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Accession: (noun) An increase by means of something added. The act of becoming joined

 

Faith stared at the door after Bosco left.

She should’ve seen this coming. Things were going too smoothly – Bosco was making it all look so easy. His recovery was nothing short of a miracle – every limitation the doctors had set him – Bosco had practically leaped over them. Made liars of them all and made it look easy.

Nothing had slowed him down. Nothing. Not until now.

It wasn’t fair that the one thing they’d never thought about twice – his expertise with a gun – had ended up being the one thing that would trip him up. On their list of things to worry about and overcome, re-qualifying hadn’t even been a consideration.

“It was way too easy.” Faith rubbed her forehead. “Just way too easy.”

Getting up, she walked to the bedroom and looked out the window. Bosco’s Mustang was parked in front of the building. He was either sitting in it and brooding, sitting on the steps and brooding, or walking and brooding. Either way she had time to get dressed.

The sweats hit the floor, and Faith pulled on clean jeans and a comfortable old NYPD sweatshirt. She eyed her boots, then went in favor of her tennis shoes. If Bosco was walking, she could be on her feet for who knew how long.

Downstairs, she frowned at the empty steps. The Mustang was equally empty. “Great. It’s cold and rainy so of course he goes for a walk.” The question was, in which direction?

There were two old men sitting on the stoop of the building next door. They looked up as she walked over to them. “Hey, did you see a guy come outta the building next door a little while ago? He was kind of angry.”

“The guy with the bandaid on his face?” One of them asked.

She’d stopped noticing the bandage on Bosco’s face some time ago. Normally, she’d be pissed that the bandage was the one thing about Bosco they’d noticed, but this time it might be in her favor. “Yeah, he has a bandage on his face.”

“Didn’t see him.” The two men went back to watching traffic.

You had to love New York. It was either that or lose your mind. Faith pulled out her badge. “Now did you see him?”

“He went that way.” The other man pointed down the street. “Is he a killer?”

“No.” She deadpanned. “That’d be me.”

Faith walked down the street, grinning as she left behind two startled old men.

 

A half hour later, Faith was damp and shivering. Wherever Bosco had walked off to, she hadn’t found him, and there was just too much city to search. Sooner or later, he would have to come back for his car, and she’d talk to him then. Pausing to leave a note in the driver’s seat, she walked back inside her apartment building.

One hot shower and change of dry clothes later, she felt less like an icicle and more like a human being again. Looking out the window, she saw that Bosco's Mustang was still parked out front. She checked her phone and sighed. No messages. “Okay, Bos, I’ll be the one to play make up.” Hitting the speed dial number for his cell phone, she bobbed her head and waited while his most recent stupid message to leave a message played.

“Bosco, listen, call me. I don’t want you to be mad at me – we need to talk about this.” She sighed. “You’ve come too far for us to give up now. We’ll figure something out. We always do.”

Hanging up. Faith settled on the sofa with her book. Sooner or later, Bosco would call. Hopefully it would be sooner. He hadn’t been as angry when he left as he’d wanted her to think. He was scared. And when Bosco was scared, he lashed out – inflicting as much pain as he could – but he would crawl back later to say he was sorry. She didn’t want Bosco to crawl – just to come back.

 

The phone rang and Faith jerked awake, the book falling out of her hands. Somewhere between the late late movie and the really late movie, she’d dozed off. She grabbed the phone. “Bosco?”

“No, but you’re close.”

“Who is this?” The voice seemed familiar but she couldn’t pin it down.

“Joe, down at Haggerty’s. Your buddy Bosco is here, and he’s falling down drunk.”

“Haggerty’s?” The pub close to the 55 where everyone liked to drop in after a shift was the one place she’d figured Bosco wouldn’t go. So much for knowing him as well as she thought. “Pour him in a cab and send him over here.”

“Love to. Only he’s barricaded himself in the john.”

The image of Bosco locking himself in the bathroom at the pub made her snicker. “So have somebody drag him out. The place is always crawling with cops.”

“They don’t want to hurt him.” The bartender sighed. “And he says he’ll shoot anyone who tries to come in. They think he’s joking.”

“Crap!” Faith shoved her feet into her tennis shoes. She didn’t know if Bosco had his service weapon with him or not – if he’d just come from the range – “Just leave him alone – I’ll be right there!”

She shut off the phone and grabbed her keys as she ran for the door. Outside, she darted out into the street to hail a cab before she remembered Bosco’s car was still sitting in front of her building. Faith sorted out the keys on her key ring, looking for her key to the Mustang. With Bosco in the hospital, it had been easier to carry a spare key to his car rather than carry his key ring and hers too.

Getting in, Faith started the car and pulled out into traffic. Bosco hadn’t had a drink since he’d gotten out of the hospital – that she knew of – and he was still on a few medications, but he was smart enough to know they didn’t mix with alcohol. Normally.

She sped through a red light, hoping that Bosco wasn’t sitting in Haggerty’s bathroom looking down the barrel of his gun. He hadn’t seemed to be depressed – scared and frustrated – but not depressed. But if he’d decided to get drunk – Bosco could be a very depressed drunk. He could be sitting and looking at his gun with serious intentions of blowing his brains out while their friends sat right outside and laughed it off.

It took ten minutes and two near fender benders before she pulled up in front of Haggerty’s. Jumping out, Faith ran inside the pub. “Is Bosco still back there?”

“Yeah.” Davis held up a mug of beer. “Tell him I gotta go, would ya?”

“He keeps saying he’ll shoot anybody who goes in.” The bartender told her. “These yahoos won’t do anything about it!”

“It’s just Bosco.” Carlos shrugged. “He’s a moody guy, right?”

Shaking her head, Faith ran to the back of the bar. The men’s room door was closed. She tried the handle and found it was locked as well.

