Summary: Blair's dissertation and a throwaway remark from a hostile attorney bring back painful memories for Jim.
Note: See part one, "Club Doom," for warnings.
It amazed Jim that a day that had started so well, so peacefully could end up sucking so much. Come to think of it, he found it pretty astonishing that any day could stink the way this one did. He rubbed his forehead and tried to ignore the pain. Not that this was a particularly successful strategy. It felt like someone was using his frontal lobe as a makeshift bongo, drumming out the rhythm for a cha cha. POUND. POUND. pound-pound-pound. There was no way to pretend it wasn't killing him.
But the day didn't begin this way. He couldn't seem to get past that. It started out just fine. How the hell did it turn to shit like this?
He had woken up that morning with a profound sense of well-being, for no particular reason, the way that could happen sometimes. He had drifted awake on his own, in time to shut off the alarm. That always put him in a better mood. No matter how low he turned the volume on the clock radio it still had a tendency to send his Sentinel hearing into orbit. It was always so luxurious to have those extra few minutes to himself. He stretched and yawned, lazy and indulgent, pleased with himself and the world.
As he lay there, he let his attention drift down to Blair. He was still fast asleep, snoring a little. If Jim closed his eyes and concentrated, he could imagine the open mouth, the little spot of drool on the pillow, the devastated bedclothes. Blair slept like some people got into fist fights. Sometimes, it made Jim wonder what sort of dreams gripped his partner. Usually, he preferred not to think about it, not really wanting to know. By morning, the fits were usually all played out, and Blair lay there in his bed, still and sound. Jim could never help tuning into him then. It gave him a sense of rightness, as if it somehow reassured him that the world was in good working order, everything in its proper place.
On a good morning like this one, it filled him with something that was almost a sense of...majesty, as if he were a king and this was his dominion and he could take a special pride in knowing what a fine, careful sovereign he was.
Naturally, he didn't expect that Sandburg would be too thrilled with this little scenario, since it cast him in the role of Jim's subject. Not, of course, that he planned to confess anything to Blair. It was his little secret to enjoy. And he did enjoy it, far more than he knew he should.
He checked the clock, even though he didn't have to go in for hours, and decided to indulge another of his favorite scenarios: How I would wake up every morning if there was such a thing as luck or a God in heaven. He flipped over onto his stomach, wrapped his arms around his pillow, let out a contented sigh, closed his eyes tight, and fell into the well-rehearsed fantasy.
In his perfect life, the day would begin with a blow job, a magnificent blow job. Now that would be a hell of a way to greet the morning. He'd return to the waking world with a hot, sweet mouth on his cock, long, soft hair tickling his thighs, happy little slurping noises calling him to attention like an erotic reveille. Oh, yeah. Perfect.
He threw himself into his fantasy and enjoyed it to the fullest. When he finished, he rolled over, scooted off the wet spot, and flopped back down. He had every reason to be pleased with himself. He was sated, and Blair was still safely sleeping, none the wiser. His kingdom was whole and sound, all in one piece, nothing changed or disturbed. And that put him in one hell of a good mood.
And it lasted, too, until much later in the day, until he found out what his partner really thought of him...
Subject shows a pattern of fear-based responses in the way he approaches important life choices. He didn't need a Ph.D. in anthropology to read the message between those lines. It screeched at him from the page: Jim Ellison is a coward. There were so many unbecoming things Blair could have said about him in that damned dissertation, things that would have been perfectly true: he was too rigid, he had a rotten temper, control issues up the wazoo, he didn't always work or play well with others. He wasn't especially proud of any of those things, but he would have copped to them in a minute.
But this! Well, this cut him to the bone.
He shouldn't have read it. Of course, he shouldn't have. But, God, how was he supposed to resist, when Blair had been goading him all evening, cackling to himself as he read that damned chapter, as if it were a joke and not Jim's life. It hit straight on a weak spot in him, where he wasn't structurally sound, where his honor was unequal to his dread. He'd been plagued by this fear pretty much from the beginning. There were so many times when he would watch Sandburg, just plain stare at him while he was absorbed in something else, grading papers or watching a game on TV or reading his e-mail, and he would wonder: What does he see when he looks at me? What the hell does Sandburg see?
He'd always consoled himself that at least he would find out before anyone else did. He would read the dissertation before it went anywhere; at a very minimum, he wouldn't have to feel that there was this comment on him, this judgment of his very existence floating around in the world, with the potential to blindside him at any moment. In Ranger training, they had been taught they could survive almost anything as long as they were properly prepared. And that was how he had planned to survive the dissertation.
