REPORTING OFFICER: Sergeant Terry Jeffords
PREPARED BY: Sergeant Terry Jeffords
INCIDENT: Between 0630 and 0700 a young mixed-race boy (approx. 16 months old) was left in a bassinet on the doorstep of the station of the 99th Precinct. Attached to the bassinet was a note indicating that the parent could no longer care for the child and he was to be turned over to city services. Precinct is working to investigate the matter.
Physical description of baby: brown skin with freckles, reddish-brown hair, hazel eyes.
At exactly 7:59:30, detectives Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago entered the precinct station. Since beginning their relationship, Jake’s perpetual tardiness had vastly improved, while Amy had stopped showing up 45 minutes before her shift started. They were compromising. It was good.
Sergeant Terry Jeffords met them with a serious gaze. “Good, you two are here. This morning is about to get… interesting,” he said, and gestured to the Captain’s office. The blinds were drawn. “I want you to be able to give a status update on current cases in the Nine-Nine. We have an all-hands-on-deck situation today, and I need to know if there’s anything that can’t wait.”
“Can do, Sarge, but it’s been a pretty quiet week,” Jake said.
“Yeah,” Amy said, “Rosa was complaining that she hadn’t been able to tackle a perp since Friday.”
“Okay,” Terry said, “please confirm that in time for the meeting.”
In the next half hour, they checked around. The team was working on two cases of breaking and entering, one mugging, one car theft, and absolutely no murders. “Murder-free is the way to be!” Amy quipped to Jake as they walked to the briefing room.
“Yeah, if you like things to be boring,” Jake said, and Amy shot him a look. “That came out wrong. Killing people is bad. But you have to admit this week has been unusually boring.”
Amy and Jake walked into the briefing room and caught the look on Sarge’s face. “I have a feeling that’s about to change,” Amy said.
“Team,” Terry said, calling the meeting to order, “we have an incident on our hands, something we’ve never dealt with before.”
“Son of the Son of Sam, a.k.a. Grandson of Sam!” Jake said. “A brand new serial killer is stalking the city, hiding evidence with fake satanic rites! I knew it!”
“Walk it back, Jake,” Rosa said. The look on Sarge’s face had not softened.
“Not murders,” said Terry.
“Oh,” Jake said, a little deflated. “That's good.” Amy looked at him with an expression that was alternately perplexed, worried, and affectionate, and nodded vehemently.
There was a package, about the size of a baby carrier, with a baby blanket over it, sitting on the floor next to the podium.
“Is that… a baby?” Amy asked.
“Yes,” Terry said.
“Ew,” Rosa said, making the exact face she made when Boyle microwaved his lunch in the break room.
Terry ignored her. “Early this morning, right before shift-change, an unknown person left a baby, male, just under a year and a half old, in this baby carrier outside of the precinct station. I’ve called city services, and they have advised us to find the baby’s family. If we haven’t been able to figure it out by six o’clock tomorrow morning, this child becomes a ward of the state.”
“Easy. Check the surveillance tapes,” Rosa said.
“Bad news on that front,” Terry said. “Because the cameras were due for maintenance today, all electricity had been cut to them starting at five o'clock this morning. That side of the building is completely invisible.”
“Wait,” Jake said. “Are you telling me this is a baby mystery? This is a baby mystery!” He pounded a fist on the table. “For the next 24 hours I hereby declare this precinct Baby Nine-Nine! We are officially Baby Nine-Nine until further notice.”
Boyle gasped. “Baby Nine-Nine! All my dreams are coming true! Has anybody heard anything about the goat milk vending machine I submitted the form for?”
Terry made a disgusted noise and shook his head.
“So long, Brooklyn, take care of yourself for once! We’ve got a baby mystery on our hands.” Jake said.
“No, stop,” Terry said. “We are still the Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But this is our top priority. Boyle, Diaz, canvass the neighborhood and look for the baby’s family. Peralta, I need you to try to find witnesses who might have seen the baby left. Amy, can you look into the proper paperwork to surrender parental rights?”
Amy’s eyes lit up. “Of course, Sarge. I would love to. I actually did a report in ninth grade on the legality of hand-written contracts, including cessations of parental rights in notes attached to foundlings.”
