by three, that's how we roll."
"I just thought you guys worked nights or something," the bartender says.
"Oh," Travis replies, "yeah, that would've made more sense."
The bartender smirks, sliding the glasses over. "On your tab?"
"His tab," Travis says. "His day."
"Right," the bartender says dryly.
Wes is still face down on the table, but he seems to still be conscious, so that's all good. Anyway he twitches when Travis raps his knuckles on the back of his skull, and mumbles something into the wood, so he's not dead. That's also good.
"Didn't hear that, sugarplum," Travis says, hitching his feet up on a spare stool. At least there's lots of room to spread out: pro number one of getting trashed in the middle of the day. Travis should do this more often.
"I asked if you were flirting with the bartender," Wes says, lifting his face up long enough to glare before letting his head fall again.
"No," Travis says, "he's old enough to be my father, man, that's super gross."
Wes mumbles something else, too quiet to make out, although Travis does identify the words "whore" and "wombat," which sounds a little dodgy. Or maybe it was "combat." Hard to tell.
"You doin' alright, Wes?" Travis asks. "You feel any better?"
Travis taps him on the shoulder until Wes sits up again, batting Travis' hand away with a frown. "Don't do that. I don't wanna talk about it."
"You should talk about it," Travis says.
"Did you get me drunk so I'd talk about my feelings with you?" Wes asks. He doesn't even sound drunk, is the thing, because Wes is always articulate, always, even when impaired, it's really annoying. "Because you should know right now that I'm not going to do that."
"Dr. Ryan says," Travis starts, but Wes makes this weird moaning noise that kind of sounds like the time he got kicked in the nuts by a meth head, so Travis stops. "Dude, you gotta level with me though, because you're freaking me out with the Food Channel shit, are you serious? You're alright, aren't you? Because I thought you were doing alright about the Alex thing but if you're not—"
"I'm alright," Wes interrupts. "I bought a house, didn't I?"
"That was impressive," Travis agrees. "Everyone thinks so."
"It's just - really empty," Wes says, kind of helplessly, with this defeated slump to his shoulders that Travis knows sure as hell would not have happened without the help of several dozen ounces of whiskey. "It gets to me sometimes. Today was bad. Bad day. Bad day today."
Travis reaches out and Wes sort of - meets him halfway, leaning his shoulder into Travis' hand like he was expecting it. Maybe he was, though, because Travis is good at this; he knows he's good at this. This, backing each other up, holding each other up, filling in each other's empty spaces and smoothing over the cracks, it works for them and it always has.
"I'm totally here for you, man," Travis says emphatically.
Wes groans and pulls away.
"Do you want to hug?"
"Take me home right now," Wes orders.
"Hugging can help!" Travis protests, "I give great hugs!"
"Why do you always have to ruin things," Wes complains.
Travis doesn't really remember the taxi ride home, just that it was expensive and he had to pay for it, goddamn it Wes ("I paid for the drinks, shut up Travis, you always have cash, you cheap bastard!") and there was singing involved. Travis and the driver sang, is what he means. Wes didn't sing. Wes never sings, because he's cold and dead inside.
Travis wakes up at midnight, face down on a futon in a creepy-ass empty room that he's pretty sure is intended to be either an office or a torture chamber, judging by the lighting. He gets up and eats three oatmeal raspberry muffins and a slice of banana bread before Wes shuffles into the kitchen, looking like the "after" photo in an anti-drug commercial.
"Morning," Travis says.
"Go to hell," Wes replies. "Why are you still here?"
"It's the middle of the night," Travis says helpfully, "also I think I'm still drunk."
Wes rolls his eyes and starts fumbling with his pretentious espresso machine.
"Dude, are you making coffee? It's midnight. We have work tomorrow." Travis eyes the machine dubiously. "That thing is disgusting."
"This thing is wonderful, and I want coffee," Wes says stubbornly.
"You're gonna be up all night."
"Thanks, Mom, but I can handle it," Wes says with a sneer. "Coffee doesn't actually keep me up at night, I'm not a nineteen-year-old college freshman, Travis."
"You're telling me you drink coffee at night all the time," Travis says in revulsion. "No wonder you're so uptight, Christ, Wes! Give me that."
"What - what are you doing," Wes barks, clutching the carafe like it's an infant child or something. Travis frowns in disapproval and snags the bag of filters instead. "Travis!"
"No coffee," Travis says sternly, stuffing the entire bag in his jacket pocket. Wes makes a halfhearted grab for it but he's obviously way more hungover than Travis is, so all he does is make himself look pathetic. "Water. Lots of water. Aspirin. And food."
Wes rolls his eyes. "You're being ridiculous."
"I'm very ridiculous, but you've got no idea what to do with a hangover, obviously," Travis says. "Three words: eggs, bananas, fruit juice."
