"No, thank you, we'll take the Moscato instead," Kevin says, handing the wine list to the server.
"A dessert wine with dinner," Raymond says, shaking his head. "We're becoming radicals, Kevin."
"Under the circumstances, I think it's appropriate and well-earned," Kevin says, unfolding his menu in front of him, although he glances up at Raymond as he does so. "Besides, champagne goes to both our heads."
"Yes," Raymond agrees, but vaguely. Over Kevin's shoulder, he can see a familiar hunched shoulder curled away from their table, and on his other side, an equally familiar head of black, curly hair falling on a leather jacket. The third man at the hightop table with them has telltale muscle definition. Their voices filter through even the background clink-and-clatter of the restaurant, the giveaway strained hush of a whispered argument, although the quality of some of the voices is…staticky.
"Why, the last time we had champagne, your still life of the rock from art class the next morning was downright crooked, you were so hungover," Kevin continued.
"Indeed," Raymond says, scanning the room. There--conspicuous sunglasses at the bar, the cheerful blue blazer that Santiago wore earlier today (Raymond will have to speak to her about changing clothes while tailing suspects--or innocent bosses), and now that Raymond thinks to notice it, he can smell the telltale artificial vanilla of Gina's current favorite scented candle. Also, more arguing.
Raymond closes his menu. "If you'll excuse me, I have to urinate. Please order for me."
Kevin frowns up at him. "Are you in the mood for anything in particular?"
"I'm in the mood for a surprise," Raymond says, and frowns, correcting himself. "A pleasant surprise."
Raymond approaches Santiago, Peralta, and Gina first. Based on Peralta's not-quite-whispered "He's coming, he's coming, he's coming oh my god you guys - ", his approach is spotted. Good.
"Detectives. Gina," Raymond says by way of greeting. "Imagine seeing you here."
"Oh, you know, sir, we just had a sudden craving for…" Peralta falters, and finishes with a lackluster, "whichever kind of cuisine this restaurant is."
"Jake! It's a high-concept revival of Middle Ages European cuisine using recipes hundreds of years old updated for the modern palate!"
Santiago begins to cough suddenly, with exceeding falsity. "Sorry, sir, I don't know why I just coughed something that sounded so much like Boyle's voice!" she says, her voice not even hoarse. "That's so weird."
"Sir," Gina says, leaning back on her barstool, "I just want you to know that I don't even know what these two hot messes are doing here other than harassing us and I will fully support you bringing them up on charges."
"Peralta, Santiago," Raymond says, doing his best to loom over them despite their bar stools. "Did you take official police radios to keep in touch with Boyle, Diaz, and Jeffords, who are standing over there in that corner, while following my husband and me to dinner?"
Peralta points at him. "Husband and I! It should be husband and I, right?"
Santiago purses her lips sadly and shakes her head.
Raymond just says, "No."
"Oh. Well, anyway, yes we did, but we didn't so much follow you as we knew you would be here so we decided to be here, too."
Raymond raises an eyebrow. "And that's different from following…how?"
Peralta shrugs as though it's obvious. "We didn't track your movements on the way here, we just met you here, accidentally on purpose which you weren't supposed to know about."
"Raymond, this is getting embarrassing," Gina says, tilting her head at him. "You know it, we know it, everyone knows that you're here to propose to Kevin again. Just say it!"
Raymond looks back and forth to all of them. "You all figured it out, then?"
"We all figured it out, sir," Terry's voice says from the radio.
Peralta holds up a hand and begins ticking off fingers. "You asked Boyle for a restaurant recommendation--although why you agreed to come to a restaurant called Powder-Douce is beyond me--and you told Gina to screen your calls even though you never screen your calls because you're kind of a workaholic, don't hate me 'cause it's true, then Amy saw the ring while she was looking through your briefcase so she could buy an identical one--"
"I've seen you put your laptop in it, sir, and it never seems to accordion out or affect your posture!" Amy says.
"That's because my posture is impeccable, Detective."
"I," Peralta continues, "figured it out because, okay, Amy told me but I was the one who got confirmation by calling the restaurant, pretending to be your assistant, and asking them to confirm all the details. By the way, you're getting free champagne with dessert, but they won't put candles on it because that's apparently only a birthday thing, which is an outrage, am I right?" He looks around. Santiago won't meet his eyes. Raymond doesn't change his expression.
