Jake gets his perp down to booking at around noon. He’s walking, not limping or anything despite the way his side throbs with every little movement. Thankfully, the officers on desk duty don’t even really look up from their paperwork and the uniforms who take the guy off his hands barely pause to nod.
So he’s in the clear. Except for Charles trailing after him, watching him like a hawk, though he didn’t even really see the crowbar incident. Well, sure, he saw the crowbar after, when the guy was threatening Jake with it, but he was still around the corner when the perp actually swung it, hitting his left side, so.
“You sure you’re okay?” Charles asks in the elevator, not for the first time. “I could drive you down to the hospital.”
Resisting the urge to cup a hand around the hurt - not that Jake’s hand would be big enough anyway - Jake forces a smile. “Nah, I’m good. Really.”
The next order of business is to keep Charles from talking to Terry. Jake thanks his lucky stars that Amy is out for the rest of the week doing some leadership seminar for sergeants that had her so excited she bought three new binders in preparation for it. Thankfully, Rosa’s nowhere to be seen, which means she’s probably on her lunch break.
Despite his short legs, Charles walks pretty fast - “These are tap dancing feet, Jake, keep up!” - and to his horror, Jake finds himself falling back. The way his entire left side seems to be on fire doesn’t help.
Holt has the day off, so they report to Terry, who gets up from his chair when he sees Boyle scurry over. Before Jake can say or do anything, Boyle announces: “We got our guy but Jake was injured.”
Terry’s eyebrows furrow and when he glowers at them, Jake gets an Atlanta flashback.
“Then why isn’t he at the hospital?” Terry asks, staring him down.
“Because,” Jake says quickly, trying to prevent Boyle from making this worse, “Charles is just confused, Jake is not injured.”
“Okay, one) I can see that you’re white as a sheet--”
“Well, that’s racist,” Jake interjects.Then bites his tongue when Terry’s expression hardens.
“And two),” the sergeant continues darkly, “don’t talk about yourself in the third person, that’s Terry’s thing. Get your own thing.”
Jake wants to make a witty retort but he can’t think of one. He hurts.
“Maybe I was hit with a crowbar,” he admits reluctantly, “but it was only once. Honestly, it’s just a bruise.”
“Go home,” Terry says, “Boyle can write the report. I know I can’t force you to go to the hospital, but you’re not coming back to work until you’ve seen a doctor. If you need a ride--”
“I’m fine, really! Everyone knows there are no important organs in this area.” Jake draws a shaky oval around the area over his left hip. Then pauses when he notices the way Charles and Terry look at him with that mixture of pity and concern on their faces. It actually makes him break a light sweat. “There aren’t, right?”
“Go to a doctor, Jake,” Terry says.
Truth is, Jake’s not pale because of the way his side hurts - probably - Jake’s just shook up. Had Amy been around, she would have been able to tell right away, he’s got no doubt about that. Hands resting on the steering wheel of his car, Jake thinks about calling her. Tell her everything on the phone. He wants to. But if he does, she’ll drop everything and come back home, and he doesn’t want that because she was so excited about the seminar. She’s such a nerd, he thinks fondly, letting himself miss her.
So no, he does not want to ruin this for her, no matter how much he wants to hear her voice. He needs to get his shit together before he can call her.
Jake takes a deep breath and starts driving.
It’s not like he planned this, but it’s also not a complete accident that Jake ends up in Holt’s neighborhood. It is kind of an accident that he ends up in front of the captain’s door though. He can’t quite explain it, even to himself.
Jake stands still, holding his breath, his side throbbing silently.
He can’t knock on the captain’s door on his day off, he thinks, especially not without telling him the reason. What would he even say? This was a bad idea, he thinks. He needs to go home and lie down, sleep it off.
Except that, the moment he thinks that, someone behind him says, “I’m sorry, can I help you?” and Jake nearly jumps out of his skin. He flinches, causing a glowing hot poker of agony to pierce his side.
Groaning and half-doubled-over, Jake somehow manages to turn around.
Only to find himself looking up at Kevin, who seems to have returned from a walk with Cheddar. Dog and owner study him, the former panting happily, the latter frowning in vague displeasure with a hint of concern.
“Peralta,” Kevin says, “what is going on?”
“Nothing!” Jake gasps, breathless and trying to straighten. Which is way harder than it’s supposed to be. “I was in the neighborhood...” He interrupts himself to suck in another breath, his fingers curling under his leather jacket. “... and I thought, hey, why not check on the captain? Since...I… was already… here.”
