Actions

Work Header

flowers in the field

Chapter Text

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

Nothing.

Amy???????

“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?”

“I’m 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.”

“Of what?”

“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.”

“Deal.”

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?”

“…not entirely.”

“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.

Chapter Text

Jake is in prison for forty-five days for the murder of Jonah Farley, a man he swears he’s never met before.

One hour after his processing is complete, he’s escorted to his cell, where he discovers he’s going to be spending the duration of his stay as Doug Judy’s cellmate because fate is cruel and what is tragedy without a dash of irony?

Two days after Jake’s been processed, Amy finds a partially smudged fingerprint on the underside of Jake’s kitchen counter that does not belong to her, Jake, or Farley. It’s not enough to dismiss the small mountain of evidence stacked up against Jake, especially considering Jonah was found out in the living room with three stab wounds to the torso, but it’s the start she’s been so desperately searching for.

Four days after Jake’s been processed, he gets his first visitor: Sophia Perez, who has agreed to take his case pro-bono “for old times’ sake.”

Five days after Jake’s been processed, Doug Judy has to intervene after one of the other inmates recognizes Jake as the cop who’d put him away. Jake comes out of it with a split lip and a black eye and a newfound respect, and an undying thankfulness for one Douglass Judy.

Ten days after Jake’s been processed, Amy visits him. They spend the vast majority of their ten minute visitation with tears pouring down their faces and their hands pressed against the inch-thick sheet of bulletproof glass between them, quiet, shuddering breaths muffled through the phone’s connection.

Twelve days after Jake’s been processed, Rosa breaks the other vending machine in a fit of rage.

Fifteen days after Jake’s been processed, Jake learns that he’s allergic to whatever unidentified sludge was set out for lunch. He spends three days in the prison infirmary.

Nineteen days after Jake’s been processed, Karen visits him, and tells him flatly that Amy will not stop until she gets him out. Jake smiles a heartbroken smile, taps the end of his index finger against the glass, and whispers, “I know.”

Twenty-three days after Jake’s been processed, Amy finds the murder weapon wedged between the side wall of Jake’s apartment building and the dumpster that sits directly beneath his bedroom window. The thunderstorm from Jake’s eleventh day in prison has washed all physical evidence away.

Twenty-four days after Jake’s been processed, Sophia visits and tells him to prepare for the worst. Jake waits until he’s back in his cell with his back turned to Doug Judy before crying quietly.

Twenty-six days after he’s been processed, crime scene techs are able to match the serrated knife blade to the wounds on Jonah Farley’s body, but are also able to determine that the blows were dealt by a left-handed assailant. Jake, as Amy is well-aware, is right-handed.

Twenty-seven days after Jake’s been processed, the crime tech lab comes back with a match on the partial fingerprint from Jake’s bed frame: Larry Gitimeyer.

Twenty-eight days after Jake’s been processed, Amy is incredibly disappointed to learn that Jake does not know anyone named Larry Gitimeyer. Later, she discovers that Larry Gitimeyer was reported dead in 2003.

Twenty-nine days after Jake’s been processed, Amy visits with a grainy black-and-white image of Larry Gitimeyer’s 1992 mugshot. Jake’s eyes go wide as saucers when he sees it through the glass. “That’s Freddy Maliardi,” he says weakly into the receiver.

Thirty-two days after Jake’s been processed, Charles is able to compile a comprehensive list of every known pseudonym Freddy Maliardi has gone by in the past.

Thirty-five days after Jake’s been processed, Rosa gets a hit on one of Maliardi’s false identities - a credit card registered under the name Lawrence McCall was used at a motel in New Jersey two days earlier.

Thirty-six days after Jake’s been processed, the Nine-Nine ambushes an abandoned motel room in New Jersey. In an open suitcase near the bed, Charles finds a t-shirt and a pair of jeans stuffed into a plastic bag. They’re both covered in blood.

Thirty-seven days after Jake’s been processed, crime scene techs confirm that the blood staining the clothes from the suitcase does, in fact, belong to Jonah Farley.

Forty-three days after Jake’s been processed, the Nine Nine receives a call from the NSA stating than an hour previously, they barred a man bearing a name from Freddy’s list from boarding an international flight after other passengers reported strange behavior. He’s being detained at JFK. When the Nine-Nine arrives, Freddy makes a break for it, offering Amy the perfect excuse to tackle him to the ground with all the strength she has.

Forty-four days after Jake’s been processed, Freddy Maliardi is lead out of the Nine-Nine’s holding cell, out into a waiting van belonging to the FBI, which will take him to federal prison.

Forty-five days after Jake’s been processed, one of the guards opens his cell door and tells him that he’s been cleared of all crimes. Doug Judy hugs him hard and slaps him on the back and Jake may or may not shed a tear or two before he follows the guard out of the cell block, through the belly of the prison, back through the room where they processed him and through the mugshot room and out near the entrance where the air feels fresher and the clothes he was wearing when he was arrested over a month earlier are waiting.

Five minutes after he changes, two guards lead him outside, flanking him on either side. He squints up at the cloudy sky, at the tall chain link fences topped with coils of barbed wire that tower up on either side of him, but before he can glance back at that hulking estate where New York’s Most Dangerous reside, he hears an all-too-familiar whoop of excitement several yards beyond the main entrance.

The Nine-Ninth precinct in its’ entirety appears to be waiting for him just beyond that prison gate, and even though Jake does register that every single member of the detective’s team - and his mom - is front and center, he can’t tear his gaze away from Amy’s pale face, made breathless with anticipation. The guard to his right unlocks the gate and the one to the left pulls it open but before it’s even halfway there Jake shoves past them and races outside, to her, to where she’s crying and running toward him with her arms raised to welcome him back.

They collide and he lifts her off her feet and spins and it’s so good, so much better than he remembered, something he decides right then and there that he will never again go without. He feels something heavy hit on his left side and an instant later something else hits on his right and then it’s rather dark, rather tight and warm, standing there in the middle of this precinct dogpile a hundred yards from a New York state prison.

Ten minutes after Jake changes, the dogpile finally disperses, and when Amy’s head lifts up and away from the dip of his shoulder, Jake kisses her for the first time in forty-five days. 

It’s better than going home.

Seven hours after Jake changes, he flops back on Amy’s couch, feeling all the muscles and joints in his entire body loosen for the first time in over a month. He can hear Amy and Karen chatting in the kitchen, still working on the coffee, but the warm peace of her living room is lulling him to sleep. He’ll be out cold before they make it out of the kitchen.

The last thought his sleep-deprived brain fabricates before sleep claims him goes something like this:

Good to be home.

Chapter Text

So Amy’s tried everything - cracked the dumbest jokes, gotten the junkiest foods, even broke down and bought blue soda - but nothing is working and she’s starting to get genuinely worried about her morose boyfriend currently pretending not to mope in the break room.

She walks up to Gina’s desk, heart thumping, feeling more like she’s approaching a drug ring’s kingpin than the civilian administrator. Come on, Amy, you have a gun in a holster on your hip, get it together.

“Gina.” She says as forcefully as she dares.

“Huh?” Gina grunts, eyes never once wavering from the computer screen before her.

“I…I need your help with something.”

This seems to pique Gina’s interest. Without moving her head, she looks sideways at Amy. 

Watching. 

Judging. 

Waiting.

“I need a picture…of me and Charles, from that time we wore the same outfit to work while Jake was undercover.”

Gina turns her head, but remains stoic. “I don’t have a picture of that.”

See, Amy knows this is a lie - Gina’s too neutral about it, too emotionless. Gina spent a solid twenty minutes howling with laughter in the break room on that day, there’s no way she doesn’t have a picture. “Gina, please. I need it.”

“Not that this is me admitting I have it, but what the hell do you need a picture like that for? Are you surrendering yourself to the fashion police? They won’t take you, I’ve already tried.”

“What? You - you sent pictures of me to -” Amy stops herself. This is a classic Linetti Diversion Tactic if she’s ever seen one; as she reigns herself back in, she notes the gleeful glint in Gina’s gaze. “Nevermind. I just need that picture. Please.”

“Why?”

“Because Jake’s really sad about his dad standing us up for dinner last week, and I’ve been trying to cheer him up, but nothing’s working. And he laughed so hard when you guys told him about that after he got back from being undercover, and…I hate seeing him like this. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make him happy again, even if it’s completely humiliating for me.”

Gina purses her lips and narrows her eyes, before leaning back in her seat. She seems to consider Amy for a moment, fingers drumming along the back of her phone where it lays face-down on the desk. Amy holds her breath.

“Fine. Here, I have four different pics of that, pick your favorite and I’ll send it to you.”

Amy has to force herself to focus on the win and not on the brief bubble of outrage at the fact that Gina’s been sitting on four photos for nearly three years documenting the most embarrassing moment she’s ever been apart of at the Nine-Nine.

She chooses the one where the barest hint of outrage has begun to blossom across her own face, the one where Charles’ confusion has begun to melt into an apology, the one that Gina says her butt look really good in.

“Hey,” Jake greets her as she crosses the threshold into the break room. He’s seated, shoulders slumped, looking pathetically put-out even through the familiar spark in his eye that only ever appears when he locks eyes with her. “I’m sorry I’ve been such a bummer lately. I know how hard you’ve been working to make me feel better, and…I’m really sorry. You’ve been incredible and amazing as usual, and I don’t want you to think that this -” he gestures down over himself “- has anything to do with you. I just - I always get in a little bit of a funk after my dad pulls a Roger.”

Amy feels her phone buzz in her back pocket as she slides into the seat next to him and covers the back of his hand where it rests against the table with her own. “I know it’s not about me.” She says, giving him what she hopes is an encouraging smile. “And I completely understand about your dad. I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to make you feel better, but I totally get that this is something you have to work through on your own. Just know that I’m here for you no matter what, and I’ll continue to be here when you start feeling better again.”

He releases a low sound, a kind of grunt, and then leans forward to capture her lips in a soft, brief kiss. “I love you.” He sighs when he leans away.

“I love you, too. I actually came in here to try one last thing to try to make you feel better, but if you want I can just leave -”

“No, no, I don’t want you to go.” He covers her hand with his free hand, so that her hand is sandwiched between both of his own. “What were you gonna do?”

“I was gonna show you a picture,” she says, and then she stops as heat begins to rise up her neck.

Jake’s eyes flick from hers to two inches to her right, and then they widen. “You’re blushing, your ears are turning red, what’s the picture? Oh my God, it’s an embarrassing picture, isn’t it?” He gasps, and then twists in his seat so that he’s facing her more fully. “Am I finally gonna see Drum Major Amy?”

“No.” Amy says sharply. He deflates, but only a little. “This is actually from back when you were undercover.” She explains as she pulls her phone out from her back pocket. “Gina had this, and I thought…well, I thought you’d definitely appreciate it.”

She taps the image to make it full screen and then slides the phone toward him, pulling her hand from between his so he can pick the phone up. He gasps sharply again, and then a laugh bursts right out of his throat. The sound seems to startle him, but even with one hand clapped over his gaping mouth, his eyes never leave the phone screen. “Oh my God.” He says quietly.

“Yeah.”

“Oh my God, you guys are - you are literally wearing the same outfit.”

“I know.”

“This…this should be in a museum. It should be framed and it should be right next to the Mona Lisa. I mean this is art -”

“This was a mistake. I can see that now.”

“I mean it, Amy, this should be hung over a fireplace in some rich man’s cabin in the woods -”

“Alright, that’s enough -”

“Why does that color look so good on Charles?”

Jake!” 

Chapter Text

Jake gets nervous for the second time on their first official date when they make it back to Amy’s apartment. More specifically, when they’re standing just outside of the entrance to her apartment. When her hair, so light and wavy and tantalizing, is moving just slightly in the late-night breeze and her eyes are bright from both the alcohol and the laughter that filled the long stretch of time after that alcohol; his whole entire chest is suddenly seized with nerves. He hasn’t been this close to her since the copy room at work earlier, just one hour after their evidence lock-up kiss. He swallows thickly and her eyes flick down at the movement.

His dart down to her lips. He’s just a beat too late coming back up to her eyes.

There’s a knowing kind of playfulness to her eyes now, a dare, and he leans forward a degree or two on instinct. His left hand, buried in his jacket pocket, emerges so that he can lean his weight against the apartment door; Amy shifts slightly, head lifting, her expression both calm and expectant.

