No Eye In Team
By Maquis Leader
Author’s notes: This story is set in the Season 6: Reloaded universe. It stands alone and you don't need to read the other chapters before you read this one. Please see the note on the main page.
Previously on Third Watch:
As a child, Bosco was made to feel worthless and unwanted by his father. Despite his mother and brother’s love, he never felt as if he had any worth or place in the world. A stint in the Army proved he did have a talent, and he used that talent to create a place for himself.
As an adult, as an officer in the NYPD, Bosco finally felt as if he’d found his place in the world. By being a cop – one of New York’s finest – he could help people and defend those who were unable to defend themselves.
As he struggles to recover from life threatening injuries, rebuilding his wasted body was at the top of his list. All he had to do was recover physically and he could once again work in the city where he’d earned a place. His ability at the range put him among the elite in the force, and he never doubted that ability for a moment. Until now, when suddenly that ability was beyond his grasp.
Chapter 55: No Eye In Team
Something was up, Bosco had that look. Not the look that said “I screwed the Captain’s daughter in the RMP” or even the look that said “I need you to help me get rid of the bag of stuff I stole from the guys who tried to rob me”.
This look reminded her of the one he’d had on his face when he’d told her he needed to break into Noble’s apartment and find the gun Noble had murdered someone with. The back of her neck twinged with the old “phantom pain.”
“I ah… I need a favor.” Bosco rubbed his hands together nervously.
“It’s – it’s a big favor.”
“Just spit it out, Bos.” As long as it didn’t involve Cruz, she’d do it.
“I need you to shoot for me.”
A million things ran through her mind, but Faith couldn’t figure out what Bosco could need her to shoot. “Shoot with you? Like we did this afternoon?”
“No.” He concentrated on his fingers, clinching them together until his knuckles turned white. “I need you to shoot for me.”
“For you? Go with you?”
“You mean – “ He couldn’t be asking her to help him re-qualify. Bosco was one of the best shots in the department. “Bosco, what exactly are you asking me to do?”
“I need you to help me re-qualify. To shoot for me.” Bosco didn’t look up. It had been hard enough to admit to himself that he had a problem, telling Faith was nearly impossible.
“You’re kidding me, right? This is a joke?” She tucked her feet up underneath her and made herself comfortable. “I gotta say, as far as jokes go, it’s not very funny.”
“I’m not joking.” He looked up, letting her see what he couldn’t bring himself to say. I need your help.
“Bosco – “ The midnight blue eyes were full of raw pain and something she’d rarely seen in them before – fear. “Why do you need me to shoot for you?”
“I can’t – “ He laughed nervously. “I can’t seem to hit the target enough times. Crazy, huh?”
“Crazy? Bosco, you taught me to shoot! Crazy isn’t even – it’s beyond crazy.”
“Yeah.” Sighing, he sat back in the chair. A load had lifted since he’d gotten the words out. “I’m just all over the place – and that’s when I manage to hit the target.”
“Have you tried throwing your gun at it?” When Bosco smiled, Faith knew the old joke had been worth the try. “Seriously, Bos, you’re not able to re-qualify?”
“No… I’ve tried and I can’t.”
“You haven’t been out to the range but a few times, right? They just gave you your gun back today.”
“My service piece, yeah, but I’ve got my backup and I borrowed a Glock to practice with.”
“So you just need more practice.” She shrugged. He was probably anxious over nothing. Bosco was too good with a gun not to re-qualify. “You were laid up for a long time, you’re gonna have to knock the rust off. Give it a little time.”
“Knock the rust off?” He sat forward, leaning his arms on his knees once again. “Faith, I’ve been practicing every day for two weeks – for hours – just hour after hour, and I’m not getting any better!”
“Maybe it’s the gun – you know, if you borrowed it – “
“It’s not the gun! I used mine this afternoon and I wasn’t any better!”
That must’ve been why he’d folded his target sheet and not let her see it. She’d assumed the score was better than hers like it always was.
“I need you to help me, Faith, I need you to shoot for me.”
“I can’t, Bosco.”