“You’re clearly injured,” Kevin says as he takes a half-step toward Jake, his free hand reaching out but stopping a good two feet from Jake when he remembers - or so Jake guesses - that he really doesn’t want to touch Jake or be involved in this in any way.
“People keep saying that, but I’m just trying out a new way of standing and... breathing while not falling over. And... I’m nailing it.” Jake forces a grin that, if anything, makes Kevin frown even harder.
“I am calling an ambulance,” he says and, to Jake’s horror, pulls a phone out of his pocket.
“No, I’m fine, I just wanted to visit the captain, honestly.” Jake braces himself, swallows his disappointment and says, “I’ll go.”
“Raymond is currently not home. He won’t be back for hours,” Kevin informs him - the disappointment is real now, acidic and bitter - a voice in Jake’s head asking him what he was thinking coming here, uninvited, unannounced, unwanted - but somehow, looking at Jake’s side, the way his traitorous body is trying to curl in on itself, Kevin’s gaze softens. He slips the phone back into his pocket and briskly marches past Jake to unlock the door.
“I will take Cheddar inside and then I will come back for you and take you to a doctor. A friend of mine has a practice five minutes from here. I’ll call her right now.” Kevin’s tone leaves no room for argument.
Before Jake knows it, he’s in the passenger seat of Kevin’s car. Head resting against the window, trying to think of ways to break the silence. In the safe house, he used to make up epic tales of heroes and villains whenever they played chess, or alternatively, do sports commentary - that way he learned that Kevin knew less than nothing about sports, that in his entire life, he’d never even watched one football game.
Talking to Kevin never became effortless though. Sooner or later, Jake always found himself trying and failing to impress Kevin. But the rare smiles he managed to coax out of him were all the sweeter for it.
“So, your friend,” Jake begins tentatively, already spinning an epic yarn in his head, “she’s a mob doctor, right?”
Without taking his eyes off the traffic, Kevin says, “No, she is not a mob doctor.”
It’s kind of worth it, just to hear the word mob doctor come out of Kevin’s mouth. Definitely a safe house highlight was, no matter how dark the day, hearing Kevin try to use the words Jake taught him in a sentence.
Ergo, I would say, for example, Raymond is my... bae?
If only he had had his phone. Jake has no doubt that being able to replay a recording of Kevin saying that sentence would instantly heal all of his wounds.
“Wait,” he says now, as another thought crosses his mind, “tell me she’s not a vet.”
Kevin sighs. “Don’t be absurd, Jacob, I am not taking you to a veterinarian.”
Jake waits for the sardonic little follow-up quip about how Jake is at least technically a homo sapiens though Cheddar understands more languages than he does, but there is nothing. Instead, Kevin’s gaze flicks over briefly.
“Please, stay awake,” he says, “you might be concussed.”
“Wasn’t hit in the head,” Jake mumbles, throat inexplicably tight.
But he keeps his eyes open for the rest of the drive.
Kevin waits outside for him while his doctor friend examines Jake, taking an x-ray and doing an ultrasound.
“You have a mild kidney contusion,” she tells him, “we’ll do a urinalysis to be safe, so I’d like you to leave a sample before you go, but you should be okay. There will be blood in your urine. If it doesn’t stop in a couple of days or the volume increases, you will need to go to a hospital for a CT.
Jake nods, silently cursing his kidneys for being down there when all the other vital organs are smart and further up his body like they’re supposed to be. Kidneys are dumb like beans, he thinks, which is probably why they’re named after them.
“Blood in my urine, cool, cool, cool,” he drawls, “that’s not that gross. Hey, do you think if I drink only blue gatorade, I can make my pee turn purple?”
She looks at him, sighs and hands him a small plastic cup. “The bathroom is next to the waiting room. There is a water cooler there, too, in case you need it. We’ll talk more when you’re done.”
When he’s done and comes out of the bathroom carrying his sample - it’s so gross how warm it is - there is actually no more talking. At least not involving him. The doctor is standing by the waiting room with Kevin, both of them keeping a polite distance while he hands his sample to an assistant.
As soon as that’s done, Kevin appears at his elbow - how is he able to move so fast and silently?
“Marie has explained the situation to me,” Kevin says in his usual clipped, bland voice, “I will take you back to the house now.”