So that night when he was sitting at his desk and the notebook was just lying there and Blair was nowhere to be seen, he went ahead and did it. Wrong or not, he had to know. He ducked into one of the stalls in the men's room, perched on the edge of the toilet seat and began to read. He had braced himself with the idea that the dread would, of course, be worse than the reality, but he had been so wrong. As he turned over the pages, one after another, he was sucker punched by each paragraph. The subject appears territorially threatened to the point of paranoia. All that wondering, all that time, and this was what Blair Sandburg saw.
When he'd finally blown up about it, while they were going over the car in the evidence lock up, he'd said it was a violation of trust and friendship. He truly believed that. And the more he thought about it, the more it seemed that the violation came as much from the observing as it did from the recording. Friends just didn't look at each other that way. They didn't. Friends made excuses. They cut slack. They didn't dissect you like you were a science project. Or their dissertation subject. How he hated that word.
It made him certain that anthropologists should have a statute of limitations, to safeguard the public welfare. They ought not be allowed to study anyone who hadn't been safely dead for a couple hundred, if not thousands, of years. It was inhumane to splay open the living like that, with the steel point of that critical curiosity. Hell, it was practically an act of violence. There really ought to be a law, some protection.
When Blair had been teasing him about it in the truck, he'd told him not to be afraid of the dissertation. He'd said parts of it were even funny, more joking at Jim's expense. But Blair thought he was a coward. God, how was that even possible, much less amusing? How could he not feel sick inside? He could he not be terrified of what Blair saw?
And his shift still wasn't over. The day just kept going on and on. He couldn't imagine how things could get any worse.
It almost cleared away Jim's headache to watch Charles Kaplan sitting in Simon's office practically shitting his pants. Maybe he'd discovered a whole new approach to pain relief, the taking-down-a-dirtbag remedy. Like all defense lawyers, the guy was a walking affront to cops everywhere, and Jim relished seeing him go down for this murder.
The ballistics report on the bullets recovered from his car placed him at the crime scene. It was the best thing to happen to Jim since he'd come to work that day.
Of course, since the oily bastard was a lawyer, he was too arrogant to concede that he wasn't going to be able to squirm his way out of this one. It made Jim want to puke when the guy offered up his client, Johnny Macado, a fifteen year old boy, in a flailing attempt to save his own pathetic ass. But, heck, the guy's involved in a murder. What's a little violation of attorney-client privilege?
"You've sunk to a new low," he told the man, with disgust.
"You're taking this rather personally, Detective. Just exactly what is your relationship with my client?" he asked and then turned to Simon. "I hope you haven't been letting them spend too much time alone together."
Kaplan eyed him smugly, expecting an outburst, waiting for him to fly off the handle and do something, anything, to compromise the case. That's how desperate he was. Simon stirred uneasily, apparently also worried how Jim might react. It was almost funny. Almost. If only they knew. No, scratch that. Thank God, they don't know. He was overjoyed, in fact, that no one he worked with had any idea how he'd learned to ignore goads about his sexuality with such stoic patience.
He put on his best blank face, the one that was about as expressive as uncut stone. Thank you, Covert Ops. The scumball lawyer looked distinctly disappointed.
Simon called in the uniform waiting outside and had the lawyer hauled off for booking. The guy oozed out of the room, and the atmosphere cleared.
When the door closed behind him, Simon shook his head and said, "Man, that guy is a real piece of work."
"You said it."
The captain nodded and exchanged a glance with him. He understood it perfectly well. He was always trying to explain this to Sandburgthe value, the economy...hell, the very precision of non-verbal communication. Simon didn't offer any reassurances, but the look on his face said it all. It said: I know the scuttlebutt about you from your days in Vice. I know there were rumors, but it was all just personal shit, stuff about your love life, nothing like this. I know you're not that kind of cop or that kind of person. I don't give a fuck what you do on your personal time or who you do it with. As long as you keep it together on the job and get me results, that's all I care about.
"Look, I had social services send over Johnny Macado's file," Simon said. "Maybe there's something here you can use. If we don't get the kid to roll over on Kaplan, we don't have a case. "
Jim nodded. "Yeah. Maybe the kid's hungry."
He left Simon's office and was halfway down the hall, headed toward the break room to pick up some food for the teenager, when the guilt plowed into him like a runaway semi. I'm not that kind of cop. I'm not, he insisted to himself. But somehow, he didn't sound as convinced as he would have liked. Because he knew. He knew.
