If we were to talk about openly I’d have to say it started a long time ago. This need to solve all the intricacies of the world into a single, fallible bubble. The problem with bubbles is that they effectively pop at some point. An absolute, a desire for the entirety of solved thought. Of course that’s never how it ends up. Murphy’s Law and all.
Maybe I would’ve been better off as a fucking dentist.
I think this as the shot fires past my cheek, the skin grazed with the bullet and the deafening roar of that sweet shot phasing out my eardrum. He’s gotten too close. And this isn’t the first time I’ve been lost in thought in a show-down with a perp. I can’t risk the mistakes that are about to coincidentally happen, but as someone who not only investigates crimes, but someone who apprehends the most vile of villains and thwarts the most erroneous of evils, it is expected. It is normal to know that at some point I will die.
I haven’t solved this puzzle yet, and it makes me seethe to know I can’t magistrate the entirety of my existence. Henry shoots me a look and shouts unintelligibly and I push my weight to the side, practically slamming into the car nearest me. Sharp angle to smooth metal, I lock and load my pistol with that delicious click. The base of the gun is heavy and somehow incredibly enticing, and my partner notices the look on my face. Some large line of a grin, a sparkle in my eyes I guess.
“…you aren’t going to fuckin–”
“Yup.” I say nonchalantly, and the man who has protected my candy ass for the past five years grunts. That seems to be his usual mode of communication. Grunting. It can’t be helped, though he tries to reach over and grab me by the back of the shirt, fingers hooked in my collar. The man is trying to save my life, he thinks my next play is stupid. He thinks all my plays are stupid.
Funny that, as I’ve managed to save his rear end more times than I can count with these risky maneuvers. And I’m aptly older than a seventh grader and my addition skills are at least baseline college level. It’s useless.
I rush forward on steady legs and bound over the top of a crate to get the hand of a gun slammed into my chest. The idiot wasn’t expecting a stupid fuck like me to barrel in there while his gun was ready, pointed directly ahead. Aimed at my chest. He had no time to react, however. I’m great like that. That’s the thing with problems. You think you have every single solution known to mankind. He didn’t anticipate me rushing him, as the gun, if fired would’ve been a straight up K.O.
I do what he doesn’t expect, I solve the riddle, and he falls back with a hard thud onto the ground. The wind is knocked out of him and Henry rushes forward with the gun raised in his hands, holding it up like some kindof gun-model showcasing the hot ass gun. I shoot him a grin as I flip the verifiable gangbanger over and he protests, kicking his feet and cussing like a mother fucker. I have his arm in my fist and I twist it upwards, and he makes a painful noise.
“You like doing this way too much,” he notices my grin.
“..I’ve done it plenty of times before. On the job, and off the job.” Hen sours and stoops to help me as I cuff the fucker. As per usual he hoists to man on his feet and drags him off to be stored in our car like a piece of pissy luggage. His expressive brows let me know that he doesn’t really care if I do a stupid move like that.
Just that it exhausts him that I seemingly care so little about my life.
I reach my hand to wipe the wound on my cheek. It’s not that much blood but it might need a bandaid of sorts. Maybe even stitches.
Overall an eventful day, I’d say. Renaldo Phillipe had been hosting a rather salacious child sex ring not two doors down from where I tackled him to the ground. We found it easily–our department–with the help of catfishing the dickfuck and a few of his perverts.
Cases like this mess me up. I know what it feels like to be in a situation of powerlessness at a young age. And for this, I am especially rough when I ask Hen to stand aside and I smack Renaldo’s face into the roof of the vehicle.
“Sorry. Watch your head,” I say as an after-thought. Hen rolls his eyes, his arms crossed, his jacket squeaking. I will never understand why he wears biker jackets when it’s well over eighty degrees out. Maybe it’s because he’s a vain little shit and thinks the ladies like it.
It’s probably the same reason I’m always sporting button-downs with a tie. Gets me laid more.
