“And to think,” Jake says, murmuring in Holt’s ear. “You almost passed this off to another precinct.”
Holt doesn’t even react; the man is smooth. “I still might have to.” He takes a sip of his martini. “There is no need for your hand to be… there.”
Jake chuckles and moves away. “Oh, Robert,” he coos, using Holt’s undercover name (Holt had claimed a simple name change was best), “I always forget that you’re so shy in public.”
“And I often forget how demonstrative you can be, James.” (Jake had wanted to be ‘Tiberius,’ but apparently that would have been ‘too difficult’ for the fake ID people. Yeah, right.) Holt gives him a fond smile—so genuine and different from his usual manner that it almost knocks Jake back. Holt strokes the edge of a frame. “I believe I will try to find out if our charming host is willing to part with this one.”
Of course they are, the whole point of this cocktail party is to sell stolen art to the rich-but-undiscerning. “Oh, can you get me one of those ‘can-aps’ while you’re over there, sweetie?”
Holt nods pleasantly and walks away, drifting through the throng of tuxedos and tailored suits.
“’Can-a-pes’,” says the voice in his ear—Boyle in the surveillance van. “Did you even pay any attention at my briefing? Or read any of my notecards?”
Jake rolls his eyes at the painting he’s pretending to admire, some picture of a farmer pretending to be George Washington or something. “Who’s the one who got picked to go undercover, Boyle? Me or you?”
“I should have been the one—I was the perfect choice. I know the art scene, I know exactly how to behave at a cocktail party…”
Jake smiles and nods at another couple who want to pass by—an older man and a younger man, similar to the roles he and Holt have taken on—and pretends to admire a metallic sculpture instead. “But you can’t pull off boy toy and you know it.”
“Damn my superior artistic knowledge but average looks!”
Boyle doesn’t mention the fact that he actually had been in Jake’s place—that in preparation for this assignment, he couldn’t stop giggling when Holt called him his boyfriend. Amy tried to volunteer (“I’m an excellent crossdresser, sir!”) but was shot down immediately (“Detective Santiago, you will be in a room full of gay men, they will know the truth in a… microsecond.”). Sergeant Jeffords begged off (“You know, it is possible to look too good in a suit.”).
“Well, no sense in moaning now, be the good little birdie on my shoulder, and tell me if this metal thingy is genuine or a knock off?”
Jake can hear some papers shuffling, tapping at a keyboard. “Give me a second…”
Jake feels the presence of a newcomer before he hears the voice. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”
He turns to see a handsome middle aged man, so well-dressed that it makes Jake want to pull on the lapels of the suit picked out by Holt’s husband Kevin himself (“If my Raymond is going to be out with a new piece of arm candy, he needs to look the part.”). But that might mess up the lapel camera broadcasting to Boyle. Jake decides to go for a cringe. “To tell you the truth, I don’t really know the first thing about art. This…” —he waves his hands about ineffectually— “is more my boyfriend’s scene than mine.”
Boyle chokes a little in his ear. “Oh great, I didn’t brief the captain on this stuff! Why do I even bother…?”
“Ah…” The man steps in closer, gently running his hands an inch above the surface of the sculpture. “Well, then, do you see how the artist mimics the fluidity of water with his lines?”
Jake tries not to shy away from the man’s attentions—he might be the key to catching the art thieves—but in a weird way, it feels like he’s cheating on Holt. Should he be flattered or repulsed? “It makes me kinda thirsty, I guess.”
“Thirsty?” Holt is suddenly there, smiling and holding a flute of champagne and a miniature canape on a translucent plate. “Seems I came just in time.”
The man steps back just as Jake takes the food and drink. “Is this your charming boyfriend? Robert, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, nice to see you again, Gary. I see that you and James have become acquainted.”
Gary looks Jake over once before answering. “I also see that you and I once again share a similar taste in art.”
Holt reaches toward Jake and pulls him in (protectively!). “Clearly.” He turns to Jake, a note of possessiveness in his voice, “Did you... like this one, my darling?”
Jake shrugs a little. “It’s interesting, but I don’t know, will it really go with the drapes in our bedroom?”
“Do you even notice what drapes are in our bedroom?” Holt asks with a chuckle. “You like the lights off.”
Jake laughs at the innuendo, while shivering at Holt’s low tone of voice. Is that the captain’s sex voice? He's never thought of Holt having a bedroom voice before (really, he's always just been The Captain), and it kind of messes with Jake's head a bit, seeing this new side of him. Even Boyle blows out a breath in response. It reassures Jake somewhat.
By the time he nudges Holt with an affectionate elbow, Gary has moved on to some other prey. “Are you all right?” Holt asks him.
“Wasn’t anything I couldn’t have handled.” The opening of a door on the other side of the room catches his eye—the host, Devin, is ushering a couple from the party through with a surreptitious glance around. That’s not the first time that’s happened. He nods over at it. “Did you notice anyone using that door while you were over there?”
Holt carefully takes a look, then shakes his head. “No one entered or exited while I was nearby.”
