After Words

By Muri

Their relationship holds the strength of a proverb, sometimes. At the very least, it certainly holds a repetitive rhythm; familiar, often spoken words clicking into place to reflect a certain hard-held truth.

He knows the script by now, surely.

"I said most of your responses are fear-based. It's not as bad as it sounds . . ."

He smiles, faintly. Between scripts and stones, like wolves with bones, time has definitely rubbed down the corners and edges in the details of their shared lives. Little things now pass choreographically smooth between them, like who picks up the milk after the carton has gone south, the amount of salt to let slip into their soup, just how far to stretch an angry word, and when to come home afterwards.

When to come home. After words.

"I just need you out of here by the time I get back."

Given what they had already tossed at each other, any argument these days is, at most, tedious and repetitive. Hell, they both had reached the point where they probably could bang on rocks and still convey the idea "you're a stinkin' bastard, nanny nanny poo" without having to grunt a single word.

He should've laughed, perhaps. Should've laughed when he -- a child born with the phrase "let's talk about this" pretty much tied into his natal bellybutton, a child of the book and pen, of theories and text -- finally realized something his throwback of a partner understood from the very beginning. Words could get in the way, yes.

"There's nothing to say, Chief. It's all been said. It's out. It's over. There's no going back."

He would have laughed, but it really isn't very funny. Why <I>did</I> they keep following the same lines, mouthing the same patterns?

Sometimes, he thinks it would have been better to use rocks, perhaps. Rocks would certainly make it easier to pound some sense into his partner's head. But he is a child of the book and pen, of theories and text, of words. That's the hard part. Words got in the way, yes, but the problem isn't actually in the words themselves. It's in the little bits of truth and of hurt squirreled away in the syllables.

What was the rhyme? Sticks and stones . . . he shakes his head.

Bones can heal. He knows this. And he knows that he has cast his own share of stones and broken more than just bone. Nothing for it; his internal timer dings. He has stretched his anger to the limit. Now it is time to turn around. To meet his partner eye to eye. If he has read the situation right, both of them are ready.

For all the pain, all the annoyance, there is some reassurance, after all, in things often repeated. Reassurance, too, in scripts . . .

"Nothing happens in this universe randomly. It's all for a reason. That's part of what I was writing about."

"You were the best cop I've ever met and the best partner I could have ever asked for."


"Chief? Look . . . I'm s--... that was stupid. I didn't mean ..."

"Yeah, I know. Me neither."

"Mm. Y'know, haven't we done this already? Sounds familiar."


"Makes you wonder why we still ..."

"Dunno, big guy. Maybe hair isn't the only thing you're losing ...?" He ducks the expected swat, and they scuffle. He expects that the roughhousing will probably end in a loose limbed sprawl on the couch, beer in hand.

And already, he finds himself sitting, and the coldness of the bottle pushed into his grasp makes him grin. Unplanned choreography. The truth in their "proverbial" relationship.

Why did they go through this, again and again?

"It's about friendship."

Some things, you never became tired of saying.

-the end

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