"That's four words," Wes says.
"Shut up," Travis replies. "Where the hell is your fridge?"
"I don't have one," Wes says. Travis blinks at him. "I've only been here a month!"
"What," Travis says, with slow-dawning horror, "have you been doing with your life, Wes?"
"It's getting delivered next week," Wes says uncomfortably. Travis raises his eyebrows at him. "There's a big cooler in the pantry?"
"Are you telling me you've lived here a month and you don't have a damn fridge?"
"Why do you think I made so much food?" Wes asks exasperatedly, "I needed to use all the milk and eggs!"
"I thought it was just because you were crazy," Travis says honestly.
"I didn't go crazy until you got here," Wes replies.
"I don't know that I believe that," Travis says skeptically.
They end up going to a 24-hour Denny's - Wes pays - and Travis makes Wes eat three sunny side up eggs, two bananas and a glass of orange juice.
"Potassium," Travis tells him, "cysteine, and fructose. Three words, asshole. Eat up."
"Do you even know what those words mean?" Wes asks critically.
"See, this is your problem," Travis tells him, "this is why you have an empty house, Wes. You're unpleasant. That's your problem."
"Thanks for the enlightenment," Wes snaps.
"You're welcome," Travis replies. "Also, cysteine and fructose break down toxins in your liver, and you lose potassium when you drink lots of alcohol." Wes raises an eyebrow. "Because it's a diuretic."
"Great," Wes says, "thank you for the science lesson."
"I love it when I know more shit than you do," Travis says happily.
"Well, if there's any area of life in which you have superior knowledge, it's being drunk," Wes says.
"That's probably accurate."
Wes swigs the last of his fructose-laden orange juice in a distinctly resentful manner, all eye-rolling and huffing and pouting. It's actually kind of fun to watch, really. "Is this you comforting me? Is that what this is supposed to be? Because it's not comforting. Like, at all."
"No, man, this is me getting you out of your head," Travis says. "Never said anything about comfort."
Wes takes a steadying breath, staring blankly at the remnants of his plate.
"It's that house, dude," Travis says, not without some sympathy. "You gotta do something about that house."
"I like my house," Wes says.
"Yeah, fine, then act like it. Decorate it, paint the walls, buy some fucking furniture, Wes. Quit telling yourself that you're waiting for your life to start and start your life already."
Wes narrows his eyes. "Did Dr. Ryan put you up to this?"
"That sounded distinctly Dr. Ryan-esque."
"Fuck you, man, that was good advice." Travis taps his chest. "All from here."
"Okay, okay." Wes swings his head back and forth the way he does when he's about to admit something he doesn't want to and is being a bitch about it - sort like Hudson does when he's stalking squirrels in the park. "I guess, maybe, you possibly could have a point. Like half of a point. Almost."
"Yes, I do have a point," Travis agrees. "Because I'm right."
"No," Wes says automatically, because it's his well-honed instinct to disagree with everything Travis says, all the time. "I said you have a point, not that you're right."
"So I do have a whole point." Wes blanches, and Travis points at his face in utter triumph. "Ahh! Gotcha. Owned, baby."
"You're not funny, you know that?" Wes shakes his head, completely ignoring Travis' bomb victory dance, which is just rude. "Like, nobody thinks you're funny. You are the only person who thinks that."
"People think I'm funny," Travis says, "just the other day a charming young lady said I was the funniest person she ever met."
"Your dates don't count, that's a biased segment of the population, it's unscientific, nope," Wes says, shaking his head. "You're not funny. Full stop."
"You're just a humorless person, Wes," Travis says sympathetically, "and I feel sorry for you because of that."
Wes gives a derisive snort, but there's a tiny half-smile on his face that says a hell of a lot more than anything Travis was able to achieve earlier with whiskey and hipster bars. Now this, Travis thinks, is what an accomplished mission looks like.
"I'm actually very witty," Wes says.
"Really?" Travis asks. "You think so?"
"You could pay for your food yourself, you know," Wes comments.
"Okay, you're witty," Travis replies.
The three-week period that follows this incident (referred to only as "that one night," which kind of makes it sound like they got trashed and hooked up, but since that's not too far off from what happened and also people tend to assume that he and Wes are married anyway, Travis doesn't sweat it much) is a fascinating tour through the innards of Wes' psyche, as Travis watches him proceed to take his advice about moving forward with his life while trying his hardest to not admit that he's taking Travis' advice about moving forward with his life. Or that his life needed moving forward. This guy should be studied, honestly.
"I'm painting," Wes explains one morning, when Travis points out that he's got some kind of weird blue discoloration on his face and maybe he should get that checked out. "It's paint, Travis."
"Kinda looks like rabies," Travis remarks.
