Chapter 1: Who You Are
Jake could hardly believe his crappy luck. Here he was, standing in front of the Vulture’s Door, anticipating a horrible evening filled with boasting, causal racism, sexism and crass remarks about his colleagues and friends. Still, Jake would suffer through a thousand hang outs with the worst kind of bird ever, if it meant the squad were treated decently. It had been two weeks into the Vulture’s tenure as their Captain and whilst he seemed to have bought Jake’s overtures of friendship and wasn’t actively harassing anyone, he’d recently taken all of their felony cases away due to a bet with another precinct’s captain. Jake’s mission that night was to get them back. He swallowed and rang the doorbell.
“Come in, JP.” Pembroke greeted, dressed in tight leather pants and a vest over a silk shirt. “Welcome to my pad.” It was exactly as Jake had imagined: martial arts accoutrements on the walls (including nun chucks of course), posters of women lying on motorbikes, animal parts. Though the unmistakable ‘douche’ smell was hardly noticeable and it generally looked clean. New housekeeper?
“Hey, cool guitar, man.” Jake pointed to the one hanging on the wall.
“It’s a bass: G&L Tribute L2000. Now that’s made from realm craftsmanship. None of that Yamaha or Ibanez crap.” Jake nodded like he understood what any of that meant and was also impressed. The Vulture showed him around a little before handing him an already opened beer. It tasted horrible, but Jake controlled his gag reflex and hummed appreciatively. They sat on the couch, Jake slouching as casually as he could, the Vulture throwing an arm over the back of it and crossing an ankle over his knee. “So, you and Santiago, huh?” Jake’s stomach twisted, hoping they wouldn’t linger on this topic too long.
“Oh yeah, we’re just hooking up.”
“What’s she like? I bet she’s feisty: the tighter the ponytail, the harder she bites.” Jake choked a little on his beer.
“That’s a thing?”
“The truest of truisms, you can take that to the bank. So?” Jake fumbled a moment before slipping into a slimy character similar to the Iannucci Lieutenant he’d been years ago.
“Uh, yeah, I don’t know about your own personal, feisty scale, but, I ain’t got no complaints.” The Vulture grinned and moved on to telling a heinous story about one of his conquests – which had happened on the coffee table. Jake avoided looking at it after that, caught between the crappy beer and the toe-curling stories. After the last one, he eyed Jake for a long, uncomfortable moment before getting out his phone.
“So, I guess you’re wondering why I invited you over here.” He gestured Jake to go closer. Jake gratefully put down his beer and shifted next to the Vulture – his musk was stronger and he was almost radiating heat. Then, Jake’s body went cold as he heard his own voice coming from Pembroke’s phone, explaining his plan to the squad.
“You bugged the break room?” Jake asked, not quite aware of the thought before it came out of his mouth.
“Scully butt dialled me.” As the information sunk in, Jake’s mind began to supply possible motives for Pembroke to wait until they were alone in his apartment: none of them were good.
“What do you want?” He asked hoarsely, eyes darting to the exits he’d catalogued earlier; front door, patio doors, window – who knows, maybe risking the fall would be worth it? Pembroke’s eyes glittered.
“No, the question is: what do you want? And how far are you willing to go to get it.” At Jake’s look of pure confusion, Pembroke huffed impatiently. “What do you want from me, specifically? More overtime?”
“Our cases back.” Jake blurted, aware that he was sliding further down a slippery slope to something monstrous. Pembroke raised an eyebrow. “And, that you stop calling people names.” Jake blinked. “No wait, I…you can’t blackmail me-”
“It’s not blackmail if we both benefit: you want something, I want something. That’s a symbiotic relationship.” Jake’s mouth hung open for a moment before he gathered himself.
“Ok, I totally know what that means. What do you want?” Pembroke shrugged, saying nonchalantly.
“All I want is some of that white ass of yours.” Jake gaped at him, genuinely speechless for a moment. The Vulture leant over, hand out but Jake flinched away.
“You’re not serious.” Jake croaked, wincing at how small his voice sounded. Those sharp eyes glinted.
“Oh, but I am.” Jake’s mouth clicked shut, desperately clamping down on the panicked ramblings trying to escape. “Nothing weird.” The Vulture went on, lowering his voice. “I just want to stick my wang in your ass and see if it’s as tight as I think it is. Maybe spank it a little, see if we can’t make it red-” Jake stood abruptly. He edged around the coffee table, avoiding eye contact as he blurted.
“Well, thanks for the terrible beer, let’s never-”
“You’re just delaying the inevitable, Jakey.” Pembroke called out. Jake laughed shrilly. “I’ll take all the cases except yours.” Jake’s hand stilled where it laid on the door handle. “I’ll laugh at your dumb jokes and praise every damn thing you do. All the while your friends are getting more and more paperwork, criticism, come ons…” Jake closed his eyes and tried to rally.
“You’re going to woo me into sleeping with you.”
“Come on now, Jake. I know you’re not an idiot.”
“I’ll tell them what you said, they’ll know what you’re doing.”
“Sure, and they’ll believe you, but after the 20th juicy case I take, the 100th hour of filing, the excellent nicknames I give them…you think they won’t wonder if Jakey cut a deal – he does so love being a detective and all, and well, Captain Pembroke really seems to like him.” Heart pumping furiously, Jake tried to order.
“And even if they don’t want to, they’ll start to resent you.” Jake hadn’t turned around, but Pembroke’s voice sounded closer. Jake was uncomfortably aware of sweat trickling down the back of his neck. “They’ll stop inviting you to things, start working cases with each other instead of you, stop smiling when they see you. Cos what’s the point? Jake don’t do nothing for us anymore.” Gulping, Jake turned and said evenly.
“They wouldn’t do that.” The Vulture was so close, Jake struggled to keep from shrinking away as the man leaned in closer.
“Bet you thought that about the guys at the 74.” The Vulture whispered in his ear. Jake’s blood ran cold. “I have contacts everywhere. They have a lot to say about you, Jakey-boy.” Trembling, Jake pressed his lips together to keep from making any noise. “Why would they keep being friends with you if you couldn’t help solve their problems? Have their backs? Be on their side? How could they trust you?” The Vulture leaned back to look Jake in the eye. “Way I see it: you have two choices: walk out and watch your friendships wither and die as everyone freeze you out until you’re begging me to give you scraps of affection. Or, stay and go in tomorrow and bask in your friend’s praise and approval.” He raised his voice and mocked. “Oh my God, Jake, you’re our hero.” Pushing out of his shock by the joke, Jake found his voice.
“Now you just, sound like a moron-idiot.” Jake scrambled, furiously telling himself to move. Why couldn’t he move?
“That’s what you are: an attention-whore. You can’t live unless someone is acknowledging your presence.” Jake wanted to point out the Vulture seemed to be describing himself, he wanted to punch the SOB in the face, he wanted to run and hide forever, but he just, couldn’t move. “You can blame the beer if you want, tell yourself you were forced into this, go ahead; but you want this.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “I see you, Jake. I know what you are.”
It’s not too late to leave. A voice in Jake’s head told him sensibly; it sounded a lot like Amy. You can come up with another plan, take him down and bring Holt back. No problem. It was a nice thought, but he and Amy had talked it through over and over: the befriending plan had been their best one. He’d hated to do it but had accepted the role to help his friends. Was this really that much different?
“Terms.” He said; his voice sounding alien to him. “There are, will be the…terms.” The Vulture grinned.
Amy sat at her desk, anxiously glancing up whenever the elevator opened. It was only 9:03, way before she should worry about Jake, but she’d had a bad feeling ever since he’d told her about the invitation to the Vulture’s den to ‘hang out’. Even though it was part of the plan, she’d been uneasy. Jake had not been looking forward to it, a grimace etched onto his face as he’d said goodbye. He’d gone back to his own place after, at least, she assumed he had as he hadn’t mentioned still being there when she’d broken and messaged him. It had been hours and he hadn’t sent her any updates. Not that they’d agreed on that, she’d just felt sick and jittery, waiting and waiting. When she’d caved and messaged, her anxiety had worsened the longer Jake went without answering. It took him almost two hours to respond.
