“ Stay put Peralta!”
“I will! Don’t worry!” Jake called after the retreating Sergeant, mumbling to himself and Doyle,”Just gonna let Sarge follow him… I’m gonna stay right here…”
Itching to run, Jake fidgetted on the sidewalk. He had to catch this guy, before something bad happened. Sarge was bigger, but not as fast as Jake could be. Although, on an injured leg, he probably wasn’t functioning at his best. While he considered staying where he was, he listened to the receding footsteps from the alley. Fuck, what if he didn’t follow and Sarge got hurt? Forget the past, if Sarge got hurt, he didn’t know what he would do. He turned to run, unable to hold off on his worries.
“I can’t do it,” He blurted,”I’m gonna cut him off in the alley!”
Doyle stepped up then, grabbing Jake’s arm and yanking him back as he tried to run past,” Jake , don’t do it, just stay here!”
Peralta shook free of the smaller man and ran off anyway, even though his foot groaned in pained protest,”I have to go! Ow! Ow-”
Jake raced through the alley, ignoring his pain, determined to catch the guy who’d gotten him hurt in the first place. Each step sent a jolt of searing pain through his bone, but adrenaline and mild panic drove him to keep running despite it. After seeing the perp dart across the pavement, Jake sped up as much as he could.
“Ha!” he shouted, proud of himself,”Shortcut!”Catching his breath, he continued to taunt,”You just got--”
He intended to finish with Jaked , but was cut off by the squad car racing in front of him. Peralta sucked in a breath and skid to a stop, thumping into the side of the car as it screeched to a stop. He braced himself up against the metal, heart thumping heavy in his chest; He almost ran in front of it. A few seconds earlier, he would have been totally screwed. He watched the perp race into another alley, but found his feet unable to move.
Behind him, Doyle was still running to catch up,” Oh! Jake!”
The officers in the car had already begun to climb out, the one on the drivers side rushing out after the perp. Sarge emerged just as he left, catching sight of the scene and gasping loudly.
“Jake, you okay?” He asked, hurrying over to Jake’s side to accompany Doyle.
Still in shock, Jake couldn’t come up with something funny to say,”Yeah... I’m good,”
“Good,” Terry huffed,”Because I’m gonna kill you ,”
Concerned by the angry tone, Peralata glanced his way while the Sergeant grabbed his upper arm and pulled him along.
“Ow, ow ,” He complained, stumbling to keep up with the uninjured man’s hurried pace.
Annoyed with the whining, Terry stopped and turned long enough to heft Jake up into his arms. He carried the smaller man without breaking a sweat, or showing any real signs of strain. Hoping to lighten the mood, Jake spoke with a slightly nervous tone.
“Well- well, I’m a little disappointed you chose somewhere so dingy for our honeymoon, Terr…” The look the Sarge cast him made his words taper off quietly,”... bear …”
He cleared his throat, pressing his lips into a line as he decided to keep quiet in the remaining time it took Terry to get them both back to the motel room. Whatever lecture he wanted to give, Jake could suck it up and let him get it out of his system. Really, he just wanted the night to be over with so he could go back to the precinct and figure out where the guy would be next.
Once in the room, Terry put Jake on his feet and locked the door behind them, which didn’t help settle the injured man’s nerves.
Anxious, an awkward laugh bubbled out of his throat as he crossed his arms,”So- uh, I’m not really worried about anyone catching you yelling at me, Ter- Sarge,” He stammered, watching the large man step towards him.
“Me either,” Terry agreed,”But I’m not just yelling this time,”
Smile wiped away, Jake uncrossed his arms and took a step away from the advancing Sergeant,”Uh… Uh, w-what do you… What?”
Before he could limp to a safe distance, Terry’s hand was back on his arm and pulling him along. The man dropped to sit on the bed, turned slightly to the side, and with another hefty tug, Jake came toppling over his lap. His upper half lay on the cushy mattress and pillows, while his hips were poised over Terry’s left thigh. Careful of Jake’s injuries, Sarge wrapped his left arm around Jake’s waist to keep him still.
Full on panicked now, Jake squirmed on the bed, grimacing as he tried to move himself up,”Ah- h-hey, Sarge? What’s, uh… what’s going on back there? Whatcha d-doin’?”
His questions received no reply, but he did get an answer. Afterall, Terry’s heavy hand coming crashing down on his upturned ass left very little to the wandering mind.