"Who said 'rabies'?" Randi asks anxiously, stopping short in the middle of the pen. "What about rabies?"
"Nothing," Wes assures her. "Travis might have it. He's having some - foaming issues, you know. Personal. Complicated. You don't wanna know."
"Oh my God," Travis exclaims, "how old are you?"
Randi just glares at both of them. "Don't joke about rabies," she says gravely. Wes raises his hands in surrender, and Travis takes his tried and true method of smiling charmingly until she walks away.
"Quit upsetting our coworkers," Wes tells him after she's gone.
"That was on both of us, equally," Travis replies. "So, painting."
Wes shifts in his desk chair, transparently uncomfortable. "The living room."
"You're painting the living room...that?" Travis asks, leaning in to inspect the smear of turquoise right beneath Wes' right ear. "Dude."
"What's wrong with it?" Wes asks defensively.
"It's gross," Travis explains, because that is all that needs to be said, honestly. But enough is never enough, with Wes. "It's too bright, Wes, it's gonna give you a headache."
"You think you could do better?" Wes asks, like a dare. This is the moment that Travis will look back on and identify as the point of no return.
It takes them two nights to do the living room, and only because they spent most of the first arguing about the color. Wes is stubborn as fuck about his nasty, annoying blue, and Travis only barely manages to talk him down to a slightly darker shade that doesn't make Travis want to stab himself in the eyes. Then they lose another three days to Ikea.
"How can you not have a coffee table?" Travis asks, day three and a half, Burbank Ikea, nine P.M., misery central. "A coffee table is...it's essential, Wes. You can't not have a coffee table in a living room."
"It's a useless piece of furniture," Wes argues. "Look at this. This one's made out of steel. Really? Fifty bucks? Nope."
"But what are you going to put your feet on?" Travis asks sadly.
"The floor," Wes says unrepentantly.
Travis does convince him to buy an interesting-looking side table though, with some weird lattice metal shit going on with it and a glass top, because what the fuck, he at least needs something to put his beer on. Or wine cooler. Whatever Wes usually drinks when he's alone, the freak.
Wes also blows nine hundred dollars on a huge armoire/bookcase/glorified TV stand that's ugly as all hell, but Travis decides to pick his battles in anticipation for the couch and curtain decisions.
Wood paneling, though.
"I like it," Wes says. "It's classy."
"You and I have a very different understanding of that word," Travis tells him.
At the very least, this gives them something inoffensive to talk about in therapy. Which is always a plus.
"So, throw pillows?" Mrs. Dumont asks. "Yay or nay?"
"Yay," Wes says firmly, at the exact same time that Travis is "nay"-ing. This happens a lot.
"Throw pillows," Mr. Dumont says with a scoff. "Expensive decorations, really. Don't have any use and they end up on the floor more often than not."
"They pull the space together," Rozelle argues. "You know, add coherence to the room."
"Thank you!" Wes says in triumph. "See," he says to Travis, "coherence."
"Eighteen dollars a piece, man," Travis says, shaking his head. "You wanna blow seventy bucks on coherence that's your prerogative, I'm just saying, it's stupid."
"Eighteen dollars?" Clyde says, whistling through his teeth. "A piece?"
"I kind of like throw pillows," Peter comments.
"You would," Dakota says sourly, heavily pregnant and pissed off at the universe. Peter shoots her a slightly terrified look and tries to grab her hand. It doesn't work.
"Alright," Dr. Ryan cuts in, frowning, "I don't think this is an effective use of our time, everyone. Travis and Wes, how about we talk about how you're managing making these joint decisions? Have you been finding ways to make compromises?"
"Wes isn't very good at that," Travis says. Everyone nods their head in immediate understanding.
"Excuse you," Wes says.
"Guys," Dr. Ryan interrupts, "remember our active listening skills."
"Is everyone forgetting that this is my house?" Wes asks in exasperation. "And that Travis and I are not actually married?"
Dr. Ryan raises an eyebrow, while everybody else just looks vaguely confused. "Compromise is still an essential part of your partnership. Decorating your house is a wonderful opportunity to practice this with smaller decisions that carry less weight and pressure than the big decisions you need to make at work."
"Yeah," Travis says smugly, crossing his arms, "it's a wonderful opportunity, Wes."
Wes shoots him a venomous look that promises physical violence if he continues down that path. Travis shivers a little despite himself.
"Wait, I don't get it," Mr. Dumont says, holding out a hand, "why are they living together if they're not married?"
"Oh, for Christ's sake," Wes says.
You'd think for a bunch of seasoned and combat-trained LAPD officers, decorating and furnishing an entire house wouldn't be such a source of fascination. This turns out to be...really not the case, although considering pretty much everything about the people he works with, Travis doesn't actually know why he's surprised.