‘Not sure if worked. See tomorrow.’ Hardly encouraging, but not much Amy could do. She asked if he wanted to talk and he said he just wanted to sleep. Amy had managed a few hours of sleep, in between agonising over what happened and what would happen. Now, after receiving no replies to her tentative morning texts, her anxiety was turned up to 11. Another few minutes went past, Amy gave up trying to work, instead looking between her phone and the elevator. Rosa came over to talk about something but quickly noticed Amy’s distraction. Amy explained in a low, worried voice. Rosa opened her mouth to respond but was interrupted by the elevator.
The Vulture walked out.
“He looks smugger than usual.” Rosa commented lowly. They watched as he came over.
“Morning ladies.” He greeted, his tone as slimy as ever but the words bordering on respectful. Once he was safely in his office with the door closed, Rosa muttered.
“Guess it worked.” Amy bit her lip. It was a good sign, but she wouldn’t be able to relax until she saw Jake. When he did eventually make an appearance though, Amy wasn’t reassured at all. His gait was a little off, even though he came in confidently, making small talk with Charles, laughing and joking. If Amy hadn’t been on alert, she might have missed the little hitch in his walk; she might have been distracted by his affectionate comment about the remains of her breakfast on her desk.
“Breakfast bagel? Efficient and tasty. Smort.” She replied automatically as she watched him slip off his bag and take off his jacket. There was a definite hesitation before he sat down, slowly, with a slight wince. He was injured and he was hiding it. Jake was famous for being a wuss when it came to pain and a little kid desperate to show off his cool scars. When he downplayed things it either meant they were serious enough to interfere with a case or embarrassing. As far as Amy knew, Jake didn’t have any cool cases – thanks to the Vulture’s douchebaggery – so that left shame.
“Looking a little stiff there.” She ventured casually. Jake’s shoulders tensed. “Did you get home okay?” Jake cleared his throat, tapping at something on his computer.
“Uh, no, nothing abnormal happened; just feeling that normal, Vulture-related nausea.”
“You were limping?” Something flickered in Jake’s eyes, lightening quick, before he deflated and leaned in, voice low.
“Alright, so,” he took in a deep breath, “there may have been a nun chuck incident.” Relieved that she was getting close to the bottom of the mystery and that it was sounding more goofy than serious, Amy raised an eyebrow. He huffed at her expression but then winced as he shifted in his seat. He said in a long stream. “So he had this set of nun chucks and when he asked me of course I said I was an expert and he had me demonstrate andIhitmyselfdownthere.” Amy grimaced in sympathy and let go of her worry, satisfied that Jake was fine. Though she wanted to find out more detail so she could speculate more accurately on how the Vulture would treat them-
“Santiago!” The Vulture called her. Exchanging a worried glance with Jake, she went to the Captain’s office. He nodded to a pile of case files. “Get these back to whoever.” Amy realised they were the files he’d swiped from the squad. She hesitated, half-thinking it would turn out to be a trick. Pembroke’s stare hardened. “Did I stutter? Now, Santiago.”
“Uh, sure, yeah, doing now.” She collected them with difficulty, staggering a little under the weight. When she left the office, Jake leapt up and helped her distribute the files, smiling brightly. He made a show of waving away the squad’s praise, his delight shining through his modest words.
“I mean Amy helped with the idea but it was all me who did it so, ya know.” Amy just shook her head and let him have it. He did have to explain the nun chuck incident a few times so it balanced out.
Over the next few weeks, the Vulture was still horrible and would order them to do stupid things, call them names and generally disparage them, but they kept their cases and the Vulture barely interfered. Jake had to laugh at his jokes and pretend to agree with him, but no more hangouts were required. “I think one crack on my nuts was enough entertainment for him.” Life was as good as it was going to get without Holt as their captain except…with all the station drama and some long cases, she and Jake hadn’t done the deed, so to speak. They’d made out and had snuggled, but both had been too tired or busy to actually go all the way. Thinking about it, it was a bit strange that Jake hadn’t brought it up. Not that she thought he’d be pushy or impatient, but she knew he had a healthy sex-drive and if she was feeling deprived... Their first time had been very memorable after all.
Then came one glorious night where they both got off work on time and she invited Jake round. They spent a pleasant time eating take out and watching a documentary on turtles. Jake would make silly comments and do voices for the animals but Amy could tell he was engaged in it. She ignored the part of her that cooed at Jake’s curiosity and thirst for knowledge, no matter how random his interests, and began nuzzling his neck. Jake’s hand on her shoulder tightened and he hummed.
“And now we see the phenomenon of watching motion pictures of cute animals arousing the female of the species.” Amy threaded her fingers into Jake’s hair and pulled his mouth down onto hers, successfully stopping the nature documentary commentary. Jake’s other hand came up to cup her jaw and together they shifted so Amy was in Jake’s lap. They made out in between stripping each other’s tops off until Amy panted.
“Yeah.” Jake replied huskily and picked her up. Hot. She thought fleetingly, wrapping her legs around his waist. From his whine, she knew he was struggling with her weight, though he soldiered on. There was one heart-stopping moment where he staggered and she thought they’d go over but he regained his footing and she didn’t complain as he half-collapsed onto the bed. He huffed from exertion. “Made it! No injuries.” Fondness peeking through her lust, she patted a bicep.
“You did very well.” He laughed.
“Gotta hit the gym more.” Libido rising again, she splayed her hands over his bare back and pulled him closer.
“We can both work out right here.” Jake hummed in approval and bent his head, kissing her passionately. Still kissing, they fumbled with their pants, rubbing and rutting and shimmying until they were both naked. Amy groaned as Jake kissed his way down her torso, hands rubbing her legs to the inside of her thighs. He’d gone down on her last time too and it was just as good as she remembered. She came with a rasping cry, panting and sighing as she enjoyed the afterglow. Jake sat up, grinning. “Draw.” She breathed and he grunted, pulling himself away to open the bedside table draw for a condom. Amy watched him, eyes half-lidded and stroked his flank with one hand, the other idly playing with one of her nipples. After a beat, she realised that Jake had frozen, gaze fixed on something in the draw. “What? Am I out?” She scrambled up. “I’m sure I restocked and made sure they were all in date.” He coughed and grabbed one.
“Er, no, it’s okay, I was just admiring how organised your sex draw is.” His words were teasing but the tone wasn’t right.
“It’s not a sex draw.” She defended reflexively.
“Uhuh.” He rejoined, the sceptical sound much more natural.
“So it’s got condoms and lube and a vibrator-”
“Two!” Jake interjected, unwrapping the condom and rolling it on.
“Well, a woman has needs.”
“For when there’s just not enough paperwork?” He teased, though he softened it immediately with a peck on the lips. She let him have that one, far more interested in guiding him into her. They both groaned as he sank in. Moaning, Amy brought a knee up to give him better access and he grunted, beginning to thrust in a steady rhythm.
“So good.” She gasped and he bent down to lick her collarbone. Soon, he picked up the pace and Amy let the sensations wash over and overwhelm her, not even knowing what she was saying. She came again, whole body fizzing in pleasure. Jake gasped and panted as he came too, face still buried in her neck. Happy and sated, she lazily petted his hair.
Then she frowned. Something was wrong. Jake hadn’t moved, almost like he’d dropped asleep, except that he was still breathing heavily. Shifting, Amy scooted back, ignoring the sensation of Jake sliding out of her, her attention on his eerie silence – save for his breathing. Was he hyperventilating.
