true love is possible


“Come over to my place. I’ll make sure you don’t do anything rash.” Seeing your confused expression, he elaborates. “I figure, there’s not much I can say that’ll make you feel better right now, but if I can help you get a good night’s sleep, that will probably help. You look exhausted.”

Jean doesn’t want to go home, so he’s been spending a lot of late nights at the precinct. Trant invites him to sleep over instead.

You’re seriously contemplating ripping the clock off the wall. The insistent tick-tick-tick of the second hand is almost deafeningly loud in the empty bullpen with no chatter to mask it. It’s 11:37— four hours after Mack and Chester had decided to pack it in. They’d invited you to come drinking with them on Boogie Street, blow off some steam after a long week of work. You’d refused, and they’d left you here, alone. 

You’d like to tell yourself you just lost track of time. It happens to everyone at some point, and with a décomptage of your own to manage, your workload isn’t getting any lighter. Of course, you still did the lion’s share of the work back when you worked with Harry, but things go slower when you’re not partnered with Dick fucking Mullen himself. It would be understandable if you’d stayed late unintentionally. 

But you didn’t. You were always the punctual one between you and Harry, after all. You’ve sat here for four hours, on purpose, weighing your growing exhaustion against the allure of your darker impulses. If you leave late enough, you’ll be tired enough to fall asleep immediately when you get home. You won’t have time to be tempted by the bottle of whiskey that lives under your sink, or your service weapon in its holster by the door. It’s your day off tomorrow— with any luck, you’ll sleep through most of it. Make it through in one piece to do this same dance all over again. You’ll be here again in two days, listening to that goddamn clock still ticking away. 

Fuck this shit. I need a cigarette.

Your usual smoking location is up on the roof of the precinct, around the back side of the dome. During the day, it’s nice and secluded, not crowded like the smoking shelter in the alleyway below. At night, it’s the closest thing to beauty you can get in Jamrock. You can see it all from up here— the lights of the city spread out in bright array, threaded like beads through a cloth of crumbling brick and rotting wood. If you look to the east, you can see the first line of the mural, eight-foot-high letters rising above the rest of the buildings: TRUE LOVE IS POSSIBLE.

Only in the next world. It’s too late for a sad sack like you.

Thinking about that case makes you think of Harry, which just makes you feel even worse. Two months ago, he’d be up here with you, or you’d be down among that maze of streets with him, dragging him out of one bar or another. Hell, maybe on a night like this you’d join him, stay out until last call and wake up on the floor of his apartment. He could be a fun drinking buddy, until he got sad or angry— but even then, even if you were just picking up the pieces, you were there . The man that pilots his body now doesn’t drink anymore. He doesn’t talk to you any more than he has to, leaving you a satellite flung from its orbit, left to navigate the darkness on its own. 

Fucking shitkid. I should be glad he’s getting better. But it would be easier if he didn’t need to forget our entire fucking friendship to do it.

And that’s the problem these days, isn’t it? All your tough love, all your efforts to help him get out of the hole he dug himself into, all the time you spent busting your ass to cover for him— you don’t know if it was actually helping, or if it was making him worse. If he can only get better with a clean slate, well, maybe you’re the problem. And with Kitsuragi around, C-Wing doesn’t actually need you; it could run just fine under one-and-a-half lieutenants before, and now it has two. 

Nobody would miss you if you were gone.

Your breath catches at the thought, causing you to cough and sputter as the smoke enters your lungs too quickly. When you bring your cigarette back to your lips again, it tastes faintly of salt. You’re glad this spot is so secluded, where no one can see the faint sheen of dampness on your cheeks. 

“Jean?” A familiar voice interrupts your train of thought. 

Fucking hell, not him. Not now.

You look up to see Trant, standing by the door to the roof, an expression of extreme concern on his face. “Jean, are you alright?”

“Trant?” you reply. “I’m fine. What are you still doing here?”

“Jean,” he repeats, more insistently. “Can you please step back a little bit?”

“Why the fuck do you want me to… oh .” You suddenly realize how close to the edge you’re standing, the toes of your boots almost up against the low retaining wall that encircles the roof. “Fuck. Shit, I know what this looks like, but I wasn’t going to do anything, I swear .” Still, you take a big step back, watching the tension in his shoulders ease, just a little bit. “I was just up here for a cigarette.”

“I can see that now,” he says. “You just scared me, is all. It’s been a hard couple of months.”

“Tell me about it,” you scoff, but then you look at Trant again. Worry doesn’t suit him. It furrows his brow and deepens the lines at the corners of his eyes. The tension in his shoulders makes his suit jacket hang oddly on his body. You want to see him happy and relaxed, not like this.