Jake kisses her.

It’s just as slow and tender as the one they’d shared hours earlier, except this time he can faintly taste the kamikaze shots still lingering on her lips and whatever tangy dressing she’d poured over her salad on her tongue. He can feel her melting against him, can feel himself melting against her, and his whole entire body is both lighting up and shutting down at the same time because holy crap, this is what it means to feel like you were meant for one specific thing. If his dad was made for flying planes and his mom was made to be a living saint, Jake Peralta was made to kiss Amy Santiago.

Amy sighs against him, a short, quiet little thing, and he revels in it as her arms come up to loosely hang around his neck. He can’t believe he denied this for so long, can’t believe he’d lived the last eight years practically sharing desks with this woman and never knew, never imagined, never even dreamed.

(Well, okay, there were a few dreams.)

It’s like his whole body was sculpted with her in mind. His hair made the perfect texture for her slender fingers to rake through, the hollows of his cheeks the perfect dip for her thumbs to caress, his nose the perfect length for hers to lightly brush against as they change angles in tandem. His hands were made to hold the dip of her waist, his lips were made to cushion hers, his feet the perfect size to fit between hers when she shuffles closer. He’s never particularly liked his body, never really given it the time of day, but suddenly with her pressed up against it he feels confident and strong.

He feels worthy.

He breaks the kiss with a gasp but she doesn’t let him pull away; instead her arm hooked around his neck pulls tighter, keeping his forehead pressed against hers and his breath mingling with hers in the scant space between them. He can’t open his eyes - seeing her face in the moments after he kissed her was almost too much before, almost enough to completely destroy him - so he settles for squeezing his eyelids tight and letting his grip around her waist grow tighter.

Amy offers him a split-second’s warning in the form of her suddenly pushing up to the balls of her feet before she’s kissing him again, firmer than before, one hand curled tightly around the back of his neck while the other splays along the side of his face. The urge to pick her up and pin her against the door clashes almost violently with the urge to release a sigh of his own (and maybe pop his foot, Princess Diaries-style), but before he can make up his mind she pulls away completely.

The sudden absence is jarring and he blinks down at her dazedly, barely registering her kissed-pink lips or the way her chest is rising and falling a bit more exaggeratedly than usual as she stares up at him. Her eyes are smoldering and he’s ready to give her anything she wants, everything she wants, he’ll burn the whole entire world to the ground, so long as she lets him kiss her again.

“D’you wanna come inside for coffee?” She asks, voice lower and coarser than usual.

The nerves come surging back then, more powerful than before. “Um,” he chokes, and then stops, because he’s fighting down a pretty powerful wave of nervous adrenaline and it simply won’t due for her to think he’s panicking now, that he’s backing out, that what just transpired between them isn’t the greatest thing that’s ever happened in his entire life.

“I know I said coffee,” she says softly, fingers lightly carding through the hair at the nape of his neck, “but I hope you know I actually meant hot cocoa.”

He laughs, nerves evaporating as quickly as they flooded in. She’s grinning up at him and he takes a moment to marvel at her, to marvel at the whole night and the day leading up to it, the weeks leading up to it, his whole life before leading up to it. To this moment, to her. She’s grinning up at him and he can feel those three words bubbling up his throat, threatening to slip unbidden between his teeth and ruin whatever glory lies beyond this front door. It’s incredible, how quickly she’s nearly made him say it; it’s infuriating, how hard it is to tamp it all down.

“So…do you want coffee?” She prompts.

He swallows, and then nods. “Yeah,” he says in a voice made of gravel, “I do.”

(It’s not I love you, but he thinks she can sense those words lingering just beneath the surface, because she takes his hand and leads him inside, upstairs, to what comes next and everything beyond it.)

Chapter Text

Hair smooth and shining, laid out across the pillow beneath her head, perfect texture to run fingers through. No longer knotted from the unfriendly hand that had fisted it up and dragged her away from him earlier, no longer matted from the blood that had stained it when their salvation had finally arrived. Long and wavy, gentle and soft, everything that she is and everything that she deserves, everything he couldn’t give her when it mattered most.

Eyes closed, one swollen, a violet bruise that gives way in places to greener colors marking the shape of the fist that put it there, slanted down from just above her brow to her cheekbone. Beautiful and painful, like a sunset that rips his heart out of his body. Her eyelids are delicate and thin, so so breakable, hiding those warm brown eyes from smiling up at him and assuring him that everything is okay. It’s all okay. She’s okay.

He is not okay.

Split lip, chapped lips, pale pink and still. The same lips that bore her screams, that formed his name in desperation while he was held in place one room away, lips that begged and pleaded with her tormentors while he did the same. Please, please, take me. Hurt me, kill me, God, please, just let her go. Brutish laughter, a swift kick to the ribs. He can still hear her screaming.

A thin cut on her neck, near her jawline, already cleaned and scabbed over. The knife that put it there is in an evidence bag at a crime tech lab, prints and blood and DNA samples taken and awaiting processing, and if he runs his finger over the mark he’ll be able to feel her pulse only just out of time with that muted monitor to her left. Fear of disturbing her, of furthering her pain and discomfort, keeps his hands where they are. His entire life hinges on that monitor right now.

Bruises and scrapes, deep lacerations near her hip, all hidden beneath a thin and unassuming hospital gown. Broken skin stretched over her knuckles quietly whispering praises of her strength, her determination, her unwillingness to go meekly or quietly to her certain doom. Already, darkened bruises are beginning to blossom there, the red and swollen skin fading to browns and blues and greens, but he has no qualms about gently touching those. She can’t be awake right now and he’s made some version of peace with that; the physical manifestation of her blind determination is enough to keep him sane right now.

Bandages on her upper arm hiding the aftermath of a jagged pipe catching her weight after she’d been thrown to the ground, a thick cast beneath her heated blanket cradling her broken ankle, painkillers surging through her veins to make the pain muted and manageable. Her body, broken and beaten in his place, laid out in sterile cleanliness and peaceful silence. He is the greatest disturbance here, in his wheelchair rolled as close to the edge of her bed as possible, the serenity of this place spoiled by his quiet, rhythmic sniffling. The slow tears - of guilt, of fear, of his own pain and exhaustion - drip from his face and make no noise where the land on her mattress.

He wants to tell her how sorry he is, but he isn’t quite sure how. It is his fault, after all, that Freddy Maliardi correctly guessed that she was his biggest weakness, that he would move heaven and earth to keep her safe. He longs to open his mouth and say the words to her sleeping face but every time his lips part, a quiet, broken gasp escapes, and that isn’t nearly enough to encompass it all. So he stays silent, jaw clenched, lightly caressing her bruised knuckles and carefully watching her eyes.

They’re alone, but not for lack of trying on the squad’s part. Their saviors lingered, masks of worry contorting all of their faces. He supposes it may have had something to do with his own all-consuming desperation that they all finally cleared out; perhaps it was his silence, his unresponsiveness, that drove them all home. It’s not something he’s worried about now - maybe tomorrow, maybe someday, but not now.

He is not okay.

He’ll call his mom. He’ll forgive his dad. He’ll babysit for Terry and Sharon more often. He’ll clean his apartment, he’ll stop watching Die Hard every weekend. He’ll do anything, anything in the whole entire world, if she would just open her eyes. Everything will be okay again as soon as he knows beyond a doubt that she is still part of this world.

His neck still twinges a bit, but he leans down anyways, gingerly lifting her hand and lightly pressing his lips against her knuckles. Please, Amy, he thinks. Please open your eyes.

Her fingers twitch beneath his lips, and when he lifts his head (wincing at the pain responding to the jarring movement) he’s met by his partner’s half-lidded bloodshot gaze. “Jake,” she whispers through her chapped and split lips.

(Her first word upon reentering reality is the same as her last was before she left it hours earlier.

They’ll find him in her bed tomorrow morning, squeezed in place beside her, head bowed to fit in the curve of her shoulder. The nurses disapprove, but they don’t stop him from doing the same thing the next night, or the night after that.)

He slides his hand up from her wrist to her forearm, closing around the longest stretch of skin and muscle that is not marked with bruises, and squeezes gently.

He’s going to be okay.

Chapter Text

“Do you ever think about all the time we lost?”

Jake asks the question quietly, half-mumbled against her neck. The tone of his voice is the same as it has been for the last hour they’ve spent laying in her bed - light, carefree, relaxed. His fingers trace lightly over her side, having edged beneath the hem of her t-shirt twenty minutes ago to trace circles and hearts and swirls over her ribs; all-in-all, far away enough that he probably doesn’t notice the fact that her heart has just skipped a beat.

Amy can tell he means it to be as light as all his other questions (her favorite thus far has been the one about whether or not turtles can dream), but it still hits her with all the weight of a freight train. Her fingers still in his hair, nails paused mid-scratch against his scalp. It’s like the air has been knocked out of her lungs; for a moment, she just closes her eyes and concentrates on the feeling of his warm breath against her neck and the weight of his nearly-healed leg sandwiched between hers. He’s real, and warm, and here.

“Sorry,” he says softly after a prolonged silence. It’s been so hard for him lately, to fight the lingering melancholy away; she hears it clear as day in his voice and hates herself for putting it there. “I didn’t mean - I was just -”

“I know,” she interrupts him softly, and then presses a kiss to his hairline. He nestles closer, leaning more of his weight into her side, and she reaches down to drag the comforter up higher. “It’s okay. I just…wasn’t expecting it.”

“You don’t have to answer,” he assures her, his wandering fingers curling around her side so that the pad of his thumb lightly brushes the birthmark that he loves where it sits an inch above her stomach.

“I do.” His hand stills, and she drags in a deep, steadying inhale. “Think about it, I mean. It was - it was six months.”

He hums low in his throat and snuggles closer. “Longer. You were in Texas for almost three weeks before that, remember?”

She closes her eyes and behind her eyelids she can see the dank underside of her cell mate’s bunk, the sweat-and-blood-stained dark green jump suits, the mold growing in the shower stall tiles, the vaguely food-shaped mush she forced herself to eat every week. And the unexpected loneliness that came with the knowledge that Jake wasn’t there anymore, watching her every move, there for her in a way only her partner could be. “Yeah,” she says, forcing her eyes open again.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about you, Ames,” he says softly.

She makes a quiet sound in her throat and tugs lightly at his hair. “I’m right here.”

The reminder is gentle, but firm; this is the first time she’s said it to him since he’s come home while doing something other than waking him from a nightmare.

“You are,” Jake confirms, lips puckering briefly against the side of her throat. “And I’m really glad you are. I just meant - like, how much further along would we be right now if we hadn’t lost those almost-seven months? How much closer would we be?”

Amy very seriously considers it for a moment. She probably would have taken him to that barbeque at her parents’ house that two months after the day he left. Kylie probably would have knocked her door down just for the opportunity to meet him by now. He’d probably already be living with her.

She closes her eyes briefly, the echo of her own words ringing in her ears: so much. “I don’t know,” she confesses haltingly. “Maybe things would be…different.”

His thumb sweeps over her birthmark again. “I’d still love you so much.” He says after a beat. “But I don’t…I don’t think I’d really know how much, you know? Because I wouldn’t have had to watch you be completely defenseless, in all of that danger. I wouldn’t have had to watch you put yourself in harm’s way. I wouldn’t have had to consider what it might be like to lose you.” There’s a thin edge of possessiveness in the way he holds her now; the faintest glimmer of fear, of what might have been, in his gravelly voice. “I never would’ve known. Or I - I might’ve found out too late.”

“You didn’t.” She reminds him, and she feels him nod. “I know what you mean, though. All I could think about while you were gone was what would happen if Figgis figured out where you were before we figured out where Figgis was. All I ever did when I wasn’t working cases was sit on a bench at the park and talk about you to Rosa. I was so miserable without you, I couldn’t - I still can’t believe I ever denied how I felt about you. It made me want to go back in time just to slap myself for being so stupid.”

“Hey,” he tilts his head up to playfully nip at her jaw, and she laughs before turning her head to peck his lips. “You weren’t stupid. You were just being careful, and I admire that. There was no need for it,” he pauses as she laughs, snorting to himself. “But I understand why you did it.”

