Interview Room 1: Stiles
Deputy Herrera stares at the kid through the observation window before she goes in. He’s a cute little bastard, she’ll give him that, but the way he’d cheerfully greeted the officer on-desk and Deputy Parrish tells her he’s a regular troublemaker. Well, that, in addition to the look on her partner’s face when they’d arrested him and the men he’d been with. And the lack of ID. And his critique of how he’d been cuffed, along with his utter nonchalance at being in the back of the squad car.
She’s got her suspicions about what, exactly, the three of them had been up to in that alley, but she’s pretty sure she can get him to spill. He’s already proven he’s the chatty type. And, if he’s got a record, it’ll go in his favour to take a plea bargain rather than appear in court for what’ll be the twelfth time if it’s his first.
She turns to look down the hall, but her partner still hasn’t shown up, and she thinks she’s let the kid squirm long enough, so she goes in. “Sorry for the wait—?”
He grins at her, bright and boyish and she doesn’t believe it for a second. “You can call me Stiles, ma’am.”
Well, it’s not the weirdest street handle she’s heard. “Stiles. I’m Deputy Herrera. I take it you’ve already made my partner’s acquaintance.”
He chuckles. “Oh yeah. I know him from way back.”
Translation: I’ve been a thorn in his side for a while now. “I see. I take it he’s also familiar with the two men we brought in with you?”
Stiles bites his lip, but it doesn’t stop the grin curling the edges of his mouth. “You could say that.”
She narrows her eyes at him. “You are aware that you’re in a great deal of trouble, aren’t you, young man?”
He scrunches his face into an absurd expression, mouth pulling open as he squints one eye shut and makes a seesaw motion with one hand. “Eeeeeh, not the worst trouble I’ve ever been in.”
“Is that a challenge?” she asks mildly.
His face smooths out unexpectedly, head tipping to the side as he stares at her. The intensity is a little unsettling. “What exactly do you think you could make stick, Deputy Herrera?”
She raises her eyebrows, starting to understand why her new partner’s face had . . . done that when he saw this kid. “You do realize that you were picked up in a disheveled state, correct?”
The kid smirks. “Look, I know you haven’t been in town long—”
“—I don’t know what you think you know—”
“—so I know you haven’t had time to meet the wonder that is one Lydia Martin,” he continues like she didn’t even speak. “But the truth of the matter is, she’s a fashion goddess, and if I’m going to be graciously allowed in her orbit, I need to be fashion forward. I know you aren’t familiar with the concept, because you’re married to the uniform—which, don’t get me wrong, you look fabulous in—” Jesus, is he hitting on her?— “but it’s hardly what you could call cutting edge, you know? It’s a uniform, it’s meant to turn you into a government drone rather than show off your assets.”
Herrera takes a moment to blink slowly and try to parse that for a fresh angle. “Is this Lydia girl somehow involved?”
He snorts, which she takes as a no.
She tries something else. “Why didn’t you have ID on you when we picked you up?”
“Are you telling me that you always have ID on you when you leave the house, Deputy?” He cocks an eyebrow at her that’s so judgemental, she opens her mouth to answer before she catches herself.
When she does, she frowns. “Alright, smartass, why don’t I tell you what I think happened, and then you tell me if I’m right?”
He shrugs. “You won’t be, but shoot.”
Herrera can’t remember if she’s ever wanted to slap a suspect this badly. It might be 2am talking. “Tell you what, hotshot—if I’m right, you cop to it, and I will personally put in a good word for you with the local judge, see if I can’t keep this off your record.”
He smirks again, a disturbing sort of glee lighting up his face. “And what do I get if you’re wrong?”
She taps her finger on the table a few times as she considers the question. “If I’m wrong, I’ll grab you a sandwich out of the fridge in the back and go pry the truth out of one of the other two instead. Deal?”
“Deal.” He props his elbow on the table, and rests his chin in his hand.
For the first time, she wonders if maybe she’s got this wrong. She’s pretty sure she doesn’t, but this kid is getting to her. Maybe she should’ve waited for her partner to get back—but then, maybe he’s staying away because he knows this kid, and doesn’t want there to be any appearance of a conflict of interest.
“I think,” she starts slowly, keeping her eyes on that oh-so-expressive face, “that, deep down, you’re probably a good kid. A troublemaker for sure,” he grins, “but a good kid. And I think you lost your way. Maybe it was a bad neighbourhood, or a bad influence,” he started chewing on his cheek and she thinks, bingo, “or maybe a broken home, but whatever it was, something changed, and you started getting into real trouble.”
“Real trouble,” he repeats, amused.