Jake was looking at Amy, half love-struck dreamy, half completely perplexed. “What class could that possibly be for?”
“Civics,” Amy answered, then her expression got serious. “I got an A- because the teacher said it veered too closely toward self-insert Agatha Christie fan fiction, to which I obviously took umbrage.”
“Obviously,” Jake said, his head moving in a half nod, half shake, which ended up as a sort of circular motion.
“The captain gets back from his meeting with the Chief of Police at 10am,” Terry broke in. “I want all of this cleared up by then if possible.”
Just then, a small, confused cry rose from the bassinet. Terry uncovered the baby and scooped him up, cradling his tiny body gently in his enormous arms. The baby calmed down immediately.
Jake gasped and Amy cooed.
“Oh my god, he’s so cute!” Amy said. The baby looked in her direction. “But so stern! I feel like he’s judging me. Is anyone else feeling judged by a baby?”
“Babies only judge those they deem unworthy.” Amy jumped at the sound of Gina’s voice. Had she been in here the whole time? “I am obviously great with kids.”
There was a weird pause as everyone took this in.
“Seriously?” Jake asked. “Is nobody else going to say it?”
“Say what, Jake?” asked Boyle.
“This kid looks exactly like what would happen if the Captain and Kevin had a baby! He’s a perfect genetic mixture of the two of them! Red hair, brown skin, completely inscrutable, sort of… glare-y…” Jake trailed off, unnerved by the look the baby was giving him.
“I can see it,” Rosa said.
“You don’t suppose it’s a genetic experiment, do you?” Boyle asked. “We busted that science facility last month, could they have been doing cloning?”
“That was an inner-city meth lab, Charles,” Jake said.
“But they had so many beakers!”
“It was a well-funded inner-city meth lab,” Jake said.
“This baby is not a clone!” Terry said, bouncing the baby slightly against his pectorals. “He appears to be a very healthy child who was left on our doorstep. And right about now,” Terry said, lifting the baby’s bum to his face, “it smells like he needs to be changed. Jake and Amy, before you get started, I need to run out to my minivan and get my emergency back-up diaper bag. Please watch him.”
Terry put the baby back in the bassinet and hustled to the elevator. Jake and Amy looked at the kid. He blinked back at them. He had golden brown skin with a smattering of darker brown freckles across his nose and cheeks, and piercing hazel eyes. He was dressed in a simple but clean blue onesie with a small teddy bear embroidered on the front. His nails were well-trimmed and his hair, which really was a startling red, was taken care of. Whatever the situation he had just left, he hadn’t been obviously neglected.
“I will name him KevRay Holt-Cozner,” Jake said, trying to get the baby to grab his finger.
“Jake, the note says he already has a name!” Amy said.
“Is it as cool as KevRay? Wait, don’t answer that — no name is as cool as KevRay.” Jake was quiet for a second. “Would it be weird if I asked the Captain if I could change my middle name to KevRay?”
“Yeah, you’re right.” He sighed heavily. “Bad idea, Jake KevRay Peralta. Dammit! It just rolls off the tongue!”
Jake was halfway through the night shift call list when he looked over at Scully’s desk and saw something truly horrible.
“Scully what the hell are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m making baby food,” Scully answered.
“No! No!” Jake said, disgusted. “You are chewing up a meatball sub and spitting it into a cup! That’s disgusting.” Jake thought for a second. “Don’t you have kids? Is this how you fed them? Never mind, do not answer that question. Besides, Sarge has baby food.”
“Oh you mean the orange goo and the green goo?”
“The mashed carrots and peas?” Jake asked, pointlessly.
“Yeah, that,” Scully said. “Hitchcock ate it.”
“Ugh! That’s it!” Jake exclaimed. “You are out of the Baby Nine Nine and back on data entry. And, whatever you do, do not feed the baby!”
“Does this mean I can eat the rest of my meatball sub?” Scully asked, but Jake had already stalked off.
Hitchcock came over to his desk. “Oh, is that baby food?” he asked, pointing to the cup.
“Yeah, but Jake said it I shouldn’t feed it to the baby.” Scully said.
“I’ll eat it,” Hitchcock said.
“No!” Scully practically yelled “I chewed it up! It’s mine, fair and square! You won’t Chicken Little me out of my meatball sub.”