“We’ve really wasted a lot of time, huh?” Amy asks softly once they’ve settled back down.

Jake sighs as he tucks his head back into place, arms tightening around her to drag her closer to his chest. “Maybe.” He echoes her earlier answer. “But the more I think about it…okay, I see it like this. Yeah, we wasted a lot of time, and we lost even more, but…all of that has just made me love you so much more. It’s made me realize how much you mean to me, how important you are, how…how lost I’d be without you. It makes me wanna have as many mornings like this as I can with you.”

Amy clenches her jaw and blinks back the tears suddenly welling in her eyes. “God, what is happening to me?” she hisses, reaching up with the hand not buried in Jake’s hair to swipe at her eyes. “Peralta’s making me cry, I can’t -” His laugh is boisterous, the whole mattress quaking beneath them even when he fully buries his face in her neck and squeezes her closer yet. She joins him, lightly tracing the exposed side of his face with her hand before letting it drift back down to run along the arm he has wrapped around her middle. “I don’t really know that I can say anything good enough to top that -”

“You don’t have to say anything, Ames. Really.”

She furrows her brow. “No, I do. Because you’re important to me and you deserve to hear that.” She huffs, and he stays quiet. “I meant what I said that night I came to your apartment after Dozerman died. You’re the one I want to talk to at any given moment about any given thing. You’re the one I’d trust blindly and absolutely, you’re the one I’d fly across the coast for, across the country for, across the planet for. You’re the one I’d shoot in the leg just because you asked me to.” He chuckles breathlessly, and she runs her fingers down through his hair to curl lightly around the back of his neck. “You’re…you’re it for me, Jake. You’re the one.”

He stays quite still for a moment, before he shoves up violently, arms extended on either side of her, eyes wide and disbelieving. “I’m…I’m the one?”

She nods slowly, watching the emotions flickering in his gaze. “Is that okay?”

It’s his turn to nod, and he does so rapidly, for so long that Amy can’t help but laugh. She reaches up to grab his face and he’s still nodding in her hands, stopping only when she brings him down to her level and kisses him. It’s fervent, but messy; more of a bumping of broad grins than an actual kiss. He settles over her, still holding some of his weight in his arms, but then he pulls back suddenly, head rearing away until his face comes into focus. “I’m really the one?” He asks in soft wonderment.

“You really are.” 

A smile slowly ignites in his eyes, spreading like wildfire until his entire face is creased with it, until it’s brighter than a beam of pure light. “I’m the one.” He says, and she gets the feeling it’s more to himself than it is to her. “Amy Santiago just said I’m the one.” She laughs again, light and airy, and then crosses her ankles around his calf. He’s still grinning down at her goofily, dazedly, but when she tries to pull him back down by the collar of his shirt, his grin suddenly dims. “You’re - you’re the one, too. For me. I mean, you’re - you’re it for me, too. You’ve always been it for me.”

“Stop trying to one-up me and get down here, you idiot.”

He snorts, and then he does exactly that.

Chapter Text

Jake has a cluster of freckles on his left shoulder that comes very close to forming the Orion Constellation. It’s usually the first thing Amy sees every morning; it’s usually the first thing she reaches out and touches.

Light touches, feathery and barely-there, mostly to keep from disturbing him in his sleep but also because she loves the way her fingertips tingle when she’s so close she can feel the heat of his skin radiating off of him. Sometimes she inches forward beneath the sheets and traces the pattern with her lips, but that’s generally reserved for lazy Sunday mornings that stretch on and on and on. Amy loves that little cluster of freckles.

She’s staring at them now, watching the way they move just slightly with each ripple of the muscles hidden beneath them, watching as they shift and stretch as Jake’s shoulders grow tense. He’s been on the phone all of five minutes, not saying much beyond his initial greeting, but he’d sat up so quickly it was as if he’d been shocked and had promptly turned his back to Amy so that his legs hang off his side of the bed. She’d sat up as well, concerned, and had quickly donned the t-shirt Jake was wearing the night before after finding it wrinkled and discarded at the foot of their bed. She’s cross-legged on the mattress behind him, uncertainty dripping from her wrung hands, debating between keeping her distance and reaching out to knead the tightened muscles of the back of his neck.

“Is - is there anything I can do?” Jake asks into the silence, and Amy’s heart lurches at the crackling subdued tone, the words that seem to be crumbling along the edges. She moves toward him, her indecisiveness flying out the window at once, and the moment her hands land against his back she can see him relaxing a degree or two. The muscles there are still tense, almost rock-hard beneath the dry slide of her palms up and over his shoulders, but he’s leaning backwards now, closer to her, which she takes as a wordless encouragement to continue. So she gets to work.

He makes a low sound in his chest when her thumbs sweep out in a circular motion over the upward curve where his shoulders meet his neck, and even though she can’t see his face she can picture his closed eyes and furrowed brow and lips turn down in a slight frown. She sweeps her hands outward, letting the heels of her hands press firmly into the line of muscle trailing out from the base of his neck to the ends of his shoulders, briefly wrapping her fingers around each of his upper arms and squeezing in what she hopes is a tender, reassuring way.

Whoever is on the other end of the line must still be speaking, for Jake has fallen silent again, so Amy sets out working on the long, gently sloping curve of his spine. She runs her thumbs along either side of the ridge of bones, moving down in two-inch long alternating strokes, slow and steady and right at the pressure she’s learned he loves. He lets out a long, appreciative sigh just loud enough for her to hear, and despite her growing concern, she feels herself light up at his non-verbal approval. She works her way down his spine, pausing right at the very base of his back to replicate her earlier circular movements in the muscles there before running the pads of both thumbs back up his spine in one smooth, continuous motion. She can feel his skin beginning to heat up, the muscles coming undone, the tension slowly draining.

“Okay,” Jake says softly, and she’s startled into stillness at the newly broken quality of his voice. It’s jagged and coarse and it sits like rusted nails against her heart; she’s suddenly flooded with an overwhelming desire to hug him as tightly as she can. “Yeah, I’ll - I’ll see you guys there. Uh-huh. No, I - I’ll tell her. I think…it would be better for everyone if she heard it from me. Yeah. We’ll be there. Okay, yeah. Bye.”

Amy presses her lips together tightly to choke down the question burning her throat like acid, stroking her hands down his back as he heaves another sigh in tandem with lowering his phone and hanging up. She catches a brief glimpse of a picture made grainy with age of Jake, Rosa, and a few other people - from their academy days, she guesses - centered on the phone’s screen. The name Robert Weintraub is the last thing to catch her attention before the screen flashes back to Jake’s lock screen, which has been a selfie of the two of them from the lunch date they went on last summer since thirty seconds after he took it. The screen fades to black and Jake remains quite still, arms loose as they hang in what can really only be described as defeat across his boxer-clad thighs.

It’s agony, but she waits.

She can see a muscle in his jaw working as he rhythmically clenches and unclenches his teeth, can see his phone twitching just slightly as his fingers drum against it, can see his right leg starting to jiggle beneath his forearm. So she lets her instincts take over.

She pushes up to her knees and ambles closer, until her knees are bracketing his hips, and then quickly maneuvers around so that her legs extend in a V-shape on either side of him. The bends of her knees don’t quite reach the edge of the bed so her legs are extended rather ram-rod straight, protruding ridiculously on either side of him even as she inches as close as possible to his back. She pays it no mind, though, choosing instead to burrow her arms through the space between his upper arms and his sides and leaning her head forward so that her cheek is pressed against the base of his neck, wrapping him up in the warmest, tightest koala-style hug that she can.

It takes a moment, but eventually Jake does loosen up just enough to lean into her. His right arm remains draped across his own thigh but he gently grips her calf with his left hand, his thumb rubbing briefly along the concave shape of her shinbone. The new angle grants her access to that freckle cluster, so she takes full advantage, craning her neck to lay what has to be the most chapped-lipped kiss in history against his skin.

“That was Rob,” Jake says hoarsely after a long moment, and Amy’s heart skips a beat at the realization that he’s crying. “He was my buddy from the academy. Mine and Rosa’s. He - we used to hang out a lot right out of the academy. It was a big group of us, actually.”

“I remember you mentioning him,” Amy offers gently. She feels him nod.

“One of the guys we used to go out with, Pierce, he - he was on patrol the other day, doin’ a routine traffic stop and - and -”

The silence descends again.

“I’m so sorry, Jake,” Amy whispers.

He nods again, slowly, slowly, thumb stroking compulsively over her shin. “It was just a random accident,” he says, and Amy closes her eyes. “Other driver lost control and -”

He doesn’t finish. He doesn’t have to.

His back is still warm from where her hands worked against him, and she can feel that heat spreading around to his front beneath her absently wandering hands. “Just a random accident,” he repeats, quieter this time, as if the words are coming alive inside his mind and taking on strange, foreign meanings. Her arms cinch tighter around him, grounding him to her and to reality as a whole.

“Do you need to call Rosa?” Amy asks him softly.

He nods.

“Do you want me to stay?”

He nods again. “Please,” he says, “please don’t go.”

“I’m not going anywhere.”

And she doesn’t.

Chapter Text

They’ve only known each other a week the first time someone says the phrase to them.

It’s pretty innocuous, as far as phrases go, but it burrows deep under Amy’s skin, slithering along, clinging to her very bones. Deeper than her new partner’s penchant for mini jelly donuts (which are actually just powdered donuts with jelly beans shoved through the center) and subsequent repulsion to napkins - a dangerous combination that more often than not leads to faintly sticky powdery fingerprints along the edges of her computer monitor and smeared across their shared case files. 

It’s only been a week and she still can’t tell if she even likes Jake Peralta as a human being, let alone as a partner. Her last partner wrote the book on professionalism - they worked together for nearly two years and Amy still isn’t sure what his wife’s name was. Back then, she found it vaguely irritating. But now?

“Peralta.” She growls through her clenched teeth. He continues spinning in his chair, head tilted back toward the ceiling. “Will you just - will you sign this B-and-E report?”

“In a minute.”

“Oh my God, please, just -”

“I’m only fifty-three spins away from breaking my record and I’m not gonna stop now -”

“This is the last thing either one of us has to do before we can go home for the whole weekend, Jake -”

He interrupts her with a harsh, barking laugh, the end of which is lost beneath the screech of his desk legs scraping along the tiled floor beneath them as he shoves his hand against the ledge to build more momentum. “What, you got a hot date with your knitting needles?” He asks, voice light and teasing in a way she’s already far too familiar with. “Oh, wait, no - there’s a new episode of The Price is Right on tonight, isn’t there?”

“I don’t watch Price is Right.” Amy snaps.

Jake snorts. “Sorry, I meant to say Jeopardy.”

Molten heat begins gathering in the tips of her ears, quickly dripping down her temples to pool in her cheeks. “Stop being an ass.” Amy tells him, secretly rejoicing in the way her voice quivers just slightly. Jake doesn’t stop spinning, but his head does lift, and for a few rotations he cranes his neck to keep his view of her face unbroken. “I know you don’t like me, and that’s fine. But so help me, Peralta, you will not keep me from doing my job.”

“Aw, c’mon,” he whines. “Don’t guilt-trip me into doing it.”

“Into doing what? Your job?”

“Oh, my God.” A new, gruff voice interrupts. Amy’s head snaps to her right and she nearly recoils on instinct upon the dead-panned glare folding Rosa’s face. It’s a terrifying scowl, one Amy has been able to avoid receiving thus far - until now. “Would you two just shut up already? I can’t concentrate and if I lose this bidding war because you two won’t stop fighting like an old married couple, I will kill you both with one of my swords.”

A loud commotion fills the precinct as Jake flails, arms swinging out so wildly he knocks half the trinkets off his desk in his attempt to stop. “What?” Amy asks sharply, ignoring the pained groan from Jake’s side of the cluster to stare holes through Rosa’s head.

“I said I’ll kill you both with one of my swords.”

One of your - how many swords do you have?” Jake asks woozily, the heel of one hand pressed into his temple.

“We do not fight like an old married couple.” Amy snaps at the same time.

Rosa arches an eyebrow at Amy, apparently choosing to ignore Jake’s question altogether. “Okay.”

“We are the furthest thing from an old married couple.”

Rosa’s eyebrow twitches. “I really don’t care, but okay.”