Kendall is the first one to show up, on a Thursday night when Wes and Travis are trying to assemble a lamp and failing sort of spectacularly. She takes one look at them, rolls her eyes and orders them out to her car.
"Did she buy me a computer?" Wes asks incredulously, staring at the contents of the backseat with trepidation.
Travis pops his head over Wes' shoulder and grins. "Sweet, it's one of those touch screen thingamajigs!"
"Get your pointy chin away from me," Wes says, and elbows him in the gut.
"It's a Toshiba twenty-three inch LED touchscreen desktop," Kendall rattles off. Travis barely hears her, too busy gaping at the lamp she's just assembled perfectly in the five minutes they were outside, son of a bitch. "Fully loaded, Windows 8, sixteen gig RAM, the works. I even installed virus protection and signed you up for a gmail account; I know how you're secretly an eighty-year-old Luddite on the inside."
"I already have a computer," Wes says numbly, setting the box gingerly on the floor. He's staring at it like it's about to bite him.
"You have an Apple laptop that you bought in 2007," Kendall sneers, spitting it out like it's an insult. "You're welcome."
"Dude, free computer," Travis says, "shut up."
"Who said it was free?" Kendall asks. "I billed you for it, Wes. What do I look like, Bill Gates? My salary is half the size of yours."
"I'm really uncomfortable with this," Wes comments, raising his voice to speak over Travis' sudden burst of laughter. Kendall just shrugs.
"Happy housewarming," she says.
Kate and Amy are next, with a bunch of seeds and cuttings from the garden Amy tends at her mom's house in Newport Beach that Wes tries to pretend he's not totally delighted about. Dietz stops by briefly and drops off some old lawn chairs he's been trying to get rid of that Travis and Wes both pretend aren't completely hideous, and Coleman and Lee come over one Saturday and watch a Rangers game with Travis in the newly-finished living room while Wes resentfully has inane conversations with their wives in the kitchen.
Sutton doesn't actually stop by, and neither does Dr. Ryan, because they both have this weird thing about boundaries or whatever, but Sutton sends this ridiculous chocolate-covered fruit flower arrangement thing that neither Travis nor Wes know what the fuck to do with, and Dr. Ryan sends them an actual flower arrangement with a card that says active listening skills! on it. Mr. and Mrs. Dumont give them throw pillows from their basement, and Dakota shoves an apple pie in their hands at their next group meeting, with Peter over her shoulder mouthing, take it, just take it at them with a haunted look on his face.
There's also the time that Jonelle comes over with two huge bottles of wine and spends five hours locked in the master bedroom with Wes. Travis spends the entire time trying not to pace and generally being incredibly anxious because what the fuck, he hears laughing all the way from downstairs, what the fuck are they laughing about, this is really not cool.
"You," Wes tells him after she leaves, with a wink for Wes and a severe look for Travis. "We were laughing about you."
"Aw, man, c'mon," Travis whines, "that's low. Super low."
Wes, incredibly tipsy and clearly absent of any concern for Travis' pride or feelings, just shrugs and grins like an idiot. It'd be kind of cute, if he hadn't just metaphorically punched Travis in the dick.
It doesn't really strike Travis how odd this is at all until Randi, of all people, actually points it out, sitting at the island in the kitchen with a twelve pack of Stella, watching Wes grill steaks on the back porch and throw a frisbee back and forth with Hudson.
"You know I'm happy for you, right?" Randi asks, giving Travis the same look she used to give him when they were seeing each other and he'd do something really sweet, like pay for dinner or give her the last slice of pizza or go down on her in bed. You know, the romantic shit. "It's great, Travis. It really is."
"Uh, thanks," Travis says, "you know we're not actually dating, though." He's far past being surprised when people make this assumption; it happens practically every day at this point.
Randi just rolls her eyes. "Sure," she says. "Whatever you say."
"We're really not," Travis insists.
"Well then, you sure have a bizarre idea of what not-dating is," she says, with a pointed glance to the house around them. "You know that Kendall won the pot on you two last week, right?"
"There was a pot?" Travis asks, vaguely betrayed, Sutton usually keeps him up to date on that shit.
"I'm just saying," Randi says with a shrug and a very shrewd look, "if you're moving in with the guy there's probably something going on."
"I'm not moving in," Travis says, and Randi laughs, and then Wes pops his head in to tell them the food is ready and accidentally lets Hudson inside, who tracks mud all over the floor and everyone starts yelling - but it sticks in Travis' head like a rough case, poking at him until he can't help but examine it.
The thing is - well.
The thing is that Travis' apartment is clear on the other side of the city, and he's a little short on cash this month anyway so he's just been crashing at Wes' to save time and gas. There are two bedrooms after all, and Wes has Tempur Pedic mattresses that feel like sleeping on a cloud of bunnies and marshmallows, and also he cooks in the morning, like gets up an hour early to make actual food, so yeah, Travis has been staying over.
