Amy’s five minutes late.
It shouldn’t unnerve Jake as much as it does, but the fact of the matter is that she’s five minutes late and the last time he saw her she was crying, voice breaking as she yelled after him, just before he’d slammed the front door right there in her face. That was nearly ten hours ago.
Meeting at this little cafe the morning after a knock-out fight became an unspoken tradition they established the morning after their second big fight. It doesn’t happen often, or anything - at least, Jake doesn’t think it happens very often - but it’s often enough that they don’t have to talk about it. They fight, one of them leaves, they take the night to cool off, and then they meet at the cafe the next morning at 9:30 and talk through everything while they eat. They’ve done this five times now, today being the sixth, and it usually leads to the nice, laid-back kinds of mornings he used to daydream about when he was in the Academy.
The thing is, she’s always been there before him. Sometimes ten minutes before him, sometimes just a few seconds ahead. But she’s always been there to spin around when he calls her name, to light up at the sight of him, to drag him down for a lingering kiss and a whispered apology.
Except for today.
She’s almost eight minutes late now, and Jake’s leg is jiggling uncontrollably beneath the table. A dozen horrifying scenarios are spinning through his head, each one more outlandish than the last - maybe her cab got in a wreck on the way here, maybe a band of thieves broke into her apartment after he left and she’s being held hostage, maybe aliens invaded earth and abducted her and she’s halfway across the galaxy right now.
He doesn’t let himself linger on the more realistic possibility: that she’s just not coming at all.
A waitress comes by and takes drink order, and he orders for Amy, too, hoping his smile is more convincing than it feels. “She’ll be here soon,” he tells the waitress, who nods encouragingly as she scribbles down extra lemons on her notepad for Amy’s water. The pity in her gaze tells him that she doesn’t believe him, though, and it’s almost enough to make him want to flip the whole table over in frustration.
His phone is out on the table, where it will stay until he sees her approaching the door. He bites his lip as he stares down at it, wondering how fine of a line he’ll be walking if he tries to text her. He’s never tried that before - never been brave enough to text her before seeing her in person after a fight - too terrified of saying something she’ll interpret the wrong way, leaving him with an even bigger mess than before. Still, it’s so unlike her to be eleven minutes late to anything, especially to things that are really important to her.
Maybe that’s your answer, then, a voice hisses in the back of his mind. Maybe this just isn’t important to her anymore.
He swallows hard and clenches his jaw as he quickly unlocks his phone and pulls up his text thread with Amy. The little cursor blinks teasingly in the speech bubble at the bottom but he only stares at it for a second before his fingers start moving.
I’m at Ludgate’s Cafe…you coming?
He hits send before he can think twice about it and then forces himself to look away from the screen, up and over the heads of his fellow cafe patrons, trying to pretend that 100% of his focus lays in his hands tightly clutching his phone.
That lasts all of two minutes, and then he’s too desperate. He peeks at the screen, and then stares.
The delivered message never changes to seen.
The waitress comes back five minutes after that with the drinks and he thanks her distractedly as he types out a second message to Amy:
I’m really sorry I was an ass and left last night, it was so stupid and dumb. I’m a huge jerk and I’m so sorry. I love you so much Santiago. Please come have breakfast w/ me I need to make this up to you
He keeps watching, but this one is never seen either.
Ames pls I’m getting worried ur never this late to anything pls just let me know ur alive
“Sir, are you ready to order?”
Jake looks up distractedly to find the smiling face of his waitress waiting for him to speak, pen poised over her notepad. “Uh,” he glances down blindly at the menu laid out before him, but only stares for a second before he’s drawn back to his phone - still nothing. “Um, actually - God, I’m sorry, can I have the bill instead? I think something’s wrong.”
A little crease of concern appears between his waitress’ brows. “Of course, sir -”
“Actually -” he fishes his wallet out of his pocket, pulls a twenty out of the billfold, and slaps it down on the table. “For the drinks. And the trouble. Keep the change, it’s all yours.”
He practically bounds out of the cafe to the sounds of his waitress thanking him profusely and then nearly falls off the curb as he waves a passing cab down. Anxiety sits like a knot in his throat as he chokes out Amy’s address to the driver.
I’m omw to ur apartment bc ur not responding and i’m freakign out sorry if u don’t wanna see me but i have 2 kno ur ok
He still doesn’t have a response when he climbs out of the cab, or when he races up the stairs to the apartment entrance, or when he bounds up the side staircase two at a time to the third floor. He checks one last time as he jogs down the hall to her apartment door - no change.
Jake draws up short at the door, panting, trying to square his shoulders and steel himself for whatever is waiting for him on the other side. He’s trying to decide between letting himself in with the key she gave him three months ago and knocking, which he hasn’t done…ever, really, now that he’s thinking about it, but the longer he stares at the door the more unnerved he gets until finally he panics and just grabs the doorknob.
It twists, and the door opens easily.
In an instant, all of Jake’s nerves go flying out the window. Amy never leaves her door unlocked. He slips into cop mode at once, knees bent, stomach taut and tense, eyes wide-open and alert as he gingerly pushes the door open. His fingers itch to wrap around the gun he’s not carrying as he eases inside and quietly closes the door behind himself.