“Uh, you can just drop me off at my apartment,” Jake mumbles as he follows Kevin outside. “She said I’ll be fine. I just need to watch my pee.”
“She said you needed close monitoring and bed rest.”
Jake shrugs. He doesn’t really want to be alone, but he’s also not sure that Kevin’s offer is genuine. He’s probably just trying to be polite and Jake has already taken up so much of his time. Plus, the two of them hanging out together - it might bring back a safe house-y vibe and though Jake still sometimes wakes up expecting Kevin to be there, kind of wishing for it on some weird level, and though he’ll never be able to watch a Nic Cage movie again without hearing Kevin’s exasperated sighs, his confused questions and sardonic remarks in his head, he is aware enough to know that for Kevin the whole experience was miserable. Kevin probably doesn’t need a reminder - even though he did say he would miss Jake - which is not something Jake thinks about a lot or anything. So Jake squares his shoulders, doesn’t flinch when pain shoots up his side and says, “I can monitor and bed rest myself.”
Kevin’s eyebrow twitches up. “You cannot even form a coherent sentence.”
“Maybe, but that’s not me being injured, that’s me being me. I also can’t name three presidents,” he declares, proud to have won an argument against Kevin using nothing but the goodness of his brains.
Jake blinks. Okay, maybe the pain and exhaustion are making him a little stupider.
“That… is concerning,” Kevin says mildly. “However, I assume you did not walk to my house, which means that your car is still parked there. I think you should contact your fiancé. She can come pick you up after her shift. I will message Raymond to give her a ride. In my opinion, that would be the most efficient way to handle this situation. You would only have to stay at our house for a few hours and you wouldn’t have to return to retrieve your car later.”
“Uh, except that Amy’s not available. She’s at a seminar in Baltimore until Friday night.”
Kevin frowns. “Hm. Well, then you will simply have to stay longer. Marie said to keep an eye on you, as she did not trust you to take care of yourself, and after the nine weeks I spent with you, culminating - as you might remember - in my having to rescue you from a violent criminal, I fully concur. You should not be left to your own devices.”
Jake stops mid-fastening his seatbelt, unable to believe his ears. This is an outrage.
“Hey, I was tied to a chair with a gun to my head once--” Hoytsman comes to mind and Jake reluctantly amends, “maybe twice. And, in case you’ve forgotten, I was trying to save Holt, who was kidnapped first!”
Kevin gives him a look and says, “Yes, I recall heroically saving my husband’s life.”
“Wait, do you use this in arguments with the captain?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Jake, Raymond and I do not argue. We have structured debates.” The corner of Kevin’s mouth twitches as he starts the car. “Which I usually win anyway.”
Jake gasps again.
“You’re the devil,” he breathes, thinking, No wonder Gina likes him so much.
At the captain’s house, Kevin leads Jake to the couch in the living-room about which Jake has mixed feelings - he has fond memories of the cool leather against his feverish skin, less fond memories of the betrayal of a certain pea hogging captain - and makes him sit down. Cheddar hops up next to him, allowing himself to be petted.
“Stay here. I will go and pick up your prescription.” Kevin hesitates, eyeing Jake critically. “Don’t move,” he adds, “don’t touch anything.”
“Uh…” Jake snatches his hand away from Cheddar’s soft fur, causing Kevin to sigh.
“You may touch the dog. He has enough sense to move away if you’re in danger of breaking him. But don’t feed him anything.”
Jake nods sheepishly. “I won’t break Cheddar and...” He reaches out again to scratch Cheddar behind his ridiculously cute pointy ears. “I won’t feed the little doggy-woggy.”
“Cheddar,” Kevin says, “I’m leaving you in charge.”
Cheddar whuffs once as though he understands.
Big deal. Jake understands English too.
He doesn’t like being alone. At least there’s Cheddar, warm and alive, his head resting on Jake’s thigh. His doggy brows doing that thing where they shift as he looks up at Jake, as though he’s having some complicated thoughts. As though he’s reevaluating some of the choices he made in his brief doggy life.
Jake’s eyes drift shut. He thinks about that moment, those few seconds of empty space between him and the perp. He thinks about his gun and center mass. He thinks about the crowbar, suspended in the air over his head.
“Jake?” Kevin, as usual, appears out of nowhere. He probably is the devil. “You should take one of these,” he says, holding a container of pills. “It says here you should have it with food. I could make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, would that be alright?”
