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anathema, abhorrence, and other ugly antonyms for love

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There were tears burning your eyes and you felt a bone-deep rage bubbling in your chest. His head was thrown back as he laughed, and it was a very ugly laugh, in dissonance and discordance with the chorus of hyenas around him.

 

Your lips were quaking, your hands were trembling, and when he bared his teeth in a snarl-smile you could feel scorching trails track their way down your cheeks. You didn't scrub at them in humiliation like you wanted. Instead you let your face twist into an expression as ugly as his.

 

"I detest you," you spat.

 

Jenko's lips curled up into a cruel smile. "Thanks for the vocab lesson, Dictionary, but you don't need your fancy words to say you hate me. I already know that." Something regretful flashed in his eyes, but you convinced yourself it was a trick of the light.

 

"I abhor you, I loathe you, I despise, resent, hate you," you said, and your chest ached with an unknown feeling.

 

He shook his head and turned away, gesturing for his entourage to follow. The last to turn his back on you slapped your things out of your hands so they scattered across the linoleum floor of the hallway.

 

When they had vanished around a corner, you allowed your chin to fall to your sternum. You pressed a hand to the hurt in your chest and tried to convince yourself you wanted to hate Jenko as much as you said you did.

 

 

- - -

 

 

"Jenko!" a voice called from behind you, and you felt dread curdling in your gut, suddenly wishing with vehemence that you could vanish into the locker you were trying to open. Hearing someone call Jenko's name was never a good sign when you were around.

 

You focused on opening your locker, willing your fingers not to shake as you twisted the combination lock. Why was it so hard for you to remember the combo? You'd had the same lock for nearly four years and you just couldn't remember the fucking pattern. Jenko's voice drifted closer and you felt yourself tense involuntarily, trying harder to open your locker but you just couldn't think-

 

19 31 6

 

The numbers came to you and you spun the lock quickly, cracking open your locker just in time for a big hand to push it closed again.

 

"What's up, Not-So-Slim Shady?" Jenko's taunting voice asked from directly behind you, making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

 

Cautiously, you turned, finding yourself trapped against the lockers by his bulk. You swallowed and he grinned predatorily, crowding you closer to the cold metal at your back.

 

"I said, 'what's up?'" he said.

 

You ground your teeth together before remembering your jaw health. "I just want to get my stuff out of my locker," you told Jenko.

 

He cocked his head to the side, calculating, and you knew by that look that he was plotting. Jenko wasn't considered smart; hell, the guy was barely even going to be allowed to graduate, but there was something very intelligent gleaming in his eyes. It was singularly terrifying. "You want your stuff out of your locker? Lemme help you with that, Dictionary."

 

"Please," you started, but his lip pulled up in a scowl so you stopped yourself hurriedly.

 

"Open your locker," he said, and withdrew his hand so you could pull it open. Reluctantly, you did.

 

Jenko whistled once your locker was open, reaching out to let his fingers drag over the spines of your textbooks. They were arranged by size and color, and it sat uncomfortably in you to have him touching their glossy covers. You were very picky about how orderly your spaces were.

 

"Neat little setup you've got here, Dictionary. Wouldn't it just suck if I were to, say, do this?" Jenko pulled a book from its place and dropped it on the floor. His friend, who you'd entirely forgotten about, snickered. You felt your face start to heat from the humiliation of this whole thing. Jenko pulled another book out and tossed it away, then another, until all your textbooks and folders and papers were on the floor. Jenko and his buddies must really like to throw your stuff on the ground.

 

He pulled something else from your locker and when you saw what it was you kind of wanted to throw up. It was a heart-shaped card you'd made for Melodie, so you could ask her to Prom.

 

"What a fucking nerd," Jenko said with a laugh. "You made this card for Melodie? That's cute. Too bad you won't be able to give it to her."

 

You felt anger start to burn through the embarrassment, and made a half-hearted grab for the card. "Come on, man, don't-"

 

Jenko ripped the card in half easily, letting each part flutter to the ground independently. "Whoops," he said with a smirk, and you swallowed hard as you stared down at the ruined red construction paper.

 

"I hate you so much," you whispered to yourself.

 

Jenko, with his fucking superhuman hearing, somehow heard you. "What was that, Not-So-Slim? Did you say something? Man, you've gotta speak up."

 

You looked up at him, furious and humiliated and just wanting him to leave you the fuck alone, and said, "I. Hate. You."