As she half-sat up, he slumped a little to the side, face in the pillow. Then she noticed his knuckle-white grip on the sheets.
“Jake?” She asked tentatively. He sniffed.
“Yeah, just...” He tried before clearing his throat and finally letting go of the sheets. Slightly disturbed by his inability to finish the sentence. She lay beside him and put a hand to his cheek, dropping her voice to a whisper.
“Jake, what’s wrong?” He didn’t respond for a long moment. Slowly, he turned his face to her and she fought to keep herself from showing her surprise and confusion at his tears.
“I’m sorry.” He stammered. Alarmed as his face crumpled, she pulled him into a hug, murmuring comforting things.
“It’s alright, I’m here, you’re okay.” Eventually he relaxed a little and recovered enough to say.
“I don’t know what to do.”
“Whatever it is, you can tell me and I’ll help you figure it out.” He wiped his face, sniffed and pulled away, coughing. Calmer now, he looked her in the eye, though his expression was still pained.
“I fucked up. You’re gonna hate me.” Stomach in knots, she swallowed.
“You don’t know that, Jake. You can tell me anything.” With a soft, resigned sigh, Jake nodded.
“Okay, I’ll tell you.” She just nodded, never having felt that exact balance between relief and dread. Whatever it was though, she would be there.
Chapter 2: The Full Story
He knew the moment was coming. Deep down he’d known, as much as he’d tried to deny it, tell himself that he could keep it secret forever, lock it away with all of the other bad things. It had started when he’d been staring into Amy’s sex draw, looking at the bottle of lube and hearing the echo of a bottle snicking open, the hands on him suddenly rough and calloused and greedy. Amy’s voice had pulled him out of the flashback and he’d rallied, telling himself that he was the luckiest man in the world to have this with her and he couldn’t blow it. He’d tried to focus on her soft skin and curves covering hard muscles, her little hitches and gasps were so sexy and why couldn’t Jake keep him out?
He’d hidden his face and kept pushing on, digging his fingers into the covers and squeezing his eyes shut. He only vaguely registered Amy coming and his body came almost on autopilot, the rest of Jake’s brain occupied with breathing and holding back flinches.
She’d noticed, of course she had and he realised then that he’d have to tell her. No way she’d believe anything he’d be able to come up with in his current state. What’s more, he owed her the truth. He could justify lying about it all he liked but she trusted him and what asshole would present a façade, a fake person for someone else to love? She deserved to know who she was dating. It was just hard. He’d stammered his apology. Oh God, he cried internally as she’d held him, what would this mean? Would she report their Captain? Agree to keep quiet? Advise that he try and transfer? Leave Jake for cheating on her? That was almost too horrible to contemplate. At his pathetic whine she’d tried to reassure him, almost hurting him with how kind and compassionate she was being. That was definitely the last time she’d look at him like that.
Still, he had to suck it up and tell her. She deserved it and he deserved whatever she decided to do after she knew. Seeing him struggle with how to begin, she directed them both to dress in sleep sweats and sit on the couch with some camomile tea. Once settled, she let him think, only offering silent support. Although it wouldn’t make a difference, he wanted her to understand why, so he decided to start at the beginning.
“When I first made detective, I was assigned to the 74.” Amy winced. “It wasn’t as bad then, the Captain was okay. He shouted a lot but he didn’t hold grudges. My Lieutenant though, he was a piece of work. He pitted the squad against each other, iced cases with low-income victims, took credit for stuff we did, typical douchebag stuff. The others were his kind of people, not evil or anything, just used to playing his games. I tried really hard to fit in and we were never drinking buddies or anything but we had good working relationships, we had each other’s backs.”
He swallowed. It had been a long time since it had happened but the fear it had created still haunted him. Hell, it had caused this whole mess. “Then one of the detectives I was partnered with beat up a suspect. When I told the Lieutenant, he laughed in my face.” He dared a glance at Amy, saw her sympathetic anger. She squeezed his hand and Jake had to take a second to push the despair down. He had to get through it. He had to tell her. “The suspect threatened legal action and I wrote exactly what I saw on the report. The detective got suspended and I became the office outcast. No one would work cases with me, they all ignored me, or…” He shook his head, not wanting to get side tracked.
“I know that their respect wasn’t worth having, that I did the right thing, but I learned how crappy it was to try and be a detective on your own. I got good at it, but it sucked and I got into a few bad situations cos no one was watching my back. Anyway, point is, when I transferred to the 99 – my captain’s suggestion – and I started working there, under Terry with Boyle, and then Rosa and then you,” he put his other hand over Amy’s looking into her eyes. “I couldn’t believe how lucky I was, even if sometimes I slip back into bad habits and don’t ask for help when I need it. I was so lucky to be in a squad that had my back, I was…” He cleared his throat, willing his voice to stay steady. “I am scared to lose it, to mess up and ruin it again.” Amy bit her lip, obviously finding it difficult not to interrupt. Just, rip off the Band-Aid Peralta. “So when the Vulture became our Captain, I agreed to the plan to befriend him to protect what I had. I couldn’t let him take it.”
To his frustration, his eyes began to water and his voice wobbled as he pushed on. “I went to his place, that night, you remember.” Amy nodded, her face pale and fearful. Jake sniffed and choked out. “He knew what I was doing, he’d heard us in the breakroom. Scully butt dialled him.” Amy’s grip on his hand tightened and he used it to ground him. “And he, he said he’d give us back our cases and lay off if I gave him what he wanted and if…if I didn’t, he’d turn everyone against me.” Both of their grips were painfully tight by then, the tension in the air thick and heavy. “And I know it’s stupid, of course you’re not like those jerks at the 74 and you’d see through him and you wouldn’t blame me for anything he did but,” a sob escaped him and he whispered shakily, “I said yes.”
“Jake,” Amy’s voice was also wavering, “can I hug you?”
“Yes, please.” She gathered him up and held him as he wept. Jake felt the fear and shame and despair course through him. He closed his eyes and focused on Amy’s soft hands and kind words. He was safe, for now.
Amy hadn’t thought it possible to hate the Vulture any more than she already had. Apparently she’d been wrong. Listening to Jake’s story, hearing him fight to get the words out, to explain how he’d been backed into a corner and bullied into agreeing to his own rape, had broken her heart. As she tried to pour as much love and comfort into their embrace, stroking his hair calmly, her mind whirled. Jake hadn’t actually confirmed what the Vulture had wanted, but Amy put together Jake’s stiffness during sex with what she knew of that odious snake. Pembroke used his sexuality to control people: sexist comments or inappropriate touches employed to make himself feel powerful at the expense of others. Also, looking back, she’d spotted him looking smugly in Jake’s direction. Her detective brain supplied the reasoning that he would have demanded a high price for their cases and a general lack of harassment.
She closed her eyes and felt a few tears slip out. As much as it pained her to see him like that, she tried to focus on soothing Jake’s suffering, comforting him and looking after his needs. If she stopped to think about what had been done to her boyfriend, or her inadvertent role, she would explode or throw up, or both.
“I’m sorry I lied to you.” Jake said in a small voice. If it had been about anything else, she would have been angry, hurt, but she thought about her own dark, shameful secret. She considered how she would have reacted if someone had questioned her the morning after that dinner with her first Captain. Wouldn’t she have lied as well? Yes, she probably would have. She couldn’t be angry at him, not for any of it. Horrified it had happened, deeply ashamed that he’d had to try and deal with it alone, but not angry.
“It’s okay, I’m not mad about that.”
Jake was clearly exhausted once he was all cried out. They sat for a while until it was clear that he was about to fall asleep. Together they managed to get to the bed, any anxiety Jake may have felt about that presumably being swallowed by fatigue. He settled quickly and as much as Amy wanted to talk it over and help Jake process it all, she knew it’d only be hurting him to keep him awake. So she lay there, holding him in her arms and whispering that it would all get better, hoping she wasn’t lying.