But then Travis takes a look around - like looks, really looks - and sees the Wolfgang Puck baking dish set, a gift from his first foster mom, and his nicer leather jacket, the one he wears out, hanging by the door. A pile of his dirty clothes is mixed in with Wes' in the laundry room upstairs, and Travis' iPod deck is hooked up in the dining room where they've just started painting. There's a bunch of Travis' books on the bookcase/butt ugly/TV stand/whatever, because they'd wanted to see how it'd look with books on it and all of Wes' were still in storage and they hadn't gone to get them yet because they'd gotten sidetracked by ordering that rug for the entryway and holy fuck Travis lives here.
Travis stands in the middle of the upstairs hallway, reevaluating his entire life up to this very moment, because not only has he taken a huge step in a relationship he didn't even know he was in, but he didn't even notice either, and really, which is worse? He can't tell.
"Travis," Wes says, popping his head out of his room. There's a toothbrush in his hand and he's wearing sweatpants and nothing else. There's no fucking way Wes would've walked around half naked in front of Travis three months ago, Travis thinks, with a tiny shiver of what might be terror, or excitement, or both. "I can't remember if I locked my car," he says, like Travis is supposed to do something about that, because Travis is like his boyfriend, and shit shit shit he has to get out of here right now.
"I have to go," he says.
Wes blinks at him. "Okay?"
"Uh," Travis blurts, "bye?"
"Is that a question or a statement?" Wes asks, frowning. He's still holding his toothbrush.
"Statement," Travis says, and leaves. His hands don't stop shaking until he's twenty minutes gone, speeding down I-10 and realizing belatedly that he forgot his helmet. And his jacket. And his phone.
He might be in over his head.
His destination is a bar, naturally, and he definitely goes to a Travis bar and not a Wes bar, finding a sufficiently skeevy-looking one with a game on the televisions and a crowd that looks like they could really use the word of Jesus Christ in their lives.
Travis meets a girl named Sasha and spends the night having athletic sex with her in her loft apartment and hating himself, two things which really do not normally go together in Travis' life, ever. He then proceeds to stare at Sasha's ceiling for four hours, listening to her cat scratch at the walls of her kennel and wondering where exactly he went wrong here.
Because it's not like Travis doesn't already know that he's got a long future ahead of him full of the Wes Mitchell Deluxe Package, not like he doesn't see himself at age ninety, sitting in a bar next to the old man version of Wes and listening to him bitch about his arthritis or foot cream or whatever old people care about. Travis is in this for the long haul, always has been, because he's never had a partner like Wes, who fits in all the best ways, and who grates so badly against the places he doesn't. He knew it from the moment they closed their first case together, knew that they worked and that they could keep working, that they complemented each other, that together they could be the best. And they are the best. He wouldn't have left Phil otherwise.
(Well, he totally would have still left Phil, he just would've procrastinated doing it for a lot longer, but yeah that's not the point.)
Travis doesn't have relationships that last, he just doesn't. He's got foster families, and ex-girlfriends, and people who owe him money, and other people he knew in college that still drunk-text him on Saturday nights and then ask him for money, and Facebook friends. And Wes. That's pretty much it.
Which is fine, that's how it's always been and that's how he likes it. It's the idea of it changing, of the foundation being rocked somehow that scares him, because what if this is a bad idea, what if they fuck it up again, because they might be doing better than they were before but things still aren't great, and they wouldn't fight so fiercely if they didn't give a shit, but Travis is still sort of a shitty boyfriend and aren't they both supposed to be straight anyway and this is all such a bad fucking idea.
He sort of wants to talk to Dr. Ryan, that's how messed up he is about all this, but she doesn't do house calls ever since that time she spent an hour on the phone negotiating them through the Should We Knock Down The Wall In The Basement incident, and anyway he thinks maybe Sasha, or her cat, might object to a middle-of-the-night phone call to his therapist. It's the principle of the thing.
Around 3 AM he gives up on sleeping and sneaks out guiltily, driving around aimlessly until dawn starts to creep across the horizon. Then he goes back to his apartment, because he actually still has one, and calls his voicemail from the landline he never uses while brushing his teeth with his spare toothbrush.
He's got two messages, both from Wes, the first a confused question on whether or not he's alright, and the second, a hang up. Travis winces and falls into bed knowing he's in trouble.
He's not wrong.
Wes is pissed, Travis knows that the second he walks into the pen the next morning. He can tell by Wes' hair. It sounds weird but no, Wes' hair is actually a great signifier of his emotions. It's all in the vibe, and Wes' hair has a distinctly I am so angry I am giving off actual radiation vibe to it today. Like he didn't comb it enough. Whatever, it's never steered Travis wrong before.
