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It's not a crime, to love me too

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He ran his finger across his creation, savouring the touch of every engraving, every intricate detail on the gold. The blood red rubies wove in patterns, curving through jewels, the colours alluring. 

The buzz of machinery echoes in the room, but he remains focused, his whole world zoomed in on the work in front of him. A silent darkness encompasses the rest of the room; a singular flickering light circles around him. 

Another engraving, another jewel, another coat of paint. His eyes squint with concentration, and he bites his lip, dribbles of blood dripping down his chin. 

With one last swipe of polish, he’s done. The curves of his lips, the glimmer of excitement in his eyes all shine back at him, clearer than an oasis of water. 

Satisfied, he leans back, sighing and laughing to no one in particular. God he’s good at his job. 

─────

“Excuse me, Inspector Diaz! You have no jurisdiction here!” The museum curator is short and stout, his measly steps no match for the determined, fast paced strides of Inspector Rosa Diaz. 

Five years. Over half of her working life has been spent chasing him, and today, she was close. Closer than she’s been in a while. The crowded museum naturally parted for her,  be it from fear or just pure instinct, one glance and a tourist knows to keep their distance. 

That however, does not apply to the museum curator, who struggles and pushes his way through the crowd behind her. 

“Inspector Diaz! Please!” He calls out, he reaches a hand to pull her back by her elbow but before he can she turns around. Only then does their extreme height difference become apparent. The museum curator gulps. 

“Do not touch me.”

 The curator flinches, shrinking into himself. 

“My intelligence tells me that one of the world’s most prolific and wanted art thieves is here today. He’s going to steal your museum's most precious artifact and yet you refuse to let me inspect it.” She snaps. She doesn't dignify him with a chance to respond, immediately spinning around, her curly raven hair slapping him in the face. 

Despite that, the curator continues to follow her down the corridor, rambling about high security and 24/7 surveillance, all of which falls on deaf ears. 

“Sorry Mam, this entrance is for authorized personnel only.” The guard pipes up as Rosa approaches. 

“I am authorized.” She snaps, and before he can even blink she’s punched him in the gut, and with a swift motion rammed her elbow into his neck. 

The inspector pushes past the doors, stepping into the room; the guard whimpering on the floor behind her and the curator staring after her helplessly. 

The room isn't particularly big, but it’s ceiling spans up high. The walls are covered with murals, old paintings that depict centuries of history, culture and tradition. 

There are more security guards than tourists in the room, a few of which snap their heads towards her abrupt entrance, but most of their gazes remain transfixed on the shining, alluring artifact in the centre. 

Encased in a layer of glass, there it was, Cleopatra’s bejeweled egg of the serpent. A gold snake is twisted on the front, its single visible eye made out of a small ruby. The rest of the egg is grand and elegant, intricate engravings decorate its surface, priceless Jewels dot across it, a stark contrast to the shiny gold. 

It was easily worth millions of dollars. If it was real. 

“It’s fake.” Rosa sighs. She lowers her heat sensor, tucking it into her pants. “Fuck!” 

“Excuse me, what?” 

“Fuck!” Rosa snaps again, and her eyes meet the curator’s, red hot anger in her irises. Before he could open his mouth, Rosa was by his side, a strong and steady grip on his collar, “You. Are. Incompetent.” 

The guards have their guns pointed at her now so she releases the curator, the poor man crumbling into a pile on the floor beneath her feet. 

As she makes her way closer to the egg, Rosa whispers into her walkie talkie, “Secure the area, we were too late but he might still be here. Search the building now, no one in or out.” 

Without any hesitation she snatches a water bottle from an unsuspecting tourist, tucking under the red barricade so she was right next to the egg. 

“Mam, please step away from the egg.” Someone warns her. 

“It’s fake. The real egg should have reflected some of the heat in this room but this one is as cold as the air around it. It’s a replica.” She replies, fiddling with the padlock on the glass chamber. 

“That’s impossible!” The curator shouts. 

Rosa just snorts, a soft mumble of idiota escaping her lips. 

With one last frustrated pull at the lock she gives up, she takes out her gun and shots straight through it. A few guards yelp in surprise and the tourists even further away from her. 

The door on the glass chamber swings open with ease and Rosa lifts up the water bottle, “Don’t believe me? Watch.” 

With a half triumphant smirk she pours the water onto the egg and the room is sealed in a crushing silence as the people watch on in horror. The shiny layer of gold flows away easily with the water, cheap plastic jewels clinking onto the floor. As the last of the water touches the floor, Rosa catches sight of the message scribbled onto it, an almost unintelligible scrawl made with sharpie.

“Gotcha…” The curator reads from behind her, dejectedly falling onto the floor. 

Just then, Rosa’s walkie talkie crackles to life, the sound filling the near silent room. 

“We searched the building, no sign of him anywhere. Sorry Diaz, I think he’s gone.”

The room works its way back into silence until a sudden burst of rage from Rosa breaks it. She shouts, flinging the fake egg into the wall opposite her. 

She’s breathing deeply and suddenly when she looks up the world freezes around her. She’s staring straight into his eyes, his face was right there, plain as day. 

The same face she’s been staring at the past five years. 

The same face that haunts her nightmares and plagues her at night. 

The same face that's wanted in over 18 countries around the globe. 

Jake fucking Peralta.