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Paperwork Hostage

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When John woke up, his partner was sitting on a chair in the room, file folder clutched to his lap, snoring ever so gently. John would have said something, but there was a tube in his throat. He hit the nurse call button instead.

The nurse took her sweet time, but she made up for it by looking like a candystriper, and not the grandma kind. It was really quite disappointing that she refused to remove the tube.

"Shut up and let the lady do her work, Munch," snarled Fin. He was standing now. He'd come to the other side of John's bed, had a hand on his arm. "If you're damnfool enough to jump in front of a punk with a gun, you're man enough to take your medicine."

The nurse shot Fin a grateful look, finished checking John's vitals, and cut out as fast as humanly possible.

"I got something to say to you, and there shouldn't be a doctor comin' by for at least a half hour, so listen." Fin paused, looked at John like he was waiting for a reply. "Right." He went back to his chair and picked up the file folder. He dropped it over John's groin area, then adjusted the bed so John was, technically, sitting up. If sitting is the appropriate word for a 160° angle.

"You got to transfer. I can't take this shit." He flipped open the folder, pulled out the first sheet. A transfer request for John Munch was filled out for graffitti squad.

John raised one eyebrow, hoping to convey You cannot possibly be serious without the benefit of vocal cords.

"Yeah. That was a long shot." Fin picked up the next piece of paper. "TARU?"

That made John pause. Technical Assistance weren't real cops, but John was old. Older. And he liked computers. He wasn't a real hacker — at most, he'd been a phone phreak back in the day — but if they'd been able to train someone as technologically unsophisticated as Benson to a level of usefulness, they could do something with him. He could put in three or four good years before retiring without worrying about his knees. Or his suits.

Fin said, "I talked to Morales, and the next training cycle starts a couple weeks after the doctors think you'll be on part-time physio."

And that was his partner presuming just a little too much. John narrowed his eyes and glared.

Fin laughed and said, "Hey, here's your glasses. If you want to look scary and all." He pulled them from his pocket and put them on John's face. Rearranged them so they weren't crooked.

John blinked as the world snapped into focus. He tapped at the papers and waggled his fingers in a way which he hoped was communicative.

"I got no idea what that's supposed to mean. But I'm a take a wild guess you want to know what brought this on." Fin, despite his earlier assurance that no one was coming, looked around the hospital room. "They tried to throw my ass out of here five times. I'm your partner, and I got your medical power of attorney, and they still kept trying to find your brother to make decisions."

John raised an eyebrow. This was annoying, but it wasn't, well, it wasn't new.

Fin picked up the last piece of paper, which had been face down in the folder, and showed it to him: a blank New Jersey Application for License: Marriage, Remarriage, Civil Union, Reaffirmation of Civil Union Form.

John snapped his fingers and made a scribbling motion. Fin handed him a legal pad and a pen that had been beside the bed. That is the worst proposal I have ever been involved in.

Fin laughed and shook his head. "All those divorces and you still don't have a clue." He leaned over and kissed John on the forehead. "Things changed between us."

It was just— he wrote. He did not want to leave any evidence of what they were talking about around. But he knew that Fin would know the end of that sentence was sex.

"Uh huh," said Fin. "Maybe if it was just one time. But you practically moved in my place." He raised one eyebrow.

John was bitter that Fin succeeded in looking intimidating.

"You was planning on coming home with me when you got released from the hospital."

It wasn't a question, but John gave a thumbs up anyway. He couldn't nod around the tube.

"So, I need—." Fin scowled at him, flicked a finger towards the now empty file folder.

John was affronted. He didn't start this, this discussion. And he hadn't intended to stand in front of the punk with the gun. He was stepping away from the methhead with a knife at the time. He wrote, I don't want to break up the team.

Fin shrugged. "I'm not in love with Special Victims." I am in love with you, John translated.

If he could have said, with any truthfulness whatsoever, that he was not in love with Odafin Tutuola, he would have said written Not my problem. But he couldn't, and he tried not to lie to himself. And he was getting old. Older. So he wrote, We will talk when I am released.

Fin nodded. "OK."

Son of a bitch. The forms were a negotiating tactic, not a threat. And he'd fallen for it. So he wrote, To Ken and Bernie, too.

Fin twitched, but all he said was, "At least Ken won't be judging me for this."

John thought that might not be true — he was old, white, Jewish, a cop, and about half his salary went to alimony — but Fin's son was not yet John's problem. His brother would judge John, but Bernie had assumed the mantle of disapproval from divorce number three on. John let his eyes drift close. He felt the bed tilt back.

"I got to call Cragen. Let everyone know you woke up."

John felt a hand brush his cheek. Sleep tight, baby, John translated.