It was an ordinary day at the DPD, like any other. Human as well as android cops roamed around the office, busy with their assigned tasks. Hank was sent on a mission first thing in the morning, accompanied by his favorite tin can, Connor. They followed up a report of an assault, and took in both the victim and a person of interest back to the precinct. Someone else would take it from there, in the interrogation room. Thank God.
Hank liked his job, don’t get him wrong. Bringing justice to Detroit and making sure assholes rid of their sanity spent the rest of their miserable lives behind bars was a remarkable feeling. But it was when the lieutenant returned to the department to find a certain wannabe-detective prick waiting by his desk, that he liked his job less. Reed was scowling at him -- Hank doesn’t ever think he’s seen the guy smile --, but that wouldn’t stop him from walking up to his own desk.
"Anderson. Surprised you’re at work in time. What happened, you finally decided booze didn’t cut it anymore?”
Chided the detective, sharp as always. Hank wondered, when he eyed Reed right back and was met with a shit-eating grin, if the detective genuinely thought he was getting to Hank. He noticed Reed was holding an empty coffee cup in his hand, and failed to ignore the scars and bruises that painted his knuckles. The cut on his face had opened up again, too, the one right across the bridge of his nose. It was covered by a pair of steri-strips, and the skin around the wound was red.
Getting into fights? Jeez. This kid has some major issues, Hank thought, but kept a straight face, holding his co-workers’ gaze in a way that said ‘you don’t scare me’.
“Good one, Reed. What do you want?”
“Well, I couldn’t help but notice that you nabbed the last coffee...”
Hank raised a brow, leaning back against the wall lining his desk to keep his distance from the other. The air was thick with tension that you could cut with a cheese knife, always was with Gavin, and Hank couldn’t possibly understand why the detective held such a grudge for him.
See, things weren’t always like this. When Hank first joined the force, before he was promoted from his position as a detective, Gavin and him got along pretty well. He had been there a little before Hank, and showed him the ropes. They were never buddies who brought each other coffee or anything, but they could share a conversation without insulting one another. That was then.
Hank would say Gavin changed when Hank helped crack the ‘red ice’ case, finally closing up the force that had been working together for over a decade. Hank was promoted to the position of lieutenant, and Gavin turned bitter. Now, they couldn’t even work missions together, let alone have a conversation.
Right. Back to the present. Hank had taken the last cup of coffee.
“And you didn’t refill the machine. Didn’t think that task would be all that difficult for you. But here we are...”
“You can’t just do it yourself?”
Challenged the lieutenant, because this man was seriously standing here angry with Hank for not refilling the fucking coffee machine.
“That was the last ground coffee packet. They have to order in new now.”
Clenching his fists, the poor paper cup in Gavin’s hand crinkled, and Hank huffed out a half-laugh before cutting himself off. When he reached Reed’s eyes, there was no humor in them. He was fuming. Okay, no funny business. Reed probably just woke up on the wrong side. If Hank just kept it civil and was the bigger person, this would work out. Hopefully.
“Take it easy, you’re gonna crush that coffee cup. I just got mine anyway, so it’s still hot. If it bothers ya so much that I got the last cup, take that one.”
Hank said, motioning to his cup of black joe that sat on the edge of his desk. For a moment, and just a brief one, there was a flash of surprise, unadulterated and certain surprise, flashing across Gavin’s face, like he hadn’t expected the proposition of truce. Neither had Hank either, if he was completely honest. But there was hurt hidden behind Reed’s scowl, and Hank knew that feeling all too well. So the least he could do was steer Gavin clear of yet another inessential fight.
“You...” The surprise was gone as quick as it had arrived, and Gavin was back to sneering, yanking ahold of the cup and almost spilling its content all over himself.
“Patronize me again, Anderson, and you’ll have more to worry about than refilling the coffee machine.”
But the threat lacked conviction, and there was a smile curling the corners of Hank’s lips when he watched the detective stomp off back to his own desk.