“Get the fuck back!” Bosco’s voice came through the door. “I’ll fucking shoot you – I can’t see – but I got a full clip – one of ‘em will hit you!”

“Bosco, it’s Faith.” She stepped to one side of the door automatically. “Open up.”

“Faith?”

“Yeah, come on, let’s go home.”

“Faith?”

“Bosco, will you open the door?” Leaning against the doorframe, Faith listened intently. She could hear him moving around inside the bathroom.

“Why are you here? You hate me.”

“Oh, Bos.” His voice sounded so sorrowful that tears sprang to her eyes. “I don’t hate you.”

“You do. I killed us.” A muffled sob came through the door.

“Bos, open the door. Please.”

“You shoulda let me die, Faith. Everyone would be better off if I was dead. ”

“Don’t say that.” Being nice wasn’t getting her anywhere. Faith slammed her fist on the door. “Open this door, Bosco! Don’t you make me kick it down!”

“I got nothin’, Faith.”

“Bosco!” Eyeing the door, she wondered how sturdy it was. Tennis shoes weren’t made for kicking in doors. “You open this door or I’m gonna kick your ass!”

There was a click, and Faith put her hand on the doorknob, opening the door. It opened a small ways before hitting something. “Bosco? Get out of the way.”

“Can’t.”

Leaning her shoulder on the door, she forced it open wider. When she squeezed inside, she found Bosco sitting slumped against the door. “Bosco, get up. The floor’s gotta be filthy in here.”

“Don’ matter. Ma’ll bury me in my new suit.” He lifted the gun up to his head. “My aim’s bad – figure I can hit myself though.”

“Stop that.” Kneeling down next to him, Faith took the gun out of his hands. “You’re not doing anything that stupid.”

“You hate me.” Bosco looked up at her. The midnight blue eyes were filled with pain and sorrow.

“I do not.”

“Do too.” He said stubbornly.

“Get up.” She slid her arms under his and dragged him to his feet. “We’re gonna go home and dry you out. Then we’ll talk about this.”

“Nothin’ to talk about.” The room wobbled, making the door move when he tried to walk out. “It’s all over.”

“Have you heard a fat lady singing yet?” Faith pulled his arm over her shoulders. “We’ve been through too much together to give up now.”

“Hey, are you two about done in there?” Davis stuck his head in. “I really need to take a leak.”

“It’s all yours.” Faith led Bosco out of the bathroom, walking slowly so he could keep his balance.

“Is that a gun?” Stepping back, Davis watched the pair move through the bar. “Damn.”

On the way out, Faith tucked the gun into her jacket pocket. The last thing Bosco needed was to explain that he really did have a gun and that he really might have shot someone.

“My car!” Bosco stopped short as they stumbled out of the pub. “You found it!”

“Found it? Bos, it was in front of my building.” She fumbled in her jacket pocket for her keys.

“You see why you’re a detective?” He tightened his arm around her shoulders. “You found my car!”

“Yeah, I found it right where you left it parked.” Rolling her eyes, she unlocked the passenger door and shoved him in, automatically cupping her free hand over his head and forcing him down under the door frame, just as she would someone she’d arrested. “Sherlock Holmes couldn’t have done any better.”

“You gonna pay his tab?”

Turning, Faith found the bartender standing on the sidewalk behind her. “How much is it?”

“Two hundred and fifty bucks.”

“What – are you kidding me?” She looked from Bosco to the bartender and back. “He hasn’t had a drink in months – there’s no way he drank that much booze!”

“He bought a couple rounds for the house.” The man shrugged. “Said it was his last wish.”

“He’s gonna wish – “ Reaching down, Faith smacked Bosco on the shoulder. “Give me your wallet.”

“’Kay.” Bosco handed it over. “You keep it. Buy me a tombstone – here lies the biggest fucking jagoff in the world.”

“I swear…” Opening his wallet, Faith pulled out a handful of bills. She counted out two hundred and fifty dollars and gave it to the bartender. When he kept his hand out, she raised her eyebrows.

“He didn’t tip.”

“You want a tip?” Behind her, Faith heard Bosco giggle. “Don’t let drunks order a round for the house.”

She shut Bosco’s wallet with a snap. Turning back, she made sure Bosco’s feet and hands were inside before she shut the car door. Faith gave the bartender a wave as she walked around the car and got inside.

“My bandage came off.”

“Did it?” After the Mustang was pointed down the street toward her apartment, Faith glanced at where Bosco was slumped in the passenger seat. “I guess it did.”

“Everybody wanted to see.” He rubbed his fingers over the scar. “Step right up and see the freak.”

“Bosco, you’re not a freak. They’re just curious. It’s not everyday somebody takes a bullet through the face and lives to tell about it.” She reached out and pulled his hand away from the still healing wound. “It’s looking better. A couple more rounds with the plastic surgeon and you won’t even be able to see it anymore.”

“Why bother?”

“Because there’s no reason for you to go around with a scar on your face when the doctors can fix it.”

“Nobody’ll see me in my coffin.” Bosco laid his head back against the seat. “Gonna blow my head off anyway – closed coffin.”

“Bosco, you listen to me – “ She glanced over at him. “Listen to me! You’re not shooting yourself! You hear me?”

“Okay, but I dunno if I have enough pills. I got blue ones and white ones.” Rolling his head to look at her, Bosco tried to do the math, but he couldn’t remember what came after five. “How many pills does it take?”

“More than you have.” Especially after I dump all your pills down the toilet. “You’re not killing yourself – I don’t wanna hear anymore crap like that, you understand?”

“Why not? Then you can stand up in front of my coffin – my closed coffin – and lie and say you loved me and I was a good person.” He nodded as he visualized the scene. “And wear something kinda sexy like you had on at Mikey’s, I’d like that.”

“Jesus, Bos, when you wallow in the pity pool – you really wallow.” She reached over and smacked his leg lightly. “And I wouldn’t have to lie to say I loved you – love you – damn it now you got me doing it.”