“Fair enough,” Hitchcock said. “Hey, do you have any more of those goo jars? Those were good eating.”
Terry stood in the center of the precinct with the baby strapped to his front in his daughter Ava’s backup babybjorn. The baby was staring very intently at the arrowroot teething cookie he held in both hands. “Gang, it’s 9:45,” Terry said. “What’s your progress?”
“Team Bad Baby-“ Jake began.
“Team what now?” Terry asked.
“Team Bad Baby. Amy is Team Bad Baby 2, Rosa and Charles are 21 Baby Street, and Scully and Hitchcock were Beverly Hills Baby until Scully ruined it by being disgusting.”
“Did you just take cop movies and replace one of the words with baby?” Terry asked.
“Yes,” Jake said. “I know it’s less inspired than usual, but I’ve been spending all of my time on this night shift phone tree. Do you know what makes a night shift officer really snippy?”
“Waking them up right after they go off shift?” Terry hazarded.
At that, the baby dropped his cookie and began leaning and looking for it.
“Got it in one, Sarge! You should be a detective,” Jake said, leaning down to scoop up the dropped cookie. He gave it back to the baby, covered in precinct floor germs, probably blood, sweat, and bacteria science hadn’t yet discovered. Terry snatched it out of the baby’s hands and produced a new one, seemingly from thin air.
“Anyway,” Jake continued, “nobody saw anything, apparently. I’ve got a couple more phone calls to make, but then I’m planning to hit up bakeries and dog parks in the neighborhood, see if folks saw anything on their way to work or walking their dog.”
“Good idea,” Terry said. “Santiago, what have you found?”
“Did you know that a prenuptial agreement signed in lipstick is enough to stand up in court in New York?” Amy asked. “So long as you can prove it was created before the vows and not at the reception, that is.”
“O… kay,” Terry said, and, without looking, caught the cookie the baby was trying to drop again. He handed it back to the kid.
“Right, but about the cessation of parental rights. Unfortunately, because the note was unsigned, it’s not sufficiently legally binding,” Amy said. “Unless we track down this kid’s family and have them sign the right forms, they could be tried for neglect.”
“Fine,” Terry said. “Have you heard from Boyle and Diaz?”
“Rosa just checked in,” Jake said. “They haven’t found anything yet.”
“Right,” Terry said. “Jake, finish up that call list, then check in with me before you head out. Amy, print out three copies of the correct forms and meet up with Boyle and Diaz. See if you can’t help locate the family.”
Amy did a mini fist pump and whispered “Triplicate!” under her breath, then looked around sheepishly, only to find that Jake was smiling adoringly at her.
The baby tried to drop his cookie again, this time with a little bit more force, but Terry caught it and switched it out with a pacifier. “Everybody good?”
“Great!” said Amy.
“We’re not going to clear this up before the Captain gets back,” Terry said, “but this remains our top priority.”
“Baby Nine-Nine!” said Jake, picking the phone back up. His triumph turned to pain as soon as he dialed, wincing in anticipation of waking another sleeping cop.
“Gina, Hitchcock ate all the baby food and I’m down to teething cookies,” Terry said. “Can you go out to the corner store and some mashed peas and sweet potatoes?”
“No can do, Ter-Bear,” Gina said. “I’m busy.” Her thumbs nearly blurred as she tapped on her phone.
“Didn’t you hear what Jake said about Baby Nine-Nine?” Terry asked.
“Yes, which is why I got Hot Cheetos from the vending machine,” she said. Without looking up, she reached into the Hot Cheetos bag with one well-manicured hand and pulled out a single Hot Cheeto. “Here, baby,” she said, “catch!”
The Hot Cheeto ascribed a nearly perfect arc toward the baby’s mouth, but Terry intercepted the flying snack, much to the baby’s chagrin. He made a pouty face up at Terry, who gestured helplessly.
“Hot Cheetos are a sometimes food!” Terry said vehemently, addressing both Gina and the baby. “And not appropriate for babies, ever! Never mind,” he said, sighing. “I’ll ask Jake to grab some before he goes to the bakery.”
“That’s what we’ve got so far,” Terry said, standing in front of the Captain’s desk with the baby still strapped to his chest.