“You can, nobody’ll know. We’re both at the range. You just hit my target a few times, you’re good enough.” He despised the pleading tone in his voice, but he was desperate and scared.
“Bosco, I can’t. You know I can’t.” If Bosco’s aim was off, he was a danger to himself and whoever he’d be riding with.
“You know why.”
“I need your help!” Anger boiled over as it always did when he was afraid. “I need you to help me!”
“I can’t shoot for you, Bosco. And don’t ask why – you know why.” She’d do anything for Bosco, but not if it would put him in danger.
“Damn it! I saved your life! I almost died for you!” As soon as he’d blurted it out, Bosco regretted it.
“That’s not fair, Bosco.” Faith held her temper in check. True to form, Bosco had reached for the most hurtful weapon he had.
“It’s not fair?” A bitter laugh found its way out as he got to his feet. “What’s not fair is my being kicked to the curb like a blind old man while my partner moves on up to detective!”
“Bosco, just sit down and we’ll figure this out.”
“No, I’m not sitting down – “ He spun around and headed for the door. “To hell with you!”
The door slammed behind him.
“Great, just great!” Getting up, Faith looked down at the sweats she was wearing. Normally, she wouldn’t set foot outside dressed like this, but if she took the time to throw on some clothes, Bosco would be long gone. “Damn it!” She ran for the door.
Downstairs, Faith found Bosco staring at an RMP that had just gone by with its lights flashing. His shoulders were slumped and there was such a look of desperate longing on his face that her heart nearly broke for him.
“It’s who I am, Faith.”
“I know.” She slipped her hand into his. It was who they both were.
“Sometimes if I squint hard enough, I can hit pretty close to where I should, but most of the time, it doesn’t help.”
“You’re not supposed to squint anyway.”
“I know, but if I don’t, I don’t even hit the target.” Bosco turned his coffee mug around and around. “I don’t want to take disability.”
“You won’t have to.” Faith assured him. “We’ll figure something out. We’re a team, remember?”
They’d come back upstairs to her apartment; the sight of the RMP had taken the fight out of Bosco and he seemed to deflate.
“Maybe I should just have given up. Maybe it’d been better If I’d just went ahead and died.”
“Don’t say that.”
Faith shuddered, remembering the taste of blood in her mouth and the wet and sticky feel of his lips as she breathed air into him. “Maybe I’m selfish, Bos, but I’d rather have you alive and taking your three quarters than dead.”
“I’m sorry.” Reaching out, he took her hand and squeezed gently.
“Let’s just see if we can figure out what’s wrong with you.”
Something he’d said earlier came back to her. A blind old man. “Bosco, are you having trouble with your eyes?”
“Didn’t I just say that? I can’t see!”
“You can see, you’re walking around without falling over things – and you’ve been driving.”
“I know, and I didn’t notice anything wrong. But then I went to the range and – “ He shook his head. “The damn target is all fuzzy. I can’t even hardly see it.”
“Do you think – “ This was thin ice over a pit of acid filled with sharks. “Do you think it’s psychological?” When he didn’t answer, Faith continued. “You know, in your head?”
“I know what it means!”
“I’m just sayin’, it’s a possibility.”
“Well, it’s not – all in my head. I mean.” Bosco pushed his cup away. “I’ve talked to the shrink about what happened. About Mikey, about my crappy childhood, about you and me and Cruz, and even about when I was in the gulf. I’ve got no problems.”
“Okay, I’ve got a crapload of problems – “ He admitted. “But none I didn’t have before. I got shot – shit happens.”
“It wasn’t like you just had a scratch or something – you almost died.”
“I know, but I did it saving you, so it’s okay, I can deal with it.” Remembering how he’d thrown it in her face, Bosco felt ashamed. He’d let his mouth run without putting his brain in gear. Again. “What I said – “
“Forget it, Bosco.” Neither of them were good with apologies. He didn’t mean it and she knew it and he knew she knew it. “It’s all right.”
“I wouldn’t do anything different. Well – “ He grinned at her. “I’d try to do it so I didn’t get shot either, you know?”