“You won’t tell anybody I screwed up again, would you?” Rubbing his eyes, Bosco tried to keep the tears from falling. Men weren’t supposed to cry. Even if they’d just completely fucked their life up. “Don’t tell.”

“Bosco, I’m not telling anybody anything.” The empty spot in front of her building was still there – no small miracle even at this time of night – and Faith guided the Mustang into it. “There’s nothing to tell.”

“I just keep screwing up. Why do I keep screwing up, Faith?”

“There’s too many answers to that question, Bos.” Getting out, she went around the car and opened his door. “For now, let’s just concentrate on getting you upstairs.”

“You can have my car.”

“I’ve had your car.” Bosco leaned on her, and Faith grunted as she helped him walk inside. “I had it the whole time you were in the hospital, remember?”

“Oh… yeah… forgot.” The floor was very wobbly in her apartment building, and Bosco looped his arm around her shoulders to keep from falling. “I need to see the super – damn floor needs fixed.”

“Save it for something important – like the next time the heat goes out.” Her building super was probably one of the few people in New York she couldn’t intimidate into doing what she wanted. Siccing Bosco on him was how she’d gotten the garbage disposal fixed. “Come on, one foot in front of the other.”

“One foot in front of the other.” Bosco said agreeably.

“We’re almost there.” Faith huffed a strand of hair out of her eyes. While she’d gotten used to Bosco leaning on her when he first started walking again, he hadn’t been as much dead weight as he was now. “You could help a little.”

“Shh… that’s a song… “ He cocked his head to one side, wincing as his head hit Faith’s. “You don’t have to hit me – “

“I didn’t hit you.” Though I’m tempted.

“It’s a song. You put one foot in front of the other… then something…” The words were just out of reach. It was a kid’s song. Something catchy. “Santa Claus sang it – I think.”

“Santa sang about drunks?” She giggled. They’d seen their share of sloshed Santas at Christmas time – it wasn’t completely out of the realm of possibility.

“You put one foot in front of the other! And soon you’ll be walking across the floor!” The words were there, he could even hear the tune. “You put one foot in front of the other! And soon you’ll be walking out the door!”

“Bosco!” Faith reached up and put her hand over his mouth. “Keep it down before someone calls the cops!”

“We’re cops – no – you’re cops – I’m nothing.” He sighed. “I don’t know the rest of the words anyway. My pop shut the TV off – told me and Mikey that Santa was dead.”

“I don’t know if it’s possible to hate your father anymore than I already do, Bos.” Who the hell told his kids that Santa was dead? “Santa’s not dead.”

“No, he’s in jail.” A giggle escaped him. “I locked up Santa.”

“He wasn’t the real Santa and you know it.” She leaned him against the wall next to her apartment door.

“Mikey cried.” The memory hurt even now. “So I gave him my toys. I took the name tags off and put his name on them. Ma got mad at me. She got mad at me, Faith – I don’t know why.”

Faith was torn between opening the door and comforting him. Bosco looked even more pitiful than he had at the bar. His hands were over his face and sounds that were suspiciously like sobs leaked between his fingers.

“Bosco, come on.” Opening the door, she took his arm and pulled him inside the apartment. “Let it go.”

“I screw everything up.” He stumbled and fell against the table inside the door. “Shh! Don’t want to wake Emily up!”

“Emily’s not here, Bos. She’s over at Fred’s, remember?”

“Fred…” Anger shoved self pity the hell out of the way. “I should go kick his ass!”

“As much as I’d like to see that – “ Shaking her head, Faith closed the door. “You’d just get into trouble.”

“Let’s go – let’s go kick his ass!” He turned around.

“No – Bosco!” She had to grab him as he tried to open the door. “He’s not worth it.”

“We know people, Faith.” Bosco leaned in close, his lips against her ear. “We know people who could get rid of him for us.”

“Bosco…” She pushed him back.

“Seriously.” It was a good idea. They could get rid of Fred and be out maybe a case of beer. “We can get rid of my father, too. Do the world a favor.”

“How many murders are you going to plot tonight?” Faith pushed him toward the sofa. “Yours, Fred’s, your father’s – who’s next?”

“Mine tech – tech – actually would be a suicide – get your terms right, Detective Faith.” He grunted as she shoved him until he sat down on the sofa. “Think about it – we know where to hide the bodies.”

“Can you not say anything I may have to testify about in court?” Wrestling his coat off, she tossed it over the back of the sofa. “The view from a cell is not something I want in my old age.”

“You don’t look old – you look pretty.”

“If you weren’t drunk, I’d say thanks.” She knelt in front of him and pulled his boots off. As much as she’d like to believe him, he was drunk. And as much as she wanted to tell Bosco he was an adorable drunk, that might give him the wrong idea because he was drunk.

“You want to hit me?”

“What?” Looking up, Faith found Bosco had leaned down, his face just inches from her own, and was staring intently at her. “Why would I want to hit you?”

“Why not?” He tilted his face to one side. “Just pop me one – you’ll feel better.”

“No, I wouldn’t.” She grabbed his ankles and hauled his feet up on the sofa, forcing him to lie down. “I’d just hurt my hand.”

“Go get the broom handle – my old man liked to use it.” Bosco tried to sit up, but the room was walking around in circles, and he couldn’t figure out which way was up anymore. “Saves your hands.”

“A broom – “ Her knees wobbled, and Faith sat down on the edge of the sofa. “Did he – he couldn’t have – “

“I deserve it.” Tears welled up in his eyes again, and he put his hands over his face. “I finally killed us – I don’t know – what to do – sorry – “

“Bosco – “ Faith put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing gently. “You don’t have to be sorry – okay, you do – but you didn’t kill us. I’m not mad at you.”

