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come with me to the dumpster

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Dex likes his job. He likes being a detective, heading to work every morning knowing he’ll be making a difference. He likes his coworkers, even Sergeant “Shitty” Knight, who for some reason holds the second highest point of authority in the precinct. His nickname is Shitty. What the fuck. He likes the other detectives, like Bittle, a dedicated, if overbearing and a little enthusiastic. There’s just one part about his day that could be improved.

“Good morning, Poindexter,” Nurse greets him when he walks into the bullpen on Thursday morning. “Looking particularly uptight this morning, might I say,”

He’s been on the clock for approximately three minutes, and already Dex is tired of Nurse’s shit. From day one, he and Nurse - what’s the opposite of hitting it off? They did that. Nurse picked a fight with Dex on his first day, because he thought his red baseball cap was a MAGA cap, and Dex didn’t back down, because he could smell private school off Nurse from a mile away.

The fact that with his dark green eyes and tan skin, as well as his voice, smooth and relaxing, and the line of his jaw, Nurse looks directly like someone who walked out of Dex’s wildest dreams didn’t go far to helping his case.

“What do you want, Nurse?”

“Just seeking some good-natured banter with my favourite fellow detective, obviously,” Nurse says, flashing him a smile. “Say, Dex, you know, you’ll never believe what I got up to last night!”

“Satisfying a woman?” Dex says, raising an eyebrow.

“As much as I’d love to discuss my prowess in bed with you, Poindexter, I’d have to say you are mistaken,” he winks at Dex. “Chowder, would you mind filling in our esteemed colleague on what I was up to at around eleven p.m. last night?”

Chowder’s enthusiasm is palpable - he’s practically buzzing with it. “We busted a drug ring!”

Nurse snaps his fingers with the enthusiasm only an ex-theatre kid could muster. “We busted a drug ring!”

Dex rolls his eyes so hard his head moves with it. “Oh, no.”

“Oh, yes.” Nurse says with a bright grin. “You know what that means, Dex. It means that after two solid weeks of you being in the lead, I have been catapulted - how many arrests, C?”

“Seven!” Chowder chirps.

Seven arrests ahead of you, Poindexter.”

“I hate you,” Dex says, and Nurse just blows him a kiss.

-

The bet is, simultaneously, the best and worst thing to happen to Dex since becoming a detective. It starts off as any of his and Nurse’s bets do - with one of them bragging and over exaggerating.

“I’m the best!” Nurse announces to the whole bar, after beating Dex (four games to three) at darts. The bar, of course, wasn’t listening, but far it be it from Nurse to not let them know anyway.

“Yeah, yeah, rub it in,” Dex says, flagging down the bartender to buy him the promised victory drink.

‘Y’know, I think I’m the best at everything,” Nurse says, pulling himself onto a bar stool.

“Oh, god.”

“Best at darts,” he says, holding up a finger.

“That was only tonight,”

“Best dancer,”

“Yeah, ‘cause you did ballet.”

“Best in bed,”

“No comment.”

“Best detective,”

“Oh, I’m calling bullshit on that,” Dex protests.

“Oh yeah?” Nurse says, with a raise of an eyebrow. “Hey, C! Chowder!”

Chowder practically skips over. “What’s up guys?”

“Tell Detective Poindexter here that I’m the best detective in the precinct,” Nurse says, slinging an arm over Dex’s shoulders. Dex rolls his eyes, but doesn’t shake him off. Chowder (Detective Christopher Chow, that is) looks worryingly between the two of them.

“I don’t - I mean, you’re both great detectives. Amazing, even! I don’t know if I could - ”

“Chowder!” Nurse says, all mock-betrayal. “I can’t believe that even for a second you would consider - ”

“Don’t let the heartbreak kill you, Derek,” Dex says.

“No. No, there’s only one way to solve this. A bet,”

“A bet,” Dex repeats.

“Not just any bet! The bet to end all bets. Whoever gets the most arrests in the next six months wins.”

“Wins what?” Dex asks, raising an eyebrow.

“Name your price, Poindexter. Anything you want, and it’s yours,” Nurse says, leaning in to look Dex in the eye. Dex blinks at his forest green eyes, his lips, his eyelashes, his cheekbones. He takes in his hair, messy and falling in his eyes. He feels the warmth radiating from the spot where their knees are touching.

“Your car,” he says. Nurse smirks, in appreciation, Dex thinks.

“But that’s the worst!” Chowder interrupts. “How is Nursey even gonna match that?”