Jake gasped at the impact, fingers digging into the dull blanket as his face burned with a shameful blush,” Ow !”
“What the fuck were you thinking ?” Terry asked, emphasising his words with a mighty smack to either cheek,”That car could have run you over .”
Jake sucked air through gritted teeth,”I- but, it didn’t!” He shouted,”I stopped in time, I’m fine !”
“ Not . Good. Enough .” Terry whacked him three more times for each word.
“I’m alive!” Jake snapped, his surprise turning quickly to frustration,”This- you can’t do this to me! L-let me go!”
“As a Sergeant, I can’t,” Terry admitted,”But as a concerned friend?”
Jake scrambled to find a way out of the humiliating predicament,”You- I could… I could arrest you , this is assault!” He fired back indignantly.
“Good point. I’ll let you put the cuffs on me after we’re done, though,”
Jake gasped once again at another round of heavy smacks against the seat of his pants,”Ow, ow, cut it out! ” He whined, doing his best to move his hips out of range on his injured leg.
“You cut it out!” Terry barked in return,”Stop chasing criminals when you’re hurt, stop trying to sneak around orders,”
“I did not- Ah! ” Jake groaned and dropped his head to the pillow.
“You did ,” Terry corrected,”You lied to me, and to Doyle, and snuck around my orders to stay home and recover .”
Jake clenched his jaw,”I had to ca- Ah! - catch him!”
Terry shook his head,”Really?”
Jake huffed angrily,”Yes!”
Finally pausing, Terry rest his hand on Jake’s not-yet-smacked thigh,”Why?”
“He- what the fuck do you mean?” Jake seethed,”He’s a bad guy- a criminal!”
Terry applied a stinging swat to both thighs, pulling an unhappy groan from Jake,”And you’re a good guy, but who got hurt during this case? You, or the bad guy?”
Realizing the answer wouldn’t bode well for him, Jake pursed his lips and kept quiet.
“And who’s going to catch him when you get yourself killed , Jake?” Terry demanded,”Because if you keep going, you won’t be so lucky when the next guy pulls a gun on you,”
Jake, trying hard to ignore the guilty feeling rising in his chest, mumbled ruefully,”You call this lucky?”
Terry scowled at the younger man,”Fine, have it your way.”
Jake turned his head, trying to twist and see what was happening, but he got his answer despite his blocked view; cool air rushed over his burning back side. Terry pulled his pants off his hips. Before the arguing exclamation could leave his mouth, another round of heavy slaps drove a pained yelp from Jake’s lungs. He twisted the blanket in his hands, gritting his teeth against making sound as each almighty smack drove him further over the Sergeant’s knee.
“You might think it’s funny,” Terry began, voice resounding over the sound of the spanking,”Fuck, you might think it’s hilarious that you run around on fractures and bruised ribs. But I’m not laughing, Jake,”
Peralta squeezed his eyes shut, his shoulders tensed while he pulled the blanket between his teeth.
“You can’t do this to yourself,” Terry went on,”You can’t keep running yourself into the ground over a case someone else could have handled,”
Jake pulled the blanket free so he could retort,”I’m fine ,” He could hear the strain in his own voice, and found himself wondering if he even believed that anymore.
“But you’re not !” Terry bellowed, finally ending the round with one last aching whack.
Jake panted into the sheets, finding it a lot more difficult to ignore the guilt when he was also trying to fight off tears.
“You can’t walk, you can barely hold a gun. If you have caught him, how would you put on cuffs, huh?” Terry asked, tone a scrutinizing wonder.
“I could have… I…” Jake blinked a few times, trying to clear the blurry vision as he tried to think of a way; ultimately, he came up with nothing; Despite this, he argued,”I’d find a way!”
Another pained yelp pulled from his lungs as Terry layered another pair of smacks to his briefs,”Try again,”
Jake huffed,”I… I could just hold him until you got there,”
The next smack got Jake bucking forward, grimace on his face as he howled his pain from the next four whacks.
“Nope. He could have thrown you off and run in that time,”
”I would..I’d have…” Jake found nothing coming to mind, and his vision blurred with salty tears,”I… I… wouldn’t...be able to,” He finally admitted, in a whispered tone.
“Exactly,” Terry replied,”What if he tried to fight you off? Think you could have held your own?”
Jake shut his eyes and felt tears run down his reddened face,”... No, sir…”
“Then why do you keep running after him like this?”