Jake felt tired even before he’d woken properly. He groaned in complaint and snuggled closer to the warm, squishy thing he was holding onto. Wait…who? He shifted up cautiously and had to hold back a fond smile at the sight of Amy doing a crossword one handed, the other laid on his back. She glanced down at him, expression concerned.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” Turning over and flinging an arm over his eyes, he declared.
“Tiiired, wait.” He put his arm down, brain clicking into thinking mode. Why had Amy looked worried? He looked up at her and suddenly it all came back to him. “Uh, any chance that what I think happened last night was actually a really terrible, detailed dream?” Amy put away her crossword and shifted onto her side, head on her hand.
“Sorry.” She replied, tone caught between apologetic and light. Jake swallowed, telling himself that yeah it was bad and embarrassing and terrible but Amy was still there, she hadn’t kicked him out.
“What are you going to do?” He asked cautiously. She frowned.
“What do you mean?” Closing his eyes, he explained sadly.
“No.” The force of her declaration snapped his eyes back open. He looked up at her suddenly furious face in awe and a little fear. “You are not to blame. It wasn’t your fault.”
“I could have walked away.” He pointed out miserably.
“He used his power to manipulate you. He created the scenario, the circumstances to convince you. He knew exactly what he was doing.” Her voice had become bitter and angry. Jake felt hopeful that she seemed to be blaming the Vulture and not him. Though once she’d had more time to think about it, maybe she’d change her mind. The thought kicked his heartrate up. Watching him closely, she noticed and put a hand on his cheek.
“Whatever you need, I’m here.”
For how long? The dark voice in Jake’s head asked, but he squashed it and nodded at Amy gratefully.
“What time is it?” He asked, half-hoping for an excuse to leave.
“9:30 am.” She replied without looking at the clock. He gaped at her for a moment before she read his expression and suppressed a smile. “It’s Saturday.”
“Ah, so I guess you’ve got some thrilling reorganising to do?” Jake teased tentatively. Amy rolled her eyes and pushed at his shoulder playfully. The casualness soothed his nerves and he laughed a little from the relief.
“You wanna hang out here?” He smiled but sat up.
“I should probably do some laundry. Gah! Just remembered the laundry room is still flooded!” Amy stared at him.
“When did it flood? How?”
“Oh, two weeks ago some kids tried to wash some clothes covered in slime.” Amy winced and snarked.
“Wow, your apartment building is great.” He hummed in agreement, getting out from under the covers and standing up stiffly. “You could use the machines here. We can have a nice, cosy weekend, just you, me and clean clothes.” Her eyes lit up and Jake laughed as he pulled on his jeans.
“You’re thinking about how you’re going to fold them, aren’t you?” Amy hummed noncommittedly and then followed him up out of bed. They dressed and Jake went to his to get his dirty clothes (i.e. all of them) and they spent a pleasant time sorting and washing (Amy doing it and Jake supplying a running commentary of funny observations).
Once the beleaguered mother of two toddlers retrieved her sheets from the dryer, they were alone. Jake stared into his empty laundry basket and said bluntly.
“I’m not going to report it.” Amy froze where she was putting away her detergent before turning to face him.
“It’s your decision.”
“I know it might be, maybe a bit cowardly, but- huh?” He blinked, confused at her easy acceptance.
“It’s your business, your decision who you tell, if you tell.” She repeated firmly. Still taken aback, Jake pointed out reluctantly.
“He could do it again, to someone else, or tell people anyway.”
“That’s on him, not you.” Jake stood up from where he’d been leaning on the side, retorting.
“I’m a cop, it’s my job to stop crime!”
“Yes, but you’re also a victim.” She replied calmly, almost infuriatingly calmly.
“I’m not-!” Jake snapped before stopping himself. Amy’s expression softened as he slumped, looking at his hands. “Guess I am.” He attempted to say lightly, not quite succeeding. “Whoa, it is not fun. Would not recommend.”
“Jake.” Amy came over and placed a careful hand on his arm, moving closer when he didn’t flinch or otherwise show touch wasn’t welcome. “We’ll find a way to get Holt back, to get rid of him.” Jake felt a little better by the venomous way she pronounced that pronoun. He tried for a smile and was glad that it felt natural on his face. Thank God for this wonderful woman who could make him feel better in less than 24 hours, when he’d been struggling for weeks to put it all behind him.
“Thank you.” He said softly. Her eyes were a little shiny as she replied.
Chapter 3: Plotting
They brainstormed for the rest of the weekend, running through different scenarios. Amy had the good idea of going through all of the ways positions were decided or reassigned: employee performance, politics and employer bias.
“If we could get Wunch to owe us a favour, we could use it to get Holt back.” She theorised. Jake had acknowledged the point.
“Although it’d have to be a big one.” By Monday morning they didn’t have a solid plan except to rope in the others and look for opportunities. Both of them were tense on the car ride over. Amy’s grip on the steering wheel was so tight her knuckles were turning white.
“Okay, I feel like I should be more nervous than you.” Jake joked when they were a block away. Amy breathed out slowly and tried to let go of the tension in her arms and shoulders.
“Sorry, I just worry that I’m gonna tip him off that I know.” Jake pressed his lips together, contemplating how the Vulture might react if he discovered that. Whether he thought it a threat to his position or not, it wouldn’t be a reaction Jake would look forward to. He kept his breathing slow and deliberate.
“If it happens, we’ll deal with it.” Amy choked on a laugh.
“I’m meant to be supporting you.” Jake shrugged.
“A relationship is like a bridge; it makes more than one person to hold it up.” Amy distantly thanked New York traffic for allowing her to turn in her seat to stare at her boyfriend. “What? I can be deep!” She raised an eyebrow.
“Did you get that off a beermat?”
“What? No!” He protested in a tone which smacked of fake offence. After a beat he admitted. “I got it from the blurb of a self-help book, okay?” She nodded triumphantly, moving forward as the light went green.
“Wait, you got a self-help book on relationships?”
“No!” His denial was genuine this time, though he sighed. “I was just walking past a bookstore last week and…I had some time so I was just perusing the self-help section, casually, on a whim.” Amy fought to keep her face neutral as she realised the intention behind the front.
“Cool, cool, cool.” Jake’s lip twitched and he complained softly.
“You stole my line.” Deciding to change topic, Amy offered brightly.
“You know if you ever need help finding books, I’m your girl. I can hook you up!”
“What are you, a book dealer?”
“I know people.” Jake smiled.
“I’ll let you know.” Amy parked and deliberately started talking about her open cases. They managed to keep it natural from the elevator to the bullpen. Amy had ensured that they were on time (read, ridiculously early) so they were the first of the squad there and managed to hold on to their ‘everything-is-normal’ vibe. People came in and they day started normally.
Then the Vulture came in. Amy saw him first and tensed, causing Jake to tense reflexively. Amy straightened though and deliberately turned her attention back to her monitor.
“S’up ding-dongs?” Their Captain called derisively. Everyone grunted unintelligible replies and Jake forced a laugh. The Vulture continued into his office with no sign that he’d noticed anything. Jake and Amy both breathed a sigh of relief. Amy went to investigate a B&E with Rosa, only sparing a quick, worried glance at Jake, who smiled reassuringly. He didn’t want to tell anyone until he’d investigated but he thought he might have the answer to their problem. He told Terry about the case and then went to the PR office.