 

"That's more like it," Jenko said quietly, smirking in a self-satisfied way. "See you around, Shady." With a wink, he was gone, his buddy trailing along after him like a duckling following its mother.

 

Feeling defeated and utterly done, you set about picking all of your things up and putting them back into your locker in their correct order. Vaguely, you wondered where in the hell all the teachers were when you were getting harassed.

 

 

- - -

 

 

High school sucked. Jenko was an asshole, you didn't get to go to Prom with Melodie, and you sat on the couch in your parent's living room for a full week after school let out and realized you had no fucking clue what you wanted to do with your life. You threw all your dictionaries out, and it tasted like freedom.

 

"What am I supposed to do now?" you asked your mother, and she gave you that look that says 'you know full well I want you to go to college but I'm supposed to be a supportive mother so I won't say that you have to.'

 

She kissed you on the top of the head and said, "Whatever you want, Schmidtty. The world is your oyster."

 

Later, when you decided you wanted to be a police officer, she was still supportive of you, and even though she may embarrass the shit out of you sometimes, you couldn't ask for a better mom.

 

"Not-So-Slim Shady, what's up? Holy shit!" Hearing Greg Jenko's voice again wasn't something you'd ever wanted, but it seemed like Lady Luck or whatever the hell really had it out for you.

 

Of course, then Jenko kicked your ass and you aced a test he failed, and suddenly you were friends with the guy who'd made high school hell for you. Oddly enough, it wasn't as weird as you'd expected it to be. Jenko was still an asshole, sure, but he wasn't the vicious and malicious asshole you remembered from high school. He was a comfortable and familiar kind of funny, telling jokes like you'd been pals for years.

 

You tried to convince yourself you still hated him, that he was just a means to an end, but when he nearly started dancing after he passed a test and actually started dancing once he got his first bullseye at the shooting range, it was hard to remind yourself that you were supposed to loathe, detest, despise him. He was just Jenko, and you were just Schmidt, and somehow Jenko and Schmidt were friends.

 

"I still don't forgive you," you told him one night in your shared room. The lights were off and he was silent for a long time, so you had no idea as to what he was thinking. Normally when he was quiet like that, they weren't good thoughts.

 

In the end, what he said was, "I wouldn't have expected you to," and the new Jenko and Schmidt felt more like JenkoandSchmidt. It felt like partners.

 

 

- - -

 

 

You graduated from the police academy with Jenko at your side, ready for an exciting and full life of investigations and being badass motherfuckers. Park duty wasn't that, exactly, it was more fetching Frisbees out of the pond and telling kids not to feed the ducks, but you had your best friend Jenko (and that was still an odd thought) at your side, so it wasn't all bad.

 

Then you got a chance to do some real good, to arrest some One Percenters smoking weed in the park, and you got knocked the fuck down by your perp and Jenko forgot to read the fucking Miranda Rights to the guy he managed to knock the fuck down. In all, the experience was a clusterfuck.

 

You got your asses reamed by Chief Deputy Hardy, found out Jenko didn't even know the fucking Miranda Rights, and then got booted to Jump Street. It could've been worse, but then you got your asses reamed again, this time by Captain Dickson, and you had were ready to lay down and die when he said you and Jenko would be staying with your parents.

 

Once you were in your childhood home again, after having been accepted warmly by your parents, you chilled out with Jenko up in your room. You frowned at him, saying, "I really think I hate you sometimes. I can't believe you don't know the Miranda Rights. That's, like, Cop 101. How do you not know the-"

 

"Look, man, I must've missed that day or something." Jenko said, then scowled down at the floor. "I mean, is it really surprising? I nearly didn't even fucking graduate high school, so how's a fuck-up like me supposed to be able to do this shit?"

 

Well, fuck. "Jenko," you said, but he just shook his head.

 

"Don't, Schmidt. Let's just, I don't know, sleep or something. We have to go to school tomorrow," he said, and you really wished your heart didn't clench the way it did at his carefully closed-off expression.

 

You stared at him for a few more moments, long enough for him to look over at you. "Yeah. We should sleep," you finally agreed, and got up to turn out the lights.

 

Neither of you were looking forward to going back to high school, but even if you both knew the other wasn't really sleeping that night, you stayed quiet about it the next morning.

 

 

- - -

 

 

You might have lost your grip a bit. You got so caught up with actually being popular and in having a high school experience that didn't suck as much as the first one had that you hurt your best friend, your partner, fucked up the whole investigation, and got fired.

 

Jenko was packing his stuff into his car, and you were watching him. You didn't know what to do, didn't know if there was anything you could do, so you just watched from inside like the coward you knew you were.