And it didn't matter that he'd only done it once and never again. Or that it was so unlike him even back then, even at his worst. Or that he'd felt nothing but sick regret about it all these years. It didn't even matter that he would have undone it in a second if that were possible. The fact still stood. And he still had to go around inside his same skin knowing what he was capable of.
He made a detour to the bathroom. His headache had lost its musical quality; the pounding in his brain was a jackhammer now. He threw cold water on his face. Never, never ask how things can possibly get worse. You know that's only an invitation. He sighed again and blotted his skin with a paper towel.
It was useless to stir it all up again. That knowledge sat heavily on his chest. There was nothing he could do to change any of it. And yet, he couldn't quite manage to keep the thoughts tamped down.
He really should have gotten out of Vice long before he did. It brought out the worst in him, and it had practically from the start. He supposed it wasn't that surprising, really. Putting someone like himself, who'd been manacled all his lifein his family, in the army, on the force, with everything so rigid and constrained and decided for himinto a situation where nothing was off limits, where anything went, anytime, anyplace, any way anyone wanted it, as long as they had the money and were willing to pay. There was bound to be an explosion, a disaster of cataclysmic proportions, the way there always was when worlds collided.
He was little more than a tinderbox waiting to happen the whole time he'd been in Vice. It was as if a lifetime's storehouse of resentment and rage was just waiting for the spark that would liberate it. He still didn't fully understand why his flashpoint had come when it did, with whom it did. He only knew that he would never be free of the memory or the taint.
It amazed him that such an irrevocable event started with just another night on the job. He was checking out the corner of Bellfield and Watson, a popular spot for the flesh trade, when he saw one of the street hustlers who worked the area looking even more suspicious than usual. He figured the kid had probably branched out into drugs, planning to sell the stuff to his colleagues or perhaps to his customers. This was a common career path for kids in his circumstances.
It was impossible to tell how old the boy was. Street kids all had a desperate brazenness that made them seem either weirdly sophisticated or like small children trying to get away with something. This one was definitely old before his time.
The kid must not have been pushing that long, because he wasn't very good at it. Dime bags of heroin weren't exactly hard to conceal, but in the skin tight pants the boy was wearing, the ziplocks were clearly outlined. Plus, the whole thing seemed to unnerve him terribly. He kept reaching into his pocket to resettle the merchandise, looking guilty as hell the whole time.
Jim kept an eye on him from the opposite corner, hidden from view in the recessed doorway of a tenement. He sighed heavily. He hated wasting time on this penny ante stuff. He wouldn't even have bothered if the kid was only turning tricks. Prostitution busts were a revolving door. It usually took more time to process them through the system than it did for the hookers to make bail. It was definitely fighting a losing battle, and after four years of facing the futility, Jim was inclined to let it go.
But drugs were another matter. The word had come down from the top about that: zero tolerance. It was all part of the Mayor's new "Quality of Life" initiative, intended to turn Cascade into a nicer place to live, a safer, more wholesome environment that would attract big business and big dollars. Never mind that the crackdown meant first-time offenders often ended up doing twenty years or that people with a serious drug habit got jail instead of rehab. Nobody particularly cared about the quality of their lives.
Jim stepped out from the shadows and headed toward the boy. Technically, this kind of buy-and-bust operation was never supposed to go down without back up. But if a Vice cop saw an obvious opportunity, he usually took it. Hell, it was Vice, after all. The PD rule book had little to no application in this world, where there were no rules.
Of course, Jim had made it his mission in life to test the outer limits of this leeway. If he tended to be something of a loner in Major Crimes, after Jack and before Blair, in Vice he had been his own country. There were people who flatly refused to work with him. Even his Captain threw up his hands and gave up trying to rein him in. His fellow officers mostly avoided him. Maybe they sensed the conflagration brewing inside him and instinctively shied away, not wanting to be the unfortunate flint that sparked him.
The boy watched him make his way down the street. His face was blank, but Jim could see the calculation in his eyes. Was he a john or a junkie? Jim shambled along, in no hurry, keeping his stride deliberate and loose. He thought of it as his disaffected walk. People who had nowhere better to go always tried to look like they were too important to rush.
"Hey, man," he said, when he reached the kid.
"Hey," the boy said, his voice a monotone, his face glazed over, the usual street wariness.
Jim darted his eyes around and took a quick look back over his shoulder. People trying to score drugs tended to be jumpy. "You know where I can get something?" he asked, making himself sound nervous.