“I didn’t mean it – I don’t – “ Bosco shook his head. The words were right there, but he couldn’t get them out. Even with Faith, he’d never been able to admit being weak.

“I know you didn’t. And I know you’re scared.” No matter how much Bosco had matured over the last few years, she knew he was still unable to express how he felt. Faith rubbed her hand over his shoulder and chest. “And I know how you are – you try to hurt everyone else to cover it up.”

“No – I only hurt you.” Lowering his hands from his face, Bosco looked up at her, forcing himself to meet her eyes. “You’re all I have – and you’re always the one I hurt.”

“You know what they say – “ She wiped at the tears on his cheeks. “You always hurt the ones you love.”

“I can’t stop myself – I don’t want to say what I say – but it just comes out.”

“I know.” A smile curved her lips. Boy, how I know! “Tell me what you’re scared of, okay? Let me help.”

“You can’t.” He pushed himself upright, holding onto the sofa for support.

“Come on, after all these years? You don’t think I can help?”

“Not this time.” How could he explain the fear that he wasn’t able to be the one thing he knew how to be? A sob broke loose before he could stop it.

“Bosco…” Faith grabbed Bosco’s hands before he could cover his face again. “Tell me. Now.”

That tone of voice got to him like it always did. Clutching at her hands, Bosco did his best to put words to his fears. “What – what will I do? If I can’t – be a cop – what do I do? What am I gonna do?”

“Oh, Bosco.” It broke her heart to see him reduced to such a pathetic state. After all the hard work of the past months, to have it slip out of reach at the end – hell, she was scared for him, too. “We’ll figure something out.”

“There’s nothin’ else – “

“There is – there has to be.” Leaning closer, Faith wrapped her arms around Bosco and let him cry his fears into her neck as he had once before. “Together we’ll figure it out. We’re partners, Bos – don’t you forget that.”

Once let loose, the fear poured out, and he couldn’t put the stopper back in. Clinging to Faith, he gave in and let the fear win. He’d hidden it for when he was alone – kept it from her out of shame – but now it was free.

Faith rocked Bosco, rubbing his back and reminding him that he wasn’t alone. Eventually, the tears and jumbled words slowed as his bottled strength ran out. Deep breaths tickled her throat as he fell asleep.

She laid him back on the sofa, careful not to wake him. The pillow and blanket from Charlie’s bed would hopefully keep him comfortable enough. Faith grinned ruefully, remembering how many nights she’d spent trying to find the soft spots in the old sofa.

“Night, Bos.” She gave his chest one last comforting pat before going to her bedroom.

 

A sound woke her in the middle of the night and Faith rolled over, listening carefully. A bump and thumping sound in the hall followed by a muffled curse. Bosco must be up. Getting up out of bed, she grabbed her sweatpants and pulled them on before making her way into the hall.

Bosco was feeling along the wall, looking for something that wasn’t quite where he thought it should be.

“Bos, you okay?”

“I gotta piss.” He frowned at her. “I can’t find the bathroom. It should be right here.”

“In your apartment it would be. However – “ Faith took his shoulders and turned him around, gently guiding him down the hall to the bathroom door. She reached in and flipped the light on. “In my apartment I keep the bathroom over here.”

“Sorry – ” His stomach felt like acid was boiling in it, and Bosco hurried into the bathroom, collapsing to his knees in front of the toilet.

While he heaved helplessly, Faith ran cold water over a couple of washcloths and grabbed a clean towel from the shower rod. At least Bosco had made it to the toilet – too many times Fred had thrown up wherever he was, leaving the mess for her to clean up.

Wringing out one of the washcloths, she laid it on the back of Bosco’s neck, hoping to shock his system into stopping the dry heaves that had him moaning and clutching at his guts. The heaves slowed as she knelt beside him, and she rubbed comforting circles on his back until they stopped and Bosco lay panting over the toilet.

“Lean back, Bos.”

Obediently, he leaned back against her, and Faith used the other washcloth to wipe his mouth and face clean. His shirt hadn’t fared too well, and she unbuttoned it and pulled it off. It landed in the bathtub so she could wash it out in the morning.

“I’m sick.” He moaned.

“So I noticed.” Reaching past him, she flushed the toilet. “Can you get up?”

“Sure.”

When he didn’t move, Faith stood up, leaning him against the side of the bathtub and patting his shoulder. “Let me get you something clean to sleep in.”

A pair of her sweatpants would fit him, and she grabbed a pair along with an old t-shirt that was two sizes too big for her. Charlie had gotten it for her one mother's day, and she hadn't had the heart to take it back or throw it away. The shirt was pink and had kittens on it drinking coffee. Hopefully, Bosco was still too drunk to notice.

Back in the bathroom, Bosco was still sitting on the floor, staring at the toilet.

“Come on, champ, you’ve gotta get up.” Setting the clothes on the counter, Faith reached down, grabbed his arms, and pulled him to his feet. He clutched at her shoulders as his knees gave out, nearly dragging them both to the floor.

“Wait – “ Reaching behind him, she flipped the lid to the toilet down so he could sit on it. “There. Now you change and I’ll be right back, okay?”

“I gotta piss.” Bosco tugged at his belt. “I can’t piss sitting down.”

“Of course not.” She sighed. “If I help you back up, can you go by yourself?”

“I’ve been going by myself for a long time, Faith.” Frowning at her, Bosco pushed himself to his feet, grabbing the counter for support when the bathroom floor shifted under him. “Just leave me alone.”

“Happy to.” Even though she’d changed clothes for years in a locker room where the urinals weren’t ten feet away, Faith had made it a point to not be anywhere around when Bosco or anyone else needed to use them. She wasn’t about to start watching him piss now. “Put the lid and the seat up – you piss all over it and you’re cleaning it up. I’ll be out in the hallway.”

“Fine.” The zipper on his jeans went down easy enough, but the damn things didn’t want to come down. “Faith, my pants are broken.”