“The fuck…” Renaldo says, a well-placed bruise beginning to crop up under his skin. The door is slammed, I round to the passenger’s seat, and kick my heels up onto the dash. Hen assumes his general position and takes the driver’s seat, sliding. Squeak.
I cock a brow and he notices I’m silently judging him. “…what mate? I like to look good.”
“I know, Hennifer. Gotta get the girls.” I’m joking, sliding on my glasses and poking a cigarette into my face. Rough hands fumble with his lighter and he flips the little green bic atrocity to set my fast trip towards cancer into motion once more. As he does every day.
Hen puts his own glasses on, which are a bit doofy but I don’t comment on his sense of style. He’ll figure it out eventually, though after five years of this dance, he hasn’t seemingly realized I have better taste in fashion than him.
Leather jackets are fine but his was poor quality and made him look like a BDSM hooker of sorts. He doesn’t realize it. Always wonders why dudes are hitting on him when we go to bars. I have to field them, run interference, and often pretend we’re dating to get them off his case. They buy it enough because I’m so damned pretty and he’s so damned awkward with girls.
It’s funny. But not funny. I’m not sure why this is and it makes me look off through the open window. The wind is in my hair and he looks at me. I catch him from my peripheral vision when I turn back.
“You good mate?”
“Almost got your ass killed thinking, you twat.”
That same mischievous grin plays on my features and I part my lips to pull away the cigarette. Exhale. Inhale. Get cancer. Die young. Die young and beautiful.
“They’re gonna send you to a right early grave, you fuckin’ prick.”
“Will you attend my funeral, Henrickson?”
“Is your family going to be there?”
“No, they aren’t allowed.” Bringing up family at a time like this? He knows we don’t get along. That’s not even the correct phrasing. I hate them. There are reasons, and I don’t feel like thinking about them right now, but he brings it up every now and then. He has yet to learn. And I don’t want to discuss it. Five years and he knows nothing about me.
And I know everything about him.
Henry Liam Thames. Born in 1985 to a pleasant British house-wife and an eccentric American man who collected animal heads on his wall. An odd upbringing, the boy grew up going on hunting trips that were pretty much illegal. His mother was a Stepford wife if ever there was one, but she’s kind enough, so when Hen talks about her–or I visit for whatever reason–I don’t judge her too harshly. Pleasant but as fake as a knock-off Van Gogh. Her name is Audrey. Pretty brown hair, she’s aged fairly well–it’s most likely plastic surgery–and Henry has her eyes. Dark, that can border on a scowl if not handled properly. Somehow she pulls off ‘cheerful’ and he just looks ‘dour’ or ‘confused’ or ‘as dumb as a bucket of apples’. Sometimes I get ‘pissed off’ or ‘staring at tits’ if I’m lucky. The man doesn’t have that many expressions.
It’s usually the ‘look, a boob’ look. He even employs that when surprised, as if all surprising things are tits.
His father is less pleasant and doesn’t like me. He’d be right to not like me, always hanging out with his son like a parasite. We’d been friends for a bit before we started working together, and I was always around. I talk back to him while Hen hangs his head, even though he is brushing past the thirty year mark and I’m lingering a bit behind. We’re old enough to not take his brand of hard-ass, but Henry buckles. The guy’s still scared of his dad. And it’s amusing because I’m no longer scared of mine, and he was far worse. I’ve cussed Rupert out more times than I can name. If course he’d hate me. I took away his golden boy and made him enlist to save lives, when he should’ve been pissing away his riches on yachts or something.
This balignant (belligerent and malignant) blond with a devious smile and a penchant for cigarettes, grabbing his smart, well-bred, intellectual son and forcing him into some kindof twisted law enforcement.
That’s not at all what happened, but for the entire scope of our interactions, Rupert thinks I tainted him somehow and I’m literally The Devil.
He’s right on some accounts, so I don’t entirely fault him. But he’s still a giant asshole.