Nurse looks Dex up and down, and he tries not to blush. “You just gotta think, Chowder, old chum. What’s the worst thing this bet could do to Dex?”

Dex’s mind whirs. Covering Nurse’s weekend shifts for a year. Doing all his paperwork. Letting Nurse make him watch all his pretentious hipster movies.

Something glints in Nurse’s eye. “If I win,” he says, taking a sip of his drink. “I take Dex on the worst date of his life.”

Dex nearly blanches at that, but he’s never backed down on one of his and Nurse’s bets before, and he’s not starting now. It’s frustrating in the same way that all of Nurse’s flirting is - he’s so blatantly handsome that flirting, even this bet, comes with an ease he grew up with, and Dex can never think of a response quick enough.

“May the best detective win,” he says, holding his hand out for Nurse to shake.

-

For the first month after the bet is made, at every debriefing in the morning with the Captain, Dex is on high alert. Word spreads around the precinct pretty quickly, and even if it didn’t, the huge whiteboard with their names followed by tallies is pretty self explanatory.

“I like the fact you just pasted your face to your own side of the board,” Dex says to Nurse when he spots it.

“It’s to represent the date, dumbass,” Nurse says, elbowing him. “I know you’re smarter than that.”

“You think I’m smart?” Dex says, holding his hand to his heart, batting his eyelashes. “Wow, that really means a lot, Derek, I don’t know what to say,”

“Shut up, Poindexter,” Nurse says.

The Captain never comments on their eagerness, the way they jump at new cases with enthusiasm this far unforeseen. Honestly, Dex doesn’t know if Zimmermann is playing dumb or if he’s just that oblivious.

“What do you mean I can’t arrest him for public urination?”

Nurse is in the Captain’s office, the door open, his distress plain for the whole precinct to see.

“Detective,” Zimmermann says, his voice that low deadpan they all know and love. “You know that we only issue a fine for this. You’ve been on the force for years,”

“Yeah, but,” Nurse gestures wildly, but what he’s actually trying to communicate is unclear.

“No buts, Detective,” Zimmermann says. “Dismissed.”

Nurse leaves the office with the aura of a teenager upset with his parents. While he doesn’t stoop so low as to slam the office door, Dex can see in his eyes that he really, really, wants to.

“Too bad, Nurse,” Dex says. “And just think of that string of B&E’s I busted yesterday,”

“You are not getting my car,” Nurse says, pointing a finger in Dex’s face.

“Don’t count on it,” Dex says, winking at him.

-

The whole team doesn’t go out for drinks that often, but Chowder drags Dex and Nurse (Nursey, as Chowder calls him) out every second Friday for what he calls “Froggy Fridays”. Because they all started on the force at the same time, he maintains that this means they have a special bond. While Dex doesn’t necessarily agree, he’d be lying if he said he didn’t enjoy their Fridays together.

“So,” Nurse says, sliding into a booth across from Dex while Chowder gets the next round. “Three months into the bet. How do you feel?”

At this point, they’re nearly tied, Nurse only one arrest in the lead.

“I figure I’ll pass you out soon enough,”

“Bold words, coming from the guy who once let a mugger get away because you couldn’t keep up with him,”

“I’m never telling you anything about my beat cop days ever again,” Dex says, rolling his eyes. “Besides, you leave out the fact that he literally flipped over a moving car. How was I supposed to keep up with that?”

“Excuses, excuses,” Nursey tuts, with that teasing tone of his. “Chill out, man.” Dex kicks at his shins, and when he connects, Nurse just laughs.

They drift into silence, and Dex feels a dangerous question on his tongue, buoyed by two beers and the way Nurse looks at him. ‘Why did you make the bet that I have to go on a date with you?’

But before his mouth opens to make a fool out of him, Nurse’s phone buzzes. He flashes the caller ID at Dex, the screen reading ‘SHITTY’, accompanied by a picture of the Sergeant fast asleep.

“What’s up, Sarge?” Nurse says, leaning back against the booth. Dex watches Nurse’s facial expressions as he listens to the Sergeant.

“It’s the Lax bros,” Nurse whispers to him, and Dex feels any buzz of the alcohol evaporate as he sits up straight. “Yeah, Sarge, we’ll be right there.”

‘The Lax bros’, as Nurse calls them, or David and Daniel Lacks, are two brothers that are the respective banes of their lives. Dex figured out that David was responsible for theft of nearly forty cars around the same time Nurse’s chase after Daniel for a bank robbery went cold. They didn’t realise the perps were brothers until at least a month of both of them working their cases.