“Your head is going to be broken…” Going back into the bathroom, Faith kept her eyes carefully on Bosco’s as she unbuttoned his jeans. “There – now go.”

“Thank you.”

The midnight blue eyes were full of adoration – as if she’d just solved the secrets of life. When Bosco didn’t move, she sighed again and turned him around to face the toilet, guiding his hand to where he could lean on the wall for support. Flipping up the seat and lid, Faith waited until she was sure he wouldn’t fall down before she retreated to the hallway.

Once upon a time, she’d been amazed at how long a man could piss. That was before she’d been married for almost sixteen years and before she’d seen too many men pissing on walls and floors and whatever else was handy. Now she was only a little impressed and a lot bored as Bosco pissed for what seemed like forever.

“Wash your hands, Bosco!” She hollered as she heard the toilet flush.

“I’m drunk – not stupid!” He hollered back.

The water was turned on in the bathroom sink, and Faith took that as her sign that it was safe to go back into the bathroom again. The sign was only half right. Bosco was leaning on the counter, washing his hands off. His shorts were up, but his jeans were still down around his ankles.

It wasn’t like she hadn’t seen him in his shorts in the locker room a million times over the years, but somehow it seemed more intimate in her own bathroom. Thankful that Bosco’s back was to her, Faith grabbed the sweats off the counter and knelt down next to him.

“Lift your foot.” Patting his leg, she waited until he lifted his foot to pull his jeans off. They repeated the process with the other leg, and she tossed the jeans on top the hamper. “Almost done – lift your feet up again.” Faith slipped the sweats on over his feet and pulled them up to his waist.

Bosco turned around, fumbling with the string and grinning at her when he finally tied it in a big bow.

“Good boy. Next we’ll work on you tying your shoes.”

“My mouth tastes like crap.” He picked up the tube of toothpaste and looked around. “Where’s my toothbrush?”

“In your bathroom.” Faith opened the drawer and took out her toothbrush. It was either that or give him Emily’s or Charlie’s. “You owe me a toothbrush.”

Carefully, Bosco squeezed toothpaste on the brush. “’S long as there’s no Fred cooties.”

“No Fred cooties.” Anything of her ex-husband’s was long gone. What little he’d left behind, she’d thrown out. “I bought a new bed and new sheets – you don’t think I’d keep his toothbrush, do you?”

Bosco grunted as he brushed his teeth. Fred was lucky that he’d been in a coma and hadn’t been able to kick Fred’s ass up between his ears. “Wan’ kick ‘is ass?”

“I’d love to. But then I’d go to jail and there’d go my mother of the year award.”

Watching Bosco as he bent over the sink to rinse his mouth out, Faith found herself studying the scars on his back. They weren’t as bad as the scars on his stomach, even though these were the exit wounds. His stomach had surgical scars to go with the bullet wounds where the doctors had worked to save Bosco’s life. He joked about them, saying they looked like a tic-tac-toe game gone wrong. She pretended it was funny.

“They don’t hurt.”

“What?” Faith blinked and realized that while her mind had drifted, Bosco had turned around and was looking at her.

“They don’t hurt – not anymore.” He ran his hands over the scars that covered the right side of his stomach. “You want to touch?”

“No.” She’d touched them enough in the hospital when she’d helped change his bandages. “Put this on.”

He frowned as she pulled the t-shirt on over his head. “It’s pink.”

“Think of it as faded red.”

“Are these cats?”

“Lions, Bos. They’re little lions.” Flipping off the bathroom light, she led him back to the living room. “You like lions.”

“You’re lying to me.” He sat down on the sofa, pulling the t-shirt out to look at it again. “These are kittens – it’s pink and there’s kittens on it.”

“Just shut up and go back to sleep.”

“I knew you were mad at me, but pink?” Yawning, Bosco laid down and let her cover him up again.

“I’m not mad at you.”

“You should be.” He rubbed at his eyes. “I’m doin’ what I always do.”

“In the morning – when you’re sober – we’ll talk about it.”

“You always let me shit on you – you gotta stop.”

“Hey, you shit on me – I shit on you – “ Faith shrugged. “We’re partners, it’s part of what we do.”

Bosco reached up to take her hand. “We gotta stop.”

“We can try.” She squeezed his hand. “You were right about us, Bos. Tough love.”

“I don’t want it to be tough anymore.”

“Go back to sleep.” Faith laid his hand on his chest and patted it. “We’ll talk about it in the morning.”

“I love you – “ Bosco whispered as she walked away. “I’m tired of it being so damned tough.”

 

Faith had no sooner drifted off to sleep when she heard Bosco moving down the hallway. Wondering if he was going to be sick again, she sat up and listened. His shadowy form appeared in her bedroom doorway after a few moments. “Bosco? You lost?”

“For a long time.”

“Do you need me to help you?”

Walking into the bedroom, he stopped at the foot of the bed. “I always need you to help me.”

“Are you okay?”

“No.”

Nothing like twenty questions with a drunk and introspective Bosco. Faith watched him walk to the side of the bed. He pulled his shirt off, and his hands dropped to the drawstring of the sweatpants he was wearing.

It hit her suddenly what he was thinking, and for a moment she was afraid of him. She was half dressed and alone in her apartment with a man who was clearly asking for sex.

Faith shook herself – this was Bosco. One word from her and he’d turn around and go back to the sofa. Even now he was standing with his fingers toying with the drawstring, watching her carefully for a sign. What happened next was her decision.

She wanted to hold him, but Faith wasn’t sure she wanted anything more. Her friendship with Bosco was her most cherished possession – only her children were more important – and she didn’t want to throw it away because they’d had a roll in the sack.

A voice in the back of her head brought up the idea that maybe it wouldn’t end their friendship – instead it might make it even stronger. And hadn’t she deliberately crushed any feelings for him since they’d met – other than platonic – just because she’d been married? And she wasn’t married anymore.