“Uh, sure. I mean thanks.” Jake ducks his head because this is kind of embarrassing, being taken care of by his boss’ husband, even more embarrassing is how happy this is making him. But still. “You know, you don’t have to do this. I can just get out of your hair…”
“Nonsense,” Kevin says simply and walks off into the kitchen.
He returns maybe two minutes later carrying a plate with the sandwich in one hand and a can of orange soda with a straw in it in the other.
“Please try not to spill it this time,” he says as he sets them down on the couch table in front of Jake, who nods sheepishly and sits up straighter. The pain in his side is a steady throb now. Bearable.
Jake picks up the sandwich and takes a cautious bite because he has no idea what passes for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the Cozner-Holt household, maybe some kind of flavorless substitute? and is pleasantly surprised when the sandwich turns out to be really good, exactly as sticky and sweet as it’s supposed to be.
He takes another, bigger bite and a glob of peanut butter and jelly squishes out between his fingers and falls onto the couch. As if he had been waiting for this moment, as if he had spent months in doggy boot camp preparing for this scenario, Cheddar is there in the blink of an eye, licking it up.
“Uhhh,” Jake says, “oops?” So he spilled something and he accidentally fed Cheddar peanut butter and jelly. Thankfully, Kevin doesn’t look mad - he looks exasperated but unsurprised, one eyebrow curled in silent judgment, which helps assuage Jake’s fear somewhat.
Still, he’s got to ask.
“This isn’t going to make him sick, right? Dogs can eat peanut butter?”
Cheddar certainly doesn’t look sick. In fact, he is staring up at Jake with hope shining in his eyes, his pink tongue darting out to lick his lips.
“Dogs can eat peanut butter,” Kevin says, “as long as it does not contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol which is toxic to dogs.”
Jake tenses. If Cheddar dies because of him, Holt will kill him.
“This brand does not contain xylitol, Jake. I made sure to check the label before I bought it. However,” Kevin continues sternly, “it does contain salt, sugar and other additives. Please use the plate to avoid further spilling. I’ll get some napkins.”
Phew. Once Kevin has gone back to the kitchen, Jake finishes his sandwich - without further incident - and licks his fingers clean.
Kevin returns with napkins and some sort of spray he unleashes on the spot of the couch where Jake spilled his peanut butter. It smells a little like disinfectant and makes Cheddar retreat to the floor. Kevin wipes it off with some napkins, then turns to Jake. His critical gaze zeroes in on Jake’s seemingly clean hands. A few seconds tick by, in which Kevin somehow manages to pointedly say nothing.
Jake swallows. “I’ll go wash my hands.”
“Thank you,” Kevin says.
By the time Jake comes back, Kevin has brought a pillow and blankets and set them up on the couch, which means it’s time for Jake to feel awkward again. Is this the point where he’s supposed to duck out gracefully? He doesn’t want to, but he should, right?
But then Kevin turns to him and says: “Don’t forget to take your medicine. Also, I was going to offer you the guest room, but I thought you might prefer having a working television at your disposal.”
Instantly, Jake perks up - which is kind of painful - but another chance to introduce Kev to actual classics, stuff that - honestly - as a classics professor he definitely needs to know, is just too tempting.
“Wait, we can watch tv together?” Oh, the possibilities , Jake thinks, grinning.
“You can watch tv while you rest. I will be reading a book while monitoring you.”
“A book? Why would you ruin this with a book ?” Jake makes sure to put as much disgusted outrage into the word book as he would into the word dentist .
Kevin merely gestures towards the container of pills and the can of soda on the couch table and sits down in an armchair. There is a side table next to him with a stack of books on it - of course there is because the house is full of books, it’s like they grow here or something. Anyway, Kevin picks up a real boring looking one, crosses his legs and says, “Or I could read to you if you’d like. It would only be fair, after all, I let you introduce me to what you consider great works of…” he interrupts himself to sigh, “who am I kidding? I cannot in good conscience refer to that drivel as art. Anyhow, now it could be my turn.”
“No offense,” Jake says, sitting down and picking up his medicine, “but I would rather set myself on fire.”
“Ah. Well. While I can’t say this comes as a surprise, it is disappointing. You know, I happen to have my William Faulkner collection right here.”
He says the name like it’s a big deal, but, truth be told, Jake has no idea who or what he’s talking about. Wait, is this the way Kevin felt when Jake first mentioned Nic Cage to him? Nah, can’t be. Nic Cage is super famous.