To call them their arch-nemeses wouldn’t be a stretch.

So it’s not unexpected that they vault out of their booth, making an immediate sprint for the door.

“Guys!” Chowder calls after them, holding his tray with all their drinks.

They hail a cab in minutes, and Nurse directs it to the bus station Shitty had told him the Lacks brothers had been spotted entering.

They had finished work, but they still have their badges and guns. While they’re far from even tipsy, Dex seriously hopes he won’t have to use his gun. In the back of his mind, he’s reminded that this won’t go anywhere to helping either of them in the bet, but he can’t find himself caring, too preoccupied with the adrenalin of being so close to catching the criminals.

In the end, they get the brothers with little incident, except that Daniel nearly evades Nurse, until Dex trips him, sending him hurtling into a vending machine, allowing Nurse to catch him.

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you do say can and will be used against you in a court of law,” the two of them say, nearly simultaneously as they cuff their respective Lacks brother. “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you,”

Nurse flashes him a grin, and something in Dex burns. “Thanks for the assist, Poindexter,”

“Well, I’ve never been one to cheat,” he says.

-

Despite all his protests, Dex does actually like Nurse. Derek. Derek Nurse. He’s a good detective, dedicated and smart, and a good partner. He’ll listen to Dex’s ideas, and will defer to him when it’s right. On stake-outs, they’ll always be able to goof off, even if that goofing off is just them bickering about music selection. When he found out that Dex played ice hockey in high school as well, he challenged him to a one-on-one competition, even if, as Dex pointed out, that’s not how you play hockey.

He’d never admit to it unless under extreme duress, and that’s part of the problem with the bet. Nurse has just catapulted himself into the lead, and with only a month to go, Dex is faced with the terrible reality of having to go on a date with Derek Nurse.

“How is this a bad thing?” Ransom asks him when he laments this one night when they’re playing Mario Kart. “You’re into him, he’s into you - ”

“Derek Nurse is not into me,” Dex says. He doesn’t dispute his other point, because he doesn’t have time to delve into the shitshow of emotions that would uncover. On a distant level, he can admit he’s into Nurse, which isn’t hard, considering the fact he’s widely considered one of the most, if not the most attractive members of the force. Dex can’t, for the sake of his own emotional wellbeing, examine how he feels about Nurse on any deeper level than that.

“Dude,” Holster says. “He literally bet you to go out with him. I did that all the time with girls in college.”

Dex rubs his hand in front of his face. “I remember.”

The problem with living in the same city as his college roommates is that there’s always someone only a few blocks away who remembers what you look like when you were too drunk after a kegster and just passed out balls naked in the hallway. Worse, Dex decided to keep in touch with them.

“My point,” Ransom continues “Is that he likes you. How bad could a date be?”

“I told you that it’s meant to be the worst date ever, right?”
“It’s still a date, bro,” Holster says.

“You’re both useless,” Dex says, throwing his arm over his eyes.

-

They’re about two weeks away from the end of the bet when Dex is woken out of bed by someone buzzing at his door. It takes him a second to gather his thoughts and stumble to answer the door, silently cursing whatever drunk neighbour has the wrong apartment.

“Nurse?” he asks, voice still groggy with sleep. Nurse is standing in his hallway, a maroon hoodie engulfing him, with distressed denim jeans on. Only Derek Nurse would look like he stepped off a runway at three in the morning. He’s got his hands shoved in his pockets, shoulders high, so he’s at least self-aware of his waking Dex up at ass o’clock.

“Hey, Dex. I’m sorry to wake you up, man, I am. It’s just - this case. I’m losing my mind over it, and I think I have a lead, but I needed your eyes on it,” Nurse says, his speech running a little more quickly than normal. He’s gesturing with his hands, like his thoughts need physical manifestation as well.

Dex blinks at him. “And this couldn’t have waited ‘til the morning?”

He at least has the decency to look sheepish. “Sorry, again. I couldn’t sleep, I gotta do this now.”

“You owe me,” he mumbles, opening the door the full way. As Nurse follows him into the apartment, he’s immediately reminded that he answered the door shirtless and with his flannel pyjama pants on. He contemplates pulling a shirt on, but that would require going to his room, and he honestly can’t guarantee he won’t just fall asleep immediately upon entering.

He squints with one eye at Nurse, scratching at his stomach. Suppressing a yawn, he waits for Nurse to start talking. He always does.

