The edge of Heri's coat disappears in a flash, followed by the sound of a door slamming shut, shocking everyone else in the room. The frame rattles, and so is the window nearby.
"God damn it," Megat groans, and before anyone could say a word, he's on his feet, trying to track the other man. "Heri!"
There's no answer, but the path Heri took leads to a locked door, thus a dead end. Megat finds the other man leaning against the door, chest heaving as if he's just ran a mile. He's pale under his tan, feet restless and his dilated pupils are visible even from feet away.
"Heri." The man in question is an unleashed bundle of issues; one wrong word, and he explodes like a ticking bomb. Megat inches close, approaching in careful steps just like how he'd do to a distressed animal. The comparison is uncanny, now that Megat has a clear look on Heri.
"Megat, we have to get him!" Heri is nearly yelling, veins popping, but Megat is not having it. "You can't let them—" The other man is not showing any sign in calming down so Megat does what he knows best.
One arm over Heri's chest, Megat backs him up against the door with a loud thud. "Calm down," Megat grunts, trying to keep Heri from thrashing under his grip. There is a moment of struggle from Heri before the man deflates completely, the urge to fight leaving his body like a puff of smoke.
"Calm down," Megat repeats in a low voice, watching how Heri has his head hung low. "We're going to get him, but you need to calm down."
Heri is silent, but when he speaks, he sounds dejected and… small. "Children, Megat, they're selling children."
"How am I going to live if we fail?"
"We're not going to fail." It's baffling that a man with years of service in a police department would need small words for comfort, but after months of working together with Heri, Megat knows that children is a sore topic for the man.
"You hear me? We're not going to fail." Megat keeps Heri close, waiting until the younger man finally nods his head.
"Let's go back and pick up where we left." Sometimes, even adults need a little comfort. They walk side by side to their office, and when Megat glances at Heri, he catches the other looking at him, a small quirk of his lips is his only sign of gratitude.
The office is silent, several people look tense at Heri’s sudden appearance, but when he speaks, he’s much calmer. ‘Thank you,’ Megat knows what Heri doesn’t voice out, but he murmurs ‘You’re welcome’ in return.
“So, where are we going?” Heri sounds like an overeager pup, most of the time. He’s passionate, but extremely bullheaded, even at times like this.
Megat blinks when he finds himself on the passenger seat, rather from behind the steering wheel. “Why are you driving?”
“Why not?” is Heri’s only answer, shrugging a shoulder. “I can drive, I have the permit.”
“Yeah, but we’re in Johor.” Megat feels like he’s talking to a child sometimes, from the way his words just pass straight over Heri’s head. “You don’t have the driving permit in Malaysia, and you don’t know the way.”
For a moment, Heri only frowns at him. There is a moment of terse silence and Megat braces himself for a fight that he could feel coming close, but then Heri nods his head. Megat surely doesn’t expect that.
“If you put it like that.” God, he sounds so petulant. Megat lets out a snort to mask his laughter and slides out of the car, waiting for Heri to do the same. “But I can follow directions, at least you have to let me drive if you’re the navigator.”
“Oh, following directions like how you did when I told you not to break into our suspect’s house?” Megat couldn’t hide his amusement as he started the car, making their way to the main road. Heri is silent, but the embarrassment is radiating strong. Megat catches him fiddling with his bandaged hand, bloodied and broken from punching a hole in a plastic door when Megat has specifically told him to get a key from the landlord instead.
“It was needed.” Comes Heri’s quiet response, and if he’s not a police officer, Megat is sure he is pouting his lips.
“Yeah, sure it was.”
“Don’t talk to me like that.”
“Alright, if you say so.”
“There’s no time for yelling, Megat!” Megat rolls his eyes at that, but he continues making his way towards Heri. The other person is hot on his heels, head darting around looking for their suspects who ran away before they could cuff his hands. “We have to get him!”
Megat huffs, already feeling drained even when the chase hasn’t started yet. “No, get back here, you son of a bitch-”
His words seem to bounce right off Heri’s skull because he doesn’t show any sign in stopping his run. His hand reaches for Heri’s shoulder and with gritted teeth, Megat manages to pull the other man to a halt. “Listen,” he cuts, before Heri opens his mouth to yell at him, “I know where he’s heading. Follow me.”
It’s a surprise that Heri immediately changes his track and lets Megat lead him, rather than trying to argue. They sneak around the empty alley, following the small path that leads them to a small warehouse. It’s barren, but the light is on.
“I’ll call for a backup,” Megat says in a hushed voice, relief coursing through him when Heri nods his head, mouth clamped shut. “In the meanwhile, go through the front door. I’ll sneak from behind.”
The look on Heri’s face is full of determination, and Megat finds himself flushing a little at the intensity. They part way without another word, and true to his words, loud voices are coming when Heri breaks through the front door.
Gunshots ring in the empty warehouse, and Megat finds himself ducking behind the shooter to confiscate him. Heri, who was the target, peeks from a stack of rice, drenched in sweat. “These lunatics,” he says eventually, when other officers have taken their suspect to custody, “I swear to God—”
“Don’t,” Megat says sharply, lifting a hand up. “We’re going to do this right, alright? He will go to jail and you don’t get to beat him.”
