They started walking their dogs together in Central Park on weekends. It turned out that Cheddar's French tutor lived nearby, and Kevin was trying to teach Patroclus to socialize with other dogs. At first Patroclus was skeptical of his new acquaintance, but by the second walk they were pretty happily chasing squirrels together. Cheddar was excited about Patroculus, but for some reason he was even more excited to meet Kevin.
"I heard a joke recently that you'll definitely appreciate. So, Who does Polyphemus hate more than Odysseus?" Captain Holt walked beside him holding a cup of black coffee in his hand.
"That's too easy, Captain, of course Nobody," they both laughed heartily.
They walked over to the bench under the maple tree and let both dogs off the leashes. Before running off after Patroclus, Cheddar sniffed Kevin’s leg and Kevin couldn’t resist but put his hand down and scratched the dog behind the ear. Satisfied with the amount of caress received, Cheddar walked away contentedly.
"It's amazing, Detective. Cheddar is usually pretty indifferent to new people. Sure, he's a decent dog and always friendly to humans, but he has some kind of special affection for you."
"Well, Captain, I can only assure you, that this affection is mutual. Besides, Patroclus needs to learn to socialize with other dogs. We've never walked with anyone together before. By the way, you can call me Kevin when we're off duty."
"I'd prefer not to overstep my bounds, Detective."
"Absolutely, Captain Holt."
There was an awkward silence.
Kevin usually enjoyed their weekly promenades. They always had something to talk about, but more importantly they could both appreciate the pleasant silence. Now, however, the silence was not pleasant at all. Holt turned to him.
"Why is your dog's name Patroclus?"
Kevin certainly had a reason to love that name.
In high school literature class, the teacher asked the students how they would describe a friendship between Achilles and Patroclus. Kevin answered the only thing that made sense to him, "It's a love story." Then the whole class laughed and the teacher thought Kevin was either joking or hadn't read the book. But Kevin wasn't joking , and he had definitely done his reading. He read the Iliad when he was twelve and then he stayed up all night sobbing after Patroclus died.
There were times when Kevin thought that the Iliad was the reason he wasn't doing great in a long-term relationship. Patroclus and Achilles were inseparable even after death in the underworld of Hades and Kevin realized that he hadn't yet found the person he wanted to be with for the rest of his days and even beyond. Though, of course, these thoughts were absurd and the reasons for his loneliness should have been different, but sometimes even he wanted to give his life a touch of romance.
"I guess, I just love the Iliad," he said, knowing full well that captain wouldn't buy it. But since this very captain had decided that even outside the precinct their relationship should remain strictly professional, he didn't have to know personal details. This thought sounded strangely vindictive in Kevin’s mind.
Captain Holt had already opened his mouth to say something else, when something urgent caught his sight. He saw that Cheddar noticed a squirrel sitting near the pond and ran toward it too quickly to slow down on time. They both jumped up from the bench and rushed toward the dog.
"Cheddar, stop. Cheddar, I order you to leave the squirrel alone!" Holt cried, but the dog was too keen. The distance between Cheddar and the pond was rapidly shrinking, when suddenly Kevin came up with an idea.
"Cheddar, arrête et laisse l'écureuil tranquille," he shouted decisively. The corgi stopped immediately, glanced curiously at both men, and wagged his short tail toward them.
For a second Kevin proudly thought that his French was finally coming in handy. The last time he'd used it was when he'd worked on a robbery case involving a French businessman (whom he'd then dated for three months).
"Merci, mon ami. Pas besoin de contrarier ton papa comme ça," Kevin said and sat down to pet the dog. At that moment, Kevin looked up at Holt.
"Kevin, you... you saved my Fluffyboy. I don't know how to thank you," his hands trembled and there was immense gratitude, admiration and something else in his eyes that Kevin couldn't quite put his finger on. He stood up and unknowingly touched the captain's hands. The trembling ceased at once.
"No need to thank me, Captain. I think we can end our walk for today. And how about I buy you a new coffee, you spilled your old one when you jumped off the bench," Kevin realized he was still holding Raymond's hands and immediately let them go. The shock seemed to wear off. Captain fastened Cheddar's collar to the leash.
"I got so scared when I saw Cheddar running toward the pond. He can't swim at all and..." the captain's breath hitched, he closed his eyes and Kevin lightly touched his palm, reassuringly. "I owe you, Kevin. Thank you."
"Like I said, Captain, no thanks necessary. It was the least I could do."
They slowly walked to the nearest coffee shop and captain insisted on buying coffee for both of them. After that, they walked over to Kevin's car. Patroclus obediently jumped into the front seat and curled up there.
"I wanted to thank you again, Detective. I shudder to think of what might have happened to me if Cheddar was hurt."
"Captain, you really should stop thanking me. I'm sure you'd do the same for Patroclus. He understands French very well, too, by the way."
Raymond smiled at him and held out his hand.
"Goodbye, Captain. Goodbye, Cheddar."
Cheddar looked sadly at Kevin and pressed his nose against his leg. Kevin scratched him behind the ear once more.
"Don't worry, mon ami. I'll see you in a week."
Kevin had already turned toward the car when Holt called out to him.
"Detective Cozner, I'm hosting a birthday party next week. Don't worry, nothing fun in spite of the word 'party.' Just me, my husband, our friends, appetizers and wine. I'd like to invite you. Besides, I think Cheddar will be pleased to see you again."
"I'll gladly accept your invitation, Captain. Do you plan to invite all the squad?"
"As a matter of fact, yes, I've thought about it. Frederick was against the idea at first, but I'd like to see all of you there."
"Fine, Captain. I'll make sure Santiago doesn't faint when she hears about it."
Holt smiled at him again. He and Cheddar departed.
Only on the way home did Kevin realize something.
The captain had called him Kevin twice.
And Kevin held his captain's hands. Twice.