The first time Casey met Jason Walsh, she was still in her hooker garb, tottering around on spindly heels. To her surprise, there was no leering, no “accidental” groping, just Walsh throwing her his jacket—New York nights are cold, but there was no way she’d wear that fur coat monstrosity around other cops—with a sardonic, “You always dress like that?” And that was that.
You have to understand, Casey Shraeger grew up rich and grew up lonely every second of every day that she spent in school, at home, and that loneliness doesn’t just go away because you’re an adult now.
So when she watches Walsh easily insult Delahoy or pour Beaumont a cup of coffee when he knows she’s almost out, she aches a bit, because she may be Walsh’s partner, and yeah, Banks always nudges her to share a grin when Delahoy pokes at Cole, but she still feels like an outsider, still feels like she’s just that little bit out of place.
Casey first gets the idea when Walsh sends Alvarez on a wild goose chase, his voice calm and trustworthy, until it gets a bit tense as he implies that Alvarez is dropping the ball. The whole time his shit-eating grin never leaves his face and Casey can hear Alvarez just getting more and more worked up.
She watches, bites her lip as Walsh reels off the address for the Shabu Shabu, and begins to plan in the back of her mind.
She starts slow, pulling back during serious moments just to needle Walsh, to watch his eyes lose that heaviness, like when she asks what his secret is. The look on his face when she glibly states, “Actually, I know what it is. You write bad poetry,” is worth it, because somehow Walsh’s feelings became more important to her than following Sgt. Brown’s directive to “find his secret.”
And Casey’s pretty sure she’s ok with that.
The timing couldn’t have been better if she had planned it herself. As it was, fate played a nice role in ensuring that half the precinct was in the locker room when Walsh first opens his locker after his day off.
Casey sits on the bench and laces up her boots, nodding and humming noncommittally as Walsh distractedly pulls open his locker to a colorful bombardment of lacy bras and panties. His face is a beautiful compilation of shock, confusion, and the beginnings of a smile. She wishes she had brought a camera.
As the rest of the squad hoots and catcalls, Delahoy gleefully calls out, “I had no idea you were such a collector, Walsh, or are these for when you need to feel pretty?” Beaumont tags on, “You should’ve modeled some of these for the NYPD calendar; we would’ve raised way more money.”
The locker room slowly empties, and the cackles of laughter begin to fade when the door falls shut. Walsh turns slowly to stare at Casey. “Did you—?”
She stands to leave, “No, but if you need someone to talk to... well, there’s a counselor on the third floor,” and grins to herself when she hears him laugh.
All’s quiet in the precinct, well, as quiet as a unit with Delahoy in it can possibly be, until Casey comes in to work after her three-day weekend and sees that her desk is plastered in Barbie paraphernalia. She immediately glares at Walsh. “Really? Barbie? And not even classic Barbie. This is the cheap, I-can-see-your-plastic-surgery-marks Barbie.”
Walsh shrugs, “Wasn’t me, but Cole said it was your favorite. Apparently, you feel that you don’t have enough ‘junk in the trunk,’ but Shraeger, really, Barbie perpetuates a ridiculous and unachievable standard for women, so there’s no shame in not conforming to the stereotype. Stay strong.”
Behind Walsh, Cole turns red and sputters a denial, hands making spastic gestures as he tries to un-swallow his tongue.
“Yeah. Sure. Death to the patriarchy, but you just watch your back, Walsh, this isn’t—”
Sergeant Brown pokes his head out of the office, “Shraeger, Walsh—you’ve got a double homicide on 5th and Lex. Get moving. Black and whites are already on the scene.”
Casey glares at Walsh one last time, before shrugging on her coat to join him as they head out the door.
The thing is, Casey doesn’t know how to respond. Does she let it slide? Does she retaliate? Are they even now? She has no siblings, no close friends to ask. She could talk to David, but.... Better to not involve him.
She takes her time, thinks about it, waits for his guard to drop. And then, as she’s running through Times Square trying to catch up with Walsh, she literally runs into a very well-dressed young man on the street corner. Tie, suit jacket, a sign that reads, “The Lord wants to save you. I’m a Jehovah’s Witness, ask me how."