It’s another moment of terse silence when Heri stares at him, the veins of his temple starting to pop out. "Fine," he finally grits out, pausing for a while to heave a sigh. When he seems to calm down, Megat reaches out to pat his shoulder.
"Come on, let's have lunch." A glance at his wristwatch shows that it's almost 6 PM. "Dinner," he quickly corrects himself, finding himself sighing in relief as Heri nods his head, smiling tentatively at him.
"You're paying," Heri says lightly, anger evaporating.
"What are you having?"
Heri is staring at the menu board with a blank face, tapping his chin with his phone. "No idea. Mau makan sesuatu yang ngga ada di Jakarta," he says, with a cheeky grin.
Megat, who understands Indonesian, only rolls his eyes. "This one," he points out at a menu, "fried radish cake. I bet there's nothing like it in Indonesia."
"Don't be too smug," Heri grouses, but orders exactly what Megat has suggested to him. "Indonesian have better satay and rendang."
What a child, Megat huffs a laughter at that. "Whatever you say."
Heri accepts his plate with a haughty look aimed at Megat, before he says, "Yang bayar dia, ya, Bu," and saunters away.
"Oi!" Megat yells at his retreating back, but he withdraws his wallet, smiling to himself.
Before Megat could do anything, Heri was already on his feet in a flash and on their suspect's side. "Brengsek—"
"Heri, don't—" Megat starts, but he's too late, the painful crunch of a punch meeting someone's face echoes in the interrogation room, and their suspect is lying unconscious on the floor.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing!" Wrenching Heri away from their suspect is hard, but not yelling at the other man is even harder. "You fucking promised we're going to finish this the right way!"
Heri is panting, fingers spreading and closing in an effort to flex his fist, and avoids looking at him. "You heard what he said," he mumbles, and when Megat stares closely, his hands are trembling.
"He—he raped—" Heri is a little green under his tan, and hearing his words makes Megat a little sick. Without another word, he drags Heri out of the interrogation room and leaving another officer to take care of their suspect. He's confessed anyway, they don't need to do anything.
They end up sitting side by side on an emergency staircase, shoulders brushing. "Talk to me," Megat says, not quite demanding, but not asking either.
"There's not much to talk about," Heri answers, voice terse. He's still cradling his hand and without a close inspection, Megat knows that he broke his knuckles. “I want him dead.”
“Still.” Without another word, Megat takes Heri’s bloodied hand and sets it on his lap, examining the bruises. Heri hisses, but other than that, he’s silent. “He’s as good as dead now, you know that.”
Megat pulls a pack of alcohol wipes before ripping one open, dabbing the skin around the small cuts to clean the wound. Heri twitches and hisses, but Megat’s grip on his hand is iron-like.
“I know.” Heri’s answer comes a moment later, back to cradling his hand close to his chest. “Still, I was angry.”
There is no use arguing with an Indonesian, Megat realizes, especially someone like Heri. He clasps a hand over the other man’s nape and squeezes gently in a friendly manner. Maybe way too friendly, because Heri peers up at him curiously.
“Nice right hook, by the way,” Megat huffs, rising to his feet. “Next time pull that on someone else, outside the interrogation room.”
Heri chuckles, the sound rings loud and clear against the wall. “No need to worry, I will.”
“Dinner?” Megat offers, before adding, “I’m paying.”
“Sure,” Heri agrees easily, grinning. Tension has left them, and only warmth remains between the two. It’s amazing how far they’ve gone from two people who are up on each other’s ass, to this .
“Don’t be a party pooper,” Heri grouses quietly, mindful of the kids around him. Growing up in an orphanage has taught him tricks on dealing with children, even the father is a grousy, grumpy man, with a shiny gun on his belt. “Farid and Imran having a little sugar won’t hurt you.”
Next to him, Megat grumbles, eyeing the candies and chocolate bars Heri is handing out to them. The judging stare just won’t go away even when Megat has stopped being an ass to him. “It will hurt them ,” Megat says, frowning.
Heri sighs; Megat really needs to loosen up, sometimes. He settles a hand over the other man’s shoulder and gives him a squeeze, just like what he did weeks ago. It’s crazy that Johor has turned into some sort of a second home to him, especially with Megat sauntering in and out of his place anytime he pleases and now, he’s inviting Heri to his place.
Losing a child and a separation could do that to someone, Heri supposes, and he feels that he could be nicer about it. Still, he’s not good at confronting his feelings, let alone comforting someone.
“Megat,” Heri pitches his voice low, scooting closer to the other man so the children won’t hear their conversation, “don’t worry, everything will be okay.”
To his surprise, the frown on Megat’s face softens and he leans against Heri for a brief moment, knocking their shoulders together. “I know,” he says, voice quiet and his eyes are no longer full of grief in their shared moment. “Thank you,” Megat adds, tilting his head to where his children are chattering in excitement over the things Heri brought from Indonesia.
Relief comes and knocks the breath out of his chest. A chuckle escapes his lips; it’s weird that he feels his stomach drops a little when he catches Megat staring at him. “You’re welcome,” Heri murmurs, smiling so wide his cheeks hurt from the stretch.