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Casual Friday

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Jean knocked on Kim’s apartment door. He felt slightly guilty over interrupting Kim’s day off because unlike certain shitkids, Kim worked hard and more than deserved a day of peace, but alas, sometimes sacrifices had to be made for the good of the 41st.

(Okay, Harry was working hard too, but the second Jean allowed himself to be soft and acknowledge that was when Harry was going to break his heart and soul again, so it was healthier in the long term to keep comparing him to a seal flopping around on land, miles away from water, to be constantly surprised instead of eventually let down.)

“Detective?” Kim’s voice called from behind the door, using the title even though he wasn’t on duty. That was just how Kim was. Professional, eternally distant, a statue in personality and composure. The only crack in that image was his surprising affection for Harry.

Everyone had flaws.

“Kitsuragi,” Jean greeted, saluting the peephole. “I understand you wanting to keep the door closed, but I’m not trying to drag you into anything. This isn’t case related. Well it is, but it’s ‘I need something to fill up time during a stakeout’ case related.”

“Ah,” Kim said, and there was the clicking of locks as Kim opened the door. “What can I help you with then?”

Jean started to speak, to say what he was there for, and then his brain absolutely emptied at the sight of Kim in his apartment. Now, Jean had never been to Kim’s apartment. He didn’t need to. They shared a boyfriend, but nothing past that, the triangle didn't connect. And the apartment itself was exactly as expected. Orderly and clean, not quite so clean as to be close to godliness, but clean enough. All very Kim like. 

In fact, the only thing not Kim-like was his clothes.

Because he was, in fact, wearing shorts.

Not like, basketball shorts, not long shorts to the knee, not cargo shorts.

Kim Kitsuragi was wearing short-shorts.

Faded blue jean short-shorts.

And he also had a loose, pale yellow T-shirt tucked into the shorts, a shirt that he got from running a marathon back in '48, which wasn't as important, Kim ran, big deal, Jean could tell that from how fucking toned his legs were.

Those legs that were, again, in short-shorts.

“Vicquemare?” Kim asked, raising an eyebrow.

Jean made a small noise, still trying to comprehend the concept of shorts. The ends of the shorts were slightly frayed, did he cut them himself? Did he just cut up old jeans and made them into shorts? They fit him so well, oh right, Harry mentioned that Kim tailored his clothes, of course that’s why they fit him well, of course of course of course.

“Is something wrong, Jean?” Kim asked in a clipped tone.

The use of his first name snapped Jean’s mind back to the reality that existed beyond Kim’s legs. “Nope, nope.”

“You were staring at nothing,” Kim said with a frown. Not a disappointed frown, a concerned frown. “You reminded me of Harry the first day we met.”

Jean narrowed his eyes. “Amnesia is not contagious. I was just momentarily distracted.”

“Okay?” Kim looked over his shoulder at his apartment, then back at Jean with a raised eyebrow. “By what? I’ve been told that my home is as personal as a hotel room.”

“By your legs, of course.”

“Okay?” Kim looked down at them, then back at Jean. “Why? I don’t have any bruising, there’s nothing to be concerned about.”

“Well,” Jean started, and frantically thought of words, words to describe the image of Kim Kitsuragi in short shorts. “You have them,” was what he came up with.

Kim nodded slowly. “Yes…I do have them. Are you sure amnesia isn’t contagious?”

“I don’t—I’m perfectly fine, I’m just—I’m talking about your—” Jean made a frustrated noise and flapped his arms up and down in front of him, then pointed at Kim’s shorts. “ Those! What are those!”

Kim’s eyes glazed over: the tired exasperated look he often gave Harry. “Are you…” He sighed.  “You mean my shorts?”

“Yes!”

“Okay. What about them?”

“You’re wearing them!”

“I was unaware there was something else I should’ve been doing with my shorts.”

“Why are you wearing them?”

“Why shouldn’t I wear them? They’re comfortable.” Kim shrugged his shoulders and tucked his thumbs into his belt loops. Oh god he was capable of standing in something other than parade rest. This was Kim relaxed . What the fuck. “I’m allowed to wear something comfortable, on my day off, in the privacy of my own home.”

“Uh-huh,” Jean said, looking back down at Kim’s thighs, tracing an abstract map across the hair along his thighs.