Amy stares a moment longer, the desire to say something - anything - to save face unbelievably strong, but after a moment she opts instead to roll her eyes and thrust the case file across the desk cluster toward a slightly-pale Jake. “Sign this.” She says as harshly as she can.

He blinks down at it, probably trying to get his bearings back, and then reaches for a pen. “Here,” he shoves the file back toward her once his lines are signed and dated, and Amy snatches it up without meeting his eye. She can feel both him and Rosa watching her as she stomps toward McGinley’s already-empty office to roughly shove the case file in his nearly-full to-do file bin.

A tiny, tiny portion of her almost regrets being so harsh, but it’s tiny enough that she’s able to cast it aside easily, concentrating all of her irritation in violently tidying up her desk and packing up her things. It’s quiet only a moment longer.

“Santiago,” her name leaves him on a sigh. She does not look up, does not pause, does not acknowledge him in any way. “Look, I didn’t mean to - to push you, or whatever. I just - you’re kinda fun to…to poke at. It’s just so easy to push your buttons. I don’t - I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m…sorry. Or whatever.”

Her fingers falter over her agenda’s leather clasp. Sorry is not a word she would have guessed he knew. Sorry seems like the kind of word that is only pried from him in the most desperate of moments, in the most desperate of situations.

And yet here, in this moment, the word is small and (despite the knee-jerk two word addition there at the end) sincere. Beneath the bravado and the showmanship, he really is sorry.

She peers at him through her lashes and finds him leaning toward her, elbows planted on his desk, hands clasped, lashes batting. And despite the anger and irritation coursing through her not thirty seconds ago, the sight ignites a bud of warmth in her chest and draws the smallest affectionate smile out across her face.

And the warmth she’s already attempting to hide inside her chest is instantly reflected back at her in his dancing eyes.

He leans backwards, drumming his hands along the desk, grin broad and triumphant. “What’re you bidding for, anyways?” He asks.

To Rosa. Who is now completely absorbed in her computer again. She spares them one glance over her monitor before her calculating gaze falls back to the screen. “A sword.” She grunts.


 

They’ve known each other nearly a decade the last time someone says the phrase to them.

“Babe.” Amy says. Jake appears not to have heard her; his head is turned slightly away, eyes darting anxiously over the crowd already, unable to remain fixated on any one thing for longer than half a second. “Babe. Peralta. Jake.” His first name seems to catch his attention.

“Sorry,” he mumbles, turning his whole body toward her, putting his back toward the entrance. “Sorry, sorry, I - I don’t know what’s wrong with me -”

“Well, for starters, your tie is tied wrong.”

She watches his Adam’s apple bob, just one inch from where her fingers are already working on the knot. “Yeah, I figured. My hands were shaking earlier.”

“I know. You knocked my moisturizer off the counter, remember?”

He clenches his jaw and nods. “I’ll buy you a new one.”

“I’m not worried about it. I am a little worried about you, though.” He’s avoiding her gaze again, which she’s pretty okay with; he’s always just a little bit more open about things when he doesn’t have to look directly at her, for whatever reason. “This can only go smoothly. You know that, right? We have nothing to worry about.”

“Well of course we have nothing to worry about, Gina and Charles are ready to go into business together doing all of this and Rosa’s so scary that all she has to do is glare at an issue and it fixes itself. I’m not worried about that.” He pauses, and she keeps her gaze carefully centered on the knot she’s halfway through tying at the base of his throat. “I’m - I’m worried about -” She has enough time to finish smoothing down his newly-straightened tie before he finally finds the words. “He RSVP’d yes, Ames.” Jake says quietly, catching her hands as they fall back to her sides.

Her lower lip catches between her teeth as she nods.

“What if I get my hopes up again and - and he doesn’t -”

His eyes are big and warm and liquid in the low light of this country club’s entry way and Amy wants nothing more than to don that ridiculous suit of armor six feet behind Jake and go to wherever Roger Peralta is right that second to march him all the way here, prodding him in the back with that sword the whole way. Jake blinks and there are tears in his eyes and Amy loves him so, so much, loves his big heart and his vulnerability and his fears. “Your mom will be here for you,” she tells him softly, “just like every other time. And Gina, too. And this time you have Rosa and Charles and Terry and Captain Holt and my whole family, and all of our friends, and - and me.” His grip around her hands grows firmer and he ducks his head, letting his forehead drop gently against hers and inhaling deeply, like he’s trying to breathe her in. “We’re all here for you, Jake. And - I mean, I can’t really speak for everyone else, but I can speak for me, and - and I will always be here for you. You will never have to wonder whether I’ll be there or not. I will always show up. Always.”

He chokes out one breathless, watery laugh, and shuffles forward another inch or two. “I love you so much.” He whispers.

“Okay, ew, break it up.” They turn away from each other to find both Rosa and Gina framed in the now-open doorway of the dining hall. Beyond them Amy can see dozens of tables lit beneath the soft glow of twinkling lights hung in big, draped arches along the ceiling; blue and white tablecloths held in place by tall vases filled with white lilies and yellow roses, impeccably arranged and truly breathtaking even at a distance. “You’ll have time to admire the scenery later.” Gina snaps, bringing Amy’s attention hurtling back to her. “Everything’s almost ready. We’re five minutes out from opening those front doors. Are you guys ready to meet and greet?”

“’Meet?’”

“Aren’t we supposed to know everyone here already?”

“Don’t question me!” Gina shrieks as Rosa steps forward, glowering at both Jake and Amy. “As soon as Charles is done testing all the food, those doors are opening, and your smiles need to be on. Peralta, are you even on this planet right now?”

“I thought we were doing red roses?” He asks, craning his head toward the dining room.

“We decided on yellow, remember?” says Amy.

“No? Red roses are the romance ones, aren’t they?”

“Well, yeah, but the red would’ve clashed with the blue tablecloths, and you said you’d rather have the tablecloths than the roses -”

“No, no, I distinctly remember you saying that with the right shade of blue in the right lighting, they wouldn’t clash -”

“Okay, I never said that -”

“I remember you saying it Santiago! We had just finished eating at Sal’s and we were walking by my old apartment building -”

“Oh my God who cares it’s over now!” Gina interrupts. “We got yellow roses, the end! Cry about it later, kiddo!”

“God, you guys are already fighting like an old married couple,” Rosa growls.

Amy knows it’s meant to be an insult, but there’s a rush of warmth that swoops through her stomach all the same. Jake drapes an arm across her shoulders, pulling her in closer, and when she glances up at him he’s smiling.

“That’s not a good thing. This is literally only the rehearsal dinner, you guys act like you’ve already been together fifty years. God,” Gina pinches the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger. “God, why did I think this would be a good idea.”

“You said neither one of them would know a stylish wedding if it smacked them across the face.”

Gina’s hand drops and she nods solemnly. “And I was right.” She sighs. “Red roses with blue table cloths, it’s like I’m planning a caveman wedding.”

“She’s mean.” Jake hisses in Amy’s ear.

They hear a distant crash followed immediately by Charles’ voice made shrill with panic, and Gina heaves a long, loud sigh. “Just - just stand here and try to act like you’re as cool as my sense of design, okay?”

Amy stifles a laugh behind her hand as Jake salutes. Rosa and Gina take off immediately, Gina already muttering various curses under her breath, and Amy leans further into Jake’s side. “That used to bug me a lot, y’know.” Amy tells him. He glances down at her, brows raised in question. “The whole married couple comment. It used to drive me insane when people said it about us.”

His affectionate grin grows wistful, eyes distant as he relives some distant memory. “And now?” he asks.

She tilts her head back, purses her lips, and narrows her eyes. “It…suits us.” She says with a shrug.

“Yeah, but how d’you feel about that?”

She fights the smile curling the corners of her mouth. “Now…I can’t wait until we actually are an old married couple.”

His grin spreads wide, impossibly wide, lips curling over teeth until he’s positively beaming. “We’ll take our cats on walks around the retirement home.”

She pulls a face. “No retirement home. We’re moving into a house as soon as we both retire.”

His grin falls, but his eyes still gleam with amusement. “Aw, man, I’m gonna be that old man who sits out on his front porch in a rocking chair, aren’t I?”

Someone has to make sure the youths don’t steal our trashcans.”

He snorts, and then draws her in by her shoulders to smother her laugh with a kiss. He’s still grinning when he pulls back, his gaze taking on a dopey quality that grows more intense when she brushes the tip of her nose against his. “I can’t wait.”

“Jake,” they draw away from each other at the sound of Gina’s voice; she’s standing in the doorway again, phone held in one hand. “Your dad’s here.”

Amy can see his jaw clench, so she squeezes his hands and tugs slightly, until he turns back toward her. “I’m right here.” She reminds him. “I’m not going anywhere.”

He nods. “I love you.”

“I love you, too. So much.” He nods again, the muscle in his jaw jumping, and his thumbs sweep out over the backs of her hands. “Are you ready?” She asks.

He inhales deeply, briefly closes his eyes, and then exhales slowly and steadily. “You’ll stay with me the whole night?”

“Right by your side.”

Chapter Text

The most beautiful woman Jake has ever seen in his entire life is standing on the sidewalk outside of the bookstore across the street from Sal’s.

He’s staring, his slice of pepperoni pizza frozen halfway between his greased-up paper plate and his mouth (which is currently hanging open - either in preparation for this bite or due to his sudden and forceful mesmerization, he’ll never really know), and Charles hasn’t noticed yet. Jake’s hyper-aware of him, of the buzz of his voice, reduced to a low hum in his own ears now; to his left, Gina is slumped over, visibly bored with the conversation and thus completely invested in her phone.

Good, Jake thinks rather weakly. One less person to notice.

The woman across the street appears to be scrubbing one of the front windows meticulously, and in some distant part of Jake’s mind he recalls the business that previously occupied that very stoop - a tattoo parlor with a penchant for filling the windows with bumper stickers. The woman keeps having to toss handfuls of long, glossy black hair over her shoulder; as he watches, she finally appears to get sick of it all and ties it all back in a messy bun down near the nape of her neck, and the wisps of hair she misses curl lazily against the long column of her neck.

She is completely and utterly breathtakingly beautiful, and he hasn’t even gotten more than a glimpse at her profile.

“Jake?” Charles finally manages to break through the reverie. The half-eaten slice of pizza in Jake’s hand falls with a dull splat against the plate, and Jake scrambles for a napkin, desperately ignoring the heat rising up his cheeks. Gina looked up the moment she heard the pizza fall and from his peripheral vision Jake can see Charles turning toward the front windows, curious about the fixation of Jake’s thousand-yard stare, and Jake loudly clears his throat. “Were you staring at that woman over there?” Charles asks.

Something dangerous flashes in Charles’ eyes - something that speaks of over-investment, of moony emotions and love-sick declarations that Jake hasn’t heard since before Sophia dumped him a year earlier. “No,” Jake says, inwardly wincing at the defensive forcefulness to the word. “I was just - I zoned out, and she happened to be in my line of sight.”

“Nuh-uh,” Gina clicks her tongue, lowering her phone to the table for the first time since arriving. “I know a turned-on Jake when I see one -”

“Um, ew -”

“Oh, as if, Peralta, you forget I’ve known you since day one, son. I remember Ethan Brown’s Bar Mitzvah. You had to spend half the night in the bathroom after catching one look at Jenny Gildenhorn -”

“Blaspheming temptress!” Charles hisses.

“- in the dress she wore that night. Idiots.” Gina sniffs, the last word mostly directed across the table at Charles. “You think that chick is hot.”

He opens his mouth to protest, but his face may as well be a volcano for the amount of heat he can feel radiating from it. “Fine, yes, I think she’s hot, but I haven’t even gotten a look at her face yet - for all I know she could be a complete gargoyle -”

“Doubt it.” Gina mutters, now craning in her seat to get a look around Charles. “Nope, I know a hot girl when I see one, and that is a hot girl.” She straightens suddenly, dragging herself up toward him so that she’s leaned into his space. “You should go talk to her.”

“What? No way, that’s - that’s insanely creepy -”

“I said talk to her, not grope her in broad daylight.”