Everything appears to be exactly the same as he remembers from the night before, except for the grocery bags haphazardly piled on the kitchen counter. He doesn’t stop to investigate, choosing instead to creep further into the apartment, listening for any signs of life. Sunlight is pouring through her gauzy curtains but it’s the only source of light within the apartment presently - all of her lamps and overhead lights are off, which only ever happens when she goes to bed. Her bedroom door is ajar, revealing a thin sliver of the darkened room beyond it, and after a quick scan of her bathroom and guest room, he tiptoes toward it as quietly as he can.
He pushes the door open and ducks inside, and his scanning gaze immediately catches on the human form sprawled out across the bed.
Jake drops the cop mentality immediately, shoving the door open to hurry toward her. “Amy?” He murmurs, kneeling down beside the bed to get on her level.
She’s sound asleep, snoring quietly, her hair in such disarray that it half-covers her face. She doesn’t stir, not even when he gently combs her hair back and swipes his thumb over her forehead tenderly. She’s laying on her stomach, her left arm hanging off the bed and her right folded beneath her, face pressed into her pillow. She’s wearing one of her work blouses - one of the flowery ones he loves - which is really odd, considering she was in a t-shirt and shorts the last time he saw her. Her glasses appear to have slipped from her left hand at some point during the night; he places them up on her bedside table, afraid of crushing the lenses with his knee. Her work slacks are discarded at the foot of the bed, half-piled on top of her shoes, and he spots her phone on the floor beside her pants, which strangely quells the anxiety still roaring through his gut.
All in all, she appears to have thrown herself in bed after a long day at work, only pausing long enough to take her shoes and pants off before falling into the mattress. Which makes approximately no sense, considering when he’d stormed out, it was nearly midnight.
Amy sighs in her sleep, the faintest of lines appearing between her brows as she readjusts her head slightly. “Amy,” he says a bit louder than before, careful to keep his voice low and soothing. “Hey, Ames, it’s me.” He’s still gently stroking her forehead even as he watches her slowly emerge from unconsciousness, awareness rippling slowly through her entire body as her eyelids flutter open to reveal her sleep-dazed unseeing gaze fixated on a point straight ahead of her.
She groans quietly, hoarsely, and lifts her head just far enough that Jake catches a glimpse of a rectangular patch of gauze with a blotchy dark red stain in the center on the other side of her head, held in place by white medical tape, which sends his heart sinking straight to the pit of his gut. She groans again, louder this time, and her whole face folds in what he can only imagine to be disorientation and pain.
“Hey,” he moves his hand away from her head to rest between her shoulder blades. “Are you hurt?”
She’s slow to respond, slow to open her eyes again, curling in on herself a bit tighter and snuffling out another sigh. “Wha’happened?” She slurs in a voice that can really only be described as pitifully thin.
“I don’t know,” Jake admits, shuffling a little closer and gently cupping the exposed side of her face. “Hey, open your eyes. Are you hurt?”
Her eyes open to half-mast and when she looks up at him, he can tell it’s through the haze of sleep. “Hm?”
“Roll over, babe, I think you’re hurt.”
She makes another pitiful noise but complies, rolling over sluggishly, her left arm flopping backwards over the mattress as she collapses backwards on what is usually his side of the mattress. Her right arm is still bent, bearing deep indents from where the shirt buttons dug in, but that’s not what catches his eye.
That would be the hospital band still wrapped around her wrist, and the cotton ball taped over the pit of her elbow from where an IV had been.
Amy’s eyes are still closed and he can tell by the stillness of her form that she’s on the verge of drifting off to sleep again, but he catches her hand and squeezes it until her eyes flutter open again. “Amy,” he says, desperately trying to keep his voice even, “did you have to go to the hospital last night?”
Her brow furrows as she considers his words, but then he supposes the memories flood back all at once, for suddenly her eyes go wide and her entire body tenses. “Oh my God,” she grunts. “Oh my God, Jake, wait -”
“What the hell happened?” His voice breaks, and Amy sits up quickly, crawling back over the mattress to take his face in her shaking hands.
He lets her drag him up to perch on the edge of her mattress, trying to ignore the familiar, comfortable intimacy of Amy inching closer to him without any pants on. “It was nothing,” she says earnestly, “I swear to God it was nothing - I didn’t even really need to go, they only made me do it because I was bleeding -”
“What happened?” Jake interrupts forcefully, catching her wrists in his hands and pulling her hands down, gripping them both tightly in his own.
“Five minutes after you left, Rosa called me and said someone spotted Baker - the armed robber from the case she and I have been working for like a month now, remember?” Jake nods, which seems to reassure Amy. “I got dressed and met Rosa at the precinct and we ended up on Coney Island for, like, five hours waiting for him to show up. We ended up chasing him for another twenty minutes, and when we cornered him in this little bakery, he started trying to fight his way out and…” she stops and tilts her head to her right - the side with the gauze. “He caught me with the edge of a mixing bowl. Honestly, I hardly even felt it, and Rosa got the brunt of it. They only made me go in because it was bleeding so much, but you know how much head wounds bleed - it wasn’t even that deep, and there’s hardly any swelling, and they only held me in there for, like, an hour before they released me.”
