JJ paused on the steps of the temporary precinct and threw his head back, letting the warmth of the afternoon sunlight wash over him and drain away the last lingering traces of tension and meeting-induced delirium. He could not wait until the 27th precinct was finally rebuilt. Whoever had designed their current office space had apparently been born in the Dark Ages, before industrial psychologists began to sing the praises of the effects of windows and bright lighting on the human spirit. Vampires could live very happily in one of those dusky offices, he was sure.
Still, none of that could touch him out here. The day was still beautiful and the rest of it was his. No cases, no meetings, no paperwork, nothing that he didn't choose to do. Only one thing could possibly make it more complete, but that was an impossible pipe dream and JJ was determined not to let his longings bring him down. Not today.
He was therefore completely unprepared for the hand that suddenly closed tightly over his shoulder.
"JJ? Do you have a minute?"
JJ let his eyes slide closed, unable to contain the shiver that spread down his spine and raised the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck.
Maybe it wasn't such a pipe dream after all.
He turned slowly around, forcing his eyes to open and meet the dark green gaze that was boring into him so intensely it burned away all coherent thought. He barely noted that, for once, Ryo wasn't anywhere in sight. Not trusting himself to speak, he nodded once and allowed Dee to lead him to the side of the huge concrete staircase.
His knees hit the edge of the steps and he sank down, trying desperately to still the restless fluttering that his skin couldn't possibly contain. Every particle of his being reverberated with one thought repeated over and over.
'Alone! He wants me alone!'
He barely stopped a giggle of pure anticipation from breaking through as Dee cast a nervous glance back over one shoulder, his eyes darting up and down the crowded length of the stairway, barely pausing on the dark hidden cavern of the building's entrance.
JJ felt a silly grin spread over his face as Dee sighed and turned back, his hands twitching unconsciously towards the pack of cigarettes in the pocket of his jacket. His expression was still breathtakingly intent as he met JJ's anxious gaze.
"We really have to talk."
JJ forced himself to take a deep calming breath. Now was not the time to glomp on the object of his affections, no matter how adorable he looked with his dark hair falling over his eyes that way. He could wait a few minutes. He could listen. He nodded, willing his face into an expression of what he hoped was attentiveness and not worshipful blind adoration. He must have succeeded. Dee relaxed a tiny bit, one hand moving up to brush the hair back out of his face.
"Good. Listen JJ, I know you think you're in love with me or something, but this has got to stop, all right? I mean, it's not like anything's ever going to happen between us."
Dee paused, his eyes darting away uncomfortably. A cold weight settled in JJ's stomach as the realization of this particular conversation's likely conclusion poked its ugly head through the automatic wave of denial. His arms raised and wrapped tightly around his chest, trying to ward off the words that were already settling over him like a cloud passing over the bright warming light of the sun high above their heads.
Dee glanced down at the ground and back up, but JJ refused to meet his eyes. He focused on Dee's hand playing with the zipper of his jacket, the lengthening afternoon shadows creeping across the busy street below, anything at all that would keep him from having to face the absolute truth those eyes would show him.
"JJ, look at me."
JJ shook his head mutely.
He heard Dee sigh again, but the other man kept his distance. "I'm sorry, JJ. I really am, but it just could never work. Ryo-"
The sound of that name tore JJ out of wordless shock. "Stop it!"
Dee frowned and stepped closer. JJ waved his arms wildly and jumped to his feet, his mind a jumble of confused emotion that held only one coherent thought. Looking into Dee's eyes and seeing the truth of his words was the one thing he couldn't stand.
A hand closed over one of his flailing arms, trying to hold him still. "JJ!"
JJ tore his arm away and stumbled blindly down the steps. "No! Just…just… Leave me alone!" Without even allowing himself the backward glance he longed for, JJ turned and ran away into an afternoon that no longer shown bright with promise and hope.
Drake froze on the top of the steps, unable to tear his intrusive gaze away from the scene unfolding before him. Even if he couldn't make out the words, the intent was unmistakable. The desperation on his partner's face as JJ stumbled to his feet and ran for the relative safety of the park entrance across the street shredded his own heart into a thousand pieces.
He watched as Dee sighed and slumped down on the step JJ had just vacated, one hand reaching automatically for a cigarette. People were staring up at him from the street, but Dee didn't seem to care. He closed his eyes and leaned back, taking a deep drag of soothing smoke into his lungs.
Drake stared down at him, paralyzed with helplessness. As much as he wanted to stalk down the steps and give the older cop a piece of his mind, he just couldn't. None of this was Dee's fault. He honestly had tried to discourage JJ as gently as possible. Still, why did Dee have to decide to do this today?