 

"What do you think you're doing?" your mother asked. You weren't quite sure, to be honest. Instead of answering, you just looked at her. She frowned at you and smacked at your shoulders. "Get out there right now. That's your partner out there, and you're just letting him go."

 

She was right, and so you went. It was a little chilly, just enough to be a typical almost-summer night, but the ice in Jenko's gaze made you feel like you were frozen. It wasn't just the cold anger you saw, though. He was really hurt, and you were the one who'd caused it.

 

He deserves it, a small voice in your head had told you. He made high school hell for you once and he deserves all the pain you can give him. Fuck that voice, though, because that was the most bullshit thing you'd ever heard. Jenko didn't deserve that, not anymore.

 

"Moving out?" you asked, hating the weak hope you felt that maybe he'd say no.

 

"Yep," Jenko said instead, just like you'd known he would. He leaned on the trunk on his car for a second, then started to move, to go around to the driver's side. This was it, where he walked out of your life forever and you lost the best friend you'd ever had. Your heart ached painfully in your chest, but then he was turning back towards you, saying, "You know what's crazy to me? I think that I thought that we actually were brothers." The hurt in your chest from high school was back, beating your ribcage. Jenko swallowed, watched you for a second, then said, "I would've taken a bullet for you."

 

And what are you supposed to say to something like that? 'Me, too'? 'I'm sorry'? 'Please don't leave me you're my best friend and I don't know what to do without you'? You're saved from saying anything desperate and embarrassing by the arrival of Eric, who begs you to get in the car. It got progressively more fucked-up after that, but at least you and Jenko agreed that you had to take it into your own hands.

 

"Jenko," you started, and he looked at you expectantly, "will you go to prom with me?"

 

He was quiet, but then nodded. "I guess," he answered, and you couldn't help but smile at him.

 

"Are we really gonna take down a whole drug operation by ourselves?" you asked, feeling destined to fail but knowing you'd at least fail with Jenko at your side.

 

Jenko quirked a small smile. "I've got some contacts that will help us," he said cryptically.

 

Of course, he meant the nerds he'd befriended, and while they may not have looked like much, they were actually surprisingly useful, and you found yourself thinking maybe you had a shot of winning that impossible fight after all. As should have been expected, everything went pear-shaped.

 

Mr. Walters, the fucking crazy teacher, turned out to be the supplier, then the One Percenters showed up and recognized you both, then two of the gang members turned out to be cops? That part is still weird. Molly got herself taken hostage, passed out on Mr. Walters, and then shit got really wild.

 

One moment from the fight really stood out. You were taking cover behind a couch, there was confetti everywhere, gunshots ringing out around you, and then time slowed when you saw Jenko. You were pretty sure you'd just watched the One Percenter cops die after confessing their best friend love for each other, and Jenko was, well, Jenko. He was always eye-catching, even in the middle of a shootout. You stared at him for what felt like an eternity, and maybe it was, who knows, but then everything snapped back into focus and you could hear the gunfire, feel your heart pounding.

 

You peeked over the top of the couch and Jenko poked his head around the side. A moment later, the One Percenters were shouting about the money being gone, and then they were running.

 

"We've gotta get out of here, man," Jenko said breathlessly.

 

You looked at him seriously. "Are you telling me it's on?" you asked.

 

He looked back at you, just as serious. "Let's do this," he agreed.

 

There was confetti in his hair and it was then you knew you were a little bit in love with Jenko. It didn't feel like some huge deal, like some wild thing that needed to be tamed, but your heart palpitated, your palms started to sweat, and you said the first thing that came to your mind.

 

"Let's make a baby," you blurted, and immediately wondered what was wrong with yourself. What the fuck, why would you say that?

 

"What?" Jenko asked, just as confused. "What are you talking about?"

 

You shook your head, "I don't know. I was trying to sound cool. Sorry."

 

There was no time for apologies after that, though. Jenko killed a guy then threw up on you, you went on a crazy limo chase through the city, Jenko made a fucking bomb and blew the One Percenters up holy shit, and then you were facing off against Mr. Walters.

 

"Nobody moves or she's gonna get hurt. Do you understand? Nobody move!" Mr. Walters was shouting, the gun in his hand pointed at Molly as she struggled against his grip.

 

Of course, you moved, and then the gun was pointed at you. There was a split second that felt like a hundred years, where you stared at the gun and felt paralyzing fear. Before you could really even process it, Jenko was jumping in front of you, taking the bullet just like he'd said he would, and everything came crashing back down around you for the second time that night.