Only day after this little... ahem, incident, however, Reed was back for more, and this time, he wouldn’t back down. He had cornered Hank before he left the station a late night, and he went on about Hank having tattled on him for smoking during work hours.
(To be clear, Hank had not tattled on Gavin. He didn’t even know Gavin smoked in the first place. And tattling was beneath Hank, anyway. He took breaks himself outside the office building to light one up every now and then. It had become somewhat of a habit at this point.)
The thing was, Gavin didn’t believe Hank despite him telling him over and over a-fucking-gain that he had no idea what the fuck he was on about. So when they were getting too loud and Hank’s blood was boiling with fury, he was only lucky that their boss dove in and broke it up.
“What is with you two?! This ain’t no middle school playground, you are in the Detroit Police Department! I expect both of you to act accordingly! So whatever bullshit you two are dealing with, take it outside! I don’t care if you so kill each other, you are dismissed!”
Roared Jeffrey, leaving both detective and lieutenant pale-faced and deflated of all anger. They did take it outside, only they did not pursue beating the living hell of one another. Instead, they both went to their respective cars, sending the other a murderous glare before taking off.
No amount of death metal on ear-splitting volume would make Hank feel better about this. He had to change things up. They could impossibly keep doing what they were doing right now. So Hank would figure it out. Eventually.
Now, autumn was truly kicking into gear. The sky darkened at 5 pm and the trees were shedding its colorful leaves. But if you don’t count the SAD that came with the seasons changing, autumn was pretty alright in Hank’s book. In fact, the lieutenant found opportunities to sneak away more often to get a well-deserved smoke break, after having Connor yapping on about dog breeds for a full half hour. Watching the leaves stroke the sky while allowing himself a moment of solace was something he needed. And that android does not have an off button on it, that was sure as shit.
So of course Hank would take the chance to get some fresh air when the chief was on his lunch break. He couldn’t think of anyone that wouldn’t.
This is why it shouldn’t be all that surprising to Hank when he slips through the back door of the department to find Gavin occupying the closest alley. The man looked up from the ground -- was he moping? --, and dark brown eyes met icy blue.
It was a call of recognition, of unanimity, because Hank wasn’t going back inside, so the detective better get comfy. Gavin replied with a long drag of his cigarette, as if telling Hank this wouldn’t be a chat. So Hank leaned back against the wall opposite to the detective, and fished a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket.
“Got a light?”
He asked. He had one himself, in the other pocket of his jacket, but the look of evident dejection that Gavin was wearing on his face made Hank want to reach out to him. Not because he owed Reed anything, or because he wanted to be best buds with him, but because Hank’s been in a similar place as Gavin was in right now.
Gavin hesitated before searching his pocket and tossing Hank his lighter. His hand was bandaged, Hank realized. He didn’t look at it for too long, but instead focused his attention on the cigarette lighter. There was an image of two birma cats sleeping in a basket on it, and it elicited a snicker from the lieutenant.
“Shut up, Anderson.”
Hissed Gavin, snatching the lighter right back when Hank had lit his cigarette. He took a deep breath and puffed out a cloud, squinting his eyes against the smoke to make out the frown on Gavin’s features. The guy should smile more often. But who was Hank to tell him that?
“So... The annual Halloween party’s coming up. You psyched?”
“What do you think?”
Scoffed the detective, but he wasn’t busting Hank’s balls with insults yet, so Hank saw that as a good thing. Maybe they could get along, after all.
“You should be. There’s gonna be alcohol and group activities and all of that good stuff kids like you care about.”
His tone was playful, the smile heard through it, and Gavin’s lips twitched in a brief grin. Woah. Hank got him to smile. This was a day for the history books, that was for sure.
“Fuck you, old man. I could have a better time with Whiskers and a bottle of soda at home.”
Right. Gavin had a cat. Three, actually, if Hank remembered it right. It was a while ago Gavin told him anything about himself. This was good. Much better than fighting all the time.