"Hey," he says cautiously.
Wes doesn't reply, just keeps typing angrily.
"So," Travis says brightly, We Shall Overcome playing on repeat inside of his head, "did we catch a case?"
"Nope," Wes says.
"Right, right," Travis replies absently, watching the tense line of Wes' shoulders. God, is this what it feels like to be married? "Paperwork then, huh?"
Wes gives him a look that says both you are a moron and I despair of your existence and why are you making noises in front of my face in equal measures.
"I'm just gonna," Travis cocks a thumb towards the break room, "uh, yeah."
"Sure," Wes says severely, and goes back to his angry typing. Travis escapes.
It goes on like that for a few days; Wes is short with everybody and eats lunch with Jonelle in the morgue (they are both such assholes, and ew, lunch in the morgue, are they serious) presumably because they're both rude and abrasive and nobody else wants to spend time around them. Travis just sort of ducks around trying not to get in Wes' direct line of sight, sleeps at his apartment and generally hates his life, at least until Sutton calls him into his office with his conflict resolution face on.
"There seems to be some tension," he starts, and Travis is already wincing. "I'm just concerned."
"Captain," he says, "I want you to know that I respect you immensely as a police officer and a human being and also, might I say, a role model, but please, please don't ask." Sutton looks unmoved. "Please?"
"Let me tell you a story," Sutton says. "Once upon a time there was a cop. And another cop. And these two cops acted like huge babies all the time, but the third cop was their boss and he doesn't get to retire for another six years, so he had to deal with it."
"Great story," Travis says.
"You haven't heard the end," Sutton replies, "so the first two cops keep on acting like huge babies until the third cop kills them both with a shovel. The end."
Travis nods. "Did Dr. Ryan tell you that story?"
"No," Sutton says with a scowl. "Travis, do you see these?" He reaches into his desk drawer and pulls out a box of latex evidence gloves. "Do you see them? They're kid gloves. And they're officially—" he throws the box into the trash. " - off."
"Why are you throwing them away?" Travis asks, confused.
"But they're actually adult-sized gloves, and you were never wearing them —"
"They're metaphorical," Sutton says, "shut up."
Travis nods, miming zipping his mouth shut.
"What's going on?" Sutton asks. "Talk to me, Travis. I'm here for you."
"Nothing," Travis says, through gritted teeth. "We're fine, Cap. A-OK."
"Really," Sutton says flatly, gesturing with his chin to the window. Travis swivels around and sees Wes shouting at a terrified-looking uniform, waving his stapler around in one hand.
"Uh," Travis says.
"He's scaring people," Sutton says. "Do you know how many complaints I've gotten? Three."
"Well, that's not so bad."
"Since this morning," Sutton finishes. Travis glances at his watch and cringes. "There's disharmony in my precinct, Travis, and that makes me uncomfortable. You're disrupting my fucking inner peace."
"Uh, sorry Captain," Travis says, "but if people are complaining about Wes then why are you talking to me, exactly?"
"Because why do you think Liz Taylor was so pissed off all the time?" Sutton asks, spreading out his hands. "Richard Burton, Travis. Richard Burton pissed her off."
"So I am Richard Burton," Travis says triumphantly.
"Richard Burton was an asshole," Sutton says. "It's no accomplishment, son."
Travis deflates. "Oh."
"Now, I don't think it's any stretch of the imagination to say I've been pretty lenient with you two," Sutton says, and Travis cringes again. Oh, God. "And I'm going to keep on being lenient, because you're the best guys I got, and I happen to take gratification in mentoring those who look up to me, and proper emotional support is vital to any work environment, especially one as high-stress as law enforcement—"
"Ugh," Travis says.
"Don't interrupt," Sutton orders. "But look, Travis, a bird can't fly without wings. You catch my drift?"
"Not even a little," Travis says blankly.
"Go fix it, idiot," Sutton says, rolling his eyes.
"Why do you just assume that it's me who needs to do the fixing?" Travis complains.
Sutton reaches down and snags the box of gloves out of his trash can. "Do I need to explain the metaphor to you again?"
Travis sighs in sullen resignation. "No."
"Good," Sutton replies, "now get the hell out of my office. I need to meditate."
"Thank you," Travis says gratefully, jumping up before he changes his mind. "Sorry about your inner peace. Again."
"No you're not," Sutton grumbles.
'Fixing it' is easier said than done, especially considering that Wes looks like he's trying really hard not to kick Travis in the face whenever they're forced to interact. There's also the fact that Travis is too scared to go back to the house, which is where most of his clothes are. That's not helping matters at all.
"Fight with the missus?" Randi asks, not without sympathy, tossing him a clean pair of jeans one morning in the locker rooms.