Captain Raymond Holt held back a heavy sigh as Wunch left him with the humiliating task of renaming ‘task force’ to be less aggressive. After a moment he decided to visit the restroom to put it off a little longer. As soon as he heard the bird call, he knew it was Peralta – who else could it possibly be? Even as the cautious side of his brain cringed at the anticipation of hi-jinks, the thrill-seeking side rejoiced. This only grew as Peralta revealed that the case he had was a resurgent serial killer. This joy did not dull his detective skills, however, and he worriedly noted the bags under Peralta’s eyes, the frenetic energy in his frame that was of a different quality to his usual childish enthusiasm. Peralta did not only want to solve this to fulfil a childhood dream – and Hold made a mental note to arrange mandatory therapy sessions when possible – he had another purpose; something more urgent, with higher stakes.
Later, as they stood in Wunch’s office being chewed out, he noticed something else. Peralta was in trouble for working a case without Pembroke’s permission and involving Holt (as he was outside of the squad), but Pembroke had a suspicion, the same suspicion as Holt – Peralta’s ulterior motive. After they had been dismissed with a week’s suspension, Pembroke followed.
“Peralta!” He called. Holt had nodded, turning the corner but hovering behind the wall to shamelessly eavesdrop. “What the Hell are you planning?” Instead of the expected fumbling, the detective answered coolly.
“I don’t know what you mean, sir.”
“Don’t be cute with me. You’re plotting to get your old Captain back. What’s the matter?” His voice lowered and Holt strained to hear him. “Don’t you like how I command you?” Hold frowned. That sounded like an innuendo, but he didn’t understand it. Peralta didn’t answer verbally as Pembroke wen ton. “I know you told your girlfriend. That wasn’t in our agreement.”
“Is that what you call it?” Peralta snapped angrily. Not his usual dramatic, self-indulgent expression of it; this was restrained, personal. Holt’s stomach twisted as he considered the Vulture’s words and their possible meaning.
“Anymore funny business,” the man interrupted his thoughts, “and I’ll need to discipline you. Trust me, Jakey, you would not enjoy it.” Then he murmured something unintelligible and began walking away. Holt hurried to disappear into his office. As he collected his belongings, his mind whirred – processing everything he’d heard. Pembroke had threatened Peralta with something worse than suspension – demotion? He’d also alluded to an ‘agreement’ which Peralta had disputed and been hurt by in some way. Had Pembroke threatened Peralta before? Threatened him into doing something against his will?
Holt was aware that Pembroke was a power-hungry bully and had got into trouble for sexual harassment in the past. He’d even seen the man touching Peralta inappropriately before. He froze. At the time, he’d dismissed it as a taunt with which to try to humiliate Peralta. After all, Pembroke had only made advances on female co-workers and that had been quashed after Holt and Jeffords had reported him for inappropriate language in the precinct. Added to other complaints and Pembroke’s superiors had forced him to attend sexual harassment training and he had a black mark on his record; another report could end his career so he’d been careful from then on.
Holt hadn’t even considered the idea that Pembroke might dare indulge in any inappropriate behaviour again. The risk was too great, but then again, people like that didn’t often change their behaviour without painstaking reconditioning or therapy – neither of which Pembroke had done. The dumb ones repeated their mistakes and the clever ones adapted… That was all speculation of course, he had no proof of anything untoward, just a cryptic conversation and Peralta’s strange tension. If Pembroke had broken police conduct, all Peralta would need to do was report it to Pembroke’s superiors…
Of course! Holt felt frustrated with himself as he realised. Chief Garmin… this case had been a failure of his. If Peralta could solve it and give Garmin credit, he’d owe Peralta a favour. Holt refused to lock in his theory but he hurried to pack his bag and catch up with his detective.
Amy’s cell rang. She jumped up, checking for the Vulture before answering, making her way to the break room.
“Jake! I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay.” He replied tightly, but she wouldn’t let herself off the hook.
“I just couldn’t pretend, I’m, God, Jake-!”
“Ames! Don’t apologise. None of this is your fault.” She bit her lip.
“Where are you?”
“Just walking.” He said vaguely. The misery and anxiousness in his voice broke her heart a little. “Been suspended.”
“What? For getting the wrong guy?”
“For involving Holt.” Amy longed to hold him, stroke his hair and lie wrapped up together for hours, no, for days. “You gotta tell me how it came out,” Jake said lightly, “did you yell at him?” Though the current situation was in no way funny, she tried to match his tone.
“No, nothing so dramatic. He tried to order me and Rosa to organise his birthday party.” Jake gave a strangled laugh, causing Amy to chuckle weakly too.
“You were dope.” Rosa said from behind Amy. She jumped and had to calm Jake by explaining quickly.
“Nothing, nothing! Just Rosa scaring me.” She put the phone on speaker so Rosa could reply.
“Amy was the scary one. She put the Vulture in his place, using paperwork.” After Jake made an appreciate and inquisitive noise, Rosa’s lips turned upwards and she recounted. “Yeah, she refused to do it and when he asked why…Well, you tell it.” Amy cleared her throat.
“I offered to get an insubordination report form so he could write down exactly which order I was refusing to follow.” Rosa laughed.
“That shut him up!” Amy smiled hesitantly, glad Rosa hadn’t picked up on Amy’s increased hatred or the calculating look the Vulture had given her. On the line, Jake laughed and said fondly.
“That’s my girl.” Despite the looming ramifications of the Vulture’s new knowledge, Amy’s heart fluttered. She hadn’t liked it when previous partners had referred to her possessively, but something about the way Jake said it was pleasing rather than creepy.
“I just hate unprofessionalism.” She rejoined awkwardly.
“Captain Holt?” Jake asked suddenly. Before either woman could respond, Holt’s voice came from the phone.
“Peralta, when you are finished with your call, could we talk?”
“Uh sure. Babe-”
“I heard. See you at mine later?” Amy suggested but Rosa spoke.
“Make that Shaw’s, we’re going for a drink to celebrate Santiago’s gumption.” Jake laughed before Amy could refuse.
“Alright, I’ll meet you there once Holt’s done with me.” They hung up and Amy raised an eyebrow at Rosa and her very uncharacteristic offer. Rosa just shrugged.
“Hey, badass bitches deserve a round.” Preening despite herself, Amy agreed and then went back to her desk, hoping she could keep from seeing the Vulture again that day. Or ever.
Chapter 4: Fix It
Jake was pleasantly surprised Holt had decided to say boo to Wunch and continue with the case anyway. Pleased and suspicious. Usually Holt required more time to reach a decision on dilemmas this important. And yet here they were not 15 minutes from being suspended and Holt had flagged him down in the street, proclaiming he wanted to finish the case. They went to Holt’s place and set up in the drawing room.
“I think we should change tactics, since direct links to the killer were a bust. Perhaps we should turn our attention to links between the victims.” Holt suggested. Jake nodded and began recreating the victim profiles from memory. Say what you like about his knowledge of ‘the classics’ and current events, and many people did, his retention when it came to cases was formidable – if he said so himself. They worked for a good hour, theorising and suggesting leads to follow. Jake got so into the puzzle that when Holt called him by his first name, it took a moment to register. He turned from where he’d been staring at the board. Holt’s expression was…odd.
Over the years, Jake had catalogued a number of Holt’s emotions through micro-expressions or the ‘flavour’ of his stare – Jake couldn’t explain it, though context usually helped. This one was new and Holt’s hesitation before he spoke began to unsettle Jake.
“I know.” With those two words, Jake’s whole body flooded with ice. How…? “I know you’re planning to give Garmin the credit in return for a favour.” Relief rushed in and Jake fought not to be too obvious about it. Damn. He recognised that look. “Though if there were something else bothering you, I hope know that you can talk to me.”
And there Jake was conflicted. On the one hand, no! It would be so much harder to forget the whole thing if another person knew, to say nothing of the deep shame he’d feel of Holt hearing about his cowardice.
On the other hand, telling Amy had given him some relief and wasn’t this something you would tell your surrogate father? He doubted Holt would stoop to a hug, but he might pat him awkwardly on the back as Jake cried. Because he would cry, Jake could already feel his eyes prickling. Except, what if their plan fell through and they were both stuck? No way Holt wouldn’t push him to report and he knew he couldn’t do it.