A hand gently touched his shoulder. "Hey Drake, have you seen…?"
Ryo blinked wide-eyed at the expression on Drake's face, then turned to glance down the steps. A frown crossed his face as his gaze crossed his partner's slumped form. "Oh." He turned back to Drake, his frown deepening. "Are you all right?"
Drake forced himself to smile. "Me? I'm fine." His gaze drifted back to the park entrance. "I should probably go find JJ."
"Dee decided to have that talk with him, didn't he?" Ryo touched his arm gently and moved away, heading down the steps.
Drake watched him go with a kind of morbid fascination, his mind still replaying the image of his partner launching himself to his feet and running down the steps. He shook his head uncertainly. Maybe he should just leave it alone. Maybe JJ didn't want his help.
He ruthlessly silenced the nagging voice in the back of his mind, glancing back down as Ryo reached and touched Dee's arm almost tentatively. Even from this distance he could see everything else fade away as their eyes met. How JJ could have missed that he couldn't begin to imagine.
But he had, and that was the problem. His entire fantasy world had been reduced to ashes and now he was alone. That thought was enough to break Drake's indecision. JJ might have to face the truth, but there was no reason he had to face it alone.
JJ ran through the entrance of the park with tears streaming from his eyes. The warm day was suddenly cold and empty, the laughter of children playing in groups a mockery of the agony ripping him apart. He stumbled up an outcropping of rock, away from all but the most determined of prying eyes. The view was lovely, the downtown skyscrapers glinting silver above the warm green of the summer trees, but JJ didn't see any of it. He dropped his head down into his hands and bit back a sob of despair.
No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't seem to chase Dee's voice from his head. Reality conflicted with fantasy until the two blended into a clashing whole that echoed through him with the weight of shattered dreams.
It just wasn't fair!
He'd known Dee for years and he'd never seen the other man act serious about anyone he dated. Everything was always a game. So why now? And why Ryo of all people?
Gradually the weight of a hand hesitantly shaking his shoulder brought his mind back from the depths of his internal hell. He tried to shake off the intrusive hand, but refused to raise his head. There wasn't anyone he wanted to talk to right now anyone. Why couldn't everyone just leave him alone?
"Hey partner, what are you doing out here? I've been looking everywhere for you."
JJ didn't look up. Maybe if he ignored Drake, his partner would go away and leave him to his misery.
Drake apparently had other ideas. The hand gripping his shoulder tightened almost painfully. "Come on, snap out of it. It's not the end of the world, you know."
JJ blinked and slowly raised his face. He forced himself to look into Drake's dark eyes, absently noting the worry through the disbelief that statement sparked. "How do you know?"
Drake licked his lips, eyes wide as he searched for an answer. JJ shook his head and smiled bitterly. "He'll change his mind. Ryo doesn't love him. He'll realize that eventually…"
Drake grabbed his wrist with his free hand and shook him. "Stop it, JJ. You have got to face this." JJ jerked his hand away and clutched it tightly to his chest. Drake dropped his own hands back into his lap and stared at JJ with wide worried eyes. "Dee isn't alone, JJ, and he's not going to be. Have you ever really noticed that way he and Ryo look at each other? Ryo cares just as much about Dee as Dee does about him. I don't think anything's going to change that."
Renewed pain threatened to spill over JJ, but he forced it back down. Now wasn't the time. Maybe later, when he was alone again…
Tears welled up in JJ's eyes and spilled down his cheeks. He shook his head violently. "It's just not fair. They have each other and I'm all alone." The words spilled out before he could stop them and a flush spread across his face. He met his partner's eyes, braced for the inevitable laughter.
Drake shrugged and managed a bright smile that only looked slightly forced. "No you're not. You have something neither one of them can ever have."
JJ frowned in confusion. "What's that?"
Drake pushed himself to his feet and offered JJ a hand. "Come on. I'll buy you a beer."
JJ stared up at him, his mind whirling. This was happening too fast. Everyone today was obviously crazy. He mentally shrugged. 'When in Rome…'
"Can we go to that karoke bar on the corner?"
Drake nodded, tension visibly draining away. "If you want to."
JJ took his hand and let himself be hauled to his feet. "All right. But you have to sing with me."
He tightened his fingers through his partner's as they descended back to the path, completely oblivious to the growing look of horror crossing Drake's face. It was only fair, after all. Drake had offered.
Author's note: Although this fic was intended as a one-shot, I'm currently a bit addicted to the idea of JJ making Drake sing karoke, so it may not stay that way.
Comments, as always, will be hugged and squeezed and fed hot-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies.
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