“You’re here for something other than my shorts.”

“Am I?”

“Jean. Please. I have a radio I could be listening to. Books I could read. A day off I could be enjoying. Please have mercy.”

Jean blinked rapidly and scrubbed his face with his hands. “Right! Right…” He snapped his fingers. “Dick and I have a stakeout planned, and he suggested getting Suzerainty from you to play.”

“How will you be able to play by yourself, and with your hands full no less,” Kim said with such a straight face that Jean almost missed the fact that it was a joke.

“You’re funny, really,” Jean said, shaking his finger at Kim. “No, the other jack-off. Our mutual jack-off, as it were—” Jean grimace as his words echoed back into his ears.  Kim winced.  “Never mind forget I said that, I regret it.”

Kim turned around, rubbing his head, letting the bad joke fall away. “Suzerainty, right?”

“Yeah. He said you had it,” Jean said, taking one step into the doorway as Kim walked away. This was allowed, right? Yeah, he could be a couple steps in.

“I do. We have, ah, a game night sometimes.”

Jean would have responded, but Kim bent down at his bookshelf and see, Jean always thought of Kim as the kind of person who was very aware of how to properly pick something up. Bend at the knees, lift with your legs, not your back, all that, but nope, here Kim was, in short-shorts, back to Jean, bending down at the waist.  Showing off his entire ass.  “You’re doing this on purpose,” Jean accused. He scratched his cheek and hoped his face wasn’t as warm as it felt.

“Please, Vicquemare, we both have partners,” Kim said as he straightened. His voice seemed too smooth and cool, but Jean didn’t know what “too” meant, what subtext was hidden. And with the afterimage of Kim bent over still burned into his eyes, Jean knew he couldn’t trust whatever meaning he’d come up with. Kim pushed the board game against Jean’s chest, his lips twisted into the smallest smirk. “Try to be reasonable.”

“It’s fine, it’s the same partner.”

Kim hummed.

Jean cleared his throat and tried to get back on track. The track of ‘not shorts’.  He grabbed Suzerainty from Kim. “Got any hot tips?” he asked as he tucked the board game under his arm.

“No. Harry’s not very good, so if you lose, know that it’s your own fault.”

“Thanks for the warning,” Jean said, raising his hand up to his temple in a lazy salute. “Have a…relaxing day off.”

“I shall. Have an eventful stakeout,” Kim said with a crooked smile, like a slash of a crescent moon.

Relaxed Kim was weird. Jean had seen Kim around Harry, when his mouth drew in a tight line with restrained laughter, and Jean thought that was as far as it went. An honest smile for Kim was the quirk of a lip, nothing more. Nothing noticeable, not accompanied by relaxed shoulders and hands tucked into his pockets, not showing the tips of his teeth, not while he was wearing fucking shorts.

Kim let out a breath. “You’re doing it…you know what? Why don’t you just close the door whenever you decide to leave. There’s no reason for me to lock it anyway,” he added in an undertone as he walked back to his couch and…flopped down on top of it. Just sort of fell onto the couch so he was laying across it, one leg draped down onto the floor, one leg hung over the arm of the couch. Jean had an instinctive reaction to help him, like catching an old lady’s arm as she teetered on the sidewalk, but Kim’s head rested perfectly on a pillow, right next to his radio.  It was on purpose.

“Oh my fuck, this is how you lounge?”

Kim covered his face with his hands and let out a long suffering groan.

“Kim, you’re forty,” Jean said, laughter breaking into his voice.

“Leave me to my depravity,” Kim begged into his palms, ears fire-red.

---

Jean was parked in a small alley with a good view of the street and the waiting game began.  Harry’s tongue stuck out between his teeth as he tried to figure out how to balance the game board in the space between them.  Jean stared out into the street as his knee bounced. He tried to further conceptualize Kim’s shorts, their existence, how they looked, how Kim looked…and how to bring it up with Harry. He lounged against the steering wheel, holding his chin on his palm. He let out a long sigh. Fuck it, it’d be easier to just come out with it. “So I think I’m attracted to Kim now.”