“Me too.” How many times had she run that scenario in her head? She shifted the conversation to safer ground. “You ruined my suit.”
“Sorry. You looked nice, too. Mikey would have appreciated it.” If he’d had the balls, he’d tell her he’d appreciated it too. Nothing like a little cleavage on display to perk a man up. “Thanks for taking care of Ma the way you did.”
“You don’t have to thank me, Bos. Besides, I walked her right into a car crash.”
“Not one of our best days.”
“We’ve had better.” She agreed. “Let’s see if we can figure out what’s wrong with your eyesight. Maybe it’s something simple.”
“Maybe.” His tone said he didn’t believe her.
“Gimme a minute to put some clothes on and we’ll go down to the range.” Getting up, Faith set her cup in the sink.
“Why the range?” The last thing he wanted to do was face that target again.
“Because it’s not like we can go out in the park and shoot at tin cans.”
“Because this is New York City, not Tombstone.” She gave him a gentle whack on the back of the head as she walked past. “You’d look silly with a beard and mustache anyway.”
“Shows what you know.” Bosco stroked his chin. “I’m sexy with a mustache.”
“Oh my God.”
“Is that your official opinion?” Disgusted, Bosco popped the clip out of his gun and tossed it aside. Five of fifteen shots had hit the target and only three were actually in the black.
“You’re squinting and you’re all tensed up. Here – “ Faith stepped up behind him. “Bring your gun up.”
Bosco brought his gun up into line. He had been tensing up like a rookie, but what did she expect? Her arm went around him and he jumped. “What are you doing?”
“Relax, Bosco, I’m not going to molest you.”
“You startled me is all.” Startled him and excited the hell out of him. [i]She’s happy with Miller and you’re no good for her.[/i] Bosco reminded himself.
Cupping one hand under the butt of the gun, Faith patted his hip with the other. “Relax your stance, your legs are too close together.”
That’s because I’m getting a hard on. “I’m tense, gimme a break.”
“Just relax. Nobody else is here to see what we’re doing.” She nudged his feet a little further apart.
“Are you arresting me or helping me?”
“I’m helping you if you’ll cooperate. Take a shot.”
“Bosco, just relax.” She put both hands over his. “Relax and squeeze the trigger.”
“Why? I thought you said this wasn’t a psychological problem.”
“It’s not, there isn’t a clip in the gun.”
“Then put one in!”
“Yes, ma’am.” She had that tone in her voice that both scared him and turned him on. Slamming a clip into the pistol, Bosco settled back into his stance.
As much as he could be with her boobs pressed up against his back. “Yeah.”
“Take a breath, let it out, and squeeze the trigger.”
The shot went wide and buried itself in the back wall of the range while a second and third shot each clipped the edges of the target.
Faith rested her cheek against Bosco’s and sighted down the gun towards the target. “To the left just a little – a little more – now fire.”
This time the bullet hit the target. It wasn’t perfect but it was a respectable shot. “Great, now all I need is for you to be there to help me anytime I need to pull my gun.”
“Shut up, let’s try something.” Reaching up, Faith covered Bosco’s left eye. “Don’t close your eye, leave it open. Now, take a shot.”
“It’s fuzzier than before!”
“Just take a shot.” Faith had an idea now what might be wrong. “Go ahead.”
“It’s gonna be a waste of a good bullet.” The target was a big black and white blob.
“What the hell, the city’s paying for it anyway.” He squeezed off a shot. “Did it hit?”
“Somewhere. Possibly in Jersey.” Faith swapped her hands and covered Bosco’s right eye so that he could see only out of his left eye. “Now how’s it look?”
“It’s clear!” The target was suddenly crystal clear and sharp. Bosco squeezed off a shot and when it hit the target, he emptied the clip. Every shot was exactly where he wanted it to be. The target was officially DOA.
“Do you see that?” He turned and pulled Faith into a tight hug. “You did it! Now I can get back to doin’ the job!”
“Yeah, so long as you cover one eye.” She hugged him for a moment before pushing him away. “But we’re closer, Bosco.”