"Randi, you are a beautiful person with a heart full of kindness and virtue," Travis says in relief, scrambling in his haste to change his pants. He's been wearing these for almost five days, and there's some kind of weird stain action going on, it's maybe been the worst part about this whole thing. Other than the bone-deep guilt and conflicting desires part.
Randi makes a wounded noise and turns her face away. "Dude! Boundaries!"
"The entire precinct was betting on whether or not I'm sleeping with my partner and now you're worried about boundaries," Travis says.
"Okay," Randi replies. It sort of sounds like idiot, though.
"Also we used to have sex," Travis adds. "You've already seen me naked, so."
"That's sort of the reason for the boundary," Randi says. "Have you seen Wes this morning yet? He's like, twice as vicious today."
"It's Tuesday," Travis says, pulling the jeans up around his hips with an audible sigh of relief. "Wes hates Tuesdays. He finds them personally offensive."
Randi frowns, looking like she wants to ask, but apparently decides that it isn't worth it. "Sutton is leading a group meditation and sharing session during the lunch hour today for anyone who's been personally victimized by him these last two weeks," Randi says critically. "Coleman's wife made cookies for it."
Travis bites his lip. "Sorry?"
"You better be," Randi says, turning on her heel. "Hudson and I are both going."
"I'm gonna fix it," Travis calls after her. "I swear!"
"Put up or shut up, Marks," she calls back. She really does have a point.
If there's any small saving grace in this whole mess it's been Dakota's Braxton-Hicks contractions that came in the middle of group therapy last week, and Clyde and Rozelle's screaming match about their mortgage payment the week before that, both of which had been momentous enough to distract everyone from the fact that Wes looks like he's perpetually only moments away from physical violence. This week, however, they're not so lucky.
"Travis and Wes, how's the house decoration coming?" Dr. Ryan asks.
Wes snorts loudly and turns his head away. Travis rubs the back of his neck and winces.
"Ah," Dr. Ryan says.
"Wes is sort of mad at me," Travis explains.
"No kidding," Rozelle drawls.
"I'm not mad," Wes says, in the most unconvincing tone ever uttered by a human being ever. Nobody even bothers to dignify it with a response. "I just don't want to talk about it. It's been a rough week. Nothing to do with Travis."
"Now that's just a lie," Travis says with a scoff.
"What happened?" Dr. Ryan asks. Travis opens his mouth to reply, but she holds up a hand to stall him. "I'd actually like to hear from Wes first, Travis, if you don't mind. He seems to have a lot of pent up frustration right now."
Wes conspicuously stops jittering his leg abruptly, then scowls and starts up again, crossing his arms stubbornly. It's like Travis can actually see the thought pattern scrolling through his head: damn therapist isn't going to police my body language God Travis is such a prick.
"Well," Travis starts, when it becomes evident that Wes isn't going to start, "he—"
"He's irresponsible," Wes blurts, sitting up straight, every muscle in his body clenched tight. "You can't just start a project and then abandon it halfway through because you feel like it - you start something, you finish it, that's what adults do, but obviously Travis has no concept of what adulthood or maturity are, in theory or practice."
Dr. Ryan looks somewhat taken aback. "Am I to understand that Travis is no longer helping you decorate your house?" she asks. "That's why you're angry with him?"
Travis grimaces. "I sort of—"
"Left," Wes says shortly. "He left. In the middle." He throws up his hands. "Without so much as an 'hasta la vista' or 'by the by.'"
"You left him?" Dakota asks Travis, sounding shocked.
"Oh," Mrs. Dumont says, sounding sad. "Wes, I'm so sorry."
"Harsh, man," Clyde comments.
"I didn't mean it like that!" Travis exclaims. "I'm not - okay we're not married, remember - but still, I didn't leave him leave him, I just - I left, temporarily, because..." he trails off.
"Because why, Travis?" Wes challenges.
Travis thinks that because I was so freaked out by my own life that I had to go have a one night stand slash nervous breakdown is really not the thing to say, here.
"Can we—" Travis scratches his chin, avoiding Wes' accusing gaze. He has a feeling that this is maybe what zoo animals feel like, a little bit. "I don't want to talk about this in front of everybody."
"Oh, I bet you don't," Dakota says accusingly.
"Dakota," Dr. Ryan interrupts admonishingly. Dakota huffs, looking petulant. "Travis, nobody here is going to judge you for anything you have to say to Wes," Dr. Ryan continues gently. "This is a safe space."
"It's not about me," Travis says, because it isn't, and he knows without a shadow of a doubt that Wes will never forgive him if he says what he has to say in front of other people. "Wes, man, I need to talk to you. Please. Just for a second." He turns to Dr. Ryan. "I'm not trying to get out of anything, okay, I just - this is really private."
Dr. Ryan gives him a piercing, evaluating look before nodding once. "I'll leave this up to you, Wes. What do you want to do?"