Henry also has trouble with women. He’s nervous, awkward, and always says the wrong thing. Despite being handsome, it generally does him no good, and he sticks his foot so far into his mouth he shits it out on the daily. I admit to him being handsome. I’m not wary about it.
Suffice to say I was one of those weirdos who hit on him in a bar in the first place. It’s amusing.
We’re driving and I’ve lost time in thought again. He looks at me and his expression softens but my vision is blurry because I’m contemplating puzzles, solutions, cataclysms of thought. All in my head, all in tandem, all knitting together to form our lives. His life. Our progress through time. What we’ve done. Cases we’ve solved.
Everything. To find some kindof answer.
As to why I can’t share even the thinest of details about myself.
It’s a law related thing, of course. It would put him in danger if he knew. And it’d put my standing with my main occupation–no, it’s not law enforcement–in danger. I’m not unlike Renaldo, except we don’t run in CP circles, and I’m not sitting in the back of this vehicle slamming my legs into the back of Hen’s chair.
Maybe someday I will be.
He’d be able to handle it, at least I hope he would be. If I gave it more thought, maybe he couldn’t. But I don’t want to think about it. If anyone else got wind I’d have to be shipped up to the Motherland. Fuck that. I’m not interested in being in that place anymore. I don’t miss it. It was hell.
Henry is staring at me as we sidle up to the parking lot. His ID gets us in and I continue to smoke.
“….you still datin’ whats-her-name?”
“No, we broke up,” I provide a lackluster answer and he’s curious still. Expressive brows are knit up like he’s a wounded puppy.
“I thought you liked her?”
“I like everyone.”
“…but not enough to–”
“Not enough to make it work.” I step out of the car and drop the cigarette butt to ash it with my foot, grinding in my smart boots into the pavement. The last bit of smoke trails out from my nose and he has a hand on the roof of the car. Renaldo is throwing a fit.
“Not enough to keep dating her.”
“Is this fucking twenty questions? I’ve got wandering, grabby hands. Can’t stick around. You know that.”
Indeed he does. That’s not the reason though.
Hennifer rubs his mouth roughly with his hand, exasperated with my bullshit.
“Right then. Time to go, shithead.” He opens the door and grabs Renaldo by his shirt, dragging him in to get processed. As we walk we don’t speak, and our shoes click on the floor loudly. Cloyingly, like the ticking of a clock.
I have my hands jammed into the pockets of my slacks.
“Your face.” He stands in front of me and turns my head. “Right, let’s get that fixed then, eh?”
I smile and step back, on my way to get some kindof medical treatment.
At least we didn’t die today.
It’d be a pretty shitty thing to happen to us. We’ve lived so much in such a short amount of time.
And it’d be shitty if he died without even knowing my real name.
“Ethan. Planet earth to Ethan. Hello…?” He flicks my head with his finger.
“She said you need stitches.”
“..do you want, ah, what is it, topical analgesic?”
“I don’t want top anal, no. I’m fine.”
He laughs. He crinkles his eyes when he laughs, and it’s low and rhythmic. I snort like a pig when I’m in a laughing fit until I’m so amused I make the ‘laugh’ face and remain silent. Gasping as I bristle, joy, and there is no sound.
He makes me laugh a lot.
As she skewers the skin my eye waters, and my hands are in my lap. Hair over my sea-salt colored eyes, I am lost in the void.
I should tell him.
Tell him my name. Where I come from. Who I am. What I’ve done.
But I enjoy playing the hero. I enjoy pretending I’m a good person.
And to ruin his idea that I’m Ethan James, a good man, his closest friend, his partner in law and not crime–it might ruin what he have here. It might deflate the balloon, pop the bubble like a piece of wadded, old chewing gum. Stale in the mouth, it would taste like plastic, and he’d spit me out on the asphalt. And I’d die a thousand deaths if it were ruined. This strange friendship that borders on co-dependency.
“Don’t want to talk about it?”
I never do.