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Nobody had ever got under his skin like Jim Gordon. He thought about Jim constantly, worried about him endlessly. Wished sometimes that he had never clapped eyes on him, only to hate himself instantly for the thought.

Life without Jim didn’t bear imagining.

Not least because he was forced to come face to face with the idea on an entirely too regular basis. Jim never seemed able to help himself. If there was a dangerous situation, some crazy psycho killer on the loose with half baked dreams of world domination, you could guarantee that Jim would be right in the middle of it.

Would be the focus of it, most probably, and Harvey didn’t think that he was being over zealous when he outright demanded Jim tell him where he was going and who he was seeing. Jim had been buried alive once, when he already had the answers to both those questions, so it stood to reason that Harvey needed to be always on his guard.

That he needed to threaten Jim with confinement to desk duties, and pace the corridors outside Jim’s hospital room after yet another too close encounter with the city’s criminal element.

“I’m not a kid,” Jim griped in the days that followed, “I am perfectly capable of conducting my own investigations.”

The state of his pretty face really belied the sentiment, along with the crutches and the cast on his leg.

“By rights you shouldn’t even be here,” Harvey countered, jabbing a finger in his direction and meaning the precinct. At work, more generally. He ought to be sat at home, recovering, watching trashy daytime TV and munching on grapes or something.

Jim took his words personally, he always did, and Harvey had known the man long enough to recognize that determined set to his jaw. Knew him well enough that he told Alvarez not to let Jim out of his sight, not for a moment, and had only himself to blame a few hours later when Alvarez’ name flashed up on his caller ID.

It took less time than usual to track Jim down, at least. He couldn’t drive himself, and anywhere with stairs was proving a problem. Jim had still managed to add a few new bruises to his collection. Had blood trickling down the side of his face, and was only standing through sheer force of will, teeth gritted tight together against the pain.

He ground his own teeth as arrests were made and details taken. As he told Jim to get in the damn car and stop being an insufferable dumbass.

“I thought we were going back to the precinct,” Jim said, craning his neck to look back at the turning he had missed.

“You’re going home,” Harvey told him sternly, “and you’re going to stay there.”

“You can’t tell me what to do,” Jim countered immediately, all the usual stubbornness shining through.

Harvey laughed, so bitter it almost surprised himself, “I can, Jim. If I say you’re off the case, you’re off the damn case.”

Jim fumed all the way through the rest of the short drive. Went from angry to apocalyptic at the sight of the ‘out of order’ sign stuck to the door of the elevator, and then did his best to fumble up the staircase without assistance, awkward and lumbering.

He flinched away from Harvey’s attempt to touch, face pale and sickly, and maybe it wasn’t his finest moment but Harvey couldn’t control himself. Yelled at Jim to stop being such a fool, just for two goddamn minutes, and Jim responded by losing his own temper.

Shook with it, eyes flashing, and demanded to know why Harvey wouldn’t simply let him do his job. Why he wouldn’t trust him to sit at his desk, at least, and how he couldn’t claim it was anything to do with his leg, because half the department had done the same thing at some point or other.

“You just want me out of the way because you don’t want me messing up your cosy relationship with the Commissioner,” Jim accused, knowing exactly where to stick the knife, and just how to twist it.

It was too much. It tore at his chest and made him see red, and though he had pictured this moment a million times, had imagined how he might make Jim understand through so very many boring meetings, it all fell away in the face of the reality - Jim angry and hurt, and him shouting himself hoarse in the dingy hallway of Jim’s apartment building.

“I don’t want you in harm’s way because I love you, you stupid idiot! If you die, if I lose you, what the hell am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to carry on without you?”

As soon as the words left him, Harvey wished he could take them back. Wished he could wind the clock back to before they started the argument, so that Jim would never have to know how completely pathetic he was.

How desperately in love with him he really was.

“You love -” Jim started, eyes wide and startled, and Harvey knew there was no hope of claiming he had meant it platonically. The acceptable brotherly love he had already confessed to Jim over and over.

They were past that now.

“I’m sorry,” he managed instead, barely audible, and pulled his hat from his head with an arm that felt like rubber. Raked a hand through his unruly hair and turned to leave. Maybe if he drank enough - drank himself to death perhaps - he might be able to blot this awful moment from his memory.

Except Jim’s hand was on his shoulder, a death grip in the fabric of his suit jacket, half to keep him there, half to maintain his own balance. It was that which halted Harvey’s progress. Had him turning around and swallowing back emotion. Winding an arm about Jim’s middle and telling him numbly that he’d help him to his apartment, then leave him alone.

But when they got there that wasn’t how things unfolded. He nodded stiltedly at Jim, once, and made to go. Clenched his eyes tight shut and prayed he wouldn’t embarrass himself, at least not in front of Jim. Then Jim’s fingers were at his wrist, his blue gaze locked with his own, and Harvey could only stare stupidly at the bobbing of Jim’s adam’s apple as he worked up the courage to say what he needed to.

“Don’t go. Please.”

“Jim,” he tried, because he’d do anything for Jim but he couldn’t talk about this. Couldn’t stand there and laugh it off, not when it felt like his heart was breaking.

Then - then he couldn’t do anything at all, because Jim’s lips were on his, too panicked and too urgent.

“Please,” Jim repeated, those big blue eyes full of a hope Harvey had never dared to imagine seeing, and Harvey had to kiss him again. Had to touch his face, and his hair, and slide his hand around the back of Jim’s neck, marvelling at the heat of his skin and the soft brush of his lips.

“Does this mean you’re not going back to the precinct today?” Harvey asked when he pulled away enough to speak, feeling half drunk on the proximity, and Jim just smiled against his jawline, tone acknowledging his own stubbornness.

“But only because I don’t want to.”