Captain Holt had returned from his morning meeting with the Chief of Police to find his sergeant laden with a small child, somewhere between 12 and 18 months of age. Throughout the briefing, the baby had been gazing very intently at the Captain, who had met his gaze with one of equal intensity.
“This is… unusual,” Captain Holt said, breaking eye contact and sitting back in his chair, steepling his fingers together. “I agree, this issue is to remain our top priority until it reaches some resolution.”
He was quiet for a second, lost in thought. “You say efforts to reach the child’s family have so far been fruitless?”
“Yes, sir,” Terry said. The baby fussed and began rubbing at his eyes with balled up fists. “It might be nap time for him,” Terry said. “Do you mind if I leave the baby basket in here? It’s the quietest place other than the evidence locker, and we just confiscated that knife shipment. I’ll be back if he starts to fuss too badly.”
“By all means, Sergeant,” Captain Holt said. “What will you do with him if he starts to fuss?”
“Pull ups,” Terry said. “I find pull ups put babies right to sleep. They find the rhythm soothing.”
Terry unstrapped the baby from his chest and set him down in the baby basket, tucking the blanket around him.
Captain Holt regarded the drowsy baby. He was lost in thought. Terry looked between the two of them and smiled to himself before leaving.
Holt sat, watching the child until he had drifted to sleep completely. Once the baby was soundly sleeping, he picked up the phone.
“Hello, Linda?” he said into the receiver. “This is Raymond. Will you please connect me with Kevin?” He waited in silence for a few moments, gazing at the baby. “Kevin, hello. Are you able to join me for lunch today?”
It wasn’t that Captain Raymond Holt hadn’t wanted to be a father. As a relatively high-profile gay black cop, however, life was complicated enough without the legal battles and professional setbacks — not to mention possible danger — that would have been in store for him, and possibly his partner, had he attempted to adopt.
When he had met Kevin, so much more of life became open to him. He was in a stable and loving long-term relationship, free of much of the strife (and hateful wooden duck decoys) that plagued his previous relationships. While the two of them agreed that they wanted to have children, they also understood that doing so would be a major battle. They had each seen too many acquaintances battle with the legal system as they attempted to adopt, and they agreed to table the discussion for a later date. In the meantime, they adopted a corgi puppy, named him Cheddar, and settled into a happy status quo.
A week prior, though, over a bottle of Bordeaux, Kevin had brought up the notion of children again as a logical next step to their relationship. After all, they were married, with the full protection of the law permanently behind them. In the intervening years it had become much easier to adopt. They were both settled and happy in their careers.
Raymond pointed out that their relationship had rarely ever followed the “logical steps” as put forward by society.
“We’ve never been bound by the tenets of tradition,” he said, swirling his wine. “Why begin now?”
“Raymond, if your counter-argument hinges on us not fulfilling the roles of a traditional couple, well. Do you remember what I told you right before I came home from France?”
Kevin saw a small smile illuminate his face. “During our last Skype discussion, you said six months felt more like a decade. You felt like Odysseus returning to his Penelope.”
“Yes,” Kevin said, then pondered for a second. “Thank goodness you didn’t insist I engage in a shooting contest to prove myself.”
“I love it when you talk Classics to me,” Raymond said, in a tone others would call grave. Kevin knew he was merely sincere and slightly tickled.
“And I have come to discover within myself an appreciation for police procedure,” Kevin said. “To borrow a term, given the evidence, you may find that we are a more traditional couple than previously considered.”
Kevin took a sip of his wine. “Did you know,” he said nonchalantly, “in Rome, the concept of ‘father’ was shared between two separate words that had two different and distinct meanings?”
The corners of Raymond’s mouth tipped upwards, nearly imperceptibly. He did know. In fact, Kevin had mentioned this before, many times. Kevin had first brought it to Raymond’s attention on their fourth date, and it had come up, reliably, every few years since, even when they agreed that fatherhood was an avenue that was closed to them at the time. Raymond had made his peace with never fathering offspring, but he suspected Kevin never quite had.
Kevin continued his description Latin grammar, slipping seamlessly into professor mode. “The first term, nutritor , means ‘father’ only in the biological. Its definition is closer to ‘breeder’ or ‘stud’ than ‘father,’ and the duties of the nutritor were often poorly defined. In contrast, pater was used to describe a man who had chosen the duties and obligations of fatherhood. Biology had little to do with it. Paternity was reserved for those men who lifted their sons up to the heavens or fed their daughters and openly declared themselves to be fathers.”
