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Summary: The day after Ed meets Jack by chance, he tries to figure out what he wants and whether he can get it.
Copyright July 2002 Cassatt
Smiling, Ed Green cradled the phone and put on his suit jacket. He was much more than surprised at Jack's dinner invitation. Fully expecting to never socialize with the man again, he'd filed the night they'd spent together under experience. A great experience, but not one to be repeated. He harbored no illusions about what Jack had wanted and needed. Release. Distraction. Even shelter. He'd been happy to provide all of it, happier still to have found some of his own.
"Hey, Romeo," said Lennie, "any chance of us getting out of here in the next decade?"
He grabbed his notebook off the desk and shoved it in a pocket. "Yeah, no problem." He followed his partner out of the precinct, trying hard to set his mind on the task ahead of them. They climbed into a car and strapped in. Though Lennie was driving, as he always did, Ed looked over his shoulder as they pulled out of the space.
The other man sighed, as he always did, and left the garage. "So, who's the big date with?" asked Lennie good naturedly.
"Just someone I met last night. We had a few drinks together, you know how it goes." One beer for him before he was looking into the eyes of a man he admired very much. He brushed a piece of lint off his trousers.
"Oh yeah? What - you picked her up at a bar out of the blue?" Lennie turned the corner.
"I'd seen her before. We've got mutual friends." He'd made the decision to pick Jack up the moment he'd touched his waist. The thought had percolated for the few minutes before that, but it was the feel of his leanness, under those baggy clothes, that had convinced him. That and the man's obvious interest.
They drove in silence for a while, which was fine with Ed. He had some things to think about.
Lennie eventually interrupted him. "So what's she like - fork over details, partner."
He chuckled. "Older than me." By a fair amount, but Ed liked older men, very much. "Smart, interesting to talk to, funny." Much funnier than he'd expected, sitting in bed, eating. An entirely different Jack McCoy.
"A looker, I bet," said Lennie with a grin, as they started across the bridge.
"Definitely sexy as hell, Lennie," he answered sincerely. Yes, sexy as hell. Something that was not quite so unexpected as far as Ed was concerned. Jack had the body type he was most attracted to. Rangy, but not too tall. Sinewy muscles. Very nice hands. Experienced hands, with some wrinkles, the look of which against his own skin had driven him right to the edge. He closed his eyes for a moment to regain his composure as the body memory hit.
The other man snorted. "It's always the young ones who get the pick of the lot."
Ed simply smiled to himself and studied the river.
He managed to make it home for a change of clothes before meeting Jack at the restaurant. The man had specified casual, and he trusted jeans would be appropriate, but found himself stymied by the choice of exactly the right top. Not too gay, not too conservative, not too obviously date-like. This was just a dinner between two colleagues and friends. Who'd spent the night before engaged in extremely intense sexual activity. Ed ground his teeth in an attempt to forget that part, to not think about how much he'd like to do it again, and grabbed a lightweight sweater. No V-neck this night, but crew. Conservative enough. He tucked it into his jeans, looped on a belt, grabbed a jacket, his wallet, cell phone, and keys and left before he could think any further.
As Ed opened the door to the restaurant and saw Jack already there, his stomach fluttered. This reaction gave him pause, albeit a fleeting pause. He attributed it to the mere fact that the last time he'd been in the man's physical presence they'd been in bed, with post-coital bliss sending them off to sleep. So he resisted all analysis. Then Jack smiled, and his eyes crinkled up, and he uncoiled himself from the chair in the vestibule, and Ed's heart skipped. He covered by smiling, too, and greeting, keeping his hands firmly in his pockets.
They were seated at a table that, luckily, was against a wall so afforded a small bit of privacy. Not much, but for whatever they got Ed was grateful. He had one thing he needed to say to Jack, and in his mind sooner was much better than later. After the waiter took their orders he leaned in close so as not to be overheard.
"Jack, look, I just wanted to reassure you that I know this isn't a date..."
Interrupting him, Jack leaned in closer, too. "You know that for a fact?"
He was momentarily startled, but took a good look at the face in front of him. There was a very small grin playing on the corner of Jack's mouth. Still, he felt it important to make his point. "What I know for a fact is that you don't date men. Therefore, this is not a date. So I'm not making any assumptions here."
"If it hadn't been me calling, would you make an assumption?" Jack clasped his hands together and rested them on the table.
"Are you saying this is a date?" Ed's stomach fluttered again. He could swear the man was ever so slightly flirting with him.