Gina leans over towards Santiago and whispers, "My condolences on…that." She waves towards Peralta's entire being.
"Also, Terry figured it out because you made personal inquiries about how he proposed to his wife--"
"Ah, yes," Raymond says in the direction of the radio, "your wife who, of course, is made uncomfortable by me for reasons which I entirely respect. Please tell her I hope her pelvic floor elasticity has returned to its pre-childbirth condition."
The rush of a sigh comes over the radio. "Man," Terry's voice says, "how is that the one thing you can't figure out?"
"And Rosa wouldn't tell us how she figured it out," Peralta finishes.
"Easy," comes Diaz's voice. "I saw him looking at the rainbow flag on his desk for a full, like, ten seconds. He never gets that sappy."
Raymond raises an eyebrow. "And so you decided the proper course of action was to stalk my husband and me to our proposal dinner to--what? Spectate?"
"No! We are not rubberneckers, sir!" Santiago holds a hand to her chest. Raymond can't quite tell if the gesture is meant to be earnest or convey that she's offended. "We wanted to share in this momentous occasion and provide our support however we can!"
"Also to send you guys a bottle of champagne," Diaz's voice says.
"Although I stand by what I said about oysters being more appropriate," Boyle says. "Since cacao wasn't brought to Europe until after the Middle Ages and Powder-Douce's executive chef Bartolomeo Scappi refuses to use an ahistorical variant of strawberry, oysters are the most erotic food they serve here."
"Charles, will you quit it with the oysters, it's inappropriate and gross and nobody wants to think about our captain boinking!" Peralta says.
"You were arguing about the oysters, weren't you," Raymond says.
"They were," Gina says. "I was just watching."
"You'll be happy to know that no gift is necessary," Raymond says. "Except, perhaps, the gift of peace and quiet if you all would care to leave the restaurant."
"No way, sir!" Terry says. Out of his peripheral vision, Raymond can see the interplay of muscles through Terry's shirt as he lifts his shoulders in disagreement. "Not until the proposal's happened, not when we came all this way."
"Oh. I see. I understand the confusion. Kevin proposed to me about five minutes ago, and I happily accepted. I'm surprised you didn't notice."
("Raymond," Kevin says over the wine list, "I've quite enjoyed being married to you these past few years. Would you like to renew our vows in an actual marriage ceremony?"
"Kevin, I would love to," Raymond says.
"Congratulations, sirs," the server says. "Would you like a bottle of champagne to celebrate?"
"No, thank you, we'll take the Moscato instead," Kevin says.)
Peralta, Santiago, and Gina stare at him, and after a long moment Raymond can hear Terry's "What the hell?" without the assistance of the radio.
A heavy knock disrupts the quiet of Kevin's office, and he has a decent idea of who it is even before he raises his head. Raymond has a similar knock, although more distinctive in its tone; the beat, however, is the tell-tale policeman's knock, typically followed by the words, "NYPD, open up!"
Instead, when Kevin raises his head, he sees Detective Peralta's head stuck halfway through his doorway.
"Professor Cozner! Your sign here says that you're having office hours, so I assumed you'd be here, in your office."
"I can see how you made detective at such a young age," Kevin says blandly. "May I help you?"
Peralta takes this as an invitation and steps further in. "Well, if you insist! I had a little Tate-at-Tate with the Captain today - "
"Tete-a-tete," Kevin says.
A forced, unenthusiastic smile appears across Peralta's face. "I have no idea what that means, but okay. Anyway, he mentioned that after Gina and Charles's parents' wedding, you guys weren't planning on involving us from the precinct in any way except that we'd be allowed to come, which we appreciate - "
"I assure you, there will be more detailed guidance as we approach the wedding date," Kevin says.
"But!" Peralta holds up a piece of paper. "I think there are some ways we can help out with that Captain Hold may not have thought of, so I thought I'd give you the numbers of everyone in the Nine-Nine in case you need us."
"That's very kind, but - "
Peralta ignores him, stepping forward to gently place the piece of paper on the desk. "If I learned anything from how Gina suddenly became a scary, all-knowing puppetmaster leading up to her mom's wedding, it's that this wedding planning thing is serious business. So I got everyone in the precinct to take a pledge that we'll do whatever you need us to do, whether it's keeping Captain Hold from getting too bogged down in details by distracting him with a particularly gruesome murder, or leaving him alone while you guys get stuff done and making Terry take care of it. Just call one of us, and we'll do whatever we can."