 

"Oh, fuck, you shot him!" you said. Your partner, your best friend, Jenko had taken the bullet, had put himself in front of you and had gotten shot by the douchiest teacher alive. You flashed back to high school, weirdly, back to that boiling rage below your sternum and how it had choked and blinded you, and felt the anger under your skin again.

 

"Oh, god!" you heard Mr. Walters say faintly, but you weren't really listening.

 

You looked back up at Mr. Walters, furious. "You shot my partner, you motherfucker!" you shouted, brandishing the gun at him.

 

Mr. Walters went on in the background, but all you cared about was Jenko, stirring and reaching for the front of his shirt.

 

"Are you alive, buddy? You okay?" you asked Jenko, and he pulled open his shirt, showing the bullet sitting in the Kevlar he was wearing. "You took a bullet for me, man," you said, feeling awed.

 

"Yeah," Jenko grunted, "I'm feeling a little bit ambivalent about that now." Mr. Walters went on some more, but who really gave a shit about him at that point, so you ignored him, opting to instead stare at Jenko as he stared back. Your partner nodded, pained. "You got this," he said, and if Jenko said you could, you knew you could.

 

You lifted the gun, feeling your head spin and your palms sweat. You remembered every time before, when you didn't pull the trigger, when you choked. The One Percenter in the park, the car chase. Molly elbowed Mr. Walters, gave you a perfect opening. You weren't sure if you could do it. Trying out for Peter pan, asking Melodie to Prom, asking Molly to Prom, Korean Jesus for some reason. "Come on," you heard Jenko say. His voice made everything come into clarity. You adjusted your gun.

 

"You peaked in high school, motherfucker," you said, and pulled the trigger.

 

There was a lot of yelling after that. You yelled about shooting Walters in the dick, you yelled while you arrested him, you yelled victoriously. You were on top of the world, and when you looked at Jenko with his fucked-up arm and his tender expression you knew he was right there with you.

 

"You're a goddamn rock star. Do you feel that? Goddamn, you're so cool," Jenko said, and from the expression on your face you thought maybe he might be a little bit in love with you, too. Of course, he followed it up with something about how you shot Walters right in the dick, but that was okay. You wouldn't have Jenko any other way.

 

"Look, I'm sorry I called you Rain Man," you told him, and it was like you'd opened the floodgates. "I know I didn't say you were, but you're smart. You're a smart guy, and you're thoughtful, and you're sincere, and you're sweet and you're loyal," and I love you, you thought, but stopped yourself from saying, "and I fucking cherish you."

 

Jenko looked at you, and you looked back. He had that expression on his face again, the one you remembered from the hallway back in high school, like he knew something you didn't, like he was sizing you up and was more intelligent than anyone ever gave him credit for. That time, though, you weren't afraid. When he looked at you like that, you felt like you'd never be afraid again.

 

Then you high-fived because you'd just shot a guy in the dick and made your first arrest and nothing was cooler than that.

 

 

- - -

 

 

The first time you saw the scar, you wanted to vomit. The knowledge that he'd have that scar for the rest of his life, that it was because he'd jumped in front of a bullet for you, was something you knew you'd blame yourself forever for.

 

Jenko, of course, seems to read your mind. "Dude, don't worry about it. I'd, well, I probably wouldn't do it again, since getting shot sucked major ass, but I don't regret taking the bullet for you. You're my best friend and my partner. I know you'd do the same for me."

 

You met his eyes, and his smile was like seeing the sun, or some other romantic shit. It would've be easy to tell him you loved him, right then. Instead you looked at a point just to the right of his shoulder and nodded. "You know I'd do anything for you."

 

"Same here. You're my brother," Jenko said, "and I love you, man."

 

You didn't want to smile at that, didn't want to pretend those words made you happy instead of crushingly sad. You smiled anyway, because that was what was expected, but you still couldn't look Jenko in the eyes. "I love you too, Jenko," you said.

 

Jenko turned back to his desk, still smiling to himself, and you let your facade fall. He was your brother, your best friend, your partner, and probably the love of your life. You couldn't have all of them, all of him. You didn't let your love for him go, couldn't possibly have done that, but you loosened your grip and looked the other way.

 

You had a job to do.

 

 

- - -

 

 

The Ghost got away, your ribs got bruised, and you and Jenko got sent back to Jump Street. Typical, you supposed, that you'd fuck everything up again. Jenko blamed you, you could tell, and you knew you deserved that blame. Dickson told you that you were going undercover at MC State, and you were determined to make sure Jenko's "college experience" didn't completely suck ass.