Hank replied, and let silence fall between the two of them. This didn’t seem to bother Gavin. In fact, he looked more relaxed than Hank had seen him in a long time. See, what this detective knows, unlike Connor, is that you don’t have to fill the silence with noise all the damn time. Hank took another drag, looking out over the trees that lined the other side of the street. A gust of wind rid it of another round of red, orange and yellow leaves, and they scattered over the ground beneath it. As Hank glanced back at his co-worker, all cuts and bruises covering the hand that held the cigarette, and the other bandaged, a question nagged at the lieutenant, making its way out without his permission.
“That injury from a case?”
Shit. Hank just ruined the moment. And it was going so well, too. Now, Gavin snapped his head back to scowl at Hank, his bandage-wrapped hand fleeing into his pocket.
“Why do you care?”
“Well, when you show up at the office with fresh scars every week, it’s hard not to. They’re not from work, are they?” It was more of a statement than a question, because Hank had a feeling he already knew the answer. When the detective dropped his smoke to the ground and heeled his boot to put it out, Hank half expected him to lunge at him. But instead of that, Reed made a beeline for the door to get back inside.
“What I do or don’t do outside of work is none of your fucking business, Anderson. Got it?”
He turned around to look at Hank, and Hank saw the anguish in his eyes, not matching his demanding tone in the slightest. He nodded, slowly.
Gavin slammed the door shut on his way in.
As instructed, Hank gave his co-worker some space after that. The days rolled by much slower than usual, and many times, the lieutenant caught himself glancing over to Gavin’s desk while buried in paperwork. He was thinking about him more and more often, finding himself worrying for him and wondering if he still got into fights. His before bandaged hand had now healed, so Hank supposed Reed was trying, at the very least. It was a comforting thought.
Deep down in his gut, Hank had this horrible feeling he knew exactly what was going on with him and this sudden connection he felt for his co-worker, and he hated it. There were truly no worse pairing than him and Detective Reed. The two of them, together, was stubborn meets stubborn. Chaos was bound to ensue when they both were in the same room. Yet, Hank couldn’t get rid of this new and frankly, terrifying feeling. No matter how many times he told himself he despised Gavin with every atom of is body, no matter how much he drank himself into oblivion, these thoughts just wouldn’t go away.
And now, Hank was at his limit. He can barely talk to anyone at work anymore, much less Gavin. He’s snappy and acting like an absolute dick, this he knows, but could you blame him? This is all Hank’s got to protect himself. But tonight’s the night. The night Hank has been dreading for the last few weeks; The annual Detroit Police Department’s Halloween Office Party. You’d think these things would be voluntary, but no, skipping out on cheap booze and plasticky decorations while making awkward small talk with your co-workers leaves you with absence from work. Which was fucking ridiculous.
“Guess I should get ready, huh, Sumo?”
Muttered Hank where he lay across his sunken-in sofa, Sumo strewn across his lap, all heavy limbs and panting.
Replied the big dog helpfully, and Hank ruffled the fur between his ears, grateful that at least he was on Hank’s side.
“I know, believe me, I don’t want to do this. But I should get it over with. Find that hideous halloween-themed sweater Con bought me and grab the bull by the horns... Right?”
Sumo licked his nose in response and the lieutenant nodded, grabbing the badge that waited for him on the coffee table before urging the St Bernard off of him. Time to do this shit!
As expected, when Hank arrived, the party was already in full motion. He stepped inside the department, and it felt as if a record scratched and everyone turned their heads to see who had disrupted their fun time. Of course, this wasn’t the case, but the lieutenant tended to worry a little too much for his own good at times.
Speaking of worrying, across the room, Hank could spot Gavin talking to Tina, looking relatively relaxed as he laughed at something she said.
“Hank! You actually made it! Nice sweater, man!”
Suddenly, Hank’s boss was on him, a friendly arm swung around his shoulder, and this made Hank laugh. Only Jeffrey would compliment such a horrendously ugly thing as Hank’s halloween jumper. Well, him and Connor. Perhaps they should start a clothing line together.