"I could make an assumption that since an invitation was extended to spend an evening in each other's company that constitutes a date. In any other circumstances, clearly, the two people involved wouldn't even be questioning it. But perhaps the definition depends upon an agreement by both parties." Jack smiled fully.
He had no more doubts, there was very definite flirting coming from the other side of the table, and his heart took off as he let that sink in. He smiled back. "Typical of a lawyer - obfuscate rather than answer directly. You made the phone call - you tell me. Is this a date?"
Still smiling, Jack leaned in even further. "And typical of a detective to keep digging until he gets an answer. Although I do admit, not many cops know the word 'obfuscate.'"
He laughed. "And since you still didn't answer my question, I'm making another assumption that you want to keep me off balance by not defining. It isn't going to work. My new premise is that this is a date, until I find evidence to the contrary."
"I see. Well, as intriguing as that sounds, I'll concede. This is a date."
As they grinned at each other, Ed finally allowed his mind to toy with all of the possibilities inherent in that statement.
One of those possibilities they'd managed to make a reality. Very casually, in the course of talking books, Ed mentioned one he'd just finished and Jack said it was one he'd wanted to read, too. As Ed said he'd be happy to lend it, Jack responded that he'd be most appreciative to borrow it. So they'd ended up in Ed's apartment after dinner, having thrown dessert into the mix as well.
Ed was making decaf, keeping one eye on the living room, where Jack was perusing his book shelves. He took down two mugs, and put some cream into a small pitcher. Watching the coffee drip through the machine, he tried to calm himself down. Knowing Jack was bi, and only a casual bi, didn't seem to prevent Ed from dreaming. He'd had a wonderful time so far. Jack was easy to talk to, and even aside from shop talk, which they'd done a lot of, they had much in common. For two men coming from completely different backgrounds, they were surprisingly similar in beliefs and interests.
"Edward," he muttered to himself, "this is not long term. Relax..."
The coffee finished, he got the ice cream out and scooped. He put everything on a tray, took a deep breath, and walked back into the living room.
The conversation got much more personal over dessert, with the privacy of closed doors. Ed learned just how casually bisexual this man really was, and did his best to renew his vow to not make any more assumptions whatsoever. To enjoy what he could of the time he'd be given. To not look for something permanent.
In the closet and getting seriously involved with someone from work was dangerous, anyway. He was very clear about that. It wasn't that he had any doubt he could trust Jack. But he'd had a difficult few years in terms of relationships and he was tired. Tired of being single, tired of coming home to an empty apartment, tired of working crazy hours knowing there was no one who would miss his presence. Tired in that way, it would be so easy to fall hard for someone like Jack McCoy, and end up slipping somehow around the precinct. Or the DA's office.
He knew himself well enough to recognize the internal signs. However, the short talk he'd given himself in the kitchen was wearing thin, as their conversation got more and more personal. As it got later. As he wanted more and more to lead this man right to the bedroom, strip off their clothes, and lose himself in the lovemaking. Lose himself in that slender, strong body. That intensity.
Then Jack stood, picked up the dishes and carried the tray into the kitchen. The slight skirmish that had been going on in Ed's head turned into a battle. Jack was getting close to leaving. He followed him to the sink and for the first time that evening, words wouldn't come. He watched the man empty the tray, rinse out the mugs, and bowls, and spoons. In desperation, Ed grabbed the pitcher and went to the refrigerator to return the cream to its carton.
He closed the door and turned. Jack was loading the dishwasher. His dishwasher. A shock of graying hair fell over Jack's forehead as he bent to the task. The light over the sink made it shine like sterling silver. His breath caught, and he moved.
In two strides he was there, touching Jack's waist, then his back as he pulled them together. He felt him resist, but barely resist, so he went right for the neck, and cheek, and under the ear as the resistance gave way, also barely. His own battle was over, and as he kissed his way toward Jack's mouth, he reveled in each noise the man made. He would do no hard taking. He was intent on seduction. He found Jack's lips and he attacked them slowly, sensuously, coaxing them open with his tongue and his teeth. Jack's resistance crumbled, and Ed's heart slammed into his ribs. He slipped his tongue in and plundered, thrilled to hear the moan, to feel its vibration coming right up from Jack's throat. He pulled them more tightly together and finally Jack's arms went around him. He was falling, and he knew it enough to slow down, and untangle their tongues, and pull back enough to speak. No more assumptions, his beleaguered brain called.
"If you're going to go," he said against Jack's mouth, "you'd better go now."
Jack was breathing heavily and didn't respond. He didn't move, either. "Have you got an extra toothbrush I can use in the morning?"