In the morning – if this was a mistake – they could pretend it never happened, the voice whispered. They were very good at pretending things never happened.

Faith tugged her shirt off over her head and tossed it on the floor. Pulling the blankets aside, she patted the bed next to her. Bosco nodded and untied the sweatpants.

Watching them slide down his body, she waited to see the proof of what he wanted. Expecting to see him hard and ready, Faith was startled to realize that Bosco wasn’t aroused at all.

If she’d misread the situation, it was too late and she was glad it was dark enough that he couldn’t see her face turning red. All he wanted was comfort, and she was thinking he was going to jump her bones.

Bosco crawled into bed, pressing his body against her, moving until he was lying half on top of her. Faith smiled – she hadn’t misread the situation one bit, it seemed.

His lips were soft and gentle, which was unexpected, but also aggressive and insistent, which certainly wasn’t. Parting her own lips for his lapping tongue, Faith slid her hands up his back to his shoulders, holding Bosco to her.

Against her hip, she could feel his cock begin to harden, and she rubbed against him. Bosco moaned into her mouth, and she slid a hand up and down his spine, encouraging him to move closer.

Faith raised her hips and let him pull her panties down, spreading her legs as Bosco moved back up over her. He rested his weight on his forearms, not wanting to crush her.

“Relax.” She pulled her knees up and shifted until he lay comfortably in the cradle of her hips. “Trust me – you’re not that heavy.”

“You sure?” He didn’t like to think of Fred lying this way with Faith – but he had – and Fred outweighed him by a long shot.

“I’m sure.” Smiling as his weight settled onto her, she pulled his head down for another kiss. Long, hot, and deep – just the kind of kisses she liked.

Bosco ran a hand down over her breasts, cupping and teasing, before lowering his mouth to taste. He laughed as Faith moaned and arched up, pressing his head down with her hands. One more thing they had in common, he liked titties and she liked her titties being sucked. How many more things would the both of them like?

She sucked in a breath as Bosco pushed a finger inside of her, and followed it with a second, pumping in and out steadily. “Jesus… Bos…” That seemed to be all the encouragement he needed, and Faith felt him pull his fingers out, replacing them with the head of his cock.

“Not as long as some – but plenty thick.”

“What?” Faith looked up at him as he hovered over her.

In typical Bosco fashion, he slid his cock into her in one impatient thrust. It wasn’t too hard or too rough, but Faith cried out at the suddenness. He laughed softly in her ear as he rocked his body against hers, pushing himself in as deep as he could.

“Good?” He grunted.

“Good.” She panted. After that first move, he was lying still, giving her time to adjust to having his cock buried inside of her. With Bosco’s king sized ego, she wasn’t about to tell him that he was definitely plenty thick, and it felt plenty long to her.

“It gets better.” Grinning, Bosco began moving hard and fast into her.

This was what she’d expected Bosco to be like. A quick fuck and then he’d probably roll over and go to sleep. How’s that different than Fred?

The difference turned out to be that Bosco didn’t run out of steam two minutes later. Instead, he propped himself up on one arm and watched her, moving one way then another, catching what she liked and repeating it. His hand slid down her body, pausing at the scar on her chest, before moving down to brush across her clit.

When she bucked her hips, he laughed again. “Like that? How ‘bout this?”

“Oh… my… God…” Faith clutched at his hand, not sure if she wanted to stop him or help him as he pinched, rubbed, and teased her clit. This was something she’d always had to do for herself – she hadn’t thought anyone else would know how to do what she liked.

“That’s it, baby.” Bosco watched as Faith’s eyes fluttered closed. Her legs locked around his hips and she arched up into him. “Come for me, come on…”

“Bosco – “She grabbed at his shoulders, pulling him down to her. “Kiss me – please – “

“Kisses are free – no need to beg.” He refused to let her take the lead, shying away from her desperate kisses, forcing her to be gentle.

The pressure was building up inside of her, and Faith clutched him closer, rocking her hips against him in a frantic rhythm until she hit the point where she knew she’d come and nothing could stop it. The pressure popped suddenly and she sighed, sagging back against the bed.

“That’s it…” Laughing softly, Bosco smoothed her hair back from her face and leaned down until his cheek rested against hers. “Good.”

“Yes…” She realized that he wasn’t asking, and she laughed. Of course Bosco knew he was good. “You know – you’re good – damn you – “

“Of course I am.” No sense being modest. He was good at very few things – and sex was damn near at the top of the list.

“Here I thought you were bragging all these years.” Faith ran her fingers through his hair. The overly long, curly mop had finally been cut – but he’d cut it too short again.

“You’re still on the pill, right?”

“What?” The question caught her by surprise. Birth control – safe sex – hadn’t even occurred to her. “Yeah – yeah – I went back on it.”

“Thought so – good – “ It was his turn now – maybe hers again, too. Long, deep, and fast, that’s how he liked it. Bosco grunted and rubbed his cheek against Faith’s as he pumped his body deep inside of hers.
Cradling him against her body, Faith rubbed her hands over his back and sides, coaxing him to move harder and deeper. “It feels good – more – Bos – more – “

“Take – care of you – “

“You did – “ The pressure was building back up, and she reached between their bodies to tease her clit between the hard strokes. “You will – “

“No – “ He paused, panting into her hair. “I’d take care – of you – “

Realizing he meant he’d take care of her if she got pregnant, Faith lifted her hands to his shoulders, pushing gently until Bosco was looking down at her. The bedroom was dim, the only light coming in through the window, but she could see his face clearly. She almost laughed, but he was serious. The sincerity was there in his eyes. Bosco was many things, but she knew without a doubt that a child of his would never want for anything.

“I know you would, Bos.” She stroked her fingers over his cheek.