“What if the real stolen art sale is back there and not out here?”
“Nothing out here has been particularly noteworthy that I can tell,” Boyle puts in.
Holt presses his lips together thoughtfully. “Good observation, detective.”
Jake grabs Holt’s hand. “Let’s check it out, loverboy!” He doesn’t protest when Jake drags him in that direction.
A half hour of randomly standing in front of various paintings as bait (“You know, Robert, I love it, but I don’t love love it.”) has yielded nothing. Not even a glimpse behind the door. Jake heads toward it with a, “Forget this, I’m having a look.”
Jake hears, “I do not think that is a good—” behind him, but he’s already slipping through the door.
There’s a hallway, empty of people, with a few bookshelves. At the other end, there’s another door, which is closed. He starts to walk toward it when the door he had walked through reopens. He swivels. “Oh hey, is the men’s room this—?”
But it’s Holt, his emotionless face at odds with his words. “Hurry, we must create a distraction. The host is heading this way.” He takes a deep breath and starts to yell, “How dare you flirt with Gary that way! Do you think he can give you what you want better than I can?!”
Jake’s eyes go wide, impressed and a little scared. He knows that Holt doesn’t actually argue with Kevin this way, he’d overheard them in the bedroom at Holt’s party. But Holt’s hiding some massive acting chops behind that Robbie the Robot mask. He’s really getting into the role tonight, and Jake’s heart thrills as he tries to match him parry for parry. “Can’t he? I’m stuck at this party with you, trying to find just one, one thing, I tell you, that really speaks to me, but do you care?!”
The door opens, and Holt gets louder. “I care! I care so much it makes my… blood boil... to think of you with another man!”
Jake steps toward Holt. “You’ve got a funny way of showing it!”
“You want me to show you?!” Then Holt pulls him into a face-meltingly passionate kiss. Jake’s brain almost short-circuits (even though Holt’s supposed to be the robot—the thought would make him laugh if he could think straight), and finds one leg rising, completely of its own accord. He dissolves into the kiss completely, and to his surprise, Holt goes with it.
Somewhere in the distance, Boyle is buzzing, “Uh, guys, what’s going on, everything just went black on the lapel cam...?”
Devin appears suddenly at the door, and Jake stumbles back a step from the captain. “I’m sorry for intruding, but I couldn’t help but overhear. I do have a few other pieces, kept separate from the main collection, that you might find to your taste. Are you interested?”
“Oh, most certainly,” Holt says, putting an arm around Jake to steady him. “Do show us.”
“Do,” Jake manages to croak out before he’s led away.
Later, when Devin and his cronies are being processed at the station, Jake keeps his head down over the paperwork, still processing. The rest of the crew on duty must sense the awkwardness in the air, because suddenly three figures are looming over him. When he doesn’t react immediately, a coffee cup slams onto the desk in front of him, almost sloshing onto the reports.
“So...” He looks up to see Gina on the left, face full of barely-controlled schadenfreude.
“How bad did you screw this up?” Rosa, in the middle, finishes, arms folded over her chest. “I would’ve asked Boyle, except he shot out of here faster than a bullet from a Glock 19.”
“Seriously!” Amy adds, on the right. “Holt didn’t even so much as glance at anyone on his way in, and instead of you crowing about another case solved, you’re acting like—”
“Like Santiago here,” Rosa supplies.
“Exactly! Since when are you all about paperwork?”
“And we know that the perps were caught.” Gina leans in. “That Devin is a slice of heaven.” She pulls out her phone to gaze at a photo she must have taken. “Mm mm mm.”
Jake slowly puts his pen down. He doesn’t really want to kiss and tell. It was just for a case. Hell, he did a whole lot more than kiss during his time undercover with the Ianucci family. But… this feels a lot more personal. Like he got to see what churns beneath.
Suddenly the door to Holt’s office opens. "Detective Peralta."
The ladies part, like the waters of the Red Sea, watching to see what Holt will say. Jake swallows.
"I would like to congratulate you, in front of the entire office, on a job well done. This case would not have been cracked without you, I dare say." He nods at Jake, holding his eyes steadily.
Jake nods back.
Then Holt turns around and closes the door again.
The girls look at the closed door, then they look at Jake. Gina shrugs and goes back to her desk, clucking her tongue at Devin's picture as she walks. "Huh," is all Rosa says before taking the coffee back and leaving.
Amy's eyes are almost reverent with jealousy. "Wow, what did you do to deserve such praise?"
That's all it takes to get him back to himself. He lays a finger alongside his nose and says, "What happens on the case, stays on the case."
Amy huffs and goes back to her desk as well.
He can’t resist calling after her, “Ya can’t pull secrets from da Undercover King!”
Just before he goes home, after the paperwork is filed, he stops by Holt’s office. “Hey, Captain Holt?”
Holt looks up, eyebrows rising. “Yes?”
Jake clears his throat, the memory of their pretend make out flashing through his mind once more. “Tell Kevin he’s a very lucky man.”
Holt gives him an enigmatic smile, his lips turning up just a fraction, “He knows.”