“What’dya mean? This is it. I’m good to go.” Hitting the button to bring the target in, Bosco snatched it off the holder. “Look at that! Dead center – double taps here and here – perfect!”
“You can’t close one eye and shoot, you know that.”
“I can, too.” In his heart, he knew better. Closing one eye threw the shooter’s aim off. However, if he knew how far, he could adjust for it. “In the Rangers they taught us how to shoot under all kinds of conditions.”
“Yeah, but you had a machine gun. It’s a little easier to hit your target with one of those.”
“Whatever.” Bosco put a clean target up and slid a full clip into his gun.
Closing his right eye, he squeezed off a shot. It was wide and he adjusted his aim. After three shots, he was hitting well enough to re-qualify – though not anywhere near the numbers he was used to.
“See there?” Reeling in the target, he did a happy little bounce.
“Yeah, I see it took you twice as long as it should have.” When Bosco held the newly perforated target up, Faith jerked it out of his hands. “In a shootout you’re not going to have that much time to adjust your aim – you’re dead! Or your partner’s dead!”
Why did she always have to be right? “You piss me off, you know that?”
“I know. It’s part of the job.” A smile curved her lips. “And I enjoy it.”
“So what the hell am I supposed to do?” Frustrated, Bosco ripped the target in half.
A young man walking past stopped and looked at the torn paper. “Hey, that looked like a good score.”
“Mind your own business, jagoff!” Bosco wadded up the pieces and threw them on the floor.
Faith couldn’t hold back a giggle. “That’s Finney. Used to be at the 55 for awhile before he quit. Guess some other house took him in.”
“The Rat King’s son?” Bosco looked past her to where the young man was preparing to shoot. “Looks more like a weasel to me.”
“I can hear you.” Finney shot him a dirty look. “I wouldn’t be talking, old man, you’re not much to look at yourself.”
“Old man?” Pulling off the protective headphones, Bosco tossed it them aside. “Excuse me?”
“You look like somebody used your face to stop a hockey puck.”
As much as she’d like to see Bosco thump Finney, Faith didn’t want to deal with the paperwork. “Let it go, Bos.” She stepped in front of Bosco and grabbed his arms.
“You better watch your mouth, kid.” Bosco settled for glaring at Finney over Faith’s shoulder.
“Come on, get your stuff, I’ve got an idea.” Faith smiled, a genuine smile for the first time since Bosco had come to her for help tonight. “If I’m right, you’ll be back at the top of your game.”
Tucking his gun into its holster, Bosco gave Finney one last dirty look. “Let’s go.”
“Hmm… Umm… Hmm…”
“What?” He’d been sitting in this uncomfortable chair with a giant set of dials on his face and this guy going ‘hmm’ every few seconds for a good half hour. “What are you hmming about?”
“I can see where the eye was damaged and has healed.” The optometrist sat back and moved the phoroptor out from in front of Bosco. “The injury to the cheek – I assume that was the cause of the injury to the eye?”
“A bullet went through his face.” Faith said quietly. “There was damage to the socket and there was a lot of swelling and stuff.”
“A bullet?” The doctor’s eyes widened and he turned back to examine Bosco’s cheek as best he could with the large bandage covering it. “A bullet grazed your cheek?”
“No, it went through.” Bosco tipped his head back and showed the doctor the scar on the underside of his jaw. “It went in here.”
“It went in – and then out through your cheek – through the bone?” The doctor touched his fingertips to both places. “My God, how did you survive such a thing?”
“He’s pretty tough.” Faith smiled. “Pretty stubborn, too.”
“I think he’d have to be.” Trying to figure the angle a bullet would have had to have taken to not tear out Bosco’s throat or destroy his eye or jaw was giving the doctor a headache. “You’re very lucky you didn’t lose the eye.”
“The doctors wanted to take it out, but his mom and I wouldn’t let them.”
“They wanted to take my eye out?” Bosco reached up and ran his fingers over his eyelid.
“It was right after you were shot. There was so much swelling that they thought you’d lose your eye anyway.”
“Thanks for not letting them pop it out. Jeez, a guy’s down and out for a while and they try to sell off his body parts.”