Nevertheless, since when was Jeffrey this friendly to him? He looked genuinely happy that his employee was here. Then, he hiccuped. He smelled of fruit punch. A lot of fruit punch. Ah. That would explain it.
“Yeah, yeah, what do I gotta get through before I can leave?”
“Hey, don’t look at this as a-... as a chore or some shit like that. This’s a vacation, man. It’s Spooktober! Light up!”
God, what culprit was responsible for teaching his boss that term? Hank wondered, fretting this now even more than he did in the first place.
It turned out that the ‘vacation’ Jeffrey was yapping on about, mostly consisted of a lot of punch drinking while talking over not-so-good music and a quiz or two. Hank wasn’t surprised, but he was certainly disappointed.
I came here for this? He thought, until Gavin caught his eye from across the punch table before quickly looking away. Right. That was the reason Hank came.
“Hey. Happy halloween.”
He greeted as he made his way over, ‘casually’ filling one of those red plasticky 99 cent store mugs with pink punch.
“That is the ugliest shirt I have ever seen.” Replied Reed.
Well. An attempt was made.
“Nice to see you too, asshole.”
“M’not the asshole who came over to talk.”
Gavin shrugged, obviously having drunken one too many sips of fruit punch when he wobbled, losing grip of the tabletop. Before he could tip it over and ruin the only good thing the precinct had going for them at this party, Hank steadied him.
“Woah. How much have you had?”
“None of your business.”
Irritation was itching beneath Hank’s skin, he downed his cup of punch and winced. Ugh. That is way too sweet. And... it doesn’t even resemble alcohol in the slightest. Was everyone here a lightweight but him? Reed’s eyes were still on Hank, hostile as the frown plastered across his face.
“Y’know, ever since you started hanging out with your plastic boyfriend, you’ve gotten a lot more annoying.”
Plastic boyfriend? If it weren't for their mutual hatred for each other, he’d almost say Gavin sounded jealous. He laughed, but it lacked any humor. Took another cup of punch, filled it to the brim and gulped it down, in hope it would do something to him.
“And ever since I got promoted as lieutenant, you’ve turned into an obnoxious prick.”
Oh, shit. There it was. That slip of tongue Hank knew he was going to have all night. Gavin blinked up at him, eyes wide and jaw slack in disbelief now that the lieutenant had snapped.
Suddenly, they both seemed to remember they were at the precinct, and looked around, expecting to find an audience gawking at them. But alas, the room was empty. Abandoned. Gavin peeked over the door frame to the hall, calling out for Tina and Chris... No response.
“The fuck? Where’d everyone go?”
”They probably tried to get away from you.”
Muttered Hank beneath his breath, but helped Reed look around the building nonetheless. When the pair reached the door leading outside the precinct and Gavin tried his tag to unlock it, it blinked red.
“M-My card isn’t working!”
They stared at one another, then back to the main office. The tables were scattered with red beer pong cups and halloween decor and it was eerily quiet. What were they in, a budget horror movie? Then, someone familiar spoke through the voice receiver on the door.
“We figured you’d be too busy chattin’ to see us leave.”
It was Jeffrey, and he tried and failed to stifle his drunken laughter.
Brilliant, Reed. Really digging deep for those detective interrogation skills, there. Hank would have to take his place.
“We’re locked in here, chief.”
“We know. That was kinda the point.”
Gavin shouted, probably nearly turning his boss deaf. But now Jeffrey was howling with laughter, and you could hear multiple of Hank and Gavin’s co-workers joining him.
“Care to explain what’s so funny to us, Jeffrey?”
Hank was growing agitated, and hoped his tone would make his solemnity clear. His nerves were going like a live-wire at the mere thought of being alone with Gavin for more than five minutes unsupervised.
“Oh, nothing, Hank. We just won’t let you out until you’ve sorted your shit out. Happy Halloween, boys!”
But Jeffrey was gone. Gavin tried the receiver several times after that, but Hank had given up. He sunk to the floor with his back against the wall, thinking about how he had been brutally betrayed by everyone at his job.