Jake shakily releases a breath he did not realize he was holding, squeezing her hands before dropping one to lightly touch the side of her face. She smiles, tentative and encouraging, and leans just slightly into his touch. “So…so you’re okay?”
“Why didn’t you call me?” He whispers. The smile drops off her face at once, replaced by a look of faint anguish. “I mean, I - I would’ve come.”
He stops, no longer trusting his voice. She gives him another moment, probably waiting to see if he’s going to continue. “I didn’t want you to worry,” she says softly. “I didn’t…I was…I was kind of scared.”
“Well we were fighting, and we never…we don’t talk right after a fight, not ‘til the next morning, and…I was scared you wouldn’t answer.”
Jake clenches his jaw and briefly closes his eyes. “I would’ve answered, and I would’ve come running.” He says, voice low.
Her face seems to crumble even further. “I realized that when I was on the way home,” her hand is still in his and with her free hand she grips his wrist. “I felt so stupid, but it was nearly seven in the morning and I hadn’t slept, so I went to the supermarket to get breakfast food and came back home and texted you before - I mean, I guess I fell asleep.”
Jake shakes his head. “You didn’t text me.”
Amy blinks. “Yes I did.”
“No, you didn’t. That’s why I came over here. I was waiting at Ludgate’s but you didn’t come, and I freaked out and came over here to - to make sure you were okay.” Her eyes go impossibly wide, and a split second later she pulls her hands from his grasp and begins desperately casting around her bed for her phone. “Amy,” he says, but she appears not to hear him. “Hey, it’s down here.”
He pushes off her bed and backs up the five necessary paces to scoop her phone up off the floor. She snatches it from his outstretched hand and unlocks it, before letting out a distressed sound from the back of her throat. “I didn’t hit send,” she whispers, and Jake feels the tension drain from his chest. “Oh my God, Jake, I’m so sorry - I didn’t hit send, I typed out this message and I didn’t hit send, look -”
Was out all night w/ Rosa chasing a perp. We got him, but I had to go to ER. I’m okay!! Just minor stuff they insisted on checking out. Come to my apartment instead of Ludgate’s in the morning and I’ll make you breakfast. I love you so much, Peralta, and I’m so so so sorry.
“It’s okay,” he says softly, dropping back down on the mattress in front of her. Her hands fall weakly against her thighs and he quickly scoops them both up and squeezes them. “It’s - it’s really okay, it was just an accident. It’s okay. I’m just - are - are we okay?”
She releases a breath, pulls her hands from his grasp, gently threads her fingers through the hair at the base of his head, drags him closer, and kisses him. His sigh is long and shuddering and her skin is warm beneath his hands and through her shirt, and when they break away her forehead lingers against his and her nails scrape gently against his scalp. “We’re okay,” she whispers, “and I’m sorry.”
He hums and leans forward to kiss her again, palms skating up her arms and up her neck to gently run the pads of his thumbs over her cheekbones. “It’s really okay,” he whispers when he pulls back. “I’m sorry, too. I acted like an idiot. This - what we have, it’s…it’s way too important to me. We can’t keep putting off talking this stuff out for the morning after, not when our jobs are so dangerous.”
“I’m okay.” She reminds him in a whisper.
“Yeah, you are this time, but what would’ve happened if you hadn’t been? I would’ve lost my mind if the last words I ever spoke to you were ‘get over yourself,’ Ames.”
A smile flashes faintly across her face. “You’re right,” she sighs quietly. “Next time - if there’s a next time - let’s be more intentional of working things out that night.”
She leans forward and kisses him again, chaste and firm, and then leans back. “And for the record, this - you and me - it’s really, really important to me, too. I love you, Peralta.”
“I love you, too.” He leans forward and kisses her forehead. “Lay back down and go back to sleep. I’ll go make breakfast and I’ll wake you back up when it’s done.”
“Wait, no, I said I was gonna cook -”
“You were out pretty much all night. Plus, you’re hurt. Let me take care of you, Ames.”
She narrows her eyes suspiciously. “Is this because you think I can’t cook?”
“I can cook!” She cries. He scoffs, and she crosses her arms over her chest and huffs indignantly. the sound draws a laugh straight out of the pit of his belly, and it only takes a moment before the sound becomes infectious and Amy starts laughing, too. “At least let me come and watch you cook. I missed you.”
That’s how Jake ends up barefoot in her kitchen, attention divided between the scrambling eggs and Amy where she’s perched up on the counter, ankles crossed and feet swinging while she watches him work. He stops pretty often to kiss her, grinning when her eyelids are slower to flutter open than his. All the fear and tension from the morning is just a distant memory now, nothing more than an irksome blip on the furthest edge of his radar.
And all those daydreams of lazy Saturday mornings strolling through New York while holding hands with someone he loves completely pale in comparison to a sleep-tousled Amy Santiago laughing and flicking egg shell shrapnel at his head while he sing-shouts Taylor Swift songs into his spatula microphone. It’s a strange kind of love.
But he wouldn’t trade it for anything.