"c'mon, they're gonna suspect me? good ol' tim bayliss, the zen detective?" - tim bayliss, 'homicide: the movie'
We'll have dinner.
Tim is dead set on having me turn him in right away, take him downstairs and have one of those second-shift imbeciles slap the cuffs on him and cart him off to prison. He wants punishment--swift and harsh and unremitting.
I want to put it off. For Christ's sake, I need time to think.
Nothing had seemed real since I'd come back to Baltimore. Even Giardello's shooting seemed distant, something that I was only vaguely affected by. I know better than to believe that muffled feeling, though. The problem was, it was only too easy to fall back into the streets of Bawlmer and let myself remember. What it had been like. How much of a difference we made. How good Tim and I were together.
He does enough of that for both of us--always has.
From the minute I saw him, looming on the front steps of the Homicide Unit, I knew something was wrong. Tim's never been one for much personal grooming, but the wild beard and wilder eyes shocked me. I could barely look at him. He was hiding something, something painful and personal that was ferreting about inside him. Whenever there's a radical change in Tim's looks, you can bet that he's going throug--
No, wait. I can't make judgements anymore. I don't know him anymore.
I'm still doing God's work, but not in the avenging sense of the word. Mary says it's mellowed me now that I deal with students and priests instead of murderers and witnesses. She's thrilled at the new direction our lives--our life--has taken. And she knows just how much I've missed having my partner around. But then this shooting happened, and she came with me to Baltimore with only the mildest words of reservation. I assured her, no, it'll be fine. Tim's living his own life now. It won't hurt either of us.
And then he greets me with a stuttered declaration of love. Jesus. I thought that the only thing wrong with Tim was his…his feelings for me. And those, while I'm sympathetic towards them, just can't be requited, at least not in the way he wants. We can't go back to Homicide. We can't go back to partners. God, why can't he ever understand that life isn't like that?
But it turned out to be something much, much worse.
Murder. Execution. Tim? The guy who cried over Jake the police dog, who suffered paroxysms of guilt over Adena Watson, who constantly banged his knees on those damned low desks? Good ol' Tim Bayliss? What am I supposed to fucking do about that? I can hardly believe it myself, and he wants me to take him in? To be his executioner? The man took a bullet for me. He took a bullet in his goddamn back--he's always had trouble with his back--and now he wants me to do this to him?
No. Dinner first. Stall him until I think of how to handle this.
/ / /
Jimmy's. Almost like old times, if you didn't count the strain, the grey hairs, the puffy eyes. Two men sitting in a corner booth of the deserted restaurant, seeming simultaneously anxious and exhausted.
Tim had resisted, demanded that Frank take him down, threatened to turn himself in. It had taken all of Frank's considerable persuasive skills to get him to agree to dinner, although neither of them was in much of a mood to eat. They'd chosen the most inconspicuous table in the place and stared blankly at the menus, saying nothing until the waiter came.
Frank pursed his mouth. "Coffee--"
"Don't have coffee, Frank. It's not good for you."
"Coffee," Frank repeated forcefully. And clam chowder." He looked up at Tim, willing him to order something. To do something as normal as eat.
Sighing, disinterested, Tim pushed the menu at the waiter. "I'll have the rosemary potatoes," he mumbled. The waiter whisked away and silence descended again.
"Rosemary," Frank murmured. "That's for remembrance."
A wan smile, a weary tilt of the head. "Are you calling me Ophelia?"
It was a bit unnerving to both of them how quickly the answering smile came to Frank's face. "Maybe," he said, leaning back.
Tim's voice sounded broken when he spoke, stained, swollen. "I feel like I'm drowning, Frank." He screwed his eyes shut. There had been enough weeping.
"I know, baby."
Opening his eyes just a slit, just enough to see through the thin haze of threatening tears, Tim saw his partner for the first time since they'd come back to Baltimore. He saw the lines on Frank's round forehead, the creases on his face, the weariness in his gaze. He saw…he saw helplessness. In Frank? Frank Pembleton?
"You don't know what to do," he said slowly. His mouth felt numb.
"No. No, Tim, I don't." Frank spread his hands, a gesture of surrender that Tim found inexplicably terrifying. "What do you want me to do? You want me to bring you down for this…for this killing and leave you to rot?"
"It was a murder, Frank." Now that he had started talking, the numbness was spreading down, down, across his chest, his arms, reaching into his fingertips. He couldn't stop now for anything. "A murderer has to answer for his crime, no matter what. Justice has to be clear across the board for the system to work. You have to speak for those who can no longer speak for--"
"Don't quote my own fucking words at me!" Frank leaned across the table, rage sparking in his eyes. "I know damn well what I said! Jesus, Tim--did you ever stop to think that maybe I was wrong?"
"You--you were--I have to be punished," Tim finished dumbly. He could hardly keep up with the conversation, he was so tired.
"For what? For filth like this...this Ryland." If Frank could have spit, he would have. "All the good you've done, all the wrongs you've avenged and the lives you've saved, and it has to end like this. I can't do it, Tim."
He felt the hysteria rising to thread among the numbness. "You won't."
"No, I can't."
"Frank." Tim sounded almost amused now, dubious. "Frank--you can't? Whaddyou mean, for chrissake? I killed him! I killed him!"
"Keep your voice down!" Frank looked furious. It was comforting, in an odd way. "You need help, Tim. You don't need to be railroaded for something you didn't mean--" he kept talking over Tim's protests, "--you didn't mean to do."
"I'm not crazy," Tim said suddenly, more clearly than he'd said anything else all night. "Whatever else you might think, Frank, I knew exactly what I was doing. I wasn't having some…some psychotic episode, or schizophrenic lapse, or whatever else the shrinks might wanna say about it. Lewis and Sheppard, they never figured it out, and they're good police. But I planned it. I made sure I wouldn't get caught."
"So why do you want to be caught now?"
Astonished, Tim slumped back against the seat. "I...I don't know," he blinked. "I just saw you and I…I had to tell you. I could barely live with what I've done myself. I couldn't keep it from you."
Frank rubbed one hand against his brow, sliding it roughly over his head as though it would help him process all this. "And you knew I would make sure you paid for it."
There was so much Tim wanted to say. That Frank, who knew him better than anybody else did, would be certain to see his desperation. That in some small, bitter way, he wanted to show his partner just what happened when you deserted your best friend. That he secretly hoped that Frank would find some magical way to smooth away the snags and make everything okay again.
But instead, he just said, "Yes."
The waiter brought their food, the sudden earthy smells making both Frank and Tim reel at anything so solid, so very much there and indisputable and....
The coffee was scalding hot as Frank drank it. Tim sipped miserably at his ice-cold water.
stories // parodies // sacrelicious