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something so wretched, so precious

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"Does it ever bother you?"

Jim looked up from the report left on his desk for reviewing, peering over the glasses perched on the tip of his nose. The question had come from a young man, leaning against the doorway to Jim's office. It was a new face – lots of those around, lately. Or maybe Jim's attention had just been slipping.

The officer was fidgeting with his cup of coffee in a way that took Jim years back all the way to Edward, the same wired, anxious energy. How many years had it been, now? Too many to count, clearly. He felt old, and weary. It'd been so long. His hair was already graying, as Barbara loved to point out. Old man.

"Does what bother me?" Jim asked.

The officer shifted around, but kept eye contact. "You know," he said. "Having to arrest your…"

Ah.

Jim's lips quirked into a quick smile. "My husband?"

The officer offered a somewhat sheepish smile in return. "Yeah. I don't know exactly how it works, or… I just heard some of the guys talking. Water cooler gossip and all that."

Jim took his glasses off to clean them. "Rumor, huh?" He wondered who cared enough to rumor about the Commissioner. But then, he supposed whoever it was had reason enough. "No, it doesn't bother me."

After all that had happened – all he'd seen, and done – it was hard to imagine anything that would faze Jim, anymore. Some days of the month, he slept alone and cooked his own dinner because Oswald was doing a stint in Arkham. Sometimes, he was the one doing the cuffing, much to Oswald's endless needling commentary and complaining.

It was what it was. "I'm very much married to my work," Jim added, smiling. "As… someone used to say."

A raised brow followed. Jim didn't answer the unasked question, there.

He should call Harvey, soon. Retirement was a good look on him - he'd recently gotten into gardening. Never skipped an opportunity to ask Jim to come over and help him pull weeds out under the guise of a drink and some late-night television.

“Right,” the officer said. “Well… I hope he’ll be out for the holidays, at least.”

Jim did, too. Oswald had promised, however haphazardly, to be home. It was as good of a guarantee as he was going to get. "Thanks. At least I can't have a boring holiday week, regardless."

The officer laughed. "I suppose not, no." He finished his coffee just as someone called out for him. "Ah, I should go. Duty calls and all that." He raised his now-empty cup at Jim. "Thank you, sir."

Jim frowned. "What for?"

"Being honest." The officer smiled. "Nice to hear that's still going around."

And then he was gone. 

Jim stared at the spot he'd vacated, a faint smile on his lips. He looked back down at the report, which detailed Oswald's latest arrest, and chuckled.