“I want to come inside of you – “ Lowering his head down to her shoulder, Bosco began pumping hard and deep once again, reaching for that sweet moment that was just out of reach. “I want – fucking – come inside – you – “

“Come on, Bos – “ Faith lowered her legs from around his waist, digging her heels into the bed to push up and meet his hard thrusts. One hand tangled in the hair at the nape of his neck while the other slid back down to stroke herself.

Bosco brushed her hand away. “Got it – I got it – “

She couldn’t argue with him – his fingers were already doing things to make her crazy again. Letting her hand slide down his hip and over his ass, Faith dug her fingers into the back of his thigh, urging him to move closer.

When the sweet moment was right there, Bosco lifted his head to look into Faith’s eyes. This was the moment he liked to share, the connection, knowing that he was real in this one single moment with another person.

It was there and she smiled up at him as it hit and passed. When he laid his head back down on her shoulder, Faith stroked her hands up and down his back, holding him to her as his body jerked and trembled against her.

“Love you – “ He panted, kissing clumsily at her throat as he tried to catch his breath. Aftershocks rippled through his belly and his cock, and Bosco arched against her again.

“Shh… it’s okay.” Faith knew he didn’t mean it. He probably said it to every girl he fucked.

Raising up, Bosco brushed a kiss across Faith’s lips before he eased himself off of her. He groaned as his cock slid from her warmth – he’d like to stay but she probably wouldn’t appreciate him lying on top of her all night.

Ice cold reality splashed over her, and Faith wondered how long until Bosco patted her on the ass, rolled over and went to sleep. Or would he just get up and go back to the couch?

He snuggled up against her side, resting his head on her shoulder and rubbing a hand up and down her side. Faith seemed tense and Bosco wondered what he was doing wrong. Cuddling wasn’t on the list of things he was good at – he usually just rolled over and let the girl of the moment cuddle up to his back.

“You have to help me.”

Faith stiffened. He was not going to screw her to try to get her to help him re-qualify. “I can’t help you, Bosco.”

“Why not?” Kissing her shoulder, Bosco slid his other arm under her shoulders and pulled her closer. “I don’t know how to do this part – and I want to do this part – you have to help me.”

“This part?”

“You know – cuddling.” Awkwardly, he shifted closer.

“Oh.” A giggle escaped her. He knew how to fuck someone crazy – but had no clue how to snuggle up afterwards? “Bosco, you’re one of a kind, you know that?”

“Yeah.”

“There’s nothing to cuddling.” Shifting a bit, Faith settled his head more comfortably on her shoulder and slipped her arm around his shoulders. She kissed the top of his head. “Just relax.”

When he sighed and shifted his leg over hers, Faith smiled and raised her hand to his hair. Stroking along the baby fine hair, she let her fingers move where they wanted, until she came to the scar on his cheek.

“Stop – “ He pushed her hand away.

Ignoring him, she gently ran her fingers over the ridged lines radiating out from the center of the scar. The wound was still healing, and she avoided the very center, not wanting to risk hurting him.

“Will you stop touching it?” Bosco grabbed her hand.

“Bos, I’ve seen it – changed the bandage how many times?”

“I don’t care. It’s ugly.”

“So’s mine.” Taking his hand, she guided it down to the scar on her chest. “But I don’t care if you touch it.”

“I hate it. I hate that the bullet is still in there.” Bosco rubbed at the scar gently. “And I hate that it’s my fault.”

“Yeah, ‘cos you dragged me there and made me stand in front of her.”

“I did – in a way.” Sighing, he nuzzled his face into her shoulder.

“And I did this – in a way.” She ran her fingers over the scar on his cheek again.

“I wouldn’t take it back. I’d rather have you alive and have this scar than you be dead and not a mark on me.”

There was nothing to say to that, and Faith kissed the top of his head again. She’d already considered the alternatives, and she’d rather have Bosco alive and scarred than dead.

“I wasn’t lying.” He said softly.

“I know.”

“We agreed – no more lies. I wasn’t lying.” Sliding his hand across her stomach, Bosco curled his hand along her side to hold her to him. “I love you, Faith. I wouldn’t lie about it – it’s too important.”

“Bosco – “ He was still drunk and couldn’t mean what he was saying. “Go to sleep.”

“I have these scars to prove it.” Taking her hand, he put it over the scars on his stomach. “Here’s proof – I love you – I’d do it again.”

“Maybe if I hadn’t stood there like a moron – “ She traced the scar left by the first bullet, followed the surgical lines to the second. “You wouldn’t have had to prove anything.”

“Hey, I’d have stood there, too – but all I could see was guns and you in the way.”

“I didn’t know what the hell to think, you know? I mean, I think I’d have been less surprised to see Big Bird walkin’ by the windows.” Faith laughed at her own stupidity. “I just couldn’t connect what I was seeing. There’s men running by and they have guns – this is a hospital – I just didn’t get it.”

“There was too much going on. The car comin’ into Mikey’s funeral – Ma being hurt – “ Crazy didn’t describe the things that had happened to them that day. One man’s insanity had caused so much pain.

“But I just stood there, Bos.” Tears welled up, and Faith brushed at them impatiently. She’d cried these tears already. “I just fucking stood there like a rookie! Just stood there!”

“It’s okay.” Raising up, Bosco brushed her hair back so he could kiss her forehead.

“It’s not okay!” Angry, she pushed at his chest. “I just stood there – and you had to save me! You could have saved yourself if I hadn’t been so stupid!”

“I could have – but I’d have probably tried to protect you anyway.” He shrugged. “You’ve bitched at me before for getting in between you and some jagoff with a gun, or knife, or what the fuck ever.”

“And I kept telling you one of these days you’d regret it.” It was true; Bosco had a chauvinistic streak a mile wide, and he’d shoved her down, over, and out of the way anytime he thought he could get away with it.