 

"I'm the first person in my family to pretend to go to college," Jenko said when you first stepped on campus, and your heart went out to him. His family wasn't shitty, per se, but they weren't the greatest family around, either.

 

You smiled and clapped him on the shoulder. "Best part is we get to do it together," you said.

 

Your across-the-hall neighbors, the Yangs, turned out to be pretty cool, if creepily in-sync. They made you and Jenko look like a couple of tools, which, well, you kind of were. That didn't matter, though. You were only at MC State to investigate, not to make friends or seem cool.

 

The classes you took were complete busts. You got called out on being a cop and Jenko made up a fucking word, apparently. Fieto, whatever the hell that meant. Out of options, you turned to the poetry slam.

 

Surprisingly, it didn't suck. You met Maya, a girl in your Psych class, and chatted her up a bit, seeing if she knew Cynthia. You came up with a stupid as hell poem and got lots of applause and Jenko's laughter, so you considered the night a success, even if you didn't get any leads for the case.

 

The fact that the dealers didn't have stickers was frustrating, but you were both optimistic you'd find a lead somewhere else.

 

"Yo, dude, you shot him in the dick, dude," one of the Yangs said, and you and Jenko both knew who you had to go to.

 

 

- - -

 

 

After Jenko fucked off with Zook and their stupid matching puka shell necklaces, you weren't quite sure what to do. The only party you'd ever been to was the one you and Jenko had thrown to win over the high schoolers, and the rush party was nothing like yours had been. You tried to talk to Rooster, ended up just looking like a complete weirdo, and when you finally found Jenko and Zook again they parkoured up onto the goddamn roof like they were ninjas or something. Jenko reached a hand down to you, and you tried to get up there, you did, but you knew you wouldn't be able to, knew you didn't actually want to, in the end.

 

"I'm just gonna go home," you told Jenko, and tried to convince yourself you saw disappointment in his eyes, but knew you were just imagining it to make yourself feel better.

 

It was a complete accident, running into Maya, but when you sat down and talked about the testicle sculpture thing, then agreed to go to the party in the art building, you didn't regret that accident at all. Maya was beautiful and funny and smart and not Jenko, so when she invited you into her dorm you accepted. You had sex with her, pushed your love for Jenko as far from your conscious mind as possible, and pretended it didn't feel like a betrayal.

 

He didn't love you anyway, didn't care who you had sex with, didn't care about you. Not in the way you cared about him. You had even convinced yourself that that didn't hurt.

 

 

- - -

 

 

Zook had the fucking tattoo. Of course Zook had the tattoo and of course Jenko didn't tell you about it. The dreamy look on Jenko's face as he listened to Zook talking about how great they were together was like a punch in the gut. He loved Zook more than he loved you and he'd only known the guy for a few days. You were angry, of course, but you were mostly just sad.

 

You hadn't hated anyone since you'd hated Jenko in high school, but you were pretty sure you hated Zook. You didn't want to sound like a whining kid, but Zook was stealing your best friend away. There was no reason for you to be angry or jealous, since you'd done the same thing to Jenko back when you were undercover at the high school, but you were realizing just how much it sucked to be on the other side of things.

 

Jenko was right next to you, but all of his attention was on his beloved fucking Zook, who was talking about Jenko like he farted rainbows and had put the moon in the goddamn sky. You knew for a fact Jenko didn't do either of those things, but you loved him anyway. It was still painful admitting you loved him.

 

Then Zook started talking shit about you and Jenko took Zook's side, and it was stupid but you felt so fucking betrayed. Irritated, you accidentally knocked this weird dummy mannequin thing over and fucked up your secret surveillance. You covered all the blinking cameras and got the hell out of dodge, tossing your backpacks away and hauling ass back to the dorms before you started tripping.

 

Shit never works out, though, because of course you got kidnapped and then went on a really sucky drug trip in the back of some random fucking car. Jenko had the time of his life with his football and his Cerveza and his Vietnamese Jesus and his stupid mini Lamborghini, while you got some Nickleback shit and tired legs. You got pulled out of the car by, surprise, surprise, Zook, and you had enough time to think of course this asshole would abduct us before there was a gun in your face. You thought you might die, it turned out to be some really dumb frat pledge thing, and then you thought you might die again, but due to alcohol poisoning.

 

"You want an open investigation?" you asked, drenched in alcohol and feeling like the lowest shit on the planet.