“Thanks.” He managed to reply finally. “I’ll keep that in mind.” Holt accepted his answer and looked at his watch.
“It is only three in the afternoon but since we are technically off duty…” He opened the globe and Jake grinned before something clicked in his head.
“Alcohol.” Holt raised an eyebrow. “None of the victims had any alcohol.”
“Teetotal?” Jake nodded.
“Maybe, yeah. Ugh, I didn’t check if any of them went to AA.”
“We’ll do it now.” Holt said decisively. They worked together and found an AA group in common, better: the leader had a juvie record. Jake whooped and Holt smiled without smiling. They arrested him as he was leaving for work, Jake disappointed Holt hadn’t agreed to wait to apprehend him at the creepy doll factory. To compensate, Jake started crafting a cooler version of the story to tell later.
Holt supervised the booking of the perp while Jake went to Garmin to strike the deal. His palms were sweaty and his heart was beating frantically. He was sure the chief could see right through his casual front, but if he did, he didn’t show it. He agreed to Jake’s terms easily and they even shook hands. Though Jake decided not to include the chief’s slight grimace at the clammy hands when he retold the story.
As he made it out onto the street he felt impossibly light: his tummy fizzy, positively giddy. He remembered to send Holt a text with the good news before heading to Amy’s. Garmin had said he’d let Jake know what would happen with the suspensions so he was off-duty until further notice. It was still a few hours before she’d finish work and he wanted to chill for a bit. Her apartment was superior to his in every way, though he’d never, ever tell her that. He let himself in with the key she’d given him the morning after his confession, so he could crash there if he was feeling lonely or anxious.
In deference to Amy’s high standards of order and cleanliness, he toed off his shoes and hung up his jacket before collapsing onto the couch. He closed his eyes for a moment and woke much later, the sky dark with street lights turning on. Yawning, he checked his phone and saw some messages. He smiled to see the photos and supportive messages about his girlfriend from Rosa and Gina (well, Gina was kind of supportive). Despite Amy’s cool, professional exterior on the job, he knew that she wanted to do better in social spheres and Gina and Rosa could be very judgemental sometimes. He replied to them with a torrent of emojis and gifs, weighing up if he could be bothered to join them, when someone knocked on the front door.
Figuring it was probably Ernie or some other friendly neighbour, Jake left his phone on the coffee table and hauled himself up, opening the door without checking the peephole. The next moment he was on the floor, cradling his cheek reflexively. The pain sprang up belatedly and then he recognised his attacker. Shit! He scrambled up to his hands and knees, only to be kicked in the stomach. He wheezed, before lunging and yanking the Vulture’s ankles towards him. The Vulture yelped, hitting his head on the door frame as he went down. Jake pushed away and staggered to the coffee table, falling onto his knees and snatching up his phone. He fumbled to unlock the screen and saw the last message he’d sent when the Vulture smacked the phone out of his hand and pulled his head back by his hair. Jake cried out, eyes watering, and he scrabbled against the arm wrapping around his neck. Hot, boozy breath bared down on him as he writhed, trying to break the hold. Panic set in as he was slowly choked, head spinning and stomach rebelling. His vision began to go dark, strength failing.
Suddenly, the grip relaxed and he collapsed to the floor, gasping desperately. He couldn’t fight as the Vulture cuffed his hands behind his back. All he could do was stare at his phone, face down under the couch, taunting him with its useless proximity. Grunting, the Vulture got up, panting. Jake felt a flash of pride at winding him. From his position on the floor, he wiggled onto his side, scanning the room and trying to come up with a plan. Why couldn’t he have been at Rosa’s? No doubt she had knives secreted everywhere. The closest thing was the coffee table. Jake couldn’t see the top of it from his position, so he thought back: there were magazines and some kind of glass ornament. If he knocked it over, it might make enough noise to attract attention. Supposing that no one had heard the fighting, a crash could make them concerned enough to call for help. He’d have to wait for the right moment though; when he heard a door close or footsteps.
Plan formed, he watched the Vulture’s feet warily, trying to keep calm and not think about what the man wanted. He was dragged up to his knees, the Vulture looming above him, still out of breath.
“You’re gonna undo whatever you did.”
“News sure does travel fast!” Jake tried to say, his sore throat only producing half of the required sounds. The Vulture fisted a hand in Jake’s hair, wrenching it painfully as he leaned in and growled.
“I am not messing around, Peralta.” Should have reported him, Jake thought numbly.
“Can’t.” He coughed out, trying to act confident. The Vulture had always been careful about his bullying, never crossing the line into overt harassment – at least nowhere in earshot of a superior, but now…Now he was pissed off and drunk. Apparently risking his job was worth putting Jake in his place, making him suffer, reasserting dominance. The Vulture pulled his hair harder, dragging an involuntary grunt from Jake’s abused throat.
“Yes you can and you will. Call whoever you need to call and fix this!” A crazed laugh escaped Jake, they had different definitions of ‘fix’. Maybe he should play along, buy some time until Amy got home…oh God, Amy! She would be drunk and the Vulture had his gun – and a hostage. Torn between playing along, which would risk Amy getting caught in the crossfire, and irritating the Vulture into hurrying this whole revenge thing along, Jake didn’t respond to the command. The Vulture snarled and threw Jake to the ground, ignoring Jake’s cry at the impact forcing the handcuffs to dig into his wrists and back.
His captor paced for a few seconds as Jake strained his ears to hear anything outside in the hall. The breather ended too soon though, the Vulture crouching over him, holding his head still as he whispered his new plan. He clapped a hand over Jake’s mouth before he could scream.
Chapter 5: Just Jake
Rosa knew she had work the next day so she should probably call it a night, but she was curious to see if she could solve a puzzle which had been bothering her: Santiago. Whilst she hadn’t ever claimed to like the Vulture, the perfectionist and stickler for rules had tolerated him as Captain in a way the others hadn’t. Santiago respected authority the most of all the squad, even when it was wielded by an asshole. Follow unquestioningly? No. Actively work to undermine? Yes. Show disrespect? Never. Not like she had shown it earlier. What had changed? Santiago hadn’t been showing any of this backbone in the weeks before, why now?
So Rosa was plying her with drinks and waiting for an opportunity to poke. Gina was currently halfway through a hilarious story about her owning a stuck-up assistant to another Captain when Rosa’s phone rang. It was Jake. She answered it and put it on speaker.
“Hey Jake, you gonna join us this century?” She said loudly, glancing at the other two to make sure they were following. Amy brightened and Gina grinned. Jake didn’t answer. Amy frowned, leaning in.
“Jake?” Rosa could hear noises coming from the phone, concern began to creep up on her. Gina made to speak but Rosa held up a hand, instead straining her ears. She heard a pained cry and then someone was growling unintelligible words. She knew that voice. Amy gasped and Gina went white. Then the voice came closer to the phone and they could understand.
“First, I’m going to drag you into your girlfriend’s bedroom and fuck you so hard you’ll forget your own name. Then, I’m gonna find the little bitch and fuck her with your blood still on my cock.” Rosa barely registered the muffled yell which followed, snapping into action.
“Gina, call everyone. Tell them to go to Amy’s apartment. Amy,” Amy’s mouth was hanging open, grip dangerously tight on her glass, “come with me.” She slipped her phone into her top pocket and lead Amy out to her motorcycle. She helped Amy put on her spare helmet and then put on her own, purposefully focusing on driving quickly but safely; trying to distract herself from the churning in her gut, the dread of what they’d find. The gun in her holster felt heavy but she concentrated on the road.
It took seemingly an age to get there. As soon as Rosa pulled up outside, Amy flung herself off and bolted up the stairs.