“I think it could be good for you, Jakey,” Charles chimes in, and Jake scrubs both hands over his face. “You haven’t really been putting yourself out there since Sophia. I mean, what’s the harm in going over and saying hi? It’s not like that woman’s your soulmate -”

“She could be -”

Jake drops both hands to his lap, letting his palms slap loudly enough against his thighs that Charles and Gina fall silent at once. “Alright, alright! Will you two just play it cool?” He snaps, meaning to glare at Charles but finding his gaze drawn up and over Charles’ head when the woman across the street moves two feet to her right and stretches up to her toes, clearly struggling to reach something. “I’ll - I’ll go by tomorrow -”

“Nope.” Gina stands, her chair protesting loudly against the grimy tiled floor beneath her, slinging her purse over her shoulder and starting toward the door in one fluid motion.

“Gina!” Jake shouts, but it’s too late, she’s already out the door and on the corner, glancing both ways, stepping off the curb. “Crap, crap, sorry Charles -”

Jake takes off after her, shoving through the door and all-out sprinting across the street. “Hi!” Gina calls brightly just as Jake catches up to her. She manages to pull her arm from his grasp as the woman turns around, and once again Jake finds himself knocked breathless. She is ethereal. “I’m Gina, and this is my friend Jake. We were across the street at Sal’s,” Gina points over her shoulder, “and we saw you livin’ that hashtag struggle life trying to reach…whatever you’re trying to reach.”

The woman laughs, and even though it rings with a strange mixture of nervousness and exhaustion, it’s the absolute best thing Jake has ever heard. “Yeah, I guess the last tenants were really tall. I can’t really reach,” she looks up over her right shoulder, and when Jake manages to tear his gaze away from her face, he spots a long, faded black smear across the glass. “I could just go inside and get the ladder, but I’ve got paint cans on it right now and I just haven’t convinced myself that it’s worth the effort yet.”

Gina nods slowly, as if it’s the most interesting thing she’s ever heard, and secretly Jake’s rather proud of her because he could feel her struggling not to interrupt and loudly proclaim her story to be the most boring story in all the land (a fate Charles suffers on a near-daily basis). “Sounds like you need someone tall.” Gina says, and that molten heat shoots up from somewhere near the pit of Jake’s stomach and engulfs his face once again. “Hey - Jake’s tall! Jake, you should help my new friend…”

“Amy.” Amy steps toward them, shifting the dirty rag in her right hand to her left to shake his hand. Her palm is warm and soft and smooth and Jake’s throat tightens and dries up all at once.

Objectively, it’s rather pathetic. A pretty girl tells him her name and he’s made completely speechless.

“Amy,” Jake repeats in a rasp, and when he clears his throat he sees a flash of something in Amy’s eyes - something oddly familiar, something warm and shy and oh-so promising. “I’m Jake.”

“Nice to meet you Jake.” Amy says, cheeks dimpling in a smile that is both small and secret, and Jake’s certain that his heart is about to beat directly out of his chest. “Would you mind helping me?”

He’s only a few inches taller than Amy, really, but he nods enthusiastically and takes the rag from her. She stays close by, hovering less than a foot away, and he nearly loses his cool when he feels her breath through his flannel warming his shoulder. Clearly he’s waited far too long to put himself back out there if all it takes to get him going is a woman literally breathing on him.

God, Gina’s never gonna let him live this down.

He somehow manages to scrub that mark away without completely making a fool of himself, which really is an Olympic-level accomplishment. He rocks back on his heels and hands the rag back over reluctantly, feeling a rush of desperation, words sticking in his throat and nearly choking him. Amy’s looking at him with that same little smile and he’s ready to make a complete and total fool of himself if that’s what it takes to keep it there, to make it grow.

“Thank you,” Amy says, glancing down at the rag. The broken eye-contact gives him enough of a respite to realize that at some point, Gina had disappeared; the urge to shoot the bird in Sal’s general direction is astronomical, but Amy looks back up at him before he gets the chance.

“You’re welcome,” Jake says, “are you - do you, uh, do you need…help? With anything else?”

“Oh, I don’t want to keep you from -”

“You can keep me. Um, I mean -” she giggles, and he wants to die. “Gina, she - we were with another friend and they - they’ll be fine. I can - I don’t mind. Helping you. I don’t mind helping you out if you need another person to help you with - tall things.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

She seems to consider him for a moment, and then her cheeks dimple again. “Yeah, I - I mean, I’ve got a ton of stuff to do before I can open this place up. I was gonna blackmail by brothers into helping me but…” she trails, and it takes every ounce of self-control he has not to nod enthusiastically. “I could pay you.”

“I accept cash, Visa, and payment in the form of Sal’s pizza.”

She laughs, loud and genuine, and an actual real-life chill races up his spine. “Cash and pizza it is.”

“What’s this place gonna be, anyways?”

“A small bookstore.” She says as she leads him up the stairs and through the propped-open front door. The room has been cleared of all the old tattoo chairs and workstations, the floors covered in paint-drip stained tarps, and in the far corner he can see the ladder she mentioned set up near a half-painted wall. “I…keep getting too excited and switching from one project to another,” she says quietly, and when he glances at her she looks embarrassed. It’s ridiculously endearing.

“You’re trying to do this by yourself?” He asks.

He regrets it immediately. The defensiveness in her gaze is undeniable, and suddenly he wonders how many times she’s been asked that question throughout this whole process. “I am doing this by myself.” She says, haughty and firm, and he wishes he could backtrack completely to relive that moment when she laughed and the entire universe made sense.

“I’m sorry, I - I just meant, this,” he gestures around the room. “The painting and the building and stuff. It’s a lot for one person to take on.” Her gaze softens, and relief floods his system.

“I’ve got seven brothers who’ve all volunteered to drop by in the next couple of weeks to help me paint and build shelves and get the stock out and organized, but honestly…I was too excited to wait for them. I mean, technically, this place has only been mine for an hour.”

“Wow.” Jake murmurs. Amy smiles at him, bright and proud, and his heart skips a beat. “Have you thought of a name yet?”

“Not yet.” She seems unperturbed, but Jake detects a flash of something in her eyes - he wonders how much of an issue she really finds it to be. “It’ll come to me eventually. I just need to make sure it’s the perfect name.”

He smiles at her, and then turns on his heel slowly, letting his gaze sweep over every inch of the room. “It’s a really nice spot, Amy,” he says, and when he turns back to face her she’s flushed and beaming. “Really, really beautiful,” he murmurs without thinking. 

Her smile turns shy again, bashful almost, and Jake swears his heart his soaring.

“Alright, put me to work. What do you need me to do first, boss?”


 

“I’m gonna need you to stop moving the Spiderman graphic novels to the classics display.”

Jake snickers, earning him a stern look and a sharp smack to the upper arm from Amy. He senses the amusement in her gaze - buried deep beneath the annoyance - so he knows it’s not serious enough to warrant a legitimate apology. “One of these days, you’re gonna recognize the true classics, babe.” He declares, delighting in her responding eye-roll. “What the hell even is Othello?”

“Oh, my God,” she mutters, pinching the bridge of her nose between her thumb and index finger. Jake snorts and leans back against the back counter, watching her check her inventory list against the shipment’s invoice, wondering how out-of-line it would be for him to sidle up behind her to massage her shoulders. “I think I’m missing a box of Maze Runners,” she mumbles over her shoulder.

“Oh, I think Gina was using it as a step ladder over in the yoga and meditation section.”

“What? Why? And how? I changed the locks on the stock room last week, how did she already -”

“Rosa.” 

Rosa.”

He smirks and moves toward her, crowding her up against the front counter and grinning when she doesn’t even try to fight him off. “D’you want me to arrest them?” He asks quietly.

She nods, face contorted in an exaggerated pout. “Throw them in jail forever,” she says, turning so that her lower back is pressed into the desk and draping both arms over his shoulders. He leans in and kisses her, relishing in the slow-moving heat that has not faded yet in the two years between this kiss and the first time he kissed her or the hundreds of kisses in between. She sighs when he pulls away, fingers brushing absently through his hair, and good grief he is in love with this bookworm nerd of a woman.  

“Will you please go rescue my books back from Rosa?”

“Anything for you, sweetheart.”

She pulls a face and pushes him away. “Gross.” she mutters, and he laughs.

“Nine-one-one, what is your emergency?” Jake calls loudly enough to fill the store as he marches off into the shelves. “I’d like to report a theft in the Ninety-Ninth Bookstore across the street from the world’s greatest pizza shop. I got eyes on the thief, it’s a, uh, really scary-lookin’ chick with crazy hair who could probably kill me if she wanted to -”

“I can and I will.” Rosa deadpans from three aisles over.

“It’s become a hostage situation, she’s holding these damn children’s books hostage -” a hardcover book smacks against the shelf behind him, passing just inches away from his ear, and he ducks. “She’s armed! Armed and dangerous -”

“Out! All of you, out, I closed an hour ago, get out.”

It takes a few minutes, but Amy finally manages to round Gina, Rosa, Charles (who somehow fell asleep in the children’s section while trying to decide between two books for Nikolaj), and Jake all up and herd them to the door. “I don’t have to go, though, right?” Jake asks as she shoves him forward.

“You’re the instigator,” she says very seriously, “you absolutely have to go.”

He covers his heart with one hand, mock hurt crossing his face. “You’ve wounded me, madam.”

“I’ll make it up to you later.”

Die Hard and makin’ out of the couch?”

“And Sal’s for dinner.”

She winks as he grins, and then he swoops in for one last kiss. “You know me so well.” He murmurs as he pulls away.

“Mm, I do.” She hums. He dives in one last time to kiss her cheek and then backs out to the stoop outside the front door. “I’ll be home in less than an hour.”

“I love you.”

The phrase still feels new, a bit foreign on his tongue, but he gets a thrill every time he’s said it since that very first time eight months previously. Mostly because of the way she looks at him after each time - with that same shy, bashful smile she had on her face that very first day they met. “I love you, too,” she says softly, and his insides are made of jelly.

Boo,” Gina jeers from the sidewalk, and both Jake and Amy roll their eyes in tandem.

“See you at home,” Jake says as he backs down the front steps. He waits until the door is firmly shut and locked, until she’s peering out through the blinds and waving, before turning on his heel to catch up with the others. “Gina! Hey, wait up.”

“What?” Gina grunts. “If you make me mess up my high score on Ballz -” 

“I’m sorry, what is the name of that game?”

“Don’t worry about it, what do you want?”

“I, uh - I’ve sort of been thinking - well, first of all,” he purposefully slows his steps, ignoring Rosa jostling into him and Charles slipping by. Gina slows down too, until there’s a good five-foot distance between them and the others. “I never actually thanked you for forcing me to talk to Amy that one afternoon,”

Gina rolls her eyes, but when she looks at him again, he sees the sincerity.

“So since…since you’re kind of, uh, responsible for - for introducing us, I was wondering…I took tomorrow off of work, but I didn’t tell Amy, because - well, I’m…I’m…”

“Shut up, you’re proposing?”

Genuine excitement radiates off of her frame, and Jake can’t help it - he beams. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m gonna propose to Amy. And I was wondering if you would help me look for a ring tomorrow.”

“Um, yeah I’m gonna help you pick out a ring, are you insane? You really think I’m gonna let you propose to a girl without my approval on that ring?”

“I mean, it’s kind of technically my choice -”

“Aw,” she steps toward him and lightly pats his cheek. “You keep thinking that, sweetheart.”

He opens his mouth to protest, but thinks better of it at the last second. “Thanks, Gina. For everything.”

A real, genuine smile flashes across her face. “I’m really proud of you, kiddo.” She says softly. “And I’m especially proud of me and my amazing Cupid skills. I should open a business.”

“Oh, God, just - help me with the ring first, and then start working on that, okay?”

“You got it, Romeo.”

“Did you know they both die?”

“Who, Romeo and Juliet?”

“Yeah.”

“For serious? They die? Why do people never shut up about them?”

“That’s what I said! Amy tried to explain it once but I just don’t get it!”

“Ugh, okay, forget I said anything. You guys aren’t Romeo and Juliet, you’re…um…Keith Urban and Nicole Portman.”

“I don’t know who either of those people are.”

“Startin’ to seriously reconsider helping you.”

Chapter Text

So Jake has, unsurprisingly, royally screwed up.