“So long as you’re still alive to slap me around.” Grinning, he leaned down and kissed her. Cautiously, just in case she decided this was the time to finally slap some sense into him.

“We still telling the truth here?” Faith asked when he lifted his lips from hers. “’Cos if we are – then I can tell you that when I thought you were going to die – that I realized that I love you – more than I’m supposed to.”

Bosco laughed and laid back down, pillowing his head on her shoulder again. “Like you said, it takes a tragedy to bring us together. ‘Cos when you were shot – when I was holding you and waiting on the bus to get there – it hit me like a fucking ton of bricks. All I wanted was for you to be okay so I could tell you – only I couldn’t ‘cos of Fred and – well, ‘cos you told me to get lost.”

“Yeah, well, I was pissed off.” And jealous. Very jealous but I’m not confessing that. Ever. “I think I was even more pissed off when you listened to me.”

“I thought it’d be better for you.”

“Don’t think anymore – every time you do, we have problems.” She softened the remark with another kiss to the top of his head. “I’m the one that does the thinking around here, remember?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Yawning, Bosco snuggled down until his head rested on her breasts. He played with the nipple that was at eye level until it pebbled up for him. “I like tits – you know that, right?”

“I think I’ve heard the comment a time or two.” Faith rolled her eyes. Bosco had told her too many things about too many women. “Keep in mind that I’m not the perky twenty something you usually fall into bed with. These tits have some mileage on ‘em.”

“’S okay.” He yawned again.

“Go to sleep. In the morning – “ The thought of what morning might bring scared the hell out of her. “In the morning, we’ll see how you feel then.”

Bosco was quiet, and Faith let her hand slide up and down the arm he had thrown across her. If it was all just the booze, then they’d forget it happened. Sweep it under the rug. Hell, it would be a small bump under the rug compared to some of the things their partnership had survived.

“It’s never bothered me.”

His voice was soft, his breath tickling her skin. “I thought you were asleep.”

“I remember what happened. The guys with the guns, grabbing you – I know the difference between what I remember and what I’ve been told.”

“All of it?” Faith wasn’t sure she accurately remembered everything that had happened that day. How could Bosco?

“I remember the pain in my gut, and then it got bigger. And my face – “ Bosco reached up to touch his cheek. “It felt like my head exploded. I remember wondering if that’s what it felt like when someone got their head blown off. Then I thought I wouldn’t be thinking anything if I did.”

She shuddered, remembering how his face had looked. “I don’t want to talk about it, Bosco.”

“See, it doesn’t bother me. I saved you – I’d do it again. I haven’t had flashbacks or panic attacks or nothin’.” He hesitated before telling her what was wrong with him. “Then I went to the range. I was nervous – but you know, hell, this was important. And it happened.”

“What happened?”

“I pointed the gun at the target and it was all there – the shots and the breaking glass – you screaming – the pain – “

“A flashback?” It wasn’t surprising. She’d suffered flashbacks and panic attacks for weeks following the shooting. “You know, Bos, that’s normal. Everybody has been figuring you’d have to deal with that.”

“But I haven’t – not till I picked up my gun.” There was no way to explain what happened whenever he looked down the sights of his gun. “My vision blurs and I can’t see – and I don’t know why. I didn’t even have my gun when I got shot.”

“Maybe it’s the sound at the range? All the shooting?” One reason she’d been down to her last few days to re-qualify was that the noise at the range had made her skin crawl. “You walk in there, and it sounds like World War Three or something.”

“I don’t know – maybe. You promise you won’t think I’m crazy?”

“Bosco, I’ve thought you’re crazy for years.” Faith laughed softly. “Why change now?”

“It’s all in my head – I don’t know how to deal with something that’s all in my head.”

“You tell the doctor, Bos, that’s what he’s for.”

“I don’t like him.” He said stubbornly. “’Sides, he works for the department, he’ll tell them I’m nuts.”

“No, he won’t. The department expects you to have things to work through. You were almost killed – that’s not something you just shrug off.” Her own experience with being shot had left her with phantom pain and a bucket load of issues to deal with. “Hell, you’ll just be giving them what they expect.”

“I can’t just work the desk forever, Faith. That’s not being a cop.”

“What about that guy – the one you talked to before?” After 9/11, when he’d confessed what had been causing his panic attacks and cried it all out on her shoulder, Bosco had spent weeks talking with an ex-cop who sidelined as a shrink.

“O’Malley.” Bosco frowned. “The guy’s a prick.”

“Yeah, but he helped you.”

“Yeah, I guess.” The truth was, he’d been able to tell O’Malley a lot of things he could never have revealed to a shrink. O’Malley had been a cop – he knew the job. “I guess I could talk to him.”

“I know you want to come back to work, Bos. But if you rush back and then have trouble – that might be the end of things.” Knowing Bosco like she did, Faith knew that if he managed to re-qualify and then had to step back to a desk job – it’d kill him. “Tell them you want to work your way back slow – start with a desk and then when you’re sure you’re ready – re-qualify and get back in the car.”

“That’s what they keep telling me to do.” He hated it, but it was probably a smarter plan than having Faith shoot for him. “Take your time – that’s all that damn shrink seems to know how to say. I want my life back! I don’t want to take my time – I’ve lost too much fucking time already!”

“Then don’t screw around and have to back up.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I’m off tomorrow. Let’s go talk to O’Malley and see what he has to say.” She tugged on his hair until he looked up at her. “Kiss me and shut up – I’m sleepy.”

Stretching up, Bosco kissed her, his tongue licking at her lips until they parted for him. After a few moments of twisting his tongue around hers, he broke free, panting for air. “Are you sure? ‘Cos I’m horny again.”

“You’re such a romantic, Bos.” Faith giggled.

“You’re sayin’ yes, am I right? That a yes?” He crawled up on top of her. Ignoring her playful shoves, Bosco kissed her again as he made himself at home between her thighs.