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The Vultures Are Circling

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When all Jake could hear was the warbled sound of the DuckTales theme, he knew he should definitely answer the phone that lay buzzing in the back pocket of his jeans. But with his thoughts, consistently overwhelming, he elected to ignore it. He’d reply to the constant messages in due time; he’d respond to the number of worried voicemails in due time; and he’d swipe the green phone icon in due time. He considered the theme that time played in his life – the theme time plays in everyone’s life – and the all prevailing hatred and fear he had towards it. Time brought realisations to the forefront. And after Amy had sat cross-legged on the sofa in the break room, kept awake from the sexual assault case, and admitted how it affected her Jake took time to mull over the horrific actions that take place every day in the work place.

And he realised, in due time, he’d been victim to that too.

He wasn’t a victim, he decided, he refused to let that title define him. And he elected to not immediately tell Amy because he didn’t want to undermine her experience or diminish the development they’d made in helping her heal. Instead, he decided to be alone with his thoughts atop the roof where the results of their bet took place. Admittedly, that was the worst decision he could have made. Jake hated being alone with his thoughts; hated the intrusiveness of ever single thought clambering in his head. And yet, here he was. Rubik's cube in hand – unsolved, of course, he never had been able to complete it – and legs hanging over the edge, Jake breathed, and he sobbed. The detective wasn’t one for crying either, refused to let the promotion of better skin upon crying get to him (“It’s a scam!” He’d yelled, pointing a finger), but the events of the past week had hit him like a tidal wave and after Pembroke had approached him today he decided that, for once in his sad little life, he deserved to feel outwardly without consequence. His phone rung again, this time without the warbled effect and, this time, without his chest tightening. He resisted the urge to ignore it.

(So much for peace and quiet.)

He redacted that thought as he heard the soft and gentle, but anxious and urgent voice of his wife – his wife, God, he would never get tired of saying nor thinking that. It was the expected greeting of “Jake! Babe, oh my God, I’ve been so worried. We’ve been so worried. Where are you?”

He hesitantly smiled, realising after another outburst of “babe? Please answer me. Are you okay?” that she couldn’t see nor take comfort in the action. She’d drown in that smile if she was here, no matter how unconvincing it was. Jake responded after a second or two, pausing to collect himself, and hiding the anxiousness itching through him with a cough. “I’m fine, babe,” he assured her, “I’m totes okay.”
“You’re not,” her voice pressed through the call, urgent, “you’re very clearly not.”
“Right,” Jake nodded to himself, “and where’s your proof Mrs. Detective?”
“My proof,” Amy began, placing the phone down on her end to run gentle hands through unkempt hair, “is that you froze up when The Vulture approached you. You seemed a lot more uncomfortable than usual, didn’t make any comments when he harassed you, then left promptly. You then failed to respond to 21 calls and 35 messages, and you don’t sound like your normal self now. What’s going on?”

“Fine. I’m not okay but I’m uncomfortable with emotions and interacting when I’m very clearly vulnerable. I didn’t know how to handle it and I just decided to be alone with my thoughts.”
“I think I know where you are,” Amy said softly, “I’m on my way. Try not to be alone with your thoughts, that’s not a good idea. Especially for you.”
“Tell me about it.”


 

Jake couldn’t help but drown in his thoughts in the time it took Amy to follow him up to the roof, and so when the door opened with a loud jolt he bounced out of his skin, relaxing only when he saw those soft, understanding eyes of his wife.

“So, this roof seems to be our breakdown corner, huh?”

Jake snickered, uncomfortable with not being the one to provide humour to the scene, and his anxiety lessened, and his face softened as Amy joined him on the ledge. They spent moments of uninterrupted silence of getting lost in one another, before the gentle touch of Amy’s hand on his own brought him to face reality.

“So, mister, what’s really going on?”
“Like you said. The Vulture; everything really. It just got to me. It shouldn’t have got to me, I’m not-“
“You’re valid, your experiences are valid. Whatever your going through-“
“-I can speak to you about it. I know, vice versa. But it’s going to take a lot of departmentally mandated therapy sessions to be able to talk that out of me regularly. And I am not about that life.”

Jake laughed awkwardly, and Amy nodded in understanding, resting her hand on the other side of Jake’s curls, finger inching through his curls before urging his head towards her in comfort. There’s not much that could be said between them, other than Jake’s self-deprecating jokes and Amy’s pleas of comfort, so they basked in comfortable silence. Until Jake spoke up.