He managed a "yeah" the split second before he kissed him again, deeply, his blood racing through his veins, his head becoming light, his knees getting weak, the hardness between them getting harder by the minute.
Ed knew it was his phone he was hearing, but for once he couldn't seem to get his brain engaged enough to figure out where it was or why it was making that noise. He was just opening his eyes and seeing the room still lit only by streetlights when the warm body wrapped around his back moved and leaned over him. A ringing phone was shoved into his hand, and the warmth against his back returned.
His thumb found the button. "Green," he mumbled.
"Ed, I just got a call from Van Buren. There's been another one found. You awake?"
"What the hell time is it..." His brain kicked in. Another one? Damn.
"Five. I'll pick you up in fifteen minutes."
He rubbed his eyes. "Make it more like twenty-five. And I'll meet you downstairs."
Lennie chuckled. "Got lucky, did you? Hey, I'll make it ten then. I'll even bring her some coffee."
"Very funny, Lennie. Downstairs. Bye." He pushed the button again. "Damn it," he muttered. He reluctantly pulled Jack's hand off his stomach and rolled out of bed.
"What is it?" Jack's voice was rusty from sleep, but he was alert.
"Another vic. Same m.o., apparently. I'm sorry, I've got to get going." Ed started for the bathroom.
"Don't worry about it. Want some coffee? I'll make it..." Jack rolled out of bed, following him.
He would make coffee? Ed sighed to himself - this he could get used to. "Love some. Caffeine laced is on the top shelf of the frig." He turned and smiled to see Jack pulling on his jeans. "Hey," he said softly. The man looked up. "Toothbrush is in the cabinet in the bathroom. Use whatever else you want. Shower, shaver, breakfast, whatever."
Jack smiled, too. "Thanks."
Standing under the hot water, washing and rinsing quickly, he thought that he could definitely get used to this. The smell of coffee wafted in. Jack was now brushing his teeth, still clad only in jeans, as Ed stepped out of the shower. Any other morning, he'd drag him under the water. He stopped himself. If he had another morning.
He was filling up a commuter mug, with five minutes to spare. He grabbed a bagel from the freezer and popped it in the microwave. Jack came in and leaned against the counter.
"Catch him, Ed," he stated.
Taking the bagel out, he wrapped it and shoved it in his coat pocket. Their eyes locked and he did something else he'd vowed he wouldn't. He moved, and kissed him, his stomach dipping as the kiss was returned with a flash of heat. He pulled back. "We'll catch him, you put him away," he replied quietly. Jack nodded.
The buzzer sounded for the front door of the building.
"I'll call you later," said Jack.
Ed wasn't sure if it was appropriate to feel happy at that instant, on his way out to look at a murder scene. But he couldn't help himself. He smiled, and said he'd look forward to it, and took his mug, and left, unbelievably content at the thought of Jack still in his apartment. Making himself some breakfast. Taking a shower. Having a cup of coffee.
Getting into the unmarked car, he gave a cheery good morning to his partner.
"I have no comment on your mood this dark and gloomy day," said Lennie. He pointed out the window. "I do, however, have a piece of gossip for you. See that bike? I swear, that belongs to Jack McCoy."
His heart stopped. "How can you be so sure," he asked lightly. "And shouldn't we get moving?"
Lennie started the car and pulled away. "Because he assembled it himself. I don't think there's two of them in the city. So he's seeing someone in your building."
"Even if he is, that's certainly his business." He sipped his coffee and took out his bagel.
"So you're getting yours and he's getting his," said Lennie with a deep sigh. "It's an unfair world."
It was all he could do to not choke on his breakfast, as he had the almost uncontrollable urge to laugh out loud. Instead, he patted the older man's shoulder and ate. After Lennie told him what little he knew of the latest victim they were about to see, Ed closed his eyes for just a minute or two. Allowed himself some personal and private anticipation. Some small planning.
It was Saturday, and they couldn't work this case for the next twenty-four hours straight, so maybe he and Jack could go out. Find a movie uptown, or in the Village, where they wouldn't be known. And then maybe he'd get a chance to see what books were on Jack's shelves. He opened his eyes and hummed, as the possibility he'd learn just how much the man liked to play in the shower came to mind. Oh yeah, he could very definitely get used to this.
They arrived at the scene. Getting out of the car, Ed clapped Lennie on the back. "Let's catch this bastard, partner," he said in a low voice.
"From your lips...," was the man's reply.
On to Part 3, "De Novo"
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