A pang of guilt washes over you. “Shit, Trant, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” 

“I know. It’s alright,” he says, walking over to you. “Still, I can lend an ear, if you’d like to talk— something’s clearly bothering you.”

You should say no. You should tell him to fuck off, to just go home already and leave you to your cigarette. A decade and a half spent in the RCM has taught you not to show weakness. But Trant is looking at you so earnestly , one of his hands raised slightly like he’s not quite sure whether to place it on your shoulder. You can’t bring yourself to brush him off. You can’t bring yourself to lie to him.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy to be honest. You studiously avoid his gaze, swallowing around the knot forming in your throat. “It’s just… ever since Harry came back from Martinaise, and we brought Kitsuragi on board, I feel like— like the C-Wing doesn’t need me anymore. Which makes the part of me that wants to fucking… you know,” you say, making a vague gesture at the edge of the roof, “it gives it more to work with. So I’ve been staying late a lot. Trying to tire myself out so I don’t do something really fucking stupid when I get home.” 

You exhale, shakily, and you’re about to take another drag from your cigarette when you feel it— Trant’s hand resting gently on your upper arm. The amount of care in the gesture tugs painfully at your lungs. “Fuck,” you whisper, looking up at the sky and blinking rapidly, trying to stay composed. 

“Jean… you know we still need you, right? You’re the only one with the experience to run the MCU— Harry forgot all of his, and Kitsuragi is still learning the new procedures. And, you know, even if you weren’t needed , some of us would still want you around.” 

Goddamnit. I am not going to cry right now.

“In the meantime, would you like to sleep over at mine tonight?” Trant says.

“I— what?” you sputter, turning to look at him. 

“Come over to my place. I’ll make sure you don’t do anything rash.” Seeing your confused expression, he elaborates. “I figure, there’s not much I can say that’ll make you feel better right now, but if I can help you get a good night’s sleep, that will probably help. You look exhausted.”

You certainly feel exhausted. Even though something doesn’t quite add up about his offer, he does have a point. You need the sleep. And if some part of you finds the idea of him watching over you and keeping you safe unusually appealing, well, you’ll file that thought away for later. 

“Fuck yeah. It’s a plan,” you say, giving him a small smile. He beams back at you.

After a quick stop back at Trant’s office to pick up a stack of papers and books, you find yourself in the passenger seat of his Coupris, driving through Jamrock to Grand Couron. The radio is playing his usual station— something old and orchestral, from somewhere in Mundi. You ask him about it, and he spends most of the drive explaining the entire life story of the composer. You do your best to listen and not zone out. It bothers you immensely when the others at the precinct don’t give him their full attention.

He’s more than just a consultant at this point— people treat him like our own in-house librarian. Least they can do is give him the time of day.

As you go further east, the crumbling brick buildings give way to steel and limestone facades— all interesting shapes and lines, but in a way that will look incredibly dated given another ten years. Trant’s building isn’t among them. It’s slightly older, less ornamented and more imposing— an excellent example of architectural shifts immediately following the Revolution, as he’d described it to you. 

He parks the car beneath the building, then leads you up two flights of stairs to his apartment on the first floor. You’ve been here before, but only briefly while he retrieved an item or two before heading back out into the field. It’s the first time you’re taking your boots off in his entryway and hanging your patrol cloak on his antique coat rack. There’s an unfamiliar woman sitting on the couch, who Trant greets with a friendly smile. 

“Hello! We’re back. Mikael didn’t give you any trouble, I hope?” he asks. 

“No, not at all. He was very well-behaved,” she answers. “Have a good night, Trant. And you too,” she says, giving you a small nod as she gets up to leave. 

“Thank you, Elise. Have a good night,” Trant says. He notices your puzzled look as you watch her leave, and explains, “My neighbor. She and I are good friends— she has insomnia so sometimes I’ll ask her to watch Mikael if I know I’ll be home late. It helps her feel better about not sleeping if she has something to do instead.”

“Speaking of, why were you there so late? That’s not exactly usual for you,” you ask. 

“Oh, I got caught up in something for one of Torson & McLaine’s cases. A murdered professor— they asked me to look into his research, in case it was relevant. They didn’t tell me he was in entroponetics, and you know maths isn’t my strong suit. It took me the whole day to make heads or tails of any of it.” As he talks, he removes his own jacket and shoes, then takes off his gun and places it in a small safe on one of his bookshelves. 

“Could you put your gun in there too, please? Helps keep Mikael safe, and given why you’re here…” His voice trails off. 

“Yeah, of course.” You take off your holster and deposit it in the safe, closing the door when you’re done. Trant visibly relaxes once it’s safely locked away. You feel a sudden pang of guilt. 