“Santiago!” Rosa called, cursing as she turned off the ignition and locked the wheel in a few swift moves. She scooped up the discarded helmet and stashed both under the inner stairwell before rushing after Amy. After sprinting up the stairs, she caught up with Amy who had her gun drawn and was unlocking her door quietly. Rosa drew her own gun and remained silent, nodding at Amy’s glance. Amy inched in and cleared the living room, Rosa following. The tension was almost unbearable. Then a grunt from the bedroom snapped their attention. Amy marched forward and kicked the door open.
“Hands where I can see them.” She ordered, voice hard and cold. Rosa looked in over her shoulder. The Vulture had his pants around his knees, leaning over…oh God, Jake. The Vulture grimaced but raised his hands slowly, recovering his composure.
“Wanna join in?” He taunted. Amy’s grip on her gun tightened. “I got him all warmed up-”
“One more word and I will shoot you.” Rosa suppressed the shiver of fear she felt from Amy’s tone. The Vulture paused, as if weighing up how seriously to take the threat. Amy spoke again. “Get. Off. Him.” The Vulture shifted and Jake whimpered, distracting Amy for a split second. The Vulture lunged but Rosa stepped in and shot him in the chest. He yelped and fell down, hard. Rosa heard shouting from behind them. She put a hand on Amy’s shoulder and instructed calmly.
“Amy, why don’t you go help Jake? We’ve got this.” Amy jumped a little but nodded and put away her gun, going over to the bed. Rosa ducked out and updated Sarge. “The Vulture’s down, help me lift him?” The Sarge holstered his weapon and entered the bedroom, hesitating as he took in the scene. Amy had covered Jake with a sheet but Rosa hadn’t touched the attacker so it was pretty obvious what had happened. For a moment, Rosa thought the Sarge would explode or hit something, but he just took in a steadying breath and slammed on a professional mask.
Together they wrangled the Vulture to the couch and half-way decent. They cuffed him and used a tea towel to put pressure on the wound. It was high up, just above his collar bone so didn’t look too serious. Not that Rosa cared.
Boyle and Holt burst in, looking worried (almost panicked in Boyle’s case.) At Holt’s questioning look, Rosa explained shortly. “He lunged at Santiago so I shot him.” Boyle made for the bedroom but Rosa stopped him. “Amy’s with him, give them a minute.” As if called, Amy appeared, took in the scene and, ignoring the Vulture completely, said softly.
“Someone needs to get Jake a change of clothes.” The sack of crap barked a laugh and Rosa had to fight the urge to pull out his tongue.
“Shut up.” Terry ordered, his huge frame seeming larger when poised over the Vulture’s, keeping pressure on the wound. Boyle volunteered, saying unsteadily.
“Call me if you need anything else.” And he left. Amy retreated back to the bedroom and the Vulture groaned.
“I’ll have your job for this.” He threatened Rosa, though his voice was weak.
“No, Pembroke,” Holt interjected, “it is you who will be stripped of your rank and jailed for your crimes.”
“Please,” the Vulture scoffed in between winces, “he won’t press charges. I didn’t do anything to him that he didn’t want-ah!” He yelled.
“Oops.” The Sarge spat out and lessened the pressure on the gunshot wound. Luckily the paramedics arrived and took over.
“Jeffords.” Holt called. “Do you think you can escort Pembroke to the hospital without any incidents?”
“I can if they knock him out.” Sarge muttered darkly, but he nodded when Holt just stared at him flatly.
“Through and through. He’ll live.” One of the paramedics reported.
“Great.” Rosa murmured. Sarge escorted them out, promising to update them as to when he could bring Pembroke to the precinct. One paramedic slipped into the bedroom to assess Jake but came out quickly.
“I advise he get tested, but he doesn’t need hospital.” Holt thanked them and they left. Once alone, Rosa found herself looking around the apartment, cataloguing the skewed coffee table and smashed glass beside it.
“With your and Santiago’s testimony it should be an open and shut case. Though we should collect evidence just in case.” Holt said and Rosa wondered if he was saying it for her sake or his own. The next few hours were full of cataloguing evidence and taking statements, namely hers, Gina’s and Amy’s, all done in Amy’s neatly arranged kitchen. When Amy came out to give her statement, she asked Rosa to sit with Jake. Rosa felt sick – and then promptly ashamed of her reaction.
“It was his request,” Amy explained, “so I don’t think he’s looking to talk just yet.” Rosa nodded curtly and went in.
Jake was lying on his side, wrapped up in a blanket on the mattress protector. Amy must have stripped the sheets off at some point. After a moment of hesitation, Rosa went and sat near his head. A glance of his face revealed that he was awake but his expression was blank. Rosa faced away from him, leaving a hand resting lightly on the bed. Neither of them spoke. Eventually, there was some shifting and tentative fingers found her hand. She closed her own fingers around them and they stayed like that for a long time. Rosa let her eyes shut, let the terrible images play in her head, allowing it all to wash through her as she listened to Jake’s soft breaths. Of all the people she knew, Jake was the least deserving of this shit. He was one of the good ones; she’d known it since her third day at the Academy.
This was one of the worst days of their lives, but they were alive and they would have more days to work on everything else.
The confirmation of Holt’s theory concerning Pembroke did not bring him any satisfaction. Instead he felt vaguely nauseous and intensely wrathful. He wished to be back in medieval times, when cruel, torturous executions were employed with morbid glee. How he would have smiled to hear the man screaming from inside a Brazen Bull or see the guts pulled out of him. Alas, he would have to settle for sending him to the worst ranked jail for the rest of his miserable life.
Holt was currently in the stairwell of Santiago’s apartment, on the phone to Chief Garmin, ensuring Pembroke’s immediate dismissal from his post. Garmin, as the other brass likely would be, was highly irritated by the ‘mess’ and how the press would use it to criticize the PD. Holt didn’t give two figs and almost said so, only just refraining. Garmin promised to update him later and hung up. Holt grit his jaw but only allowed himself a moment of disgust before returning to Santiago’s apartment.
The team had completed their work quickly and efficiently, leaving only Santiago, Diaz and Peralta. Boyle and Gina had delivered some supplies for Peralta before leaving for the precinct, ready to push through all the paperwork. Jeffords had reported that Pembroke had been stabilised and discharged into the 99’s custody. Holt had almost ordered Jeffords to deliver Pembroke elsewhere, not wanting to sully the precinct with his presence, but then he was cautious of the snake somehow talking his way out or using one of his contacts. Sometimes well-connected men turned out to be ‘innocent’ after a few phone calls.
Holt was greeted by Santiago sweeping up the shattered glass, still in her work clothes, hair falling out of her bun. She gripped the broom tightly, eyes glazed and lips parting slightly, as it talking to herself. Holt sympathised. He didn’t know how he could cope if anything similar happened to Kevin.
“Santiago, how about you take a moment to freshen up? I can take over.” Santiago started at the sound of his voice and stared at him before shaking herself.
“Oh no, I couldn’t let you do that Captain. I’m fine, I just need to…” She looked around at the mess. “I just need to…” Her voice wobbled. Holt put a hand on the broom.
“You can afford to rest a moment.” He told her gently. She looked up at him silently, eyes shining and expression distraught. Carefully, he eased the broom out of her hands. Her arms fell to her sides and she bit her lip. Before Holt could say anything further, Diaz and Peralta came out of the bedroom.
Peralta appeared pale and shaky but his expression was calm. He looked Holt in the eye.
“Peralta.” Holt replied, unsure if there was an appropriate way to address what had happened. However, Peralta merely accepted his greeting and cleared his throat.
“I’m ready to make my statement.” Santiago made a noise.
“Are you sure?” Peralta turned his gaze to her and nodded.
“Yeah. Captain, if you wouldn’t mind?” Holt’s stomach turned and for a second he considered refusing the request, but Peralta’s eyes belied his neutral statement. It was important to him to give the statement to Holt. How could he refuse?