“Mmhmm. The kind of trouble that leads to a pretty young man like yourself to being found in a compromising,” she says delicately, “position with two much older men. The kind of position that makes me think money changed hands for the kind of service no one should be buying from you, especially not guys like that.”
His eyes widen as his eyebrows wing up. “You’re saying you think—”
“I’m saying I’m pretty sure that, even if you were old enough to be selling your ass—and I’m not convinced you are—that you shouldn’t sell it to people who look like those two, because if they’re trying to pay for it, they’re trying to buy something other people won’t let them have for free.” It’s some harsh truth, and she’d hoped she could avoid saying it directly, but there it is.
The last thing she expects is for the kid to break out into a fit of mad giggles. “I’m so—” his cheeks flush pink and he covers his eyes. “Sorry, it’s just—” he lowers the hand from his eyes to cover his mouth, but his shoulders are still shaking with laughter. “You—” He has to look away from her, squeezing his eyes shut and still fucking giggling. “Please,” he gasps breathlessly, eyes shiny he’s laughing so hard, “please film it when you accuse the smug one in the slutty shirt of that!”
Herrera snarls wordlessly, throwing her hands up and leaving the room. Before the door swings shut behind her, she hears, “Ham and cheese, please!”
Interview Room 2: Chris
Deputy Herrera pauses for a moment to try and regain her equilibrium. Thanks to Stiles in Room 1, it takes longer than she would like. She doesn’t buy the kid’s denial, and not just because she’s seen her fair share of nervous laughter. She hopes she has better luck with her next suspect. She takes a few deep breaths before pushing the door to Interview Room 2 open and stepping inside.
The guy sitting at the desk meets her gaze. His eyes are grayish-blue, and his expression gives nothing away. That’s a tell in itself, Herrera knows, because innocent people? Innocent people get flustered, whereas this guy looks as cold as ice. He’s sitting leaning back in his chair, his hands resting on the table. Herrera does not notice the way his shirt pulls tight across his shoulders. She does not. Silver foxes are not her type.
Herrera sits down opposite him. “Mr. Argent, is it?” she asks, like she hadn’t just checked.
He dips his chin in a nod but says nothing.
Christopher Argent. A local address. A couple of speeding tickets. A concealed carry permit, and a firearms’ dealer license. Considering he can lose both of those if he gets charged with even a misdemeanour under California law, Herrera doesn’t trust his calmness for even a second. This is his livelihood here, and yet he hasn’t even asked for a lawyer.
Herrera doesn’t trust him one bit.
She leans back in her chair too, her posture mirroring his. “Want to tell me what you were doing in that back alley. Mr. Argent?”
He raises his eyebrows. “Shouldn’t you be telling me what you think I was doing?”
Herrera isn’t a fantasist by any stretch of the imagination, but she’s got enough experience in law enforcement to know that three guys lurking in an alley in the middle of the night aren’t just there to soak up the ambience. She might only be new to Beacon Hills, but even small towns have an underbelly. She’s also got the CCTV footage from the gas station down the street. It’s blurry, but it’s still pretty damn obvious what was going on. And frankly, after seeing that footage, she almost wishes it had been a drug deal.
“Are you a married man, Mr. Argent?” she asks.
“Not anymore.” A muscle in his cheek twitches, and she knows she’s struck a nerve. She just isn’t sure what kind.
“I see.” She allows herself a small smile at that, because she’s got this guy pegged now. He’s probably lived half his life in the closet, but couldn’t quite put a lid on his urges. This habit of picking up young guys in alleyways? It landed him in here tonight, and she bet it landed him in divorce court as well. That’s the rent boy and the customer sorted out, which means the guy in the next room? Has to be the pimp.
Herrera opens her folder, and pulls out the printout from the CCTV. She slides it across the table, and has the satisfaction of seeing Argent’s eyebrows raise.
“Is that your naked ass, Mr. Argent?” she asks. “Or the kid’s?”
Argent narrows his eyes. “No comment.”
“I’m not a journalist, Mr. Argent.”
He leans forward. “No comment.”
“I guess you want to call a lawyer now, is that right?”
The corners of his mouth quirk up. “No.”
“No? What’s your strategy here then, Mr. Argent? Because I can sit here all night. You’ll have to answer my questions sooner or later.”
“No,” he says again. “I won’t.”
He sounds so certain that Herrera wants to grab the printout and wipe that smug little smile right off his face.
“Guy like you,” she says at last. “Good-looking guy like you. Wouldn’t have thought you’d have to pay for it.”
His faint smile vanishes, but it doesn’t get the rise out of him she hoped it would. Again, that just underscores his guilt in her mind. An innocent man wouldn’t be so calm.
“You’d better hope that kid is actually over eighteen,” she says.