The boy pursed his lips seductively and swivelled his hips. "You're looking right at it, Big Man. I'm definitely something."
"Not that!" he said with disgust and glared impatiently. Junkies were single-minded, and they hated anything that got between them and their drugs.
"I'm not sure I can help you then," the boy said coyly, batting his eyes.
"Look, do you know where I can get a hit or not?" he demanded, cutting to the chase.
"Just forget it!" He started to walk away.
"No, wait!" the boy called him back. "I've got some stuff," he conceded. "How much do you want?"
"No problem. As long as you got the money."
"I got it."
He took two crumpled five dollar bills out of his pocket. The kid fished out one of the little plastic sleeves of smack. He really must be new at this. He had no clue what he was doing or what to look for. Junk burned people out. Users ended up looking like walking skeletons. A practiced dealer would never have made a sell to someone as robust and healthy as Jim.
He and the kid made the exchange.
"Nice doing business with you," the boy said.
"I'm afraid you're about to change your mind," he answered and cuffed the boy before he could even begin to protest. "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."
"Fucking bastard!" the kid screamed.
"You have the right to an attorney."
"If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand each and every one of these rights as I have explained them?"
The boy's face had turned crimson, and he was practically foaming at the mouth. "Yeah, I understand," he spat out. "Do you understand that you're a king-sized dick?"
This wasn't any more foul than the abuse he typically endured during a bust, but somehow it really irritated him. He pushed the kid, a little more forcefully than was necessary, in the direction of the truck.
"We're gonna have to ride downtown together. Let's try to keep it civil, huh?" he said.
The kid sneered. "How'm I supposed to put up with your pig stink all the way there? Hey, man, that's cruel and unusual. I got rights, you know."
"Yeah. You've got the right to shut up. Why don't you use it?"
"Make me, pig," the boy challenged.
Jim had to fight down the urge to do just that, to show the kid who was boss. But he managed to rein it in. When they reached the truck, he secured the boy inside, went around, got in and took off for the station.
The kid grew unusually quiet, and after a few minutes of silence, Jim looked over at him. He might be under arrest, but he was hardly chastened. He lounged in the passenger seat like he owned it, one leg pulled up, the other sprawled, a little lewdly, handcuffed hands hooked over his knee. He was staring pointedly at Jim.
"Get your feet off the seat," he told him, tersely.
The boy did it, but he continued to stare. It was beginning to unnerve him.
"Hey, man," the kid said. "Why don't you try being a little nicer to me? Huh? 'Cause if you did, I would definitely be more friendly in return."
Jim stared out the windshield and didn't answer.
"You know what I mean, man? You need a little warmth in your attitude," the boy said, his voice sultry and insinuating.
Jim stopped at a red light and turned to tell the kid to shut up. It was a mistake. The boy had just been waiting to get his attention. Now that he had it, he quickly launched into his best whore's routine. He swivelled his hips in the seat, as if he were dancing, or pretend fucking. He ran his bound hands slowly up one leg, across his crotch, lingering there like a gameshow model hawking the merchandise, before sliding down the other leg. The kid's pants were made of some soft fabric, velvet maybe, and Jim could hear every movement of the boy's hands over his body.
"You like?" He licked his lips and watched Jim for a reaction.
Jim's jaw locked so tight he could feel the blood pounding in his temple.
"Aren't you tired of only being able to look, never to touch? Huh? All the pretty boys, all the gorgeous men, all day, every day. I bet you walk into the locker room down at the station or the shower at the gym, and you just ache for the sexy, sweaty men going about their business like it's nothing to be naked with you. So near. So far out of reach. I'm betting all the action you ever get is your own hand. I'm right, aren't I? You have to settle for closing your eyes and thinking about all the sticky things you'd like to do with those hot, hot guys."
Jim vaguely registered that the light was green, but he couldn't look away. It was sickly riveting, to be unmasked by a total stranger, to have his worst walled off shame held up to such an unflinching examination.
"Hmm, baby?" the boy practically purred. "Isn't that the way it is? There's nothing worse than wanting cock, needing it so bad, and never being able to have any. But you and me, we can work something out, huh, sweet thing? I know I can help you out with your trouble, and I'm pretty sure you can help me with mine. There's no reason to go around all deprived, is there? Not when we can come to an agreement and put an end to all that nasty celibacy you've had to suffer through."
Every bit of training Jim had ever received taught him never to show his surprise, but in this situation, he couldn't help it. It was like the kid was rifling around inside his brain, touching all the dark, abscessed places. How did he do that? How could he see so much?