Intrigued despite himself, Kevin leans over his desk far enough to look at the list of numbers. "You've listed the same number for yourself, Hitchcock, and Scully."
Peralta grimaces. "Yeah, just call me if you have a Hitchcock or Scully situation and I'll come deal with them. Any kind of, y'know, sightings or intrusions. Or if you want some opera at the drop of a hat. I can make that happen, too." He mimics dangling something from one hand. "You just kind of hold a Snickers above him like a dog treat and he starts singing."
"Thank you, Detective Peralta," Kevin says. "This is…oddly thoughtful."
"Well, you're marrying into the Nine-Nine family, Kev, and since we actually like you we're going to try to be way more chill than actual families are. Also way less critical. Also physically present. Except not now, because we're going to respect your boundaries."
"That sounds oddly specific."
"Yes, and like actual families, we're also not going to talk about that kind of stuff." Peralta holds out a hand, and after a moment Kevin takes it in a firm handshake. "Kev Kev," Peralta says gravely, inclining his head, and leaves.
As neither Kevin nor Raymond is a bachelor, a bachelor party for either of them would be ridiculous. However, since they both recognize the importance of celebrating major life events (more for the benefit of their friends and family members than themselves, frankly), they decide to host a joint wine-and-cheese book discussion instead. This has unexpected repercussions at the precinct.
"But wait, then when are you going to get the strippers?" Peralta asks, appearing entirely bereft. Santiago opens her mouth to object, and Peralta holds up a hand to forestall her. "Male strippers, obviously. I'm not an asshole."
"There will be no strippers," Raymond says.
"Not even a Magic Mike screening?"
"Fine." Peralta crosses his arms and sits back on the edge of his desk. "So what's the book we're gonna be discussing, then?" He gasps, his face lighting up. "The novelization of Magic Mike?"
"The Song of Achilles," Raymond says. "By Madeline Miller. Kevin and I became engaged at a gallery show of a visual arts student in one of Kevin's classes who had created a series of abstract expressionist paintings based on the book. Kevin was there under duress because he wanted to support his student's interest in the classics, and I went with him to provide moral support and to get a break from the case of an art forgery ring that had everyone working long hours. Well, at least until I arrested the artist."
Peralta's eyebrows jump up. "Oh my god. Let me guess: he was the forger, and you arrested him for forgery right then and there?"
"No, I arrested him for the truly impressive amount of cocaine he had on his person. He was selling it under the cover of the gallery openings to pay for his visual arts degree. But after I arrested him, Kevin proposed to me. He said it made him realize that there would never be a better time, so he might as well get it over with."
"That's so romantic," Peralta says, straight-faced. "So when's this book discussion, then?"
Raymond looks at Peralta, his expression unchanging. "I had assumed a description of how it gained its emotional importance to Kevin and me would discourage you from wanting to come."
Santiago, over at her desk, stands up so fast her chair flies backward. "Sir, I love book club meetings - "
"Yeah, and I can come as Amy's plus-one!" Peralta grins. "It'll be great!"
"Even if you do so, you will be expected to read the book."
Peralta's smile stretches and becomes strained. "Greeeeaaaaaat!"
But two days later, Raymond comes into the precinct to find Peralta looking at his phone with a liquid that Raymond eventually realizes is tears flowing from his eyes.
"Peralta," Raymond says, and Peralta startles, flinging his cell phone across the room.
"What! What?" Peralta rubs his sleeve across his face. "Hi, Captain, hey, you scared me! Where did you come from?"
"What were you doing on your phone?"
"Whaaaaaaat? I wasn't doing anything, what were you doing? Okay, fine, you caught me, I was looking at fantasy media. I mean, social football. I tried to say social media and football at the same time but it came out sounding like porn - okay, I mean I'm reading porn. Totally porn."
"I don't believe you."
"Nope, you caught me! Reading porn at work."
Raymond raises an eyebrow. "Reading?"
Peralta sighs, slumping back in his chair. "Damn it, fine, I'm reading that book for your stupid book club and I thought I would just read a couple pages so that your husband would like me and so we could avoid a repeat of that whole human-trafficking-New-Yorker-article fiasco from your party two years ago - "
"The fact that you remember it in such detail after so long makes me concerned that it may have been a disproportionately formative and traumatic event for you."