It’s not his fault. The dishwasher in his apartment is currently serving as a combination baking pan and takeout menu storage space. His dishes are cleaned exclusively by running water; only the dirtiest of the dirty get a half-hearted scrub from the used-to-be-yellow-now-grey sponge that lives above his sink.

Truth be told, Jake doesn’t wash dishes. And he certainly doesn’t run dishwashers. So it is no fault of his own that his first attempt to do so has gone so horribly, horribly wrong.

It’s a miracle he even managed to catch it before Amy’s entire kitchen flooded. Call it a sixth sense for his own stupidity, but he’d felt it from where he’d sat on her couch; a prickle at the back of his neck, an uneasiness swooping through his gut. Foamy bubbles have begun to spill across Amy’s kitchen floor, gathering in slick towers that fly up beneath his feet when he rushes into the room. They very nearly send him crashing into the counter but he manages to catch himself, heart thundering with panic and adrenaline alike.

Amy’s going to kill him.

“Crap,” he mutters, “crap, crap!” He rips open one of the lower cabinets and seizes a mixing bowl before stooping down and hurriedly scooping up as many bubbles as the bowl can hold. It hardly makes a dent in the avalanche cascading out of the dishwasher, and when he turns to dump the bubbles out in the sink his socked feet finally betray him to the will of the bubbles and fly out from beneath him. He soars for all of one split-second and then collapses backwards, his back catching on the upper corner of the still-open cabinet door.

His shout of pain is loud and strangled, lost beneath the angrily gurgling dishwasher and the deafening clang of the metal mixing bowl hitting the floor; it’s his own miserable luck, then, that it’s at this precise moment that Amy decides to return home from the grocery store.

“Oh my God!” He hears her gasp. He opens his eyes and she’s frozen in the doorway to the kitchen, her purse hanging off one shoulder, paper grocery bags clutched tightly to her chest. “Oh my God, Jake - what the hell -”

“Hey, babe!” He waves and winces - the move sends a sharp twinge of pain down his back. “You’re back!”

She gapes at him a moment longer before suddenly springing into action. Her purse and the grocery bags land on the far counter and she quickly (but carefully) steps through the bubbles to wrench the dishwasher door open. The cycle stops immediately, and even though more bubbles pour from the now-open mouth of the machine, something like relief settles across Jake’s chest. He releases a heavy sigh, letting his head fall back against the floor.

“Jake,” Amy’s kneeling beside him now, face ablaze with frantic concern. “Did you fall?”

“Uh - yeah -”

“Are you okay?”

“Um -” he winces again as a spasm lights up the muscles of his back, momentarily clenching his jaw to choke down a pained gasp.

“Did you throw your back out?”

“I-I don’t - I don’t think so, but I -” he points up over his head, toward the cabinet door he’s only just now realizing is hanging on by one single hinge. The one near the top has broken off completely, causing the door to hang forlornly to one side. “I kind of - landed on - on that corner.”

“Oh, my God.” Her voice is softer now, though no less tensed. He watches her hands flutter over him, biting the inside of his cheek to keep from outright laughing at the whole ridiculous situation. “Okay, okay, let’s get you off the floor -”

“You know what, I think I’m good. I’ll just -” he shakes his head slightly, staring up at the ceiling to ignore Amy’s knowing look. “I’ll just live down here.”

“You’re not gonna lay on my kitchen floor for the rest of your life, Jake.” She shifts and he bends both arms, instinctively covering his chest. Both of her hands land against his forearms and she grips them securely, thumbs gently sweeping warmth against his wrists before settling against his pulse points. “C’mon, let’s go to the couch. I’ll get the heating pad and you can rest while I clean up and then I can give you a massage.”

He perks up a bit. “Massage?” He repeats, distantly hopeful.

She grins and nods, reaching to wipe a stray smattering of bubbles away from his forehead before gripping his arms again. “Only if you let me help you stand up.”

He sighs, weighing his options, before tightly squeezing his eyes shut. “Alright, fine. But I’m only doing this for the massage.”

She smirks, and then readjusts her grip. “Try not to use your back muscles, okay?” She says, and he nods, jaw clenched in anticipation. “Ready?”

“Wait, wait, what if my feet slip again?”

Amy frowns, throwing one glance down at his feet. “Uh…” she releases his arms and crawls further down his body, deftly removing both socks and using them to wipe away as many bubbles as she can down near his feet. “That’s as dry as it’s gonna get,” she mutters as she reclaims her place. “Ready?”

“I was born ready.” He mutters through gritted teeth.

He…was not born ready. The sound that escapes him on the eternal lift from his horizontal state to a more vertical state is high-pitched and horrific; it’s a true testament to how much Amy loves him that she doesn’t even snort at the sound. Her arms remain steady and firm even as he stiffly stumbles forward; her grip keeps him from tipping forward to face-plant into the bubbles.

“Almost there,” she murmurs as they slowly, awkwardly amble out of the kitchen and into the living room. “You’re doing great, Jake, almost there…”

Her couch is soft and warm and unbelievably inviting and he groans when he collapses into it, muffling the sound by burying his face in the cushions. He feels Amy’s hand against the back of his head, her fingers combing soothingly through his now-damp curls gently, before running down his back toward the hem of his t-shirt. “Jake,” she says carefully.

“Huh?”

“You’re bleeding.”

He tries to lift his head to turn and look, but even the movement of his neck muscles stiffening sends a shot of pain down his back. “How bad is it?”

She’s got a grip on the hem of his shirt and is forcing it upwards, pulling extra hard to get the front up and over the cushions, until the material sits in one thick rope around his chest. Her hands are warm against his clammy back, warm and soft and gentle, fingertips trailing lightly enough to leave the skin in their wake tingling. “It’s not too bad,” she says after a moment, “but it might leave a scar.”

“Really? You really think it’s gonna scar? That’s so badass -”

“It would be, if you’d gotten it doing literally anything other than breaking one of my kitchen cabinets.”

“Hey, I only banged into that cabinet because I was trying to run the dishwasher for you, but the soap decided to stage a complete and total mutiny against me -”

“What kind of soap did you use?”

“What kind of question is that? I used the dish soap next to your sink -”

“Jake, that’s not meant for the dishwasher! You’re supposed to use the detergent under the sink - no wonder it looks like a volcano of bubbles erupted in there, oh my God -”

His whole face burns with shame. “Wait, there’s - what’s the difference?”

“Well, one…you know what, it doesn’t matter right now.” She drops down to her knees beside the couch, inching forward until her face fills his vision. “You were trying to do the dishes, weren’t you?”

He tries to shrug, but only manages an upward twitch of his shoulder. “I’m over here a lot and I use a lot of dishes, so…I’m trying to be more helpful.”

Amy’s face is lit with a soft, warm smile. She reaches up to stroke his temple with the backs of her knuckles and he closes his eyes beneath her gentle touch. “I love you,” she whispers, and then her lips land against his forehead.

“Hm,” he hums as she rocks backwards, “I love you, too. Sorry for flooding your kitchen.”

She snorts and shakes her head. “It’s okay. You were trying to help. Let me get the heating pad and a blanket for you.”

She moves to stand but he grabs her by the wrist before she can get too far. “Wait, before you go,” he pulls her closer, until she’s kneeling beside him again. “What does the scar look like?”

She laughs, quiet and bubbling, and then pushes up on her elbows to peer at his back. “Sort of like an L.” she says as she sinks back to his level.

“The letter L?”

“Uh-huh.”

“I’m totally gonna tell people it was a jet skiing accident.”

Chapter Text

“Polish tonight?”

He mumbles the question into her collarbone, his voice loud and startling in the otherwise thick silence. Amy jumps beneath him, heart skittering uncomfortably in her chest pressed tightly against his - it’s the first time they’ve actually spoken in hours. He hums as her arms shift restlessly with the tiny wave of adrenaline that prickles through her in response, hands roving up his back and back down again; he nestles his head closer, pressing her more firmly into the couch cushions, and when she clenches her jaw she can feel his hair just barely tickling the underside of her jaw.

“Sorry,” this one is closer in timbre to a whisper. “Too loud.”

“S’okay,” she rasps, and then clears her throat. He tilts his head up slightly, forehead bumping into the corner of her jaw, and then his lips pucker against the side of her throat. She lifts a hand to the back of his head absently and hums when he presses three more kisses in a slow-moving line down toward the curve of her shoulder. “You hate Polish.”

“Mm,” he hums again, parted lips buzzing against her. “You don’t.”

She closes her eyes, desperately trying to drown out that irritating siren screaming in the back of her head by concentrating on the patterns Jake’s tracing with his lips, but beneath her eyelids she sees that damn blue fedora and her anger is renewed.

Jake’s teeth scrape lightly over his pulse point and despite the fact that his following sigh rings with resignation, it raises gooseflesh right down her spine. “I could literally feel your pulse spike just now,” he murmurs, pushing up on one elbow so that they can properly look at each other. It’s the first time she’s really looked at him since arriving back home; he’d dragged her right over to the couch the moment her keys hit the table.

She studies him a moment, worrying her bottom lip over the internal push and pull of her warring head and heart, before briefly squeezing her eyes shut and huffing out a sigh of her own. “I think…I think we need to talk about what happened,” she says softly.

Amy can practically see the walls rising instantaneously in his eyes, in the downward curve of his mouth, in the rippling clench of his jaw. His hand still tucked beneath her shifts, fingers curling into the material of her dress. It doesn’t matter, though - it’s already wrinkled all to hell and stained with the same orange juice Teddy’s phone drowned in not three hours earlier.

“I don’t think there’s anything to talk about,” Jake says stiffly. “Your ex-boyfriend just confessed he was still in love with you and then he proposed to you, what is there to talk about?”

He winces at his own false bravado, and she rolls her eyes. “I also told him that it was never gonna happen,” she reminds him, carefully keeping her voice at that low, soothing tone she’s managed to perfect over the years. She smooths one hand across his cheek, smiling in spite of herself at the way her skin catches on the stubble there. “I listed off all the reasons why we’re so much better together than he and I ever were.”

“First of all, don’t use your soothing-the-victim voice on me.” His eyes practically twinkle with mischief and they both shake with the laugh that bubbles up from the pit of her stomach. “Secondly, I’m…actually not all that concerned about the proposal. As…as awesome as it was to hear you say all that stuff about me, and us, I…” he trails, gaze darting up over her head. “You haven’t actually seen Teddy in over two years, Ames.”

She holds her breath.

“Losing you destroyed him. And you weren’t even in love with him. It’s been two years and he’s still in love with you, still hasn’t gotten over you. It’s been two years and he actively wants to marry you! What’s…I mean, I just…what we have is, it’s, it’s bigger than what you had with him, so…I just keep thinking that…” he swallows thickly and closes his eyes. “If you left me, Amy -”

“Stop.” His eyes snap open as his jaw snaps shut, a look of bewilderment momentarily drowning out the abject misery. Amy ignores him, disentangling her arms from beneath his to reach up and take his face in both of her hands. “You are never gonna have to worry about that, okay? Ever. I’ve told you before, Jake, you’re it for me. I am completely and totally in love with you, every single part of you.” His gaze is transfixed on her face, equal parts soft and stunned and intense in a way that makes her stomach swoop and bottom out.

“What happens if you fall out of love with me? What happens if - if I’m not good enough?” He mumbles. Her heart aches at the naked insecurity flickering in his eyes, at the fears she suspects play on a whispered repeat deep in his subconscious putrefying in the light of day. It makes her angry, furious, enraged enough to wish time-travel was real just for the sole purpose of travelling back far enough to punch Roger Peralta in his selfish child-abandoning face repeatedly.

She inhales - the breath is shallow and quivering - and reaches a hand around to gently scratch at a spot near the base of his skull. His eyelids drop to half-mast immediately. “That’s never gonna happen,” she whispers. “You’re the love of my life, but beyond that - Jake, you’re my best friend. You’re my partner. I love you, in so many ways besides just romantically. I’ve had your back for ten years now, I’ve seen the absolute worst of you, and I can guarantee you that there is not a single place in the world I’d rather be than right here.” She presses her hand down at an awkward angle over his solidly thumping heart, before craning her head up. He lets her kiss his forehead, lets her lips linger against his skin, before he angles back and and up to capture her still-puckered lips in a slow, chaste kiss. “I love you,” she whispers when his lips break away. He exhales slowly, breath washing over her chin and neck, and melts further into her.