“The remote is to your right,” Kevin informs him after Jake has swallowed his pill and taken off his shoes. “How are you feeling?”
Maybe this is the moment to make his exit. Jake still doesn’t want to, he really doesn’t want to be alone right now, but he is imposing on Kevin and he has no idea what Holt will say about that when he gets back, whenever that may be.
“It hurts a little, but I think I’ll be okay. If you want me to leave--”
“Jake,” Kevin cuts him off, “I thought I made myself clear. I want you to stay.”
It’s perhaps a little pathetic how warm and fuzzy this is making him feel, but Jake is too comfortable to care.
Jake flips channels for a while because the first thing on is - of course - a French documentary on someone called Pierre Vernier? - Jake has never pushed a button faster in his life - until he finds some classic cartoons. With Tom and Jerry on, Jake settles into the pillows, rolls onto his good side and relaxes. He glances over at Kevin, who seems to be engrossed in his reading. Cheddar, Jake notices, is curled up on the floor next to Kevin’s armchair, head resting on his owner’s right foot.
This, being in their house, all wrapped up in Holt’s and Kevin’s blanket, is weirdly nice. Jake lies still, letting the painkiller do its magic, while an axe-wielding Tom gives chase across the tv screen.
Tom swings and misses. In a single chop, he cuts down a tree instead, which falls on him, bouncing off his head and pummeling him into a square shape. It’s funny but also sad. In real life, cats die when trees fall on their head. People too.
Jake has enough sense to realize that his meds are kicking in. The inside of his head feels all fuzzy now like is brain has been packed in balls of cotton.
He watches Tom spring back into his normal shape and start running after Jerry to ever swelling music. “Kev?” he hears himself ask, “do you think Tom would actually kill Jerry if he caught him?”
Kevin raises his gaze from the pages of his book.
“As Tom is a fictional construct in an animated television program aimed at children, the answer is no.” He cocks his head. “If you were speculating about a real cat called Tom and a real mouse arbitrarily named Jerry, however, the answer would be yes. Cats kill mice. It’s their nature.”
Trust Kev to come up with an overly complicated and convoluted reply. It takes Jake a few seconds to parse it. “Hm. You wouldn’t be mad at a cat then, if it killed a mouse. Because that’s just what it does. And if Jerry killed Tom first, it’d be ruled self defense. I mean, as a cop, if I was called to that crime scene, it’d be an open and shut case.”
Jake has seen crime scenes like that. He doesn’t really want to think about it though.
Kevin quirks an eyebrow as he rests the open book on his thigh. Jake has his full attention now. “We are speculating about the hypothetical murder of Tom, the animated tomcat?”
On the screen, the character in question is trying to pole-vault up to a birdhouse where Jerry has found shelter with a canary. “Yeah.”
“Well, there is also a dog character, if I’m not mistaken, so there might be another suspect.”
“But Tom had it coming, right? He’s the one who started it by going after Jerry with that crowbar.”
Oh. Shit. Jake’s brain really isn’t doing what it’s supposed to be doing. “I meant axe. Sorry, crowbar, axe, all the same to me. I’m a cop not a… um… hardware store guy?”
“Hm.” Kevin’s eyes narrow. “Jake, is this about your injury?”
“No… maybe.” Jake swallows, realizing that all this time... “You didn’t ask.”
Kevin shifts in his chair, putting one palm down on the pages of his open book. “I assumed that, if you wanted to tell me, you would. I did not want to pry.”
Everyone else would have. It would have been the normal thing to do. The fact that Kevin didn’t is neither good or bad, it’s just very Kevin. In the safe house, there were days when Jake came close to forgetting Kevin was even there. He was so unobtrusive and Jake has realized since then, that when stressed, sad or otherwise emotional, Kevin’s first instinct is to withdraw completely into himself, to make himself disappear, which, come to think of it, probably says a lot about his upbringing.
“That’s… very polite,” Jake says despite knowing that for Kevin it’s probably also kind of self protection plus the fact that he might not care all that much.
A beat, then Kevin does prod gently. “Do you want to tell me?”
Jake blinks, surprised. He’s not sure he’s prepared to have this conversation now, with Kevin of all people. He could have talked to Charles or Terry at the precinct, he could have called Amy, but he’d wanted to talk to Holt first because Holt, well.