Untrusting of his voice and reluctant to admit his reasoning, Jake bit his lip and dropped his head. After giving him a chance and receiving no reply, Terry shifted the man on his knee and gripped his waist a bit tighter. In anticipation of the next round of smacks, Jake tensed up and crossed his ankles. This time, his squirming had lessened, and he just dropped his head and tried to ride it out til he was finished. Unfortunately for him, about ten or so in, his shallow breath suddenly filled with the guilt he’d been pushing down, and he released the rushed gasp in a shoulder-heaving sob.
Quick to try and stop his breakdown, Jake clapped a hand over his mouth. His shoulders began rising, as he stifled his breath trying to keep the noise quiet. Even as he tried to argue with himself and say Terry was wrong to do it, every inch of him just wanted to get rid of the hateful ball of regret in his chest. He knew why he did it, he knew why he had this uncontrollable need to catch the guy. He knew he worried people, including Charles and Terry, but he just went on about his day as if none of it mattered.
“If you want to drive me crazy all damn day, fine!” Terry cut through,”But I’m gonna know why , Jake,”
Jake sucked a shuddering breath in and shifted onto his elbows as he wailed,”I-It was a case !”
Eager to get somewhere with an explanation, Terry stopped again to listen.
Struggling to catch his breath, Peralta sank in Terry’s grip, shoulders shaking. He tried his best to calm down before he tried to talk again, not wanting to risk his voice cracking.
“A case,” he repeated weakly,”My… second year on the force,”
“What happened?” Terry prompted, unable to resist giving his side a little rub for comfort.
Giving up on saving face, Jake sniffled and took another shaken breath,”It was a drug case, I’d been working it for a few months… And the guy disappeared right before Memorial day. I was… I…” Jake dropped his head, gritting his teeth and forcing the lump in his throat back down,”I was supposed to go out with friends on a vacation...While I was gone, the dude resurfaced and got into a shootout with another dealer. Two civilians got shot,”
Jake huffed a humorless, watery laugh,”Meanwhile, I was sipping Pina coladas in Philly ,”
“Why didn’t you mention that before?” The sergeant wondered.
“I was embarrassed about the choice I made,” Jake replied quietly, though it seemed like a silly reason to withhold it now.
“How are we feeling about tonight’s decisions?”
Jake blushed and closed his eyes with a wince,”Er...not too good, sir,”
Terry smiled a bit, but sighed,”Jake, perps get away. People get hurt,”
“But people got hurt because of me ,” Jake interrupted.
He was rewarded with a firm pat on his thigh,”Shut up for a minute,” Jake said nothing, so Sarge continued,”It’s all part of the job, some things just can’t be avoided. But if you don’t give yourself a break, you’ll be no use to anyone. You’ll be dead ,”
Trying to get away from the sentimentals of the situation, Jake gave a wry chuckle,”Real talk alert!” Another, harder pat higher up on his thigh made Jake wince,”Okay! Okay, I… I get it…”
“Promise?” Terry reiterated, hoping he wouldn’t have to make the same point a second time.
Jake nodded gently,”Yeah. And… uh, for what it’s worth, sorry,” He wiped at the wet trails on his face, sniffling again,”Y’know, for scaring you guys,”
“We’re cool,” Terry hummed,”No worries,”
“Then, uhm…” Jake gave an impatient little shift of his hips,”Could I get up, Sarge?”
Remembering their position, Terry hurried to move,”Oh! Yeah, sure,”
Easing himself back onto his feet, Jake reached down to shimmy his jeans back up onto his hips. They passed the freshly-beaten skin on his backside and he winced, whining slightly.
“That fucking hurt,” He mumbled ruefully.
Terry crossed his arms,”I’m not sorry for it,” He assured the younger man,”But if you still want to charge me for assault…”
Jake shook his head,”No, sorry...It was...it’s fine,” He gave the man a brief smile, feeling a bit awkward and unsure of what to do with himself.
Terry had no trouble with the strange atmosphere, and grabbed Peralta’s shoulder to pull him into a hug,”Be careful next time, okay?”
Jake, a touch surprised by the gesture, felt tears well in his eyes again as he nodded vigorously,”Y-yeah, I will, Sarge,” He assured him, returning the hug as best he could with his sore ribs.
That night, Jake’s proof that the night had not, in fact, been one long dream were the splotchy red marks covering his otherwise pale skin. He slept on his side, painkillers to ease the pain, alarms for work the next morning turned off, and the guilt in his stomach finally disappearing.