“You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he mumbles as he tucks his face back into her neck. She resumes scratching at that spot, smiling to herself at the quiet noise that escapes his throat. “When I propose, it’s gonna be so awesome Teddy’ll crap his pants. I’m gonna propose so good.”

Her heart flutters in her throat, cutting off the correction to his grammar. “Yeah?” she asks.

Jake smiles into her collarbone. “You bet your ass. It’s gonna be the best proposal of all time, and that’s a Peralta Guarantee.”

Amy laughs, breathless, and Jake lifts his head to grin goofily down at her. “I think I’ll be the judge of that.” she tells him. “And just to warn you, I might not even say yes.”

His grin evaporates immediately.

“I might not say yes, because I might be the one doing the proposing.” Her grin is cheeky, daring, as understanding dawns in his eyes.

“Not cool, Santiago! I’ve earned the right to this proposal!”

“Bull!”

“Um, excuse me! Let’s go over the scoreboard, shall we? You made the first move -”

“That’s not true! You kissed me in that restaurant!”

“The first real move! ‘Lotta change around here, huh?’” Her face heats up through her impossibly wide grin, and he nods knowingly. “Uh-huh, not as subtle as you think! You made the first real move, you came to my apartment after we almost screwed it up, you said ‘I love you’ first, you said ‘I love you so much’ first, just - just let me have this one!”

She narrows her eyes and purses her lips, pretending to think it over. “Mmm…no. You’ll have to beat me to it, I guess.”

“Oh, if it’s a competition you want, it’s a competition you’ll get. Are we looking to place The Bet three-point-oh?”

“Hell yeah we are. Shall we discuss details over the Polish food you promised me earlier?”

“Fine,” he sighs in a needlessly dramatic fashion, before ducking his head and blowing a raspberry against her neck. Amy shrieks and shoves him off of her, and when he hits the ground, he’s doubled over with laughter. “Polish it is!” He shouts as he scrambles away from her batting hands, toward his phone where it sits safely on the kitchen counter. “Oh, and Amy?”

“What?” she barks, ready for whatever witty retort he has brewing.

Jake’s face splits into a warm, genuine smile. “I love you, too.”

It would be completely heartfelt, too, if not for the crumpled receipt he hurls at her head immediately afterwards.

Chapter Text

Manny answers after the first ring.

“Jake,” he says, grin wide and almost identical to Amy’s, and Jake can’t help but beam back. The Skype connection is choppy and distorted but the excitement in Manny’s gaze is unmistakable. “How’s it goin’, man?”

“Great!” Jake answers honestly. “I gotta tell you, I’m a little nervous.”

“No need to be nervous, brother, I’ve heard so much about you from Amy I feel like I know you already. I’m stoked you chose me!”

Jake huffs out a laugh. It had taken some of his best police work to find Manny’s contact information without accidentally alerting Amy to his plans; it had taken the biggest leap of faith of his life to actually make the call. “Well, you’re the brother she talks about the most, so I thought this might be a really funny way to break the ice.”

“No, I’m so totally down with this. Like, so pumped. None of them are ever gonna see this coming.” They both grin broadly at each other through the pixelated connection, excitement pumping solidly through Jake’s veins. “So how’re you proposing we do this?”

“Well I was thinking we could work something out here, and maybe meet secretly the day before just to make sure we got it down? That way this doesn’t backfire on us in front of everyone.”

“I’m down, I’m down. Do you have one in mind specifically?”

“Yeah, I’m about to text you the link, hang on…”


“Jake,” Amy’s voice is low and soothing as she pulls the car smoothly to the side of the road. Jake grunts, too busy flipping through his notecards to verbalize a response. “Jake, babe, please relax. It’s okay. There are seven of them. I can’t even remember all of their names.”

“That is the biggest lie you’ve ever told me in your entire life, and that includes the time you tried to tell me McGinley asked you to clean out the fridge in the breakroom.”

“Oh my God, it’s been seven years, are you ever gonna let that go?”

“It was good honey butter, Amy!”

“There was a colony of flies living in it! I had to throw it away in the trashcan on the roof! You know what, I’m not having this conversation again.” She grips the steering wheel and inhales deeply before slowly exhaling through her nose and turning toward him. “Look, I love how hard you’re trying, here. Seriously, this is more effort than anyone has ever made before, and that includes friends I grew up with. I love you so much for wanting to do this, but I need you to know that it’s okay if you forget a name or two. They might tease you a little bit, but they do that to everyone. It just means they love you, too.” The corner of Jake’s mouth twitches up, and Amy’s gaze softens even further. She reaches across the center console to squeeze his forearm reassuringly. “It’s gonna be great. You’ve already met my dad and got him on your side, and he’s the scariest one. Plus, this time, I’ll be with you the whole time. You’ll be okay.”

He takes a deep, steadying breath, and nods, biting the inside of his cheek to keep from grinning and giving himself away. “I love you. And I’m ready to meet your family. I think the twins are spying on us from the upstairs window.”

Amy ducks down, eyeing the house across the sprawling front lawn, and releases a low hiss. “They’re so stupid.” She mutters to herself.

His palm is sweaty with nerves against Amy’s when she grabs his hand as they walk toward the front door, but if she notices, she doesn’t seem to mind. His heart thumps solidly in his chest in tandem with Amy’s knuckles rapping against the door, and his adrenaline kicks into overtime at the sound of a commotion on the stairs and loud voices echoing ever-closer.

Victor answers.

“Jacob.” He says, and Jake instantly straightens up. “Good to see you again, son.”

Victor pulls him in for a hug, and something in Jake’s heart stirs at the familiar affection he catches in Amy’s gaze. “Good to see you again, too, sir.” Jake says when Victor pulls back.

Victor smiles and nods, before turning to Amy. “Mija,” he says, embracing her tightly, and Jake shifts his weight from foot to foot nervously until they break apart. “I’ve got them all corralled in the living room, like you asked.”

“Not all of them, one was upstairs watching us through the window.”

Victor rolls his eyes and mutters something Jake doesn’t quite catch under his breath. “They’ll all be in there. I’ll go upstairs and smoke the rest out. You two, come in and sit down.”

They make the awkward shuffle past each other - Jake and Amy toward the living room, Victor toward the staircase - and Amy immediately grabs Jake’s hand again. “You okay so far?” She whispers as they amble toward the living room.

“I’m steady,” he mutters from the corner of his mouth.

The living room is crowded and the moment they emerge around the doorway, six pairs of eyes turn toward them. But Jake only looks back at one.

Manny grins broadly as he pushes up from the couch, bypassing his brothers to approach Jake. “What’s happenin’, man?” He asks, hand extended.

Without a word, they start the elaborate secret handshake they’ve been practicing for months. The room is dead silent save for Amy’s confused, breathless laugh and the sounds of their palms slapping together, and Jake’s ready to burst with laughter right there on the spot.

The moment they finish (and they finish with a salute - Manny’s idea, as a nod to Amy and Victor’s secret handshake), the room erupts in absolute chaos.

And Jake is absolutely on top of the world.

“What was that?” Amy asks through a blinding grin.


“Did I ever tell you guys about the time I surprised all of your uncles and your mom with a secret handshake?”

He hears Amy scoff over his shoulder, but he doesn’t glance back at her; Maya and Benji are staring at him across the kitchen table, eyes wide with rapt attention.

“Back when we were still dating, mom took me to Lita and Yayo’s house to meet all of your uncles, but I decided to surprise her. I called Tio Manny and we decided that we were gonna learn a secret handshake and we were gonna do it at Lita and Yayo’s house without telling anyone about it beforehand.”

“Tio Manny kept a secret?” Maya asks, nose scrunched in disbelief. “Mom says Tio Manny and Tio Luis can’t keep secrets.”

“Mom is right.” Amy calls over the top of her laptop screen from where she sits at the kitchen counter.

“Was it a super cool handshake, dad? Did you guys do finger-guns?”

“We did do finger guns, and we also saluted and did a bunch of other cool stuff! We’ll show you next time we go to Lita and Yayo’s for lunch!”

“Please, you two can barely remember to brush your teeth in the morning, what makes you think he’s gonna remember a handshake you guys learned almost ten years ago?”

Jake whips around in his seat to face her, brows raised alarmingly high, and it’s all he can do to keep a straight face at the sounds of the kids giggling. “Is that a challenge, Captain Santiago?”

Amy shoves her laptop aside and leans forward on her forearms across the counter. “Actually, it’s a bet, Lieutenant Peralta.”

“Oh, Ames. You know I love a good bet.”

Chapter Text

Jake Peralta is going to die.

It’s a thought that has crossed his mind many times in the past. Too many times. Like, an abnormally large amount of times, and wow, maybe his therapist was onto something when he said being on the force is stressful -

Actually, no, that’s probably not the best thing to think about at the moment, considering there is an actual loaded gun pressed against the back of his neck.

Figgis is corralling him along, prodding the back of his neck every few seconds, marching him past the seventh hole on the putt-putt course down the winding sidewalk that cuts toward the go-kart track and the parking lot beyond it. Jake can feel his heart thumping solidly against his Kevlar, harder and harder with each passing second and subsequent mounting tension in his belly. He’s racking his brain faster than he’s ever racked before, running through dozens of impossible Die Hard-esque escape scenarios that grow more and more outlandish with each heavy step toward his doom. He flexes his fingers where they’re laced against the back of his head, the image of his frosted-tipped reflection gazing back at him in that storage unit bathroom coming back unbidden in his memory.

He really can’t believe Amy actually saw him in all of his bleached-blond shame for the first time in six months and wasn’t physically repulsed.

He thinks of her now, probably desperately trying to talk her way out of being arrested somewhere in the bowels of the Fun Zone. He thinks of the scrunch of her nose and the flick of her silken hair tied back in that long, glossy ponytail. He thinks of the way her eyes never left his face once in that storage unit, how they stared up at him wide and uncertain and - and scared. Not of Figgis, not of the cops, but…of him, somehow.

Of all the space between them.

Jake Peralta is going to die with Larry’s stupid ID in his pocket, stupid frosted tips on his head, and a girlfriend who has no idea just how deeply and desperately he’s missed her far, far away.

Amy Santiago is running.

Florida is far too muggy and warm for anyone’s good, and really, it should have been detached from the contiguous United States and left to fend for itself in the ocean a long time ago. Sweat is pouring down her face and she isn’t sure if it’s that or the 93% humidity that’s causing the little wisps of hair to curl in tight ringlets at her temples and on the back of her neck, but either way, she’s ready to fire the gun she’s brandishing before her.

It’s deserted outside, and far too dark for her liking, but despite the fact that her heart is lurching uncomfortably in her chest Amy presses forward and sprints down the sidewalk winding off lazily to her left. It’s hard to tell but she thinks she might see some movement up ahead - people ambling away from the building, toward the parking lot - and even though it really feels like she’s drinking the air more than she’s breathing it in, she pushes herself to run faster.

She will not let Jake die.

Not with another man’s identification in his pocket. Not with those god-awful frosted tips. And not before she has a chance to kiss him again.

She absolutely will not let Jake die with Holt being the last person he kissed.

He’s been nervous and jittery all day, seeking her out but somehow also avoiding her to the point that she wasn’t even sure if she should say anything, do anything, even look at him directly. He’d hemmed and hawed all day long, nearly stepped on her toes to land that forehead kiss just to hurl a basketball at her not thirty minutes later. And it was like the last six months suddenly solidified into an actual physical presence between them because she looked at him and she saw everything, the pain and the fear and the loneliness, and she wanted more than anything to take it all away from him until all that remained was that gentle warmth she fell in love with all those months (years) earlier.

The scariest thing, though, is that she isn’t really sure if it was all his pain and fear and loneliness, or a mix of his and hers reflected back at her.

Amy Santiago is running as fast as she can toward the man she’s loved her whole life and the threat that stands between them, and she is not going to let Jake die.

Jimmy Figgis has a gun to Jake’s head.

This is, perhaps, the worst situation Jake has ever been in (and that includes Roger’s sexcapade in the back of the hatchback all those years ago). Because he technically has two guns pointed at him right now, and the Kevlar has never seemed more ridiculous and unnecessary. Sweat is pooling at his hairline and his upper lip and he can feel it dripping uncomfortably down the small of his back beneath his hoodie and Jimmy Figgis’ breath smells like eggs.