“So what now?” Asked the detective, seemingly unable to face his partner properly. Hank shrugged, he honestly had no fucking clue how to answer that question.
Gavin repeated, spinning around to face Hank, and he looked so damn dejected it made Hank’s chest ache. He was torn between punching Gavin in the face and pulling him into a hug.
“Well, they said to sort our shit out, so I guess...”
“What’re you doing?”
Hank rose to his feet, briefly considering asking Gavin to sit down and taking it slow, but he realized, as he walked up to Reed and cornered him against the wall, that he had been wanting to ask this for too long to take it slow now.
Gavin no longer looked angry, but rather, he looked small, and his voice was laced with something that sounded an awful lot like anticipation. Hank took a deep breath.
“Let’s sort shit out then. Why do you hate me, Gavin?”
He doesn’t know if it was the line of questioning, or the use of his first name, but the detective’s expression wavered, sheer shock quickly hidden and replaced by incredulity.
“Hate you? Wh... Why would I hate you?”
“You tell me.”
The response came quick, certain. Now it was Hank’s turn to raise a brow. Gavin’s eyes fixed on literally everything but Hank, his hands fidgeting. His skin was no longer broken. There were a few white scars here and there and a lingering bruise or two, but it seemed he truly had gotten better. Hank refrained from hugging Gavin senseless right then and there, relief mixed with something else bubbling up inside him. This was a feeling Hank barely recognized anymore, but coming to terms with this, right now, was overwhelming. And absolutely disgusting. Of all people, it had to be Gavin fucking Reed. Hank was royally screwed here.
“Don’t fucking look at me like that, i-it’s humiliating.”
Hank pushed further. He leaned forward, just a tiny bit.
“I-it might have seemed like I hated you, but that- that was never true. I got into some deep shit, and that along with...”
He gestured between the two of them.
“... This, I- I couldn’t handle it. You were promoted, you kept getting better but I was never gonna get to your level.”
Hearing this, hearing something other than clapbacks and verbal abuse coming out of this man’s mouth... realizing that through all of that shit, Gavin returned Hank’s feelings, it was...
“Shut up, let me finish before I change my mind.” A choked out laugh was all Hank could offer him for an answer.
“I, yeah, I just-... hit rock bottom, I suppose. And I- I took it out on you.”
Gavin finally met his eyes, and his were glossy with tears.
“I never knew how to talk to you or approach you after your promotion ‘cause I felt like I wasn’t worthy, but...”
He gasped for breath, shaken from recalling memories of what Hank couldn’t imagine. He had dealt with his shit too, and that was torture, but the lieutenant realized that they both had some baggage to carry. And that that was okay. Hank’s hand, almost by instinct, found Gavin’s, and he laced their fingers together. Gavin whimpered.
“I shouldn’t have done any of this. I- I’m so sorry, Hank.”
Okay, that does it. Hank caught Gavin before his knees gave way and he would fall into a weeping pile on the floor, and he pulled the detective into a big hug.
Gavin sobbed against Hank’s shoulder, his body shaking, knuckles turning white were they desperately clung to Hank’s sweater, and Hank returned the emotion right back, not caring that he, too, was crying.
The detective and his lieutenant, two equally fucked up souls, sat on the floor of their police department during an interrupted halloween party, and sobbed, not willing to let go of each other for what could have been hours. Hank hushed Gavin quietly, calloused hands stroking up and down his back, and Gavin’s hands were trembling when his fingers threaded through thick, grey hair, holding onto Hank as if afraid he could disappear at any moment.
“God, I’m sorry. I’m so fucking sorry, Hank.”
It was whispered like a mantra, and finally, Hank pulled away just enough to put a finger to Reed’s lips. He held those deep, brown eyes, that were so so scared.
“Hey, me too. But we’ll get through it, don’t worry. M’ here now, okay? I’m not leaving.”
It wasn’t consolation, it was a promise, one that Hank planned to keep. And Reed decided that it was time to stop talking when he shook his head and crashed his lips into Hank’s.