 

"I don't know if that's what I want, alright? I just think it's healthy right now for us to try it," Jenko said, and maybe that's what you'd always been afraid of.

 

You knew you were way too clingy, had been told by past girlfriends and the one boyfriend you'd had for a month who'd broken your heart and your toe when he'd left. This conversation with Jenko felt like an ending, and you didn't know why. You were still best friends and partners, but the way he'd said I think it's healthy told you that he knew you were getting too clingy, too close. You didn't know how not to cling, how to make yourself let go, but you definitely knew how to distance yourself. It was like putting a wall up, and this one was made of industrial steel and solid cement.

 

"Okay," you said, looking away from Jenko's stupidly honest and open face.

 

"Yeah?" he said.

 

You could feel his eyes on you, but still didn't look at him. "Sure."

 

"Okay, so I guess I'll just catch you later, then," Jenko said, and if you were still hoping for miracles you would say that was a note of uncertainty in his voice. You looked at a spot just to the right of his shoulder as he started to approach. "You okay?"

 

You put up a hand as a physical barrier between the two of you, not wanting his fucking earnesty and not wanting his fucking hugs. You hated how transparently pitiful you were. "No, you can't hug me right now," you said, and then he was reaching for his wallet, asking you if you wanted cab money and you were so, unbelievably tired. "No, I don't need money for a cab."

 

Jenko was quiet for just a moment, before turning. "Okay," he said, and then he was gone.

 

You watched him go, ignoring the ache behind your ribs, and looked around. "I don't know where the fuck I am right now," you realized aloud. As you tried to find your way back to campus you felt lonelier than you'd felt for a long time.

 

(You still went to his first game, because you really were a masochist, it seemed.)

 

 

- - -

 

 

Hanging out with Maya was a quiet kind of pain. She was beautiful and smart and kind and in another life, maybe, you could see yourself loving her, or something equally cheesy.

 

"You're really close with your brother, then, seems like," she said, smiling at you in a way that would've made your heart go into overdrive before but then just made you feel unbelievably heavy.

 

"Yeah," you said quietly, and hoped she wouldn't push at the probably-pretty-obvious issue there. Idly, you wondered where Jenko even was. Probably with Zook, probably having an amazing time. Just because your best friend was an asshole didn't mean you didn't get to have fun, too, so you pushed the thoughts of him from your head and focused on the then, on Maya and her smile and all the ridiculous stories you had in store for her.

 

The next morning you ended up at Cynthia's therapist's office and had an impromptu partner's session with Jenko, and it really was a kind of torture.

 

"He's clingy," Jenko said, and he knew exactly where to prod.  "He literally is terrified of being by himself."

 

Of fucking course I am, Jenko! you wanted to scream at him. Am I supposed to be confident and sure of myself when you're the first real friend I've ever had and all I seem to do anymore is fuck up repeatedly? I'm in love with you and I can't even tell you because I'm a chickenshit and someone like me doesn't deserve someone like you, anyway!

 

You couldn't say any of that, so you lashed back at him. " Zook has the tattoo; he knew Cynthia. I know the first time he met you, you dropped a fucking sandwich on his foot and he smiled at you, but you are completely blind to the fact-" you cut yourself off and turned back to the therapist. "What'd you say embedding was?"

 

Something clicked into place, and suddenly the case made a bit more sense.

 

 

- - -

 

 

Dickson was going to murder you. He was going to murder you and hide the body and no one would ever know because no one would even care to look for you. You'd figured out a key piece of information (dealer not buyer, what had you been thinking before?) but you were going to die before you ever got to present your info to the captain. Then Jenko shoved his foot in his mouth and Dickson's foot up your ass and you got Tasered in the nuts, but you were finally able to tell Dickson about your findings.

 

It was time to actually do your job, for once. The search was easy peasy, you supposed. The library had to be the place where the deal would go down, and when you got there, sans Jenko, you saw the fucking Ghost. The Ghost, whose arrest you'd fucked up and who looked extremely bored yet extremely impatient. You were in the deserted, hardly-visited section of the library with a bunch of killers and no backup. You were screwed if you didn't get Jenko's help, and soon. You fired off a series of texts, knowing you sounded desperate, but you were fucking scared.

 

Jenko entered  with his usual subtlety (read: no subtlety at all) and so you ended up in an odd predicament where Jenko kept hitting your dick with his helmet while he pretended to blow you, and then he went up in arms about the use of a gay slur. Really, it wasn't the time for social justice warrior Jenko, but his defensiveness was kind of intriguing. You wondered distantly if maybe Jenko was a little bit gay, before deciding it was most definitely not the time to wonder about your partner's sexuality.