"I tried to smother Amy in your bathroom while Terry held your dog like a football, of course it was traumatic! And why didn't you tell me Patroclus was going to die! What's up with that? This is supposed to be a song, like a fun thing, you know, but now he's dead and Achilles is sad and what is Achilles going to do without him?"
Raymond blinks. "Are you crying again?"
"They loved each other, okay?!"
Kevin returns from walking Cheddar to find that Raymond has come home from work early, but hasn't taken off his coat or unpacked his briefcase. This, Kevin thinks, is never a good sign.
"Kevin," Raymond says, "how would you feel about babysitting Sergeant Jeffords's children tonight?"
Kevin pauses in hanging up the leash. "Babysitting?"
"Sergeant Jeffords and his wife have plans to celebrate their anniversary," Raymond says. "Typically, they ask Peralta to babysit."
"Good lord, why?"
"He's the godfather to their children."
Kevin looks pointedly at him. "Shall I repeat myself, or is my point taken?"
"Come now, Kevin. I thought you and Detective Peralta were on much better terms these days."
"We certainly are, but perhaps you're forgetting the terms we began on. Is Peralta unable to babysit for some reason, or has Sergeant Jeffords realized that he's been entrusting his children to someone only marginally more capable of being an adult than his charges?"
"Detective Peralta was bitten by a raccoon while searching a dumpster and has received six stitches, antibiotics, and enough painkillers to dull almost all thought and sensation. He's been put on desk duty until he's back to his normal self since, frankly, with his paperwork, there won't be that much of a difference, but the Sergeant isn't comfortable leaving him in charge of children right now."
Kevin sighs, long and hard. "Have I mentioned recently how glad I am that you have a desk job?"
"Yes, you said it yesterday. At any rate, Sergeant Jeffords won't leave Detective Diaz alone with his children because he doesn't want her to teach them martial arts - "
("I don't care how much faster their bones heal when they're young, Rosa! No full-body flips until all of the baby teeth have fallen out naturally! Naturally! 'Naturally' does not mean 'because of full-body flips'!")
"Gina babysat them once but spent the entire time on her phone and let the children do whatever they wanted, which I believe involved crayons melted into the carpet. Detective Santiago panics and defaults to showing the children crime scene photos."
Kevin ticks off the detectives in the precinct one-by-one as Raymond mentions them. "And of course, Boyle will be watching Peralta."
"Yes. And he also tries to feed the children foods that scare them. Apparently Lacey still has nightmares about Swedish fermented herring."
That leaves only Hitchcock and Scully. Kevin doesn't bother to suggest them. "Have you already volunteered us, or do I get a say in it?"
"I volunteered only myself. If you don't want to do it, you don't have to."
There's a slight rising tone at the end of the sentence, almost like a question, and Kevin frowns. "But?"
Raymond looks down at his briefcase, waiting in the chair of the breakfast nook to either be unpacked or moved again. "We've never seriously spoken about the possibility of children, because of our professional lives and the potential barriers to adoption for a couple such as ourselves. Yet with recent shifts in legislation, and with an official wedding coming up, it may be time to at least consider the option of offspring."
A slight smile twinges Kevin's lips. "Offspring? Did you say it like that to Sergeant Jeffords?"
After a moment, Raymond admits, "Yes."
("Maybe you should say kids," Terry said.
"That doesn't imply the familial relationship the way that 'offspring' does," Raymond replied.
"Yeah, but it also implies less that you're going to eat the weak ones for sustenance.")
"Well," Kevin says, "I suppose we can give it a try."
The next morning after Raymond has left for work, Kevin discovers that either Cagney or Lacey - likely Cagney, who displays a remarkably complex and nuanced sense of humor for one so young - left an unfamiliar thumb drive in his coat when he was babysitting the night before, and he reasons that Sergeant Jeffords, whose drive it likely is, would probably like it back.
Peralta is the only detective at his desk when Kevin arrives at the precinct, and he appears in every way disheveled. His hair is asymmetrically messy, having presumably been flattened against a pillow while drying; his shirt contains more square inches of wrinkles than of smooth fabric; and his gaze is woozily fixed on his computer. The rest of the detectives, Kevin can see once he reaches Peralta's desk, are in the morning briefing. Raymond leads it this morning, his glasses perched high on his nose, and he leans forward onto the lectern to better hear whatever someone else is saying.
