Word Count: 1200+
Summary: The problem with Swarek: he's nice to her.
AN: The one for lowriseflare. Ahahaha, yeah, Merry Christmas brother, here's a giant pile of angst--I HOPE YOU LIKE IT.
The first thing Jo sees after she pushes open the door to the Penny: McNally lifting up her shirt, it looks worse than it is and the other rookies oohing and ahhing, Luke’s hands on her shoulders. The light’s dim—crappy copper bars are all the same that way, almost like Jo never left—but it’s a bad bruise all right. Jo saw it earlier, back in the trailer and McNally perched on the edge of her chair like she was going to spook at any moment. The girl had such thin skin; Jo could have counted every rib if she’d wanted to, clean lines like a racehorse.
“Ready to run?” she’d joked, tapping McNally’s foot.
“Huh?” McNally had her arm up over her head, a medic thumbing at her abdomen.
“My mom.” Jo shook her head. “Used to say that at the dinner table, whenever we sat with our feet on the floor.” McNally smiled weakly, shivering in the unheated trailer. Jo went to look for blankets.
(Not a word of lie: Jo had liked her. Felt weirdly responsible for her well-being, actually— maternal even, and normally Jo hates rookies. It was the bravado that did it, that and the French braid; Jo has a kid sister back in Kingston about her age.)
So. In the spirit of sisterly-whateverness and not being an asshole, Jo’s working real hard at hating Luke, not some skinny twenty-something who didn’t know better. Still, it makes it worse somehow, that familiarity in the trailer—Jo looks over and thinks I rubbed your back like an accusation.
Swarek’s at the bar too, drinking alone (and there’s a story there, Jo’s pretty sure, him skulking outside the entire time she was interviewing McNally). Jo takes a seat next to him because she’s feeling— well. She doesn’t know. She’s feeling like drinking alone next to someone who’s also drinking alone.
Three drinks later and she’s feeling like fucking someone.
They do that.
The problem with Swarek: he’s nice to her.
He’s got a rep, of course, working Guns and Gangs with the other cowboy cops, those one of the boys types that Jo unusually avoids. Jo is one of the boys normally, but you can’t be, not with men like that—they’re why the International Association of Women’s Police still exists, meathead coppers who don’t want pussy messing up their unit. Somebody got Sam’s number wrong though, way wrong, and around two in the morning Jo’s not sure she appreciates it.
“Do you want a glass of water?” he asks afterwards. Jo squeezes her eyes shut. (It’s just—it’s something Luke asked, years and years ago, maybe the second time they ever—)
“No,” she tells him. Climbs back on top and sucks at his neck until he’s ready to go again, the condom already tucked inside her sweaty fist.
“So,” she says, sometime after three in the morning. “You and McNally?”
“Me and McNally nothing,” he shoot back, but there’s no real heat behind it. He’s sitting up in Jo's hotel bed, drinking the whisky she fished out of the mini bar (the fucking bottles were ten bucks a pop—Swarek pulled a twenty out of his wallet to cover them both. Off Jo’s look he shrugged, said, “I didn’t buy you a drink at the Penny”. It was the first real smile she’d seen out of him all night.)
“Whatever helps you sleep at night, honey,” Jo says. She’s thrown her legs over his lap and now he’s rubbing up and down her calves, three-day stubble and all. ‘Nice’ is working a bit better for her, another drink in. “I’m just saying we could do a little divide-and-conquer here, help each other out.”
“Yeah,” Swarek laughs, gesturing between them, “I think we might’ve blown that plan.”
“Oh, okay, I see how it is.” She swings her legs out of his lap. “I’ll show you blown, my friend.”
She does too, sucking him off even though he’s still sensitive. Jo wants to hurt, though, wants to bite—she’s wound up, restless. When she gets him all-the-way hard again he groans, and not entirely out of pleasure either.
Still. He lets her.
He’s the one who calls her. The night Luke gets shot—he’s the one who thinks to pick up the phone.
For the first couple seconds, Jo thinks it’s a booty call, how late it is. His voice is a bit ragged, and Jo’s thinking it’s possible he’s drunk. Then he says her name the second time, and she knows.
They’re sitting next to each other when the doctor comes out, tells them Luke’s stable enough to operate. Jo’s been praying. She doesn’t believe in anything, not really—still, for a woman who hasn’t been to mass in over twenty years she works her way up to bargaining real quick.
(Please don’t let him, is about as far as she gets, truthfully; Please don’t let him and I’ll— She runs out of road then, doesn’t know what she could promise that would be worth a life.)
‘Stable’ sinks right down into the marrow of Jo's bones, makes her knees go liquid even though she’s sitting. McNally must feel it too, slumping down on the other side of Swarek with a quiet gasp-sob that Jo can taste in the back of her own throat. (They were together when she walked in, Swarek and McNally, off to one side on the hard benches. He was talking to her, low and steady.)
“I’ve gotta go do the interview,” Jo tells them now, pushing herself to her feet.
Only Swarek looks up, McNally gone dead-eyed and fidgety. “I’ll call you,” he says, touching his phone. “If anything—” He glances over at McNally uneasily. “I’ll call,” he finishes.
In the end he doesn’t have to, Jo swinging by the hospital again just as Luke gets out of surgery. Swarek is still sitting in the exact same spot, head bent close and worried near McNally’s. Jo wants to smack him, ask him what the fuck kind of hope he’s clinging to. There’s a ring on McNally’s finger—if Luke dies now she’ll be a widow just the same as if they were married, twenty-four hour engagement or not. Jo knows how these things work.
She takes him back to her hotel later, family-only in the hospital room and both of them on the outside looking in. Spreads him out on the crisp bedspread and fucks him and absolutely refuses to cry.
(She can't tell who it is she wants revenge from, honestly. Not anymore.)
Divide and conquer, Jo thinks weeks and weeks later, the Ray Nixon case and the hard stare he gives her after she sends McNally out for pizza. It burns her a little, because fuck—really she did him a favour. (Oh, she feels guilty, of course she does, but the real grief comes when Luke won’t take her back. She’s the queen of relative morality, Jo.)
In the end that’s the thing that wears on her the most, oddly, Swarek’s disapproval. Because if the one guy who stands to gain from her bad behaviour can’t get behind it—well.
(We’re the same, you and me, Jo remembers thinking at the bar that first night.)
So, that’s her answer then: being wrong. That’s what bothers her.
Still. Jo packs up her desk in the pre-dawn hours, pictures the easy smile when he bought her drinks from the mini bar.
Wonders if that’s all it is.