Kevin is still looking at him, his expression unguarded and patient and Jake, curled up on his couch and wrapped in a blanket that smells a whole lot like Kevin - a smell Jake finds weirdly soothing - knows he could say no and that would be that. Kevin wouldn’t be mad, he’d just nod and go back to his book and they’d never speak of it again.
Here’s the weirdest thing. Jake doesn’t want that. No matter how much he’d like to pretend otherwise, there is a weight on him. Kevin not only sees it, he’s reaching out, offering to take some of it.
Jake mutes the tv. He takes a deep breath. Thinking back on that moment, he can feel his heartbeat pick up.
“I almost shot a guy today,” he says. Hearing himself say it like that, he realizes he sounds like a baby. Yeah, he almost shot someone. He’s a cop in NYC, it’s bound to happen, isn’t it? And it’s not like it was the first time he ever had to make that call - only that maybe this time it was the closest, and maybe this time for the first time ever, there was a moment when he regretted not having pulled the trigger.
Very deliberately, Kevin closes his book and sets it aside. “Perhaps you could start at the beginning?”
“Right. Sorry.” Jake sucks in another breath. “Charles and I were investigating this series of thefts. It was pretty small-scale stuff. Someone was stealing tools and supplies from construction sites.”
It’s a super boring story, really, but Kevin seems to be all ears.
“We had a picture from street surveillance catching the guy in the act. We ran it through facial recognition, but we didn’t get a name. Still, we knew his patterns, everything really. Based on that, we camped out at a site in his neighborhood this morning. Boyle and I sat in the car waiting for him to show. He did. When we chased him, Charles tripped over some stupid rock. I followed our guy into an alley. I had my gun out, I warned him, but he didn’t stop. He went around a corner, I did too, and there he was with a crowbar. I have no idea where it came from.”
The crowbar. Jake can still see it hanging in the air above his head - except that was later. First…
“He swung it at me - he was right there--”
It had been such a dumb move, jumping out in front of a cop who has a gun pointed at your chest. And then taking a swing. It was downright suicidal.
Jake remembers the way his finger twitched on the trigger and how he stopped himself, how he was looking straight into that guy’s eyes - and really, he was just a kid, a teenager, totally freaked out and in over his head - how Jake had wasted that second and pretty much allowed the crowbar to hit him.
Jake had gone down hard and the kid had raised the crowbar over his head... and hesitated. Then Charles had come around the corner, yelled, “NYPD, drop your weapon!” and whatever had possessed the kid had vanished. He’d surrendered.
Jake finishes his tale in a rush, feeling embarrassed.
“You could have taken the shot, but you didn’t and if Detective Boyle had not arrived when he did, you might be dead now, or at least severely injured,” Kevin summarizes. He has a way of getting to the point which Jake can appreciate, even if it exposes stuff he’d rather gloss over. Kevin curls a hand around his chin, inclining his head. “Then again,” he says, “the young man did not kill you and your hesitation saved his life as well.”
“Sure.” It’s not like Jake hasn’t been telling himself that, pretty much from the moment Charles put cuffs on the perp. It worked out, so no need to think about it. And that would have done the trick, a couple of years ago it would have been fine, cool, cool, cool, no doubt, no doubt, no doubt.
“It’s just that, when I mess up, it’s not just my life on the line anymore. I mean… I want to marry Amy. I’m going to. I don’t want to make her a widow before we even got to have the cake and she got to wear the dress and stuff.”
And then after that, there is a whole life he wants to share with her.
“Ah,” Kevin says.”I see.” There’s a softness in his eyes now that Jake doesn’t think he’s ever seen before. Of course Kevin gets it, he’s been through it. Well, without the dress and, come to think of it, without the cake too, but the whole becoming someone’s husband thing, Kevin’s done it. He’s fully committed.
“I can’t screw up anymore, can I? I can’t hurt her like that.” He swallows, wringing the blanket in is hands. “But I couldn’t do it.” If he’d had time to aim properly...
“I certainly do not envy you and Raymond the responsibility you carry.” Kevin sighs softly. He uncrosses his legs, only to cross them again. “Jake, it is not a bad thing that you recognize its weight. A life is a life. There are philosophers - Emmanuel Levinas comes to mind - who argued that taking one is never justified, not even in self-defense, and while, personally, I would disagree with that, I do think that a police officer’s first and foremost duty is to protect. You should never take this lightly, and yet,” he continues, voice gaining an edge, “I cannot bear to think about anything happening to my husband. At the end of the day, I need him to come back to me.”