“Of course,” he glanced around, “Santiago, could we make use of your kitchen table?”
“Of course, sir! I’ll uh, just wipe down the sides-”
“I’m confident the current level of cleanliness is sufficient, Santiago.” Holt interrupted her not unkindly. “After all, we are used to the interrogation rooms at the precinct.” Santiago laughed a little manically.
“Yep. Correct. No criminals have been-” She choked, obviously thinking, as they all probably were, of Pembroke.
“Ames.” Peralta spoke suddenly. “Would you mind getting us some hot chocolate, from the Polish place?” She blinked and wavered. Diaz grabbed Amy’s keys from the coffee table.
“I’ll come with, need to check my bike hasn’t been towed.” Santiago sent another questioning glance to Peralta and he nodded reassuringly. She and Diaz left. Peralta took a deep breath and went to sit and the kitchen table, fidgeting and shifting to get comfortable. Holt joined him, retrieving his notepad from the inner pocket of his jacket and licking the pen nib – a nervous habit he instantly scolded himself for. Peralta was on edge enough as it was. Get your head in the game, Raymond! Peralta didn’t seem to notice and after a stretch of silence, Holt realised that it wasn’t Detective Peralta in front of him, but Jake.
One of the most aggravating aspects of Peralta’s personality when Holt had first joined the 99 had been his overly emotional displays and remarkably thin skin – for an NYPD Detective. Although clearly accustomed to scolding or having to apologise for his behaviour – at least to his peers – any returned disrespect or dislike affected him deeply. All his energy and bluster, dramatics, had been laughably easy to see through, meaning Holt had analysed him and how to train him very quickly. It seemed that Holt had underestimated Peralta’s emotional resilience, however. No matter what crazy antics or heartfelt self-realisations he’d been going through, Peralta had always been that: Detective Peralta. His formidable mind and determination acting like anchor points, as sure as true North.
Now, slumped in Santiago’s kitchen, dressed in soft gym clothes, pale and wane; he was just Jake. A victim. A survivor of a horrific attack. This was true vulnerability and Holt was honoured to be allowed to see it. Honoured and greatly saddened. They sat in silence for a while until Jake rallied.
“Okay, so…this all started a few weeks ago…”
The ride on Rosa’s motorbike was worse the second time. Maybe, Amy speculated, because she had been so focused on saving Jake before, she hadn’t had brain space to think about the terrible and unnatural danger of it all. After the threat had been cuffed and lead away, she’d been teetering on the edge of a panic attack and the loud roaring and fierce winds weren’t helping. She dismounted shakily and fumbled with the helmet straps. Once she’d got it off and Rosa had stowed everything away safely, she followed Rosa into the deli. It was open late, the owners were friendly and the food was very good – usually going there and smelling the cooking calmed Amy after a long day. Not tonight.
Rosa saw her distraction and ordered for them all. Amy thought about advising that Holt probably would want something different but then decided she didn’t have the strength. As they waited, Rosa asked quietly.
“How you holding up?” Amy blinked and then took stock. She felt jittery and light-headed, like she’d just chased a perp 10 blocks and finally had him on the ground and cuffed. Her heard lurched as she thought of Jake, of how they’d found him, of how quiet and closed-off he’d been as she’d helped him get cleaned up; of how hard the next few days, weeks, months, maybe even years, would be for him.
“I’m still up.” She concluded and Rosa grunted in understanding. “You?” Rosa looked surprised at the question.
“I don’t have any right to freak out, why would I be freaking out?”
“You did just shoot a man.” Rosa shrugged.
“Wouldn’t call that piece of shit a ‘man’.” Amy conceded the point but still made a note to keep an eye on her. She didn’t know if Rosa was currently dating, if she had anyone specific to look out for her. Hmmm, she decided to liaise with Gina. Together they could make sure she really was okay. Their order came up and Rosa paid. Amy dithered. Now she’d had time to collect herself, she realised what Jake’s request had really been for. Had they given him enough time to make his statement? She didn’t want to interrupt them, to force Jake to box up his emotions and put on a brave face. Rosa saw the dilemma on her face and suggested casually. “I’ll go slow so we don’t spill anything.” Amy nodded gratefully and they set off, pace set as: leisurely.
It had been so difficult to explain everything to Amy that Jake had anticipated struggling to find the words to tell Holt. Happily, he’d been proven very wrong. The story almost poured out of him; disjointed in places but mostly coherent. He avoids looking at Holt directly instead scanning Amy’s kitchen, affection colouring his assessment of the neat and old-fashioned furnishings.
Once or twice Holt makes a small noise but when Jake pauses and looks, Holt merely nods for him to continue. Afterwards, when he’d covered everything, he feels lighter; still full of shame, hurt, fear and a strange kind of tiredness duking it out inside him, but also a little lighter. Holt finished writing, capped the pen and put it down carefully, closing the book with an air of finality. Looking closer, Jake realises that something was bothering the Captain. Well, of course this was all a mess, probably an administrative nightmare. He held his breath, waiting for the stern admonishment to begin but instead Holt sighed. Sighed! Then he looked Jake in the eye and said.
“I’m proud of you, Jake.” Jake’s head filled with fuzzy, staticky sound as he stared. What? “It takes a lot of courage to share intimate pain, to open yourself to the possibility of further hurt. It is not something I am particularly apt at doing myself.”
“Uh, well, sir, it’s not like you’d ever end up in this situation.”
“False. Pembroke used his power over you and forced himself on you – that can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, your experience is not unique.” Jake gulped, thinking about all the sexual violence cases he’d handled over the years. He thinks again how perhaps the universe was punishing him for not being brave enough to report it the first time. The front door interrupts the dark thought and he smiles at his girlfriend’s tentative expression, accepting the hot chocolate with as big a smile he can manage. She smiles back at him and the four of him sit for a while, drinking and talking about inconsequential things.
Looking around at his friend’s quiet and non-judgemental support, Jake felt tears prick his eyes. Even he knew that he would need time to process and move past, could almost feel the new phobias and strange coping mechanisms manifesting as he sat there. The dark shadow of what happened lurking in the corner of his mind. It was going to be tough, maybe the hardest thing he’d ever done, but with friends like his? He could do it.
The first thing Holt saw when he left the elevator was the back of Peralta’s head. Hot automatically thought – thank the Lord for Amy Santiago. Then, he remembered it was Peralta’s first day back after his extended leave. Holt glanced at the other squad members that were in and they exchanged nods – everyone had remembered ‘Operation Normalcy’. Santiago noticed him.
“Morning Captain Holt!” She greeted brightly. Holt returned the greeting and Peralta turned in his chair.
“Captain Holt! You’re looking as fine as ever. Did you do something to your hair?” Holt stopped and assessed Peralta properly. He appeared well-rested and confident, any nerves slight enough to hide. Holt thought about Peralta’s white-lipped expression at Pembroke’s sentencing. Luckily the monster had plead guilty so Peralta hadn’t needed to testify, though he seemed to have gained some closure. Seeing his detective’s progress, Holt replied playfully.
“I just woke up this morning in an excellent mood for some reason.” Peralta’s eyes brightened.
“Same.” He declared. As Holt nodded and continued to his office, he thought about how much Peralta had grown since their first meeting and how he had changed as well. He would never have joked with an employee all those years ago and yet there they were. After settling, he sat in his chair and closed his eyes a moment to soak up the sounds of the squad working in the bullpen. They were having a conversation about something, possibly a new bet or some other hijinks in the works. Opening his eyes, he saw Santiago was hovering behind Peralta, a hand on his shoulder and her expression fond as she looked down at him. Peralta was smiling back at her.
Raymond allowed himself a small twitch of his lips and then got to work.
Thanks for reading!