Whose Truth?
Written by Rachel

Tim turned down the street, the rain dripping off his head, onto his coat, his umbrella in his hand unused. He put his right hand up on the railing to his row house, and fished the keys from his coat pocket. With little interest, he inserted the key, turned the lock and pushed the door open, pausing only long enough to pull the now sodden mail from his post box. He entered the hall, dropping the unread mail on the table and the umbrella on the floor at his feet, then shrugged off his trench coat and hung it on a hook near the door. He could hardly remember a day this long.

Making his way into the kitchen, he grabbed a wine glass from the cupboard and pulled a corked bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from the wine rack. The bottle had sat there untouched since his pursuit of Buddhism, but tonight it seemed like the appropriate tonic for his ills. Pouring himself a glass, he sat down on the stool near the breakfast bar and let his head drop.

He had meant it when he told Ballard that he had never wanted to be a crusader. The web site had not even been his idea. Physical therapy had helped him recover from his injuries, but the experience had left him in a deep depression that was only helped by seeing a counselor on a regular basis. It was the counselor, Tina, who had talked to him about finding some activities he could do while he was confined to the house. A call to an Internet service provider and a copy of Microsoft Frontpage were all he needed to get himself started. He had begun with a page about homicide, but it had quickly developed into other areas as he explored more about his sexuality and his spiritual journey after his near-death experience. Until the page turned up during the Internet killer case, he hadn't thought much about it. He had never actually even updated it once he had finished it. It didn't matter now. He had taken care of it, removed all evidence that it had ever existed.

The entire experience was humiliating. Gee hauling him into his office, the detective in Narcotics, let alone Roger standing him up, berating him in front of that room of patrolmen. Why did he deserve this?

He had started thinking about his sexuality more intently shortly before he was shot. The brief friendship with Chris Rawls had not ended so much as petered out. They had gone to dinner several times, enjoyed each other's company, but Tim had not been ready for anything else. After the shooting, his life had been focused on more fundamental matters, like regaining his strength and recovering his mental health. Getting back to work had taken more effort than he had anticipated; it was only in the past month or so that he'd felt like he could begin to actively pursue a relationship with a man again.

His trip to the Gay 90s had been a step in that direction. He went now and again, usually on weekends when he didn't pull a shift at the Waterfront. It was a busy place, but not known for a lot of cruising. He had met several nice guys there, but no one he had been interested in seeing again. He had been pleasantly surprised to run into Roger after their brief interaction at the crime scene.

Roger. What had precipitated the younger man's quick change of tune? One minute they were having a drink, making plans, the next the whole department was whispering his name under their breath and Roger was giving him the major cold shoulder. Clearly Gaffney had been focusing his attentions on things other than police work again. It was amazing that someone as incompetent as the captain could spring up the chain of command while good cops like Giardello were lucky to hang onto their rank at all.

Tim tipped the glass back and drained the last of the wine out of it. He leaned over and poured himself another glass. He should find something for dinner. It had been a very long time since the bean sprout sandwich at lunch.

He thought back to the conversation he'd had with the sergeant at the bar. Bisexual. Was that what he was or was it just a cop-out like the other man had intimated? He took another long drag on the glass and moved off the stool to begin dinner. Pulling a pan from the cupboard he filled it with water and put it on the stove to boil. Looking into the dark window, Tim contemplated his reflection in the glass. A tired face with graying hair stared back at him. When had it happened? When had he known?

He turned back to the now-boiling water and poured the pasta into the pot. His junior year of college they had done a modern dance piece as part of the drama showcase with a guest choreographer down from DC to work with them. One night when they were leaving the other man had put his hand on Tim's arm and he had felt the thrill. He had shaken it off, buried it deep, but eventually it had resurfaced, taking almost 20 years to do so. There had been other times, other moments. It had been right there all along.

He finished his second glass of wine as the timer rang. He drained the pasta and poured the sauce he had reheated from a jar. So, it probably was true. He was gay. What did that mean? Why did that have to matter more than any other part of his life? There were many facets to Tim Bayliss, homicide detective, just like there were to John Munch or Meldrick Lewis. For heaven's sake, even Paul Falsone or Teri Stivers might have one or two things they didn't need the entire department discussing over coffee or on patrol. He picked the plate of pasta up and carried it over to the breakfast bar. He set it down, his righteous indignation increasing. Why the hell was it anybody's business if he preferred men? The pasta disappeared with a third glass of the red wine.

Gay. Bi. Buddhist. Cop. It was too much to think about on a night filled with too much wine and way too much self-examination. Tim eased himself off the stool again and moved over to rinse his plate and fork off. He glanced at the clock. It was almost 11:30 pm. His head clouded with the effects of the wine, he would be well-served with a large glass of water and a couple tablets of pain reliever. Draining the glass of water, he flicked the light off and headed toward his bedroom.