He holds her gaze and doesn’t even flinch, so she tries to dig a little deeper.
“You like them young and pretty, huh? Maybe a little mouthy, a little rough around the edges, but willing to do anything? I’ll bet a kid like that doesn’t have any limits, am I right? I guess I can see the appeal, in a kind of a grubby little delinquent kind of a way. A bit of rough trade really gets your blood pumping, huh?”
Argent glances at the tape recorder. “Is that thing on?”
His smirk is almost a grin this time. “Then please, continue.”
Herrera doesn’t know what the trap is, exactly, but she backs off anyway. “You really are willing to sit here all night and say nothing, is that right?”
“I won’t be here all night.”
“I think that’s up to me, Mr. Argent, and not you.”
He raises his eyebrows. “I didn’t say it was up to me.”
Herrera thinks wistfully back to the days when it was okay to hit a suspect in the face with a phone book. They were long gone even before she became a deputy back in Blue Lake Valley of course, but if there was ever someone who really needed a close read of the Yellow Pages, it’s this guy.
“Maybe it is up to you after all,” she says. “You can answer my questions and be booked and out of here, or you can wait until I get sick of dealing with you and pass you over to someone else.”
“Where is your partner?” Argent asks her.
That’s a damn good fucking question, actually. Where the hell is he? Last Herrera saw him, he was heading for the Sheriff’s office, but that was ages ago. He should have at least checked in with her by now.
“I think I can handle you just fine on my own, Mr. Argent,” she says.
He snorts at that, and leans back further in his chair. “I think I’ll wait for your partner, Deputy, or the Sheriff.”
And then he just sits there, as still as a statue and cold as fucking ice, and refuses to answer any more questions at all.
Interview Room 3: Peter
“I’m sorry, but I'm not going in there alone.”
Deputy Hale’s eyebrows pull down in a frown so deep they meet in the middle. “Really? You can’t manage on your own, Herrera?”
It kills her to admit it, but. “The other two were pieces of work, but I’m pretty sure this guy’s the money man, and I don’t want him getting away with this. Stiles is a pain, but nobody deserves to be pimped out.”
Derek’s face does something complicated. “You think Stiles is in the game?”
“Isn’t it obvious? And I’m guessing this guy’s the pimp. He’s taking advantage of that kid.”
She’s sure she hears her partner mutter, “He’s taking advantage all right.” He heaves a deep sigh, and it looks like he’s about to protest, but then his shoulders droop and his mouth snaps shut. “Fine. But you owe me.”
Derek stalks towards the door of interview room three and shoves it open so hard it bounces off the wall with a bang. “I fucking hate you right now,” he snaps at the well-dressed man who’s sitting there stroking his goatee like a cartoon villain.
“Now now, nephew. Is that any way to speak to family?”
Herrera stares between the men and yep, there’s a definite family resemblance. They’re the definition of tall dark and handsome—and in the case of the man in the seat, one Peter Hale according to the file, smug as fuck. No wonder Derek was reluctant to take part in the interview—it must be hard, seeing your flesh and blood stoop so low.
“Mr. Hale? I’m Deputy Herrera, and I have a few questions about the...incident earlier tonight.”
He crosses his arms across his chest and says, “What exactly would you like to know, sweetheart? Ask away.”
“Peter,” Derek growls out in warning, and at first she thinks he’s trying to stare Peter down but then it dawns on her that... Jesus, are they communicating by eyebrow?
“Relax, Derek. This lovely lady just wants to ask me about our little romp earlier, and I’m more than happy to tell her.” He turns to Herrera. “Are you going to record this? Stiles does so love it when he gets to listen to the tapes afterwards.”
He doesn't seem to be taking this nearly seriously enough, and as sorry as she feels for Derek at having to hear this, she’s not going to back down from a challenge. No matter how handsome and charming and lickable...wait what? Anyway, no matter how affable this man appears, the ugly truth is that he’s selling a teenager’s body and profiting from his suffering, and she can’t let that stand.
“I’m glad you think this is funny, but solicitation is no laughing matter.” She folds her arms across her chest and plants her feet solidly, and hopes she looks at least a little intimidating. It’s harder than it sounds when you’re only 5’3”.
Peter’s eyebrows climb almost to his hairline. “I beg your pardon?”
“Tell me if this sounds familiar. You meet a kid, probably not quite legal, desperate and down on his luck. Maybe his home life’s not great—maybe the father’s a bum, probably never worked a day in his life.” Derek makes a strangled noise, and she wonders if that means she’s hitting close to home but she doesn't let it distract her. “You’re nice to him, maybe feed him a couple of meals, offer him a bed, and he thinks you’ve hung the moon.”