You really fucking scared him. Why? Why is he so worried for you , of all people?

“So, should I just crash on your couch, or?” you ask, gesturing at the green brocade sofa, which looks about four inches too short for you to fully lie down on. 

Trant shakes his head, chucking slightly. “No, I didn’t invite you here just to make you sleep on my couch. You can take my bed— I’ll use the fold-out bed in my office. Come on, I’ll get you some pajamas to wear.”

A few minutes later, you find yourself alone in Trant’s bathroom, pulling on the soft flannel pants he’d given you. He’d tried to insist you take the matching shirt as well, but you’d brushed it off, said you ran hot and wanted to just stay in your undershirt. It was only half-true— the thought of wearing it felt almost too intimate. Having a little piece of him wrapped around you like a hug, protective, loving

Oh. Oh fuck.

You can almost see the puzzle pieces clicking together in your mind’s eye. The way you’d look forward to seeing those blue eyes, that beaming smile. The way you linger by his office door every afternoon, hoping he’ll come out and give you an excuse to listen to him ramble on about whatever he’s working on that day. The way you trust him, more than you reasonably should, enough to open up to him on the roof. You’re in love with him. And it’s terrifying. 

You open the medicine cabinet and find a spare toothbrush. Shutting the door, you’re suddenly faced with your own reflection in the mirror. The lank black hair, the pox scars that never healed quite right, the harsh dark circles under your grey eyes— you look so tired, so sad. Weary of the world and everything in it. There’s no way someone like Trant, with so much zest for life, would ever love you back. That’s why his offer for you to sleep over made no sense.

Why is Trant being so nice to someone so fucking pathetic?

Your throat clenches as you realize you don’t have an answer to that. It simply doesn’t compute. There’s absolutely no reason why he should give a shit if you went home and just drowned yourself in your misery. Inviting you here, giving you his clothes and his spare toothbrush, letting you have the bed— none of it makes any sense. 

He doesn’t deserve someone like you. You’ll only drag him down with you— you should have just gone home.

You finish brushing your teeth, studiously looking at the wall to avoid looking at your reflection again. You head back into the bedroom, hoping that he won’t be in there so you can just cry yourself to sleep already and be done with this wretched day. Of course, there’s no such luck. He’s standing by the nightstand, placing a steaming mug of tea down on a coaster. 

He looks at you as he hears you enter, with a slightly sheepish expression. “Oh, you’re done already! I just thought I’d make you some tea— I find it helps me get to sleep sometimes.” There is a long pause as he examines your face. “Are you alright?”

“Trant.” Your voice comes out low, almost strangled. “Why… why are you doing all of this?”

“Because I care about you,” he says, clearly taken aback. 

“No,” you say. “ Why? Why do you care? You don’t need to do any of this, not when I’m so—” Your voice gives out as the last of your composure breaks. You cover your face with your hands, as if it could hide how much your shoulders are shaking, as you turn towards the door. 

A strong hand grips your bicep, keeping you from leaving. Trant turns you back to face him, gently taking your hands in his. “Hey. Jean. Look at me.”

You do as he said. He looks so sad, so worried for you— it makes you want to cry even harder. But you just keep looking at him, tears flowing freely down your face as he speaks. 

“You’re right— I don’t need to do any of this. But I’m doing it because I want to. Believe me or don’t, but I like spending time with you. I’d like to do more of it, if you’ll let me.”

“It’s a waste,” you say, so quietly it’s almost a whisper. “You’re wasting your time if you spend it with a useless sack of—”

“No,” he cuts you off sternly. “Let me be the judge of how I spend my time. And I don’t think it’s a waste.”

“But it is . I’m only going to make you worse. Drag you down with me until you fucking hate me, just like Harry.” Except it would hurt so, so much worse with him. Even if you’ll only ever be his friend, the thought of losing even that feels like a knife has lodged itself in your lungs. “I don’t want to lose you, Trant.”

“You’re not going to,” he says, letting go of one of your hands to reach up and cup your face. You let your eyes close as he runs his thumb across your cheekbone, wiping away your tears. “You don’t drag people down. You try to hide it with a mean face, but you have such a kind, caring heart. I watched you spend two whole years of your life trying to help Harry— it’s not your fault that he needed more than you could give him, when you were already giving him more than was healthy.” 

“You really mean a lot to me, Jean. God…” His voice breaks— there are tears in his eyes as he continues. “I don’t want to lose you either. If you didn’t come here tonight, there’s no way I’d be getting any sleep. I’d be too scared that I’d come into work in a couple days and you’d just be… gone. And I’d have to spend the rest of my life wondering if there was anything I could have done to stop you.”

One person would miss you— he would. And maybe that’s enough?