 

Because Jenko was Jenko, he headbutted the homophobe after lecturing him, messed up a very cliché line, turned into fucking Spider-Man, then grabbed, of all things, a helmet-mobile as your getaway car. The assholes with Ghost were determined to cost the department as much money as possible and Jenko was working with them, it seemed, running over basically everything expensive on the entire campus.

 

The news that Jenko was thinking about staying on at college next year shouldn't have been surprising, and it wasn't really, but maybe it should've hurt a little less.

 

"There's no friction between me and Zook. We're the same," Jenko said.

 

You were angry, you knew that much, but it wasn't just anger. It never really was just anger when it came to Jenko. It was always that same burning, boiling, bubbling, and impotent rage in your chest, under your skin. Maybe it was betrayal, maybe it was always betrayal. "Do you want out? If you want out, just say it."

 

"No, I don't want out, okay?" Jenko insisted, "It's just, when I'm on the football field and I'm diving for a pass I feel like I can fly, alright? And when I'm with you, it just feels like you hold me down," he said.

 

You blinked at him, and all that rage and fury dancing behind your ribs stopped like a marionette with its strings cut. You did hold him down, you realized, and the truth was maybe the worst part of it. Jenko deserved better than you, you knew, and maybe it was Zook he deserved, maybe it was that feeling of flying and of invincibility. You couldn't give him that, you never could. All you could give him was yourself, flawed and bruised and completely unworthy, and he didn't even want that.

 

Jenko was saying something, but you weren't listening anymore, couldn't hear past the roaring in your ears. After a moment of watching his lips move silently, you turned to face ahead. You'd already made your decision, and his decision, too. The splintering of your heart must've been what letting go felt like.

 

The goalpost came down, and the fans celebrated riotously. You flashed your badge at the police officers. "Hey, he's a student. He didn't do anything," you told them.

 

"What are you doing?" Jenko asked, and you could hardly look at him.

 

"I, um. I decided for you," you said, and you met his eyes. The scarce feet between you felt like miles, then. "Just stick with football. I can't give you the same feeling these guys can." You looked away, couldn't bear to see that lost puppy-dog look on his face. "Maybe we were only supposed to do this once," you said, mostly to yourself as you were led away.

 

After that, your life kind of turned into what it had been before the police academy, except maybe a more accurate term would be 'before Jenko.' Your job kept you moderately occupied, but in moments like your 30th birthday, when you sat alone in a restaurant with only the waiters to sing for you and smile because they were paid to, you really missed everything you'd lost.

 

It was an especially shitty day when Jenko showed up at the park, a football in his hands and a weird, twisted-up expression on his face. It was awkward, seeing him in his MC State shirt, familiar and yet almost shockingly different. So, you lied. You told him you were doing great, and he said the same. It fucking hurt, hearing that confirmed. but you knew it must be true. Jenko was never one for lying to you, not even when he'd antagonized you back in school.

 

The conversation was stilted, nothing like they easy talks you'd had before, but you both quickly came to the conclusion that they had the wrong guy, and maybe far too quickly had decided to go down to Puerto, Mexico to bust the whole thing open again. It was bound to be a wild spring break, you supposed.

 

Wild was one word for what happened during Spring Break. The Ghost's daughter was Cynthia's roommate, you got to drive a Lambo then had the most awkward fistfight ever known to mankind, got taken as a hostage, tried to take a bullet for Jenko but fucked up and got him shot again, and then you took the leap of faith, nailed it, and looked like a total badass.

 

The Ghost's helicopter went down, his daughter got arrested, and you and Jenko were reunited at last. It felt good to have your best friend at your side again, even if it sucked that he got shot for you again, too. You really were sorry about the whole ricocheted bullet thing, but you didn't want to be shot, even if it would have made you even.

 

Jenko still smiled at you, though, even when he was bleeding from another wound you'd caused, and you counted that as a win.

 

 

- - -

 

 

"You're in love with him," your mom said without preamble one day.

 

You blinked up at her, probably resembling an owl. "What? Who?"

 

Your mom rolled her eyes. "Don't play dumb with me, honey. You're not nearly as subtle as you think."

 

"I-" you began, then stopped yourself. You weren't going to deny it anymore, you decided then. "Yeah," you said instead. "I am one hundred percent in completely gay love with Jenko."