“The body has a remarkable ability to heal itself. The eye was damaged, but not as badly as it could have been.” The doctor put the phoroptor back over Bosco’s face. “Be that as it may, you do need a corrective lens.”
“I need glasses?”
“Or contacts. You only need the vision corrected in the right eye, so contacts would probably be easier for you. A pair of glasses would be just a backup.”
“Backups are something we’re used to.” Faith assured him with a grin.
“Can’t you use one of those laser things?” The though of sticking something in his eye made Bosco shudder. “You can just fix it that way, right?”
“Unfortunately, you’re not eligible for LASIK.” The doctor consulted the notations he’d made during the earlier exam. Flipping a plain, clear lens over the left eye, he selected a prescription lens for the right eye. “Look at the chart on the wall.”
“Okay. Wow!” The letters were nice and clear. Bosco confidently read off the line that was at the bottom. “How was that?”
“Perfect. Better than perfect, actually.” Moving the apparatus, the doctor made a final notation. “That’s 20/10, considering your occupation, I thought it might be better to have a lens that puts you a little above 20/20.”
“My occupation?” Bosco looked at Faith. She’d left the employment section blank on the papers she’d filled out for him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Your name seemed familiar, Mr. Boscorelli, and the injury reminded me of something I’d read.” The doctor opened a drawer in his desk and rummaged through several magazines. “Let’s see… ah, here it is.”
Taking the magazine the doctor held out to him, Bosco looked over the article. “Miracle cop – great. Are they allowed to print this?”
“It’s a medical journal.” The doctor assured him.
“What are you reading?” Faith got up from her chair and looked at the magazine. “What is – oh my God – “ She turned away, putting her hand over her mouth.
“Faith?” Turning the magazine over, Bosco looked at the other page. There were two large pictures of a rather gruesome wound. Bone and muscle were exposed and the remaining skin was so swollen and purple as to make recognizing the person impossible. “Is that – is that me?”
“These were taken, I believe, at two or three weeks.” The doctor told him. “It’s a fascinating article. Although… perhaps I should put it away.”
“I need to go to the ladies’ room.” Faith shoved the door open and left.
“Faith – “
“Why don’t you go take a break?” The doctor took the magazine. “I’ll get a box of lenses and we’ll get things set up to show you how to put them in.”
Bosco found the bathroom and knocked on the door. “Faith? Hey, come on.” There was no answer. “Come on out and talk to me. I’m the one who should be upset – that’s my face they took pictures of. Faith? Come on.”
“What are you doing?”
Bosco turned to find Faith behind him. “Aren’t you in – who’s in there?”
“Hopefully nobody. Did you try the knob to see if it’s locked?”
He hadn’t. “I thought you went to the bathroom.”
“Bosco, don’t you know an excuse to leave when you hear one?” The truth was, all she needed was to get away from those pictures.
“I guess it’s a good thing I slept through all that, huh?”
“Yeah. It was pretty bad.” Her stomach lurched as she saw once again the devastation of Bosco’s face as she rolled him over.
“Hey – “ He reached out and took her hand, squeezing gently for a moment before letting go. “That’s all over and done with.”
“Except that the SOB who gave us up to Mann is still out there.” All attempts to locate Yoshi had failed. He’d vanished.
“He can’t hide forever, Faith. You wait till I get back to work. I’ll find his ass.”
“I bet you will, Bos.”
“Mr. Boscorelli?” The doctor waved to them. “We’re ready whenever you are.”
“Here goes nothing.” Bosco laughed nervously. “Hey, Faith.”
“Thanks. For helping me out, I ah… just thanks.”
“Bos, I’m your partner, remember? I’m always going to be there for you.” She grinned at him. “Let’s go pick out a geeky pair of frames.”
“Contacts, I’m getting contacts, remember?”
“You need a pair of glasses as backup – you’re going to look so cute!”
“Oh, no – “ Bosco dug his heels in as she pulled on his arm. “Somebody help me!”
* I swear that phoroptor is the name of the big funky thing the eye doctor puts over your face and switches the lenses in!