Raymond took a sip of his wine, eyebrows fractionally raised. “Consider this notion considered,” he said. “Fatherhood,” he said, “we two.”
“We two,” Kevin said, in agreement.
Raymond raised his glass, and Kevin joined in, meeting his eyes for the toast. “ Ad paternatem .”
“Indeed,” said Raymond.
Charles waited for Jake at the corner, eating his new favorite dessert: tzatziki fro yo. The Greek place down the street had just started serving it, and he was surprised it had taken them this long. The chill and slight extra sweetness really made the dill and garlic pop.
He and Rosa had been canvassing the neighborhood for hours, turning up no leads. Jake’s search for a witness had also been fruitless.
As Charles was trying to imagine what flavor cone (falafel?) would best complement the fro yo, Jake turned up.
“Jake!” Charles exclaimed, “You have got to try this tzatziki fro yo. It is to die for.”
“Woah, there buddy,” Jake said, gently pushing Charles’s outstretched hand loaded with fro yo away from his face. “I grabbed a bagel from the bodega when I bought more baby food. Where are we at with the missing family?”
“Nothing yet, but I have high hopes for this building,” Charles said. “It seems like it’s several blocks away, but there’s an alley connection that gets you almost all the way to the back door of the precinct. Best of all, no cameras along the way. I checked.”
“I suppose that’s what I’d look for in a baby-leaving path,” Jake said.
The first two apartments were empty, the third occupied by an old man and a grouchy dog who Jake had met earlier at the dog park. The fourth apartment door opened to reveal a teenaged girl with an explosion of curly, reddish-brown hair and golden-brown skin.
“Hi,” Jake said showing her a picture of the baby, “we are looking for the family of this child.” It was basically a formality — she was the spitting image of the baby boy.
Her face immediately crumpled and she dissolved into tears.
“I knew you’d come to arrest me and take me to jail,” she said between sobs.
“Oh, no, hey,” said Charles. “Hey, listen. You’re not in trouble. It’s okay. Nobody’s going to jail. We just have some questions.” He gestured frantically at Jake to contact the rest of the precinct, but Jake was already on it. “Can I come in?” he asked.
The girl stood aside to let him into the small and slightly shabby apartment, and gestured to the small couch. The coffee table in front of the couch was covered in high school textbooks: Biology, Calc I, and World History.
Charles sat down and gestured for her to sit down next to him. “My name is Charles, and this is Jake. We’re with the police, but we’re not here to arrest you. We have some of our colleagues on the way. They’re women, if you want to wait for them. I’ll have you know, though, I’ve always been told I have an unusually feminine touch.”
“It’s true,” Jake said, leaning against a wall. “He has the hands of an eighteenth-century duchess.”
“Thank you,” Charles said, preening.
The girl smiled despite her tears. Charles sent up a thankful prayer. The Boyle-Peralta patter (Per-atter? Boy-tter? Perboytter?) worked most of the time, but not always. Charles handed her a kleenex.
“Am I going to go to jail?” she asked.
“No. Nope. Absolutely not,” Jake said. “We’ll make sure of it, and once Amy and Rosa are here, they’ll make double-sure of it. While we’re waiting, can you confirm that you are the person who left Baby-Boy-Nine-Nine at the precinct station this morning?”
“Yes. It was me,” she said, in a small voice. She held the kleenex between her knees, wringing it back and forth. “I… I didn’t want to-“ she stopped, cutting herself off. “Well, I didn’t… I can’t take care of him any more.”
“I had him in January of last year,” she explained. “I missed a bunch of school. My mama helped me make it up, she took care of him mostly. I tried, but I’m no good at anything with babies, not at all. And now… now…” She started crying again.
Just then, Rosa and Amy peeked around the doorway.
“Hi, it’s us, can we come in?” Amy asked.
“These are our colleagues,” Charles said, “Amy and Rosa. It’s okay to be a little afraid of Rosa.”
Rosa shrugged and joined Jake on the wall. Amy sat down on the girl’s other side.