So she does, only she gives Walsh’s email and work number and address, along with a whole sob story about how he told her while drunk that he misses God, misses forgiveness, but he had forgotten in the morning, and she desperately wants him to feel comfortable in his skin, so maybe a visit or five will give him that last nudge. For good measure, she gives the man a list of Walsh’s days off for the next month. Feeling good about her life choices, she picks up the chase again.
Two weeks later, Casey is flipping through the newspaper, when Walsh storms into the precinct, his face pinched and big circles under his eyes.
“Rough night?” Casey turns a page. “Weren’t you off this weekend? Because I distinctly remember doing a lot of paperwork solo, so out of the two of us, I should be the one looking like a panda.”
Walsh freezes, turns to stare at her. “Did you have anything to do with this constant, incessant stream of Jehovah’s Witnesses coming to my door to ‘save me’? Because Shraeger, not cool. They woke me up on my days off. My days off. Those are sacred.”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about, someone just wants to make sure that your immortal soul is saved from the life of sluttiness and bad habits that you lead. And to make sure that you honor and respect women who do not conform to the 36-24-36 rule.” Casey stares placidly at Walsh. “I’m sure God told them you were in danger.”
He stabs his finger in her direction, “I swear, Casey Shraeger, my days off will be avenged,” but even as he turns to pull his coffee pot out of his desk, Casey swears there’s something like joy on his face, a lightness that even those ridiculous dark circles can’t deny.
Walsh gets his revenge by making Casey his guinea pig for his avant-garde diner creations. She eats a lot of candy reductions and mustard-rubbed vegetables. They’re all terrible.
(Well, the weird bacon/Twix/chili dish isn’t bad per say, but Casey refuses to tell him that on principle.)
She calls a truce three months into their escalating prank war, citing constant low levels of paranoia as the cause for hair loss and indigestion, as Walsh forces her to eat a Sweethearts and Tabasco omelet for the sake of science.
“Pansy,” he says, but he puts her plate in the sink anyway and pours them both a healthy belt of whisky instead. “You know, Kowalski was never one for pranks or jokes or whatever. He did the job, he walked the streets, but that was enough for him.”
Casey sips at her drink. “Sounds lonely.”
Walsh picks up a rag and wipes mindlessly at the counter, “I changed his desktop picture as a joke, once. Something ridiculous, puppies in outfits maybe, you know what I mean. He saw it, maybe laughed a bit, but that was it. No payback, definitely no lingerie in my locker.” He gives Casey a pointed stare.
Casey thinks back to Walsh’s gleeful smile, even when she had sicced the Jehovah’s Witnesses on him. “Well, you have my word that none of your secret kinks will be revealed by me, at least not for a while.”
“Yeah, whatever, now get out of here, it’s late and I’m going to start charging you rent if you keep passing out on my counter.”
Casey stretches as she stands and then heads out the door, turning to sketch a salute before pulling her coat a bit tighter as she walks into the cold. As she crosses the street, she turns her head briefly and sees Walsh with that same half-smile on his face as he closes up shop.
She smiles and blows into her hands. She’s done good.
Jason has always been a team player, played well with others, etc, but being on a team isn’t the same as friendship; there’s always that brief, fleeting feeling of being alone in a crowd, when you look around and everyone’s paired off but you. So when he joins the force, when he’s paired with Kowalski, Jason is ready for partnership, ready to joke and work the beat and have someone at his back just for him. And yeah, Kowalski’s got his back and goes through doors with him, gets a drink with him after shifts sometimes, but he doesn’t push back when Jason plays a prank, doesn’t help him pull one over on Alvarez, and Jason just—well, it’s not ideal, but he makes do.
But Kowalski was still a good man and a better cop, he got shit done and he did his job. When he dies, Jason mourns, of course he does, but he’s also ready for change, ready to see if this next partner will make fun of him the way Delahoy does to Banks, will pull faces at him behind Alvarez’s back, the way Beaumont does to Cole.
When Sergeant Brown introduces Casey Shraeger as his new partner, her still dressed like a hooker, Jason doesn’t have any expectations, other than that they’ll do the job. So when he opens his locker to an assortment of women’s underwear and sees Shraeger biting back a smile, it’s all he can do not to outright grin, because Goddamn, it’s about time.