“I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to hinder the development we’d made in your healing.”
“Wait,” Amy paused, cocking her head to one side in confusion and lifting a finger to stop his train of speech, “is this about the sexual assault case?”

Jake nodded and the audible gulp from Amy was awkwardly haunting. The sergeant shook her head in disbelief, biting her lip in anxiety.

“Basically, The Vulture’s the worst. Everyone knows that, I think he knows that to an extent. I think everyone’s qualms with him are valid and I just- that’s mine.”  
“Amen to that. But Jake…why didn’t you-“
"-say anything about it?” He queried, finishing her sentence, “I was ignorant about the continuous systematic oppression of women because of patriarchal dominance, it’s not too difficult to realise I’d been ignorant to my own experience as well.”

Jake called back to every time Keith Pembroke swooped in, like the vulture he is, and snatched the cases five steps from the finish line - milking the solve to his colleagues and to the detectives of the 99th precinct themselves as if it was nothing. Jake called back to every time Pembroke entered the precinct to enquire about the case's standing and how he disgustingly cat called Amy - and how Jake never really called him out, and how disgusted he is at himself for not doing anything in retrospect - and then, how he non-consensually gripped Jake's rear. How his breath hitched and his eyes closed as he expected the touch, and how uncomfortable it always made him. But he brushed it off as nothing, as if it was casual interaction with the higherups and casual interaction between men. 

Until Amy spoke up a week earlier. 

How even though it was just a kiss, she felt uncomfortable with the advance and was disgusted how she'd been taken advantage of in her position. And he sat back, he looked into feminism and sexism, and sexual assault before landing on an article that shed light on men's abuse. And he connected with the story, when Jake thought really that he shouldn't have. Or that he shouldn't have to. But he did, and that was what caused the outburst when Pembroke showed up and continued with the tradition - as if the bust of Jake's rear that Jake shaped years ago had worn down, or wasn't enough. 

Jake only realised he called back to everything that happened out loud when Amy sniffled, using her thumbs to wipe at tears before laughing at the comment of the bust. 

"You really created that and mailed it to him?"
A smile was plastered to his lips and he nodded awkwardly. "Yeah. Time I could've spent on a case, but it was a stupid one so...yeah, yeah I did. Can't have people thinking I'm completely mature!"
"God you're so childish," Amy commented, pressing a kiss to his cheek softly, "I love you so much."
"I love you so much too."

"It never really affected me, yknow, like," Jake paused in attempt to collate his thoughts, "I know what happened to you affected you. Because it made you feel like you never really deserved your position. But mine never affected me in that way, nor emotionally and I. I don't know if that's because I repress the hell out of everything until it bothers me and I later comment on it as unresolved trauma or what, but it never..."
"I get you." 
"It wasn't until you spoke up that I realised everything," Jake said, and secondly to himself, "turns out I'm not good at realising things until someone else speaks up."
Amy acted on the murmur, questioning him with a "what do you mean by that?"
"Oh God, you could hear me. Uh, I'll let you know when I'm comfortable."
She smiled, and God he loved that smile and was so glad to see that take over her previously tear stained face, in response. "Okay."

"Just so we're clear," she warned, standing up with ease, "you shouldn't have to be used that. It's disgusting and normalising rape culture and I won't stand for it. I'm glad I got the transfer to the nine-nine because I've made a life here, but I regret never reporting him. I always have and I always will. So we're leaving right now to report that asshole."

"I'd like that. But can it wait?"

"Of course. Whatever your most comfortable with; I'm not gonna push you if you're not ready."

“Thank you. I love you so so much. I guess,” he started again to summarise, willing himself through the cracking of his knees as he stood – kicking the bumps in the ledge, “all in all: I just repressed the hell out of it. Nothing out of character for me.”
“Yeah, well, none of this was particularly in character for you. You were quiet and drowning in your own thoughts and I,” she paused, pointing a finger at him and proceeding to boop his nose carefully once he reached her, “for one, don’t like it. We need to cheer you up. We could both do with a bit of healing.”

Jake offered her a smile and a solution to their problems. “Die Hard, Jeopardy, and orange soda, wrapped up on the sofa?”

She nodded. 

"Now that's in character for you."