Wes is still staring at the ground stubbornly, but he twitches slightly at his name. "Fine," he says, after an extended moment of silence. "Fine. Let's go talk."
"You can use the hallway," Dr. Ryan says, still examining them both critically.
"Thank you," Travis says emphatically, and means it. She smiles at him sadly.
"Wes," Travis starts, once the door has swung shut behind them, cutting them off from everyone's curious, nosy, stupid faces, "I'm sorry, man."
"You should be," Wes snaps, leaning against the opposite wall. He's still not looking at Travis. "Not that I'm mad. I'm not."
"Wes," Travis says quietly, and Wes deflates slightly, rubbing one palm over his eyes with obvious exhaustion.
"You're a jackass," Wes says tiredly.
"I know," Travis replies. "I know. I shouldn't have just left like that. And I shouldn't have ignored your calls and texts - I mean, in my defense I didn't have my cell phone that night but still. You know. I could've said something earlier than now."
"I thought," Wes starts, and stops shortly, swallowing visibly. "What happened?"
"I dunno man, I just—" Travis shrugs. "I freaked out a little bit."
"'Freaked out?'" Wes repeats incredulously. "About what?"
"Everything," Travis says simply. "Everything."
Wes' face twists. "You don't get to do that," he says angrily. "You don't get to show up and invade my house and push your way in all over the place and assault me with your opinions and your laundry and your emotional baggage and then just fucking leave again, like what is actually wrong with you that you think you can do that to somebody—"
Travis is having a little trouble breathing, because the look on Wes' face is really not okay, in any context, ever. "I'm sorry, Wes. I know. I'm sorry."
"I can't do this," Wes says, "not if this is how it's going to go down. Okay? You get me? I'm not strong enough. I don't care how that sounds, because it's the truth. I'm not."
"That's not how it's gonna be," Travis protests, a little panicked. "Baby, it's not."
Wes just shakes his head, leaning bodily against the cinderblock wall, like he can't stand up on his own. His expression is drawn, almost ugly.
This is the part where Travis always falls down, the part where he has to place a bet or clear the table, the part he's always been worried about, going into this. Because he doesn't even know how to do that, doesn't even know how to approach doing that. But Wes does, and has, many times, and if Travis owes him anything it's this at the very least, because Wes deserves it, and so does Travis, maybe, if he's being honest with himself. He hears that that's supposed to be healthy, or something.
"You know I want to make this work," is what he settles on. Wes lifts his head up slightly, still not making eye contact. "I can't promise that I won't fuck up again or mess it up completely, but I want to try. That's the best I can do here."
There's a long, tense moment in which Travis almost expects Wes to throw his hands in the air and storm away, but slowly, gradually, Wes' shoulders relax from where they're bunched up around his ears, and Travis watches as his hands unclench and fall open loosely by his sides.
"Don't do it again," Wes orders. His voice sounds brittle, held together with paper and string.
"I promise," Travis says sincerely. Wes finally meets his gaze and nods. Travis feels his breath leave his body all at once, leaving him almost light-headed with relief.
"We're so dysfunctional," Wes says, low and amused.
"The best ones always are, Liz," Travis replies.
Wes smiles then, a quick, almost childish grin that flashes bright and happy before it disappears, and suddenly Travis is excited, thinking about finishing the bedrooms upstairs, arguing about wallpaper versus painting and more furniture tug of wars and bathroom decisions, and they still have to decide whether or not to put up a fence, that's going to be awful, and oh God, they're going to have so much shit to fight about for the rest of their lives, it's going to be so fucking awesome.
"We should make out," Travis says, with a burst of sudden inspiration. "Oh shit, Wes, we totally should be making out, why haven't we been making out?"
"Oh, God," Wes says, pressing his forehead into the wall. The back of his neck is flushed bright red, Travis notices with delight.
"Baby," he croons, "you're embarrassed!"
"Not here," Wes says, muffled.
"Is that a 'yes' on the make outs?"
"We'll discuss it," Wes replies.
Dr. Ryan makes Wes apologize to everyone that he personally victimized with his emotions, and instead of having a bunch of heartfelt conversations like she'd probably intended, he just buys an entire gas station's worth of beer and throws a housewarming party instead, because that first option sounds awful. Nobody complains.
He and Travis spend most of it in the kitchen bickering about appetizers which continues until Wes dumps a bowl of salsa on Travis' head and locks him out in the backyard, to which Travis retaliates by wiping his face with the white cushion covers Wes just bought to cover up the hideous lawn chairs, and it's actually the best party Travis has been to in a long time.
"You two work things out?" Randi asks, as Travis leans down to let Hudson lick the rest of the salsa off his forehead.
"Oh yeah," Travis replies, "we're good."