Against his will, against his better judgment, pictures started churning up from the netherworld of his memory, as if the kid's prodding at him had somehow poked a hole in the dam keeping all that shit at a safe distance. His hands shook. He pulled the truck off to the side of the road. He was flooded with images from every squalid encounter he'd ever been brave enough to have with other men. It was amazing how such a little bit of sex could yield so much shame.
Whenever he went out trolling, it was always on the sly, an anonymous pickup outside a gay bar or porn theater. He never went inside, just haunted the shadows near the exit waiting for someone to come out, someone ready for a little action without a lot of hassles. He did it in cars, in alleyways, in filthy public restrooms. There were never any words or kissing or preludes, just hands, mouths, dicks, desperation.
The one time he'd gotten fucked had been back in the army. The guy had pulled his pants down, pushed him up against the wall out behind the mess hall, and went right to it, with only a little spit for lube. It had hurt so bad, but the guy had kept telling him to shut up, to keep quiet. If they got caught, they'd both be thrown out, the black mark of dishonor on their records for the rest of their lives. Not surprisingly, the sex was hard and quick, over in a matter of minutes. But he was still so relieved when he felt the guy come in his ass, when he could pull his pants up again and go back to pretending, the danger of being found out eluded once more.
He knew what they called guys like him in gay circles: a hit and run homo. He'd get his hit of gay sex and then run as far away as he could possibly get until the need became unbearable again. The last guy he'd been with had even thrown that little epithet in his face, as he'd hurriedly zipped up after the guy had blown him, light-headed from his orgasm, weighed down by the predictable guilt, desperate to make his escape. The man had watched his panic and sneered. He'd told him to come back when he was ready to face the truth about himself, when he was ready to admit what he was. Not surprisingly, he hadn't been back since then.
Jim didn't know how the kid had sensed all that about him, but he had been wrong about one thing. He never closed his eyes when he touched himself. He would stand in front of the mirror and stare at his own hand on his cock, at his male body responding to sex, absorbing every detail. He always tried to pretend that it was someone else's hand fisting his dick, that he was touching some other man. It was the only sex he could have that didn't disappoint or terrify him.
"Hey, what do you say, baby?" the boy asked, waiting for an answer.
The kid continued to stare at him, all blinking doe eyes and moist, pouty lips. The unfairness twisted Jim up, that the kid could so casually offer what had always cost him so dearly.
"All you have to do is reach out for it, take it," the boy prompted.
It was like offering a starving man a banquet when he'd already lost the ability to eat. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, beginning to feel mortally pissed off.
"Come on, sweet thing, you know you want it."
He did, and he hated himself for it. Rage bloomed inside him like a dark flower.
"Don't be afraid," the boy crooned.
He had been a powder keg for such a long, long time, and here, at last, was the spark.
He backhanded the kid so hard his neck snapped to the side. "Son of a bitch!" the boy screamed, tears of outrage springing to his eyes. "You prick! You fucker!"
"I was making you a good offer, man. What? Did I insult your manhood?" The boy laughed, mockingly. "Get a clue, asshole. You've got faggot written all over you."
"I said to shut up!"
"You think putting on this big, macho cop routine is really going to hide it?" The boy sneered at him. "You think people don't know about you? You think they don't already believe you're getting fucked every which way from Sunday? They do, man. Believe me. They don't make a big enough closet to keep your secret safe."
"You don't know anything!" he denied. But somehow, he couldn't quite keep himself from remembering the whispered things he'd overheard down at the station. No one ever came right out and said it, but there was plenty of innuendo. The thing that really burned him was that he'd gained the reputation without having any of the fun that should have gone along with it.
"But I do know, man," the boy insisted. "I know you're one twisted, tormented homo. Too afraid to admit what you are, even to yourself."
His face flushed. "Those are big words coming from a little whore like you."
"Hey man, I fuck guys for a living. My girlfriend and I do what we have to do to get by. But, hell, at least I'm getting some action. When was the last time you had sex with anyone? Huh? Can you even remember? I'll tell you one thing. If I was a fag, I wouldn't slink around like I was ashamed or something. I wouldn't be a pansy ass coward about it."
"Shut your face, or I'll shut it for you!"
"Does it make you feel like a big man to beat up a kid in handcuffs? Huh? Does it help you make up for all your inadequacies?"
"You don't want to push me."