Nurse starts pacing around his living room. “It’s gotta be the girlfriend, right? I still think that the daughter and the parents are accomplices, but it works out. She’s the only one who doesn’t have an alibi, and no direct motive, so no one would suspect her of doing it.”

“Except for the serious money her girlfriend’s family would get as a result,” Dex says slowly.

Nurse snaps his fingers. “Exactly. I’ve just gotta find footage, or a witness, someone to place her in the mall at the time of the crime. Right?”

Dex has been swamped enough with his own cases lately, so he actually has no idea what Nurse is talking about, but it all sounds about right.

“I think so, man,” he says, and he doesn’t need to be fully awake to feel the full force of Nurse’s bright grin.

“Shit, I can’t believe I came all the way to your apartment at three in the morning for a two minute revelation,” Nurse says, suddenly looking at him with serious regret. Dex just waves a hand at him.

“It’s whatever, man. Listen, it’s late, do you wanna just crash on the couch?” Nurse’s relief flows through him like a visible force, and Dex can’t help but smirk. “I’ll get you some blankets.”

He brings the promised blankets and a pillow to Nurse, who’s made himself comfortable on the couch. He tries to ignore the obvious sweep Nurse’s eyes do of him as he hands them over - obviously he was too preoccupied when he came into the apartment to notice Dex’s state -  and hopes he doesn’t blush.

The following morning, Dex wanders into living room dressed much like he was the night before, but better rested. Nurse hasn’t woken up, and is lying on his side on the couch, expression relaxed in sleep. He borrowed a shirt of Dex’s to sleep in, and it’s ridden up on him in his sleep, leaving a line of skin exposed. Dex swallows, and turns his attention away.

Nurse wakes up not too long afterwards, and when he pads his way over to Dex, Dex holds out a cup of coffee to him.

“Two sugars, no milk,” he says, taking a long sip of his own coffee. Nurse looks at him with eyebrows raised. “What, you think I don’t know your coffee order? We’ve been on dozens of stakeouts together, man.”

Nurse doesn’t say anything, just takes a sip of his coffee. Dex offers him breakfast, but he declines, saying he should head home to get ready before work.

“Good luck with your case, Nurse,” Dex says as Nurse heads for the door.

“Dude, you let me crash on your couch. You can call me Derek by now.”

-

The last day of the bet, Dex walks into work with his head low. With no open cases, and Derek having a four point lead, he doesn’t see himself winning.

“Good morning, Poindexter,” Derek greets him. “Looking forward to our date? I was wondering, which colour suit do you like the least - bright pink or mustard yellow?”

“Shut up, Nurse,”

Just because he doesn’t see himself winning, it doesn’t stop him from trying. The Captain turns him away the second he goes to his office door, probably in anticipation. Bittle, while sympathetic, refused to give him any “open-and-shut” cases, and Chowder, ever Switzerland, refuses to get involved.

Which means that when the clock finally hits five, he’s sitting at his desk when Derek appears, practically out of nowhere, with a confetti popper. Somewhere, someone is playing a trumpet.

“Congratulations, Dex!” Derek announces, and Dex finds himself wondering why he didn’t pursue a career in the NHL. “You have won one date with me, the amazing Derek Malik Nurse.” This he punctuates by blasting confetti all over Dex’s desk. “There will be drama. There will be tears. It will be the night of your life. Get excited.”

Dex spends the hours between finishing work and the date beginning in nerves. He can’t help but hear Ransom and Holster’s voices in the back of his head, insisting that a date was a date, no matter how terrible it was supposed to be. He thinks of the way he feels a tug in his heart when Derek smiles, tries not to think about how this night is all supposed to be a joke. Tries to convince himself to stop being so invested in the whole thing.

-

Derek arrives at eight o’clock, calling Dex to meet him outside his building.

“So,” Dex says as he and Derek - walk down the street. “What does the worst date ever involve?” He half-expected for Derek to have some dumb costume for him to wear, to start it all off, but he’s been pretty relaxed so far. Quiet, even.

“Well, I thought about it,” Derek says, eyes firmly ahead of them. “I thought we could contact some of your high school or college exes, get them to go to the same restaurant as us, sit next to us or something,”

“You didn’t,”

“No, no. And then I thought, well, I know you love fixing cars and stuff, so I tried to figure out a way to ruin that for you. Couldn’t settle on an option I was sure you’d hate, though, so that was out. I thought of recreating that one scene from the Notebook, you know where they row through the rain - ”

“I hate the Notebook,” Dex interrupts.