Jake nods, though he’s not sure what Kevin is telling him. Maybe that there is no answer, at least not an easy one, and that he, too, is still trying to figure it out. Considering how smart Kevin is, that’s a truly scary thought.
You are my husband. I want you to tell me everything, especially things that might frighten me, how can you not know that?
“I have to talk to Amy,” he says.
“Yes, you do,” Kevin responds gently, “but you should get some rest first. Raymond will be back for dinner. You should talk to him, too. ”
The captain. Jake has all but forgotten that Holt was the reason he showed up here in the first place. “Where is he anyway?”
“He is spending the day with his mother and sister, as it is the anniversary of his father’s death.” While Kevin’s expression and voice are completely neutral, as if he’s just talking about the weather, Jake breaks into a cold sweat. This is a special day and he can’t be here - in fact, he’s probably the last person Holt wants to see.
“Oh. Um,” Jake stammers, struggling into a vaguely upright position. “Oh.”
“Peralta, relax, he knows that you’re here and he agreed that you should stay overnight.”
Jake blinks, sinking back into his pillow. Honestly, he’s a little overwhelmed. “I should?”
“Yes,” Kev says and just like that, he picks up his book, finds the page where he left off and goes back to reading.
Jake just stares at him for a moment, then he says the first thing that comes to his mind.
“I know you would have done this for any member of the squad.“ The sentence hangs awkwardly between them now because Jake has no idea how to continue. He wants to say more, the truth, which is: But this means the world to me and I can’t even tell you how grateful I am. It’s not just that I want you and the captain to be my dads, it’s like in my heart you already are.
And he can’t even think that without his eyes growing moist.
“Actually,” Kevin says, glancing up from his book, “for Rosa and Gina, I would have used the expensive organic peanut butter, not the cheap sugar laden brand I fed you.“
Banter, Jake thinks, noice. Trust Kev to know how to nip that real feelings stuff in the bud. Smort. Jake can do banter.
He grins. The little dig didn’t even sting that much - though Jake desperately wants to be Kev’s favorite. “Joke's on you,” he shoots back, “because I like the cheap brand better.“
Kevin raises his book a fraction, but not fast enough and not high enough to actually hide the tiny smile stealing onto his lips. Jake sees it, this secret, knowing, pleased little smirk and it’s like jolt of electricity straight to his brain when realization hits.
Kevin knows Jake likes the cheap brand better and there is no way Holt and he would have it in their house. Cheddar eating it didn’t make him freak out because he’d just read the label because he’d only bought it minutes earlier during his little trip to pick up Jake’s meds.
Specifically for Jake.
Because Jake is his favorite.
Jake has to look away and press his lips together to keep himself from making a loud, high-pitched, not very manly noise. He’s definitely not crying. He’s just allergic to all the feelings he’s feeling all of a sudden.
He pulls the blanket up higher and closes his eyes.
The room is quiet except for Cheddar’s soft snoring and the whisper of paper whenever Kevin turns a page.
Sleep comes surprisingly easy.
Jake is roused by the computer voice of Kev’s and the captain’s weird landline phone announcing, “Call from Raymond Holt mobile” followed by the rustle of clothes and the sound of footsteps. Kevin is going to pick up in the adjacent room.
Jake hears Kevin answer, his voice muffled but the words still intelligible.
His eyes closed, he lets Kevin’s half of the conversation wash over him.
“Hello Raymond, is everything alright?”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
“Yes, thank you for asking.”
“Yes, he is currently asleep on the couch in the living-room.”
“I think he would benefit from speaking with you after dinner tonight.”
“Well. You might want to reserve judgment as I will be serving pizza pockets. I did buy carrots for desert, as well as ice cream for Peralta. It is blue and the flavor is, if the packaging is to be believed--” A sigh. “--bubblegum.”
“Yes, I’m sure it will be an adventure.”
“Please give your mother and sister my regards. I love you. Goodbye.”
With a soft click, Kevin replaces the receiver.
Unable to stop smiling, Jake buries his face in his pillow. There is a kid in a holding cell at the precinct, a pretty dumb kid, who still has a future, he thinks, and here he is, Jacob Peralta, who also has a future, one that contains pizza pockets, time with his dads, bubblegum flavored ice cream and marrying Amy Santiago.
He can’t wait.