"You don't even know what to threaten me with. Well, when you think of something, bring it on, Big Man. I can take anything a frustrated homo like you can dish out."
The spark finally connected with all the incendiary materials inside him. "Let's just see about that," he said, crossing over from rational human being to one-man ground zero.
He threw open the driver side door, jumped out, grabbed the kid's arm and yanked him across the seat.
The kid spat in his face. Jim slapped him hard.
"Pig! That's police brutality. I'm gonna swear out a complaint on your ass."
"You do that."
He dragged the boy around the truck, to the sidewalk and into a darkened passageway between two deserted buildings.
"Get your fucking hands off me, asshole."
"You said you could take it, whore. So I'm gonna give it to you."
He threw the kid against the side of the building and held him there. He patted him down until he found a condom.
"I'll press charges."
"Good luck with that."
He opened the kid's fly and yanked his pants down. He wasn't wearing any underwear.
"You're one sick freak."
"And you're a fucking smart ass."
He unzipped himself and took out his cock. It wasn't hard, but it was willing. A few quick strokes of his hand, and he was ready to go. He rolled on the rubber.
"I'm giving you one last chance here, man. Let me go!"
He spread the kid's cheeks apart and pushed his dick inside without a word or a warning.
"Shit!" the boy swore.
He started to fuckeach stroke slow and deliberate and hard. Every thrust had a message: I am not a faggot and This is what you get for coming on to me and You need to learn your place, whore and How dare you taunt me with all the things I can't have.
It was a quiet night, and the only sounds were the slapping of his balls against the kid's ass and the little grunts of his exertion. When he came, it was not so much a feeling of pleasure as it was smug satisfaction. He had the upper hand now. He'd taught the kid his lesson.
He pulled out, peeled off the used condom, tucked himself in and zipped up.
"You enjoy your little ride, slut?" he taunted.
The kid stayed silent. He struggled to get his pants pulled back up with his wrists still cuffed.
"What? Not so much to say now, huh?" Jim sneered.
The kid whirled around. "You better let me go!" His voice was belligerent, but his lip trembled.
Jim stared at him. The brash street urchin from the truck was gone. He was looking at somebody's son.
"You hear me, man! You got what you wanted. You got to let me walk."
The kid was trying to strike the same note of bravado that he had earlier, but the facade was shattered now. He really hadn't expected Jim to do it. Oh, God. He could see that now. Despite everything the boy had witnessed and even done on the streets, a part of him had still believed what his mother or father or someone long ago had told him, that the cops were the good guys. All that crap in the truck was simply a way of testing the boundaries, measuring for safety. Kids did that. Fuck! He knew that. They pushed and pushed and pushed to make sure there was nothing they could do to push you too far. And Jim had...he'd... He couldn't even complete the sentence.
He unlocked and removed the cuffs, then motioned with his head. "Get out of here."
The boy pushed past him and started to run. When he got to the street, he screamed over his shoulder, "Kidfucker!"
But the edge, the barb, whatever that thing was that had pushed his buttons so ferociously before, was gone now from the kid's voice. He sounded like violation, like wounded dignity. He sounded like a child.
Jim got back into the truck, called into the precinct that he was sick and went straight home. There, he disposed of the condom and flushed the drugs and the contents of his stomach down the toilet. The next day, he put in for a transfer.
He blinked at himself in the bathroom mirror. I fucked the kid with his own condom. God. His stomach lurched. He couldn't quite bring himself to apply the r-word. Not that he didn't think it appropriate. It was just that the f-word made him feel sick enough.
For weeks and months after the incident, he kept expecting to hear about it around the precinct or out on the street. But there was never even a whisper. Apparently, the boy had never told anyone, never spread the story. On the one hand, it was a relief. On the other hand, it made Jim feel like even more of a monster. If the kid wasn't telling everyone how he'd been screwed over by a cop, then it must be because he was too humiliated. Jim had wanted to puncture his easy eroticism, to throw some of his burden of shame onto the boy, and it seemed that he had succeeded.
But I'm not the same person I was then. I came to terms with my sexuality. I made peace with myself.
He thought back to Blair's dissertation and his panic when parts of it seemed to touch on his sex life. Didn't I?
He sighed heavily and threw some more water on his face. He couldn't think about it now. He had to get back to work, take some food to Johnny Macado, get him to roll over on Kaplan, make the world a safer place. He had to go work things out with Blair, face him, face the reality of what his partner saw in him, what he would write in his dissertation.
Somehow, he had to learn to accept the hard fact of what he saw in himself.