“I know you do. But I couldn’t get a boat, and besides, there was no guarantee it would rain. So, then I figured,” he looks over at Dex for a moment, a tightness in his shoulders Dex can’t identify. “Trying to figure out the worst date ever was actually pretty impossible. Especially when I just… wanted to go on a date with you.”

He comes to a stop, and Dex gapes at him.

“You wanted to… what?”

Derek sighs, exasperated, running a hand through his hair. “I like you, okay? This bet was just… my dumb way of trying to get you to go on a date with me. And I know that you’re probably not interested,”

“Derek,” Dex says, his voice soft. “I - ”

But Derek seems to be on a roll. “Just, ugh. The Captain - our captain Jack Zimmermann - pulled me aside and told me you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. He quoted Wayne Gretzky to me. Do you get how surreal that was? You know the Captain played hockey in college? He was nearly drafted, but he decided to - ”

“Derek,” Dex says again.

Derek lets out a slow breath. “Right. Sorry. I got off track. My point is - I like you. I want to date you. And I get it if you don’t feel the same, but I just. Thought you should know. So,”

“You like me,” Dex says, processing. He looks at Derek, dressed fashionably cozy for the winter weather. His green beanie is pulled over his ears, and his coat fits him perfectly, and he’s looking at Dex with worried eyes. He looks so gorgeous, and here he is, telling Dex he likes him.

“Yeah, I do. Please don’t make me say it again,” he says, shoving his hands deep into his pockets.

“Derek,” Dex says, for what feels like the millionth time, but realistically he knows is only the third. He takes a calculated step toward Derek, holding his gaze. “If you wanted me to go out with you… you could have just asked.”

Derek’s mouth hangs open for a moment. “I… could have?”

Dex laughs, a small huff, and ducks his head, scratches the back of his neck. “Yeah. Yeah, you could have.”

Derek’s smile is something too bright for night time, and Dex wants to take out a camera and immortalise it. “Okay, then.”

“Okay,”

“Will Poindexter, do you wanna go out with me?” he asks, his voice uncertain, like Dex didn’t basically just tell him he’d say yes.

“That depends,” he says, trying to fight the smile that’s tugging on his lips. “What do you have in mind?”

What Derek has in mind is darts at a local dive bar. It’s not the one they usually go to with the team, but it has the same laid back, kind of grungy vibe (not grungy in a cool, Nirvana way, but rather, you can’t tell if tables are brown if it’s just layers of dirt). It’s dark and quiet enough that it feels like they have privacy, and every time Derek looks at him, he feels a thrill all the way to his toes.

“You know,” Dex says as Derek goes to pull out his darts from the board. “This date is basically just like anytime we’ve hung out.”

“Not true,” Derek says, coming to stand next to him. “One, Chowder is always there everytime we hang out,”

Dex inclines his head. “True.”

“Two,” Derek says, and Dex is suddenly very aware of how close they are. It’s his turn, and he should just take a dart from Derek, but he feels rooted to the spot, Derek’s elbow against his acting as an anchor. “I would never do this any other time we hang out,”

Intellectually, Dex could probably guess what’s coming next, but his mind is too busy shorting out as Derek pulls on his forearm, pulling him close enough so he can press his lips against Dex’s. Dex freezes for a millisecond, and then sensation comes back to him; Derek’s lips, soft against his, Derek’s hand, encircling his wrist. His hand, rising to tangle itself in Derek’s curls.

Derek pulls away, a sparkle in his eye that spells danger. “See?” he says, like he hasn’t just set a standard for kissing no-one will ever top.

“You’re gonna kill me, Nurse,” Dex says, breath nearly catching in his throat. Derek gives him that wicked grin again, and every part of Dex wants to get him out of there immediately. Instead, he settles for waiting until Derek’s walked him to his door.

“Goodnight, Dex,” Derek says, going to squeeze his hand. Dex places a hand on his jaw and leans in to kiss him. When Derek’s tongue pushes against his, he crowds him against the wall, the kisses getting more insistent. When he pulls away, panting, Derek’s looking at him with something like wonder in his eyes.

“Goodnight, Derek.”

-

“How did it go?” Chowder asks the next morning. Dex glances over at Derek, who’s sitting with his feet on his desk, tapping his fingers along to some song playing in his head.

“It was alright,” he says, absent-mindedly. “I don’t think Nurse could plan a bad date even if he wanted to,”

He catches Derek’s eye, and Derek smiles at him, and Dex feels his stomach swoop.

“What do you mean, if he wanted to?” Chowder demands, but Dex doesn’t hear him.