“I couldn’t take care of him any more,” the girl said. “My mama was mostly taking care of him, but now she’s in hospice and she can’t look after him. I just now barely got caught up in school, I’m looking at college, maybe, I… I couldn’t…” She broke down in tears again.
“It’s not that I don’t love him,” she said, fiercely. “I just…”
“Oh, hey,” said Amy. “Nobody thinks that,-“ She broke off. “What’s your name, sweetheart?”
“I’m Grace,” Grace said.
“Nice to meet you, Grace. I’m Amy,” Amy said. “I’ve been doing research all morning on city and state adoption laws. Because you didn’t sign the note on the baby’s basket this morning, it doesn’t count. But I brought the paperwork to begin the adoption process, if you want to do that. If you don’t, that’s okay. If you want to wait and not make a decision today, that’s okay, too.”
“What happens if I sign the paper?” Grace asked.
“Typically, the child would enter foster care until a permanent family could be found,” Amy said. “Unless, of course, you already had a family in mind who would want your kid.”
Jake opened his mouth, but Rosa elbowed him in the side. Hard. “You say KevRay to this child and I will personally remove your molars through your asshole,” she muttered through gritted teeth.
Jake’s eyes widened and he made a zipping motion on his mouth.
“I don’t know anybody,” she said. “I hoped leaving him with the police would be okay. I hoped it would be enough.”
“That was smart,” Charles said. “We’ve been taking really good care of him.” Grace looked relieved.
Amy continued to explain the process of giving a child up for adoption to Grace, including her ability to speak to a lawyer, and Jake continued not saying anything about naming the baby KevRay.
Raymond met Kevin at the restaurant; both were exactly on time, as they almost always were. Raymond greeted his husband with a brief kiss.
Kevin took one look at Raymond and saw the crease in his husband’s brow was more pronounced than usual. He was clearly out of sorts. “My goodness,” he said. “Raymond, are you quite all right? You look flustered.”
“I’m fine,” Raymond said. “I have had an… illuminating morning. Let’s get to the table and talk.”
The restaurants was a favorite of theirs, and the waitstaff knew that the pair liked to be seated and waited on as soon as possible. They ordered promptly, and as soon as the waiter left the table, Kevin turned to Raymond.
“Raymond, you ordered unseasoned cod. Are we celebrating something?”
Raymond didn’t answer, asking a question instead. “Do you remember the conversation we had over the 2011 Bordeaux a few weeks ago?” Raymond asked.
“Of course. We discussed making an addition to our family,” Kevin said.
“This morning a young child was left at our precinct’s back door,” Raymond said.
“My goodness! Is the child in good health?”
“Perfectly. I spent some time with the baby, and I was overwhelmed with…” he trailed off.
Kevin reached over and placed his hand over his husband’s. Raymond gazed down at it for nearly a full two seconds -- much longer than usual. “Go on,” he prompted.
“Let’s do it,” Raymond said, looking up to meet his eyes. “I’m ready. Let’s begin the process. As soon as possible.”
Kevin’s face broke into a smile that could very nearly be described as goofy, but only by those who knew him well. “Really? Oh wonderful. Wonderful!” he exclaimed.
Their food arrived promptly as Raymond began to describe the morning at the precinct. In attempting to describe the child’s physical appearance, he found himself at a loss. Raymond pulled out his phone, saying “I took a photo while he was sleeping. Here.” He handed his phone over to his husband.
Very slowly, Kevin put down his fork. “Is that…” he paused, zooming in. “Is his name… am I reading the note right?”
Raymond confirmed that he was.
“I believe I need to meet this child as soon as humanly possible,” Kevin said, signaling for the check.
Terry was showing the baby a detailed map of Brooklyn, pointing out the edges of the precinct and naming all the parks and municipal buildings within, when the elevator opened. Rosa, Charles, Amy, and Jake walked out with a teenaged girl who looked remarkably like the baby in his babybjorn.
They led her straight to the interrogation room, and Terry gave them a confused look. Jake peeled off and came over to explain.
“Hey Sarge, hey KevRay. That’s Grace, KevRay’s biological mother. She definitely wants to cede parental rights. We’re going to hang out here for a bit and see if we can’t get her a lawyer.”