“Do go on, I’m intrigued to see where this goes.” The man doesn’t even have the good grace to deny it, she notes, and could he at least do some of the buttons up on that shirt?
“You get him to fall for you, and then, when he’s hanging off your every word, you tell him times are tough. It’s just temporary. You’ve lost your job, maybe. You assure him it’s not like it was with his father, you’ll be back on your feet in no time, but meanwhile, he’s so pretty, and there are men out there who would pay good money to spend time in his company, and you wouldn’t ask, but otherwise you’ll both be back on the street.”
Peter’s face is completely blank, and he makes a ‘go on’ gesture. Ah, she thinks. Gotcha.
“Only you’re not broke at all—not judging by that shirt, buster. And it turns out, it’s not temporary either. And now that poor kid’s caught in a lifestyle he never wanted. Well that ends here. Today, we get him out of your clutches.”
It’s an impassioned speech, and Herrera's proud of it—it sounds like something she heard on Law And Order once. So the last thing she expects is for Peter’s impassive facade to crack and for him to start howling with laughter. Tears stream down his face as he points, cackling like a maniac. “This isn't funny,” she snaps. “Derek, tell him.”
Derek, impossibly, looks like he’s biting back a smile.
Peter manages to get his laughter under control, just. “Yes Derek, do tell me, your uncle, Beacon Hills’ very own pimp extraordinaire, how I’ve been a very naughty boy.” And then he has the sheer gall to turn to Herrera and fucking wink. “I have been a very naughty boy, by the way, but not in the way you think.”
Derek snorts. “Stop it, Peter. We don’t want the details this time.”
This time? She’s missing something, Herrera just knows it.
“Are you sure? You don’t want to hear how Chris lost a bet with Stiles, and the payment was taking him in a back alley and giving him a good—”
“No details.” Derek’s smirk disappears, replaced by a blush.
“What? No. If the kid and Stony McStoneface are a couple, why were you there?” she demands.
“I like to watch,” Peter says simply. “And my boyfriends don’t mind. In fact, they like it. Stiles in particular—”
“—is waiting out front with Chris. Derek, you wanna wrap this up? Hey, Peter,” comes the Sheriff’s voice from the doorway, and what the hell is happening?
“Evening, John,” Peter the Pimp says, far too casually in Herrera's opinion. “Are you going to introduce me to your fresh meat?”
John sighs.”Deputy Herrera, sad to say this miscreant’s my son in law. Sort of,” he corrects.
“But—no! He was exploiting that kid—”
“Oh you mean Stiles, John’s son? Yes, he's my partner. One of them, anyway.” Peter stands, adjusts the collar on his shirt so it shows even more cleavage. If the neckline dips any further she’ll be able to see his knees. “Are we done here? Because not to be indelicate, but you know about Stiles’s exhibitionist tendencies John, so you can just imagine how eager he’ll be to get us home and into bed so he can—”
“Keep talking and I’ll let the arrest stand for once,” John growls. “Get out.”
Peter strolls out the door like he’s at the goddamn opera, not in a police interview room. As he reaches the door he pauses, turns back, and for a second Herrera thinks he’s actually about to explain this whole thing. But he just tilts his chin at the Sheriff. “Dinner at ours on Sunday? Or is it your turn?”
“If I come to yours, will Stiles try and feed me that godawful not-meat again?”
Peter smirks. “I’ll have ribeye, John. Just for you.”
“Goddamn earned it,” the Sheriff mutters under his breath.
The Parking Lot
Fifteen minutes later Herrera is pacing the parking lot, trying to work off some of her frustration. She glares at the doors of the station as they open and Stiles and Argent and Peter Hale step outside, laughing as they head away. The Sheriff follows them out, shaking his head. And then Derek steps out after him, and his sheepish gaze fixes on Herrera.
He waits until the Three Fuckoteers have left before he wanders over to her. He holds out a coffee.
She takes it, still glaring. “You couldn’t give me a heads up, partner ?”
He raises his eyebrows. “You didn’t let me get a word in before you arrested them.”
She snorts, but it’s true.
“Come on,” he says. “It’s Tara’s birthday and there’s leftover cake inside.”
As though cake will make up for this disaster of a shift.
“Herrera,” Sheriff Stilinski says as they approach him. “Listen, you did a good job tonight, and frankly, if we had any way to prove whose ass that was, I’d put him up in front of a judge just to teach them all a damn lesson, but you can’t win ‘em all. Next time, huh?”
“Does this happen a lot, sir?” she asks.
The Sheriff does the same seesaw thing with his hand that Stiles had in his interview. “Eh.”
Derek sighs. “It’s a nightmare, honestly.”
The Sheriff grins. “Welcome to Beacon Hills, Herrera.”
They go inside for cake.