Harry’s face lit up so brilliantly he was almost glowing. He reached over and grabbed Jean’s hand in both of his. “He’s great, isn’t he? He’s just, he’s so cool and such a good person, really just great—”

Jean pulled his hand out with a grimace twisting his face. Maybe he gave up too soon. Harry was devoted to Kim and even if the initial baby duck imprinting-slash-honeymoon phase had faded, he still thought Kim was the most perfect being alive. “I’m not attracted to his personality.”

“You aren’t?” Harry said with a frown. He looked so honestly sad, like Jean had just kicked a puppy in front of him. He felt like he had just kicked a puppy, and Jean’s brain worked and whirled to figure out how to unkick that puppy.

“I mean, okay, he’s a nice person. A great person, even. I like working with him. And even though there’s the complication of the triangle we have here—” Jean held up his thumbs and pointer fingers and pushed them together to form the triangle “—I do think of him as a friend. But.” Jean broke the bottom of the pyramid and he ran his thumbs in a circle around each other, thinking.

“But?”

“But what I saw…It changed something.”

“What did you see?” Harry asked, voice light and breathless.

“How can I begin to describe it?” He stopped his continued triangle demonstration and rubbed his chin, holding his elbow with his other hand. “Harry. Have you ever seen Kim…super relaxed when you’re with him?”

Harry looked out the front windshield too. “I don’t like that question. That makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong.”

“You probably are,” Jean said, a reaction, automatic, then swallowed that bitterness. “No, I was just wondering if you've seen his shorts?”

Harry’s eyes narrowed. “Shorts?”

“Yes.”

“Kim? Kitsuragi? In shorts?”

“I’m guessing that’s a no.”

“Kim’s worn boxers before…but not shorts.”

“He was wearing shorts when I was with him.”

Harry’s eyes widened and he nodded, captivated.

“And Harry?” Jean put his hand on Harry’s shoulder. “They were short.”

“How short?”

“Short enough that when he bent over I had to check to see if there was any ass curvature showing.”

Harry gasped, scandalized. “No!”

Yes!   Oh, and there wasn’t any ass, by the way.  But man, it was close.”

“Are you lying to me? If you’re lying to me I may cry. I will be so disappointed.”

Jean clasped Harry’s hands, rubbing his thumbs over Harry’s scarred knuckles. “Harry, I’m not lying. Boy has some fine legs.”

“I know. I spend a lot of time between them.”

“Harry—and I mean this seriously—you lucky fuck.”

Harry grinned, preening like a proud peacock. Cockatoo. Whatever. Jean squeezed Harry’s hands and then let him go, remembering their job. Harry allowed the silence to sit for a couple minutes, then he spoke again. “You gonna date him now? Are we all boyfriends now?”

Jean sighed.  “I don’t know and I don’t know how to talk about this without making it sound like I’m a high school girl talking about my crush.”

“Do you have a crush?”

“Maybe on his legs,” Jean muttered back. He straightened at the sight of someone crossing the road. “Is that—”

“No.”

“Damn, hoped we got lucky.”

“Nope.”

“Guess we’ll have to continue setting up this game now.”

Harry hummed and looked at the game. Jean frowned at it too. Suzerainty really wasn’t built for being played in this setting. “But you know, Kim really is a great guy, really just the best—”

Jean put his hand over Harry’s mouth. “Harry, the more you talk about Kim, the less attracted I am to him. Don’t lick my goddamn hand, I can feel you wanting to lick my hand.”

Harry pushed Jean’s hand away from his face instead of licking. “Why?”

“Because I don’t want your saliva on my hand.”

“No, the first thing. About Kim.”

“Because I’m not attracted to angels, I’m attracted to men. You make Kim sound like an angel formed from the Pale—”

“No, out of whatever’s the opposite of the Pale, the Pale is bad, Kim’s good.”

Jean snapped his fingers at Harry. “There! There. Complaining about the wrong thing. I don’t work like that, Harry. I like humans, who are flawed, who walk around wearing short shorts and lounging on the couch like a gremlin.”

Harry paused. “Kim does have flaws though. I just think they’re beautiful too.”

Jean hummed and looked out the window so he wasn’t looking at Harry, so Harry couldn’t get a read on the churning in his stomach. It was romantic, it was soft, and it felt wrong for Harry. For Pre- Martinaise Harry. For the Harry he knew. But this was the Harry that came out of the darkness of suicidal drunkenness and stumbled down the stairs into the light of Kim Kitsuragi, and this Harry was soft.

