“Get your fuckin’ Irish ass outta my office,” says Rawls, and McNulty pulls his lips back from his teeth, does not hiss, just ‘cause you want my Irish ass.
“One day he’s just gonna knock all your teeth outta your fuckin’ head,” says Bunk, and McNulty doesn’t make the cock-sucking joke, but not ‘cause he knows better.
“You got a bet,” he says, instead, and Bunk raises an eyebrow, doesn’t take it.
Bunk knows better, too.
Steel’s in his blood, or it was, until there weren’t no steel no more. He was born blue collar and he stayed blue collar, no matter how many (shitty) suits he wears. Cop’s the only job where you get blood on your suit and have to clean your shiny shoes of mud and shit and glass from vials. Cop’s the only job where you’re low rent and your knuckles are bruised but you have to fill in paperwork until your eyes start to swim. Cop’s the only job where they give you a badge and shove you back out the door onto the streets that birthed you but now, now everybody hates your fuckin’ guts.
Being a cop’s the fuckin’ worst. McNulty feels it inside himself like Catholic whisky, burning with every drop of his tainted insides, even when those insides are on his outsides, even when he hates the job almost as much as he hates himself. (Well. Even the job’s never managed those lofty heights.)
So, yeah. Being a cop’s the worst thing you can be, until it ain’t; and Jimmy McNulty? Loves it, has never stopped loving it, never will.
“You’re never here,” she’d said, and she was right, she’s right every time.
“Yeah, well,” he’d said, and that, as they say, was fuckin’ that.
Blood is blood, is steel and sweat and red and white and blue, is green, is Mass he never goes to and prayers he never says. It’s a Papal cross his wrist never saw tattooed, it’s his kids’ names at their Confirmations and him blaspheming seconds before the Host touches his tongue. It’s the wars he never fought and the Confession he can never be fucked to make. It’s his last name and his first name and the way he sneers when the time’s just right.
It’s Baltimore, but then, that’s supposed to be a secret.
“St Patrick’s Day tomorrow,” says McNulty, with a grin that can only mean trouble, and Bunk puts his pen down, says, “Thanks. Unhook my phone tonight, then.”
“Hey, fuck you,” says McNulty, and Bunk smirks, says, “Drink enough of that Irish carbomb shit, Jimmy, and don’t never say never.”
“Never,” says Jimmy, teeth bared and eyes wild, and Bunk laughs, says, “If y’insist. Say it to fuckin’ everyone, though, I remember last year, Christ—”
He wakes up in his car more often that he doesn’t, grey morning light jolting him awake. He takes the Lord’s name in vain and throws whisky bottles out of windows, leaving nothing but smashed glass and sin in his wake. He’s not been woken up by a beat cop yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
It’s Baltimore. Rule one: most things are only a matter of time.
“You’re a fuckin’ mess, Jimmy McNulty,” says Bunk, and McNulty pulls his tie tighter around his wrist, looks at his blood on the pavement and his pants soaked through from dull spring rain, says, “This is my body.”
“What’s that shit?” says Bunk, and McNulty stares past him, eyes too-bright and too-hard and glinting in the light from a smashed neon sign, says, “This is my blood.”
“Prayin’ to the city, Jimmy?” says Bunk, and McNulty shivers, looks up at him, his lips cracked and his hair wet and blood flecked across his eyebrows, says, “What? It ain’t gonna do me any harm, is it?”
“This is Baltimore, Jimmy, you don’t want those prayers answered,” says Bunk, and McNulty sighs, pulls the tie ever tighter, says, “Don’t I fuckin’ know it.”
It’s Baltimore, it’s blood, it’s the words he never says and the words he never allows himself to say. It’s green in his blood and a flag he’d soon as piss on than take an oath to, but he took that oath and if words mean something they sure as shit don’t mean protect and serve. It’s the oaths he’s never taken and the ones he did and never meant. It’s the shots he’s fired and the shots he’s thrown back and all the love he never wanted and wanted and never got.
It’s Baltimore. It’s blood. It’s home.
He signs his name on the dotted line, dodges Bunk’s hand, says, “I ain’t doin’ it,” but it’s a lie, it’s all a lie, and that’s fine, that’s good, that’s the closest to right he ever gets.
“You damn well are, bitch,” says Bunk, and McNulty grins Cuchulain’s grin, and, for once, lets it do the lying for him.