There’s a lot you want to say to him— you want to apologize again for making him worry, or thank him— but the knot in your throat won’t allow it. But it seems like he understands anyway. Wordlessly, he pulls you into a hug, letting you bury your face in his shirt as your shoulders shake. You cling to him desperately, like a lifeline, as he gently strokes a hand through your hair. He holds you like that for a long time, until your breathing settles into an even rhythm again. 

Usually a big cry like that leaves you feeling hollow afterwards, or embarrassed. But right now, even though you’ll probably regret your outburst in the morning, you just feel safe. How can you feel anything else? The fabric of his shirt is soft against your face. It smells like lavender soap and the faint musty scent of old books. You inhale deeply, trying to memorize it— you probably won’t be this close to him again. Or at least, that’s what you think, until you feel him press a kiss, feather-soft, to the side of your head. 

Does he— does he actually feel the same?

“Trant. What was that?” you say, lifting your head to look at him. 

“Sorry, I got a little carried away,” he says, sheepishly. “Was that okay?”

God , yes. You… you could do that again. If you wanted.” You look pointedly at his lips, hoping he gets the hint. 

He clearly does— his eyes go wide as he realizes what you’re implying. He pauses just long enough to convince you that you’ve misread him, and you’re about to walk it back, brush it off as just a joke, when he cups your face in his hands again and kisses you properly.

He’s gentle, almost hesitant at first, but you kiss him back harder, fervently, like you are trying to devour him. No one has touched you like this since before you joined the C-Wing, and now that you remember what it feels like, you don’t want to ever stop. It feels like your whole chest is ablaze— if you opened your eyes right now, you think you’d be glowing. But you don’t. You don’t want this moment to end. 

In the end, it’s Trant who pulls away first. You feel a little thrill of satisfaction seeing how breathless he is, how flustered he looks. He strokes his thumbs over your cheekbones, and frowns slightly at the moisture he finds there— without realizing it, you’d teared up again while you were kissing him. 

“Did you— was that good? For you?” he asks. 

“Fuck yeah, it was. I… I don’t know why the fuck I’m crying about it.” You lean in as if to kiss him again, but he leans back, stopping you. 

“We should go to bed, Jean.” You’re about to protest, but he cuts you off. “It’s so late, and you need the sleep.”

He does have a point— you were tired when you left the precinct, and your outburst took a lot of your remaining energy. You’re leaning heavily on Trant to help keep yourself upright. But you also don’t want him to leave and go to sleep in his office like he’d said. 

“Stay with me?” you ask. 

“Of course. I’m not going anywhere,” he answers, giving you a big, beaming smile— the first real smile he’s given you all night. 

Both of you climb into his bed. Trant seems hesitant to touch you, at first, but you reach out and pull him close to you. You end up curled against his chest, tucking your head under his chin, with his arm draped over you to keep you close. You drift off to sleep like that in a matter of minutes.

In the morning, the first thing that returns to your awareness is the warmth, all along your back. You open your eyes, and for a moment, you’re not sure where you are. But then you smell lavender, and you remember it all— the rooftop, the car ride, Trant’s apartment. Breaking down in front of him— you cringe at how open, how vulnerable you were— but he saw all that and he chose to stay. 

You roll over to look at him. He’s already awake, propped up slightly on his arm, smiling down at you. 

“What, were you watching me sleep like some kind of fucking sequence killer?” you say, but there’s no malice in it. If you’re being honest, you like how protected, how cared for it makes you feel.

He shakes his head bemusedly. “Good morning to you too, Jean. And no, I haven’t been awake for very long. How are you feeling?”

“So much better, you wouldn’t fucking believe it,” you say, sitting up to see him more clearly. “Thank you, Trant. For everything.”

This is the happiest I’ve felt in a long time.

It’s very tempting to chase after that happiness like a drug— like it’s something you need. With Harry, his friendship had given you a sense of purpose, and then you chased after it until he couldn’t stand you anymore. You can’t do that to Trant. You won’t do that to Trant— you won’t be his satellite, trailing behind him because you need him to get you through the dark. You’ll pursue him because you want to. No longer just orbiting, but close enough to make a real connection. 

There is a loud clatter in one of the other rooms, startling you out of your thoughts. Trant sighs. “Mikael probably spilled cereal all over the floor again. Think we should go make him some real breakfast?” 

“One thing first,” you say.

As you reach up and pull him into a kiss, you notice the mural out the window again. TRUE LOVE IS POSSIBLE ONLY IN THE NEXT WORLD— FOR NEW PEOPLE. For the first time since it went up, you don’t actually agree with its sentiment. Here in this world, in this moment, true love is possible for you.