Just then the elevator opened again, and Captain Holt and Kevin strode into the precinct. “Captain! Kevin! Have you met KevR-” Terry elbowed Jake in the gut again, in exactly the same spot Rosa’s elbow had found.
“Captain, Kevin,” Terry greeted the men. “This is Virgil.”
Kevin addressed the baby gravely. “Hello, Virgil. It is a pleasure to meet you.”
Virgil regarded Kevin with the same serious look he gave to most things, and grabbed Kevin’s extended finger in a vice-like grip.
The elevator dinged again, and out stepped Gina, accompanied by a white woman in khakis and a sensible blazer.
“Relax, everyone, your Deus Ex Machina is here!” Gina said. “This is CherryPieLicious.”
Terry, Jake, Kevin, Raymond, and Virgil turned as one (Virgil had no choice in the matter, strapped as he was to Terry’s chest) and regarded the two women incredulously.
“CherryPieLicious is the seventh member of my eight-person dance team, the Baker’s Dozen. We do interpretive, improvised dance routines to food-themed pop songs,” Gina explained. It didn’t help.
“Professionally I go by Joanna Berman,” CherryPieLicious, or Joanna, said. “I’m an attorney with the Administration for Children Services.”
“Ah!” Terry said.
“I normally represent the biological parents in matters of adoption,” she said, “though I think Gina brought me in to consult with Raymond and Kevin? Is that…” She looked back and forth between Kevin and Raymond and Jake and Terry.
“I am Captain Raymond Holt, and this is my husband, Dr. Kevin Cozner,” Captain Holt said.
“A pleasure,” Kevin said, extending his hand.
“Gina mentioned you two were interested in adopting,” Joanna said. “If you already have a child in your life, we can fast-track you to become foster parents as early as today.”
“Friends, I got you the hookup,” Gina said, and mimed dropping a mic.
“Is this what you were doing when I asked you to go get baby food at 11:00?” Terry asked.
“Psssh, no,” Gina said. “I had this set up by 9:30.”
Raymond and Kevin looked at each other and then at Virgil.
“Yes, we would like that very much,” Kevin said.
“Also,” Terry interjected, “Virgil’s biological mother is in the interrogation room. Would you be able to walk her through her rights and the paperwork?”
“Absolutely,” Joanna said.
Raymond’s hand found Kevin’s. Their fingers wove together, tightly.
Raymond woke up to find Kevin missing. He got up and padded to the baby’s room, where he knew he’d find his husband. Kevin was standing and holding their child in the moonlight, murmuring something in Latin, Cheddar sleeping contentedly at his feet. Raymond watched them from the doorway for a moment, his two perfect loves, before joining them in the moonlight.
“What are you reciting?” Raymond asked, quietly.
Kevin looked over at him and smiled softly. The baby was sleeping soundly.
“It’s a portion of the Aeneid,” he said. “Venus appears before her son, Aeneas, and entreats him to redouble his efforts to protect Greece. In the Dryden translation, those lines read, ‘My son, from whence this madness, this neglect/Of my commands, and those whom I protect?’ ”
Raymond raised his eyebrows. “I thought you hated Dryden,” he said.
“I do,” Kevin said, “but his translation does at least attempt a reconstruction of the rhyming scheme.” Kevin handed the baby over to Raymond. “He must learn about dactylic hexameter somewhere, and I’d prefer it was from me.”
Raymond smiled and gently rocked the baby back and forth.
“Have you given any thought to a middle name?” Kevin asked.
“Yes,” Raymond said. “I find KevRay has quite grown on me.”
Kevin looked briefly horrified, and then chuckled. “I married you for your wit, you know.”
“I know.” Raymond thought for a moment. “How about Terrence?” he asked.
“After the man who kept him alive and well during his being looked after by your colleagues? That’s a hero’s name for sure,” Kevin said.
The baby stirred in Raymond’s arms, and looked up at him blearily.
Raymond held his son up in the moonlight, raising him to the heavens. He glanced over at Kevin for confirmation that he was doing it correctly, and looked back to his son, addressing him directly. “Virgil Terrence Holt-Cozner,” he said, using Virgil’s full name for the first time, “you are our son.”
Kevin met Raymond’s eyes and smiled. “Virgil Terrence Holt-Cozner,” he said, “you are our son and you are well-beloved.”