 

"Why haven't you gone after him yet? He's not great at subtlety either," she said, but the implication that Jenko was interested in you was such a bald-faced lie that you didn't even know how to respond for a full five seconds.

 

You shook your head mechanically. "No. He doesn't..." you sucked your lips in to stop yourself. "Not like that," you eventually finished.

 

Instead of a definite response, your mother sighed and shook her head. "Oh, Schmidtty," she said, and then she was gone, leaving you wondering what the fuck that was about.

 

 

- - -

 

 

It was weirder the second time around, mostly because it was someone entirely different than your mom. This time, it was Zack, the 'main nerd' from high school who'd turned really hipster-y at some point. He'd thrown himself down into Jenko's chair at the desk behind yours and spun it around to face you. You raised your eyebrows at him, but all he did was study you for a few long, awkwardly silent moments.

 

Finally, he said, "What do you think you're doing?"

 

You weren't quite sure what to say to that. You looked at the paperwork you'd been filling out, at Jenko's frustratingly cluttered desk. He swore he had a system and everything was where it should be, but it just looked like piles of junk to you. "Uh, working?" you said, and Zack gave you a look that said you were being deliberately obtuse.

 

"With Jenko. What are you doing with Jenko? I know you know who he is, since you're basically salivating over each other about two hundred percent of the time," Zack said, and you wondered when he'd grown a pair.

 

"Uh, I don't-" you started to deny, but remembered your promise to yourself and deflated instantly, sighing and running a hand through your close-cropped hair. "I don't know what I'm doing."

 

Zack snorted in derision. "That much is obvious. I guess the real question is: why aren't you doing him?"

 

You spluttered, choking on your own spit. "Whoa, okay, that is-"

 

"Oh, don't tell me you aren't interested in climbing him like a tree. Did you really think nobody would notice your weird extended staring contests with Jenko's dick when he isn't paying attention? You guys really suck at being subtle, but Jenko is really, really bad at noticing stuff like that, so you're lucky," Zack said.

 

You must've been bright red by then, embarrassed and still choking on your spit as you were. "I do not-"

 

Zack interrupted yet again with, "Yeah, you do. Could you just, I don't know, do something about it? Like fuck him or even just talk your shit out, please? The UST is killing all of us, and Jenko may die of blue balls. We don't want that, Schmidt. Nobody wants that."

 

The intern swept away after that, and a few moments later Jenko settled back into his seat. His forehead scrunched up in that concerned way it does when he noticed your expression, and he poked you in the arm. "You okay?"

 

You shook yourself out of it and blinked up at him. He was beautiful, you loved him, and you were so fucked. "I'm good," you said.

 

 

- - -

 

 

In the end, it wasn't that difficult. You were sitting on Jenko's couch in his little apartment that he was infinitely proud of, and you looked at him over the IKEA coffee table you'd just spent the last hour trying to figure out how to assemble. He was smiling about finally getting all the pieces to fit together, as proud of the coffee table as he was of the apartment. It wasn't some earth-shaking moment, it wasn't in the heat of battle with bullets zinging past your heads, and it wasn't some particularly special day. Jenko was smiling, he was beautiful, and you loved him.

 

"I love you," you said simply, because it felt right.

 

Jenko's smile wavered in surprise, but then it was back, this time so wide you wondered if it was hurting his cheeks. "You mean love-love, right?"

 

You rolled your eyes at the childish way of putting it, but nodded. "Yeah. I love-love you, doofus."

 

Jenko nodded, still grinning like he'd won something. "I love-love you too. This is awesome."

 

You reached over the coffee table to pull him in for a kiss, the first of hopefully many, but when your elbow landed on the coffee table the whole thing fell apart and the two of you ended up in a pile of wooden pieces. Jenko scowled at the coffee table, at your face, then at the table again.

 

"Fuck the Swedish, dude," he grumbled, then tugged you closer so he could kiss you until you felt light-headed.

 

You touched his bullet wounds, the proof that he loved you. There was no ache in your chest, no anathema, no abhorrence. Just this large, consuming crater that you assumed was called love. "I love you," you said again just because you could, and you smiled.

 

It was way too easy to tell Jenko you loved him, way too anticlimactic. All those months of pining and angsting and you admit your 'big secret' just because he was really beautiful after (not) assembling IKEA furniture? And that love was returned just as simply? What a letdown, what a way to end the story. But...it wasn't an ending, was it? It was just another chapter, you supposed.

 

Besides, there was plenty of climaxing later that night.