"Kevin!" Peralta shouts suddenly. Kevin, less than a foot away, jumps.
"Yes, Detective Peralta. Hello."
"I heard you filled in for me last night. I appreciate it, but I toooootally would've had it under control." Peralta gives the word 'totally' at least five more syllables than it usually takes.
"I don't believe you for a moment," Kevin says frankly. "Which desk is Sergeant Jeffords's? I believe one of his daughters slipped this into my coat pocket last night."
Peralta chuckles at the flash drive Kevin holds up. "Prob'ly Cagney. She's a funny one. Only she's actually funny, unlike your husband."
Kevin's entire soul gives a sigh. "The Sergeant's desk?"
Peralta points. The desk in question does, indeed, have family photos identifying it as the Sergeant's, so he puts the flash drive in front of the keyboard and writes a quick note on a Post-It explaining the situation.
"So, what'd you and the girls do last night?" Peralta grins. "Did they make you watch Steven Universe? They looooooove Steven Universe."
"They certainly do. We watched quite a bit of Steven Universe."
"Hey, so did I!" Peralta begins to hold his arms up, then winces and drops his right arm with care. Kevin notices the bulk of a bandage under the sleeve on that side. Raccoon, indeed. "Did Garnet get to punch something? Was it super-satisfying? I always find it super-satisfying when Garnet punches stuff."
"Yes, Garnet punched many things," Kevin says, and catches another glimpse of Raymond through the glass. Raymond listens intently, his eyes attentive behind the glasses, his jaw loose and relaxed. He had been relaxed around the children, as well, in a way that Kevin wouldn't have expected from him, if he were still capable of underestimating his husband after so many years.
"It was surprisingly satisfying indeed," he says.
Despite Terry's generous offer, Raymond and Kevin choose an actual priest to officiate their wedding. They opt for a middling-sized but simple ceremony, inviting Kevin's colleagues, the entire Nine-Nine, and the relatives who meet their three criteria of geographically convenient, not morally or spiritually opposed to gay marriage, and alive, meaning two of Kevin's cousins and Raymond's sister. As is traditional, they do not see each other until they meet in the vestibule. There are no wedding parties; they walk each other down the aisle, arm in arm.
They do, however, write their own vows, or at least provide their own. Kevin insisted that Raymond goes first, and so he does.
"Kevin," he says, "I have deeply enjoyed being married to you. I have had passionate relationships. I have had tumultuous relationships. And, to be fair, we have certainly had our moments of passion and tumult. But more than that, we have had a partnership. Our lives together are more than the sum of their parts. I relish our relationship and the family we have found in each other. I love you, and I am honored and astounded to be standing here today to say these words: I, Raymond Holt, take you, Kevin Cozner, to be my lawfully wedded husband. Again."
Raymond realizes that he is crying. Then he realizes that Kevin is crying, or is on the verge of it, and thinks that this, too, is something they are doing together.
Kevin clears his throat, and recites his vows from memory. And in Latin.
"Iucundum, mea vita, mihi proponis amorem, hunc nostrum inter nos perpetuumque fore. Di magni, facite ut vere promittere possit, atque id sincere dicat et ex animo, ut liceat nobis tota perducere vita aeternum hoc sanctae foedus amicitiae."
Raymond smiles. Catullus. Kevin had been writing a monograph on Catullus's love poetry when they had met, and Raymond recognizes it even in Latin. He's just familiar enough to pick out phrases: being called "my life," "everlasting," "eternal friendship."
Kevin slips the ring on his finger, and they are, now before witnesses, husbands.
"Catullus 109," Raymond says to him as they take a moment to themselves after the ceremony. "I assure you, I promise truly and speak sincerely and from the heart."
"You looked it up?" Kevin says, a small smile gracing his lips.
"I did debate whether the Latin might be a bit much, but it felt appropriate," Kevin says. "My runner-up was Shakespeare. One of his sonnets. 'Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments…' But it was a cliché."
Raymond raises his eyebrows. "And a Fair Youth sonnet. I'm sure I don't need to remind you that I am neither."
"There's the sense of humor I fell in love with," Kevin says. "And it does say to admit no impediments."
"Then I suppose you'll just have to make do with me." Raymond steps closer to him and takes his hand, interlacing their fingers.
"Every day, I am delighted to," Kevin says. The metal of his wedding band warms against Raymond's skin, and Kevin adds, "Mea vita."