“I don’t put you on a pedestal though, you just kinda suck all around.”

Jean smiled. “Good,” he said, forcing sarcasm in his voice to hide how genuinely happy he was at that.  It made him different.

“Wait, my brain caught up to what you said before. What did Kim do that was gremlin-like?”

“Oh, he full on flopped onto the couch. Just fell on top of it.”

Really!” Harry looked out onto the street and whistled. “He has so many secrets. Secrets upon secrets.” He shook his head.

“Never would’ve guessed. I say this as a friend, but Kim always seems so boring.”

“He just hides it. Really well. All the time. He’s emotionally unavailable, see.”

“Oh fuck, emotionally distant?  That’s my kink, now I have to date him,” Jean gasped in an exaggerated tone and Harry laughed. Jean felt tension unwind from behind his shoulders.

“I think it might be my kink too,” Harry said.

“You do have a bit of a pattern going on.”

“It’s just nice to see you guys actually relax and be soft, can I be blamed for—“

“Yes.”

Harry pouted and flipped a cardboard token from their untouched game over. He looked out the window and squinted. “Is that our guy?”

“No it’s—shit it actually is.”

They pushed the game aside and hopped out of the MC to do their jobs.

---

“This stakeout stuff is easy,” Harry declared as he nudged their perp into the back of the MC, holding his hand over the top of the door so they wouldn’t bump their head.

“It will never go that smoothly again,” Jean said, cleaning up their non-existent game of Suzerainty back into its box. “Normally, this shit goes on long enough that we could’ve done two rounds.”

Harry shrugged as he hefted himself into the front seat. They didn’t talk as they drove the perp back, but as soon as it was just the two of them, Harry turned back to him, and back to conversations of Kim. “You two would make great boyfriends, you know.”

“Harry we’re two decades past using ‘boyfriends’, we’re grown fucking men.”

“Why does it have to fall out of style? Why can’t we just use boyfriends, we are boyfriends.”

“Because you’re forty-four.”

“We’re also police so it’s very confusing to call each other partners.”

“Well it’s a good thing that you have two partners at work and at home.”

Harry gave a stupid, off-center grin, as goofy as a high school teenager on his first date. It was adorable, so silly and so fucking adorable. Jean sighed and kissed Harry because he was eternally weak. He could feel Harry’s lips turn up into a grin as he returned the kiss.

Even if Harry had lost everything that Jean knew and fell in love with, even if he sometimes mourned the loss of his friend, he was fucking glad to be rid of pre-Martinaise kisses. He brushed his teeth regularly, didn’t taste like a slurry of alcohol, his lips were soft and not worried and bloody from his teeth, his breath only stinking of smokey chestnuts. Harry kissed him, held his face in his large hands, and Jean let out a breath and felt some tension leave his shoulders.

Harry pulled away with a soft sigh and pressed their foreheads together as he rubbed his thumbs against the scratchiness of Jean’s beard.  Jean closed his eyes and just relaxed into the warmth of Harry.

“Guess what?” Harry asked, and Jean heard the smile in his voice.

“What?”

“Kim can laugh. Like, he can actually laugh. Guffaw, even.”

Jean’s lips twitched as he sat back, out of Harry’s hands.  “Shut up I don’t believe you.”

It’s true!”

“I don’t understand anything in this world anymore, everything’s a mystery.”

Harry laughed, loud enough to shake the MC. “Now—yeah, ha-ha, you know how I feel now!”

Well, not entirely. Harry woke to the world being formed around the screeching roar of Kim’s motor carriage. Baby duck imprinting followed. Jean had nothing like that…

Except for the image of Kim bending down in short shorts.

“Hey, we’re done early, we’ve got time to kill, do you want to go to Kim’s?”

“Fuck yeah, I need to see the shorts.”

---

Kim did not come to the door when Jean knocked on his door and said that Harry wanted to see Kim’s shorts. He did, however, run to the door when Harry tried to fumble his keys into the lock and latched the chain into place. Harry whined about Kim’s cruelty, and Jean heard what was either a draft rattling a distant door or the smallest laugh from Kim Kitsuragi.