And Amy is so beautiful.

It’s a really, really weird thought to have, all things considered. But he has it, has it so suddenly, and it brings a burst of clarity with it. Amy Santiago is beautiful and strong and intelligent and so so formidable right now, with that gun in her hand and murder in her eyes. The murder softens instantly when her gaze flicks down to Jake’s face, and he almost smiles at her.

Almost.

On the heels of that burst of clarity comes the calm realization of what exactly has to happen. Something like resignation settles low in the pit of his stomach, hanging like a shadow, but it’s alright. It’ll be a moment of blinding pain serving as the gateway to the peace and comfort he’s been seeking his entire life.

It takes two nods - one more than he was hoping for - but it’s that second nod that finally clicks things back into place.

Jimmy Figgis has a gun to Jake’s head, but in the end, Amy’s the one who shoots him.

Jake’s scream echoes off the far wall of the Fun Zone.

Figgis lets him collapse, favors running as fast as he can over just finishing the job, and even though Amy’s body is humming with adrenaline she immediately dives toward Jake. He’s warm beneath her hands, face twisted in pain but eyes bright and aware and focused on her face. He’s talking, rambling, probably the side-effects of shock or some other medical thing she has no time to dissect, and really it’s all she can do to keep from kissing him to shut him up.

It seems wrong to kiss him right after she shot him.

So she tears her heart in half and leaves the softest and most vulnerable part of it with Jake there on the sidewalk. She takes the callous, calculating part of it with her on her mad dash after Figgis.

It’s a blur, the parking lot, but later she learns that when Terry and Rosa finally found Jake, they found him desperately crawling toward the parking lot. He hadn’t seen the crash, had only heard it. Amy hadn’t heard him screaming her name over the squealing sirens and the sound of Gina howling in her ears.

He’s sagging with exhaustion in the back of an ambulance when she finally finds him later, and even though he looks ready to fall asleep right then and there he still perks up considerably when he spots her. That physical barrier between them - whatever it was - is gone now. She can feel it, can see it in the openness in his eyes, in the way the world has transformed into a dizzying array of flashing colors and lights and deafening sirens and voices shouting but her whole existence has centered down on this man seated before her.

It’s cliche, that feeling of sudden, quiet wholeness that locks into place deep in her chest the moment his lips connect with hers, but she doesn’t care. They’ve spent the last six months in hell and they’ve earned their cliches, they’ve fought tooth and nail for them, they’ve broken commands and rules and probably a few laws for them and Amy is going to let herself feel every last ounce of them.

Jake’s scream echoes off the far wall of the Fun Zone, but when he says “I love you, too,” it resonates in her very soul.

Chapter Text

“So Jake’s doing the right thing instead of the selfish thing?”

She thinks of the too-warm atmosphere of Shaw’s, of the uncomfortable prickle on the back of her neck, of the heavy anxiety that sat like a stone in her stomach. She thinks of terrible bagpipes and even worse captains, of hopelessness, of fear. She thinks of peeling beer bottle labels and poorly-disguised speeches. She thinks of not caring about being demoted; she thinks of just caring about us.

She thinks of the mattress, of the morning it was delivered to his apartment. All soft cotton and new tags and fresh sheets. She thinks of it now, securely wrapped in the sheets that were once hers but are now theirs, of the shallow dents on either side where their bodies have begun the process of carving alcoves. She thinks of that smile, that nervous nod of his head; she thinks of the way he held her hand while she fielded questions from her mother over the phone.

She thinks of the cruise, of uncomfortable sleep schedules and rigid watches, of his worst enemy slipping through their fingers. She thinks of lovable and lovable, of plastic tarps and three Tums in preparation of more shrimp than any two humans should ever be able to consume. She thinks of salsa dancing and the warm and comfortable weight of his hand on her waist, his gaze on her face, his smile against her lips. She thinks of noice and smort and I love you, too.

She thinks of uncomfortable fake bellies and stained prison jump suits, of those same warm hands pulling her away from her target again and again. She thinks of anger, of rage, of that familiar determination to prove him wrong and the way her skin had crawled for just a moment when her target looked at her with murder in her eyes and a snarl on her face. She thinks of being tough enough, she thinks of walking away, she thinks of kicking hard and snarling “back off, he’s mine.”

She thinks of racing the clock, of fugitives escaped, of disgusting grey towels and Harry Potter and New York sewers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She thinks of blind determination and the way her heart had skipped in spite of everything upon spotting him ahead of her, coming toward her, shock and confusion and the faintest flicker of a challenge clear in his expressive face. She thinks of rushing through the Miranda Rights and faltering when his deeper voice suddenly disappeared; she thinks of his look of awe and “I’m done, you win. I wanna move in with you.”

“So Jake’s doing the right thing instead of the selfish thing?”

She thinks of him, and she smiles.

You did this to him.”

Chapter Text

It had been so far beyond stupid to let him talk her into this. She knew, she knew it would be a bad idea. And on any other day she would have the willpower to tell him no.

But the thing is, it isn’t any other day - it’s today. Today being the first time in over a week she’s properly seen him for longer than two minutes, the first time she’s been able to flash anything more than a tight smile as he passes her a cup of coffee on his way out the door. They’ve both been slammed, both working separate cases demanding odd hours from each of them; hers a kidnapping-turned-prostitution ring, his a massive cocaine bust that resulted in a solid 27 arrests ranging from buyers all the way up to distributors. She’d closed her case in the early hours of the morning, and he’d rolled in with that tell-tale exhausted-but-ecstatic grin on his face just a couple of hours later.

Jake didn’t actually seem all that against filling out the paperwork - a first for him, really, but it didn’t take long for Amy to discover his ulterior motives. It was all she could do to keep her eyes on her computer screen when his gaze was practically smoldering on the side of her face. She let it go on like that for too long, letting the heat build in her cheeks and her heart picking up a rather nervous tattoo, until her phone buzzed on her desk just as Jake pushed back from his. She unlocked the screen as he stood and walked away.

From: Jake <3
Help me w something in the supply closet

It…wasn’t exactly his most subtle attempt, but she’d stood and followed him nonetheless.

Which is how she finds herself here, hauled up against the closed supply closet door, Jake’s hands grabbing and pulling and so so warm as he kisses her over and over again. It’s messy and desperate and it makes her head spin and even though it’s so good to be near him again, she can’t stop picturing the look of disgusted disappointment on Holt’s face should he walk in on them right now. It’s enough to draw a tiny sound of protest from her throat, which Jake swallows quickly.

She only really starts pushing him back earnestly when she imagines the horrific sounds Charles would make if he were to walk in. “Jake,” she breathes, and he grunts, clearly still lost in his own train of thought. “Jake, we can’t - not here.”

“Stop being so professional,” he mutters against her jaw.

She inhales deeply and the oxygen - tinged with the spicy scent of his deodorant - brings a certain level of clarity with it. “Alright, then you can deal with Charles if he walks in on us.”

Jake’s head jerks back, a look of pure disgust on his face, and she can’t help but laugh even as she smooths the pad of her thumb over the deep ridge in his furrowed brow. “You really know how to kill the mood, don’t you?”

“I wasn’t voted Most Appropriate for nothing, Pineapples.”

He rolls his eyes and pecks the end of her nose before stepping back fully. She’s instantly colder without him pressed against her, and even though she tries to hide the shiver that races down her spine, she can tell by the delighted grin on Jake’s face that it does not go unnoticed. “I’m almost done with my paperwork,” she tells him as she straightens her jacket.

He groans and tilts his head back. “I’m not even halfway done yet,” he says, voice strangled with misery.

“Well, Holt’s giving both of us the day off after we finish,” Amy starts.

“Wanna stay after you finish? We can hang out, and -”

“Actually,” she interrupts, “I was thinking…maybe I could go home right after I finish.”

A hurt look flashes in his eyes, but it’s mostly snuffed out by curiosity. “Oh?” He says uncertainly.

“Yeah, I was thinking I could go home…I’m so tired, I don’t think I’ll be leaving my bed one single time for the rest of the day…”

He’s caught on now, eyes twinkling with mischief. “Right,” he says, nodding enthusiastically. “Gotsta catch up on that sleep. Cool cool cool cool cool, noice, noice. Smort, really.”

She laughs, deep and loud, and Jake chortles right along with her. “You still have my key, right?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Good. I’ll see you there.”

She turns gracefully, hair flicked over her shoulder in what would have been an incredibly smooth way. If not for the fact that the doorknob doesn’t turn in her hand. She twists, but it remains stuck. Even when she twists again. “Um.”

She feels Jake right behind her, his chest pressed against her shoulder, and when she pulls her hand away from the knob his replaces it immediately. “Oh no,” he mutters when the knob won’t turn for him either.

Bad idea, her conscience screams.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Jake’s in her space again, hands warm and solid where they rub up and down her upper arms. It’s suddenly very difficult to speak, so she nods, eyes wide and trained on his face. “It’s okay, everything’s fine. This is nothing, okay? Everyone’s right outside this door, all we have to do is just call someone and they’ll come let us out. Okay?” She nods again, and he flashes her a tight smile. “You good?”

“Yeah,” she whispers, and he nods.

“Okay, good. We’ll be out of here in no time, and no one will ever know the difference. I’ll text Rosa, she’ll be cool about it.”

Rosa is most definitely not cool about it. Although, to be fair, it wasn’t really Rosa’s fault (although why she ever let Gina use her phone is beyond Amy, honestly). Still, Amy can’t help the disheveled glare she shoots Rosa’s way when the supply closet door finally pops open to reveal half the precinct standing in the hallway with wide, knowing grins on their face.

She scurried out of the closet to the sounds of wolf-whistles and cheers (and Charles really, honestly sobbing) and even though she never once looked back she could feel Jake keeping pace at her heels.

“Ames,” he calls softly once they’re near their desk cluster again. She turns, chewing the inside of her cheek, to find his expression more apologetic than she’s ever seen, folding into a wince with each echoing shout or whistle behind him. “I’m so sorry, babe, I had no idea -”

“It’s okay,” she interrupts, and he clamps his lips shut and nods. “I’m just gonna finish my paperwork and go.”

He nods again, decidedly more dejectedly than before. “Still want me to come over later?” He asks quietly.

She snorts, and he raises his eyebrows. “Uh, yeah. You owe me, now. Like, majorly. I’m talking homemade lunch and dinner.”

“I love you so much.” He tells her through a broad, blinding grin.

“I love you so much, too, you idiot. Now hurry up and finish, I don’t have all day.” He ducks forward and kisses her one last time before practically skipping toward his desk and throwing himself into his seat, reaching for his keyboard and typing furiously. “Wait, no, don’t screw the report up -”

“This is gonna be the best report anyone has ever submitted anywhere ever. Better than the one with the about the author thing on the back. Mark my words, Ames, this is gonna get me a -” he stops, furrows his brow, and then deflates slightly. “What’s the book version of an Emmy?”

“Oh, my God. Bye.”

Chapter Text

The first thing Jake does after the bailiff announces the not-guilty verdict is high-five his lawyer. The second thing he does is high-five Rosa.

The third, and perhaps most dramatic thing he does, is turn around, vault the low wall separating the audience from the rest of the courtroom, and kiss Amy.

It’s deep and a little messy, and her muffled, exhilarated laughter buzzes against his lips when he wraps one arm around her waist and tucks his free hand up under the base of her skull so that he can dip her toward the ground. The courtroom is full of cheers (all originating from Charles) and he can feel hands whacking against his back in a congratulatory manner, but all that matters is the supernovas exploding in Amy’s eyes when he finally rights the two of them and pulls back far enough for her to grin up at him. There’s a certain level of anxiety in the process of quelling in his chest in spite of his earlier claims of complete confidence; Amy’s hands are warm where they stroke down the back of his neck and when he releases a stuttering exhale into the space between them and drops his forehead to hers, he knows they’re both feeling the tension leave him all at once.

“Thank God,” he mutters just loud enough for her to hear.

She hums and nods, and he kisses her again just because he can.

Jake strides out of the courtroom as confidently as he strode in, only this time he’s got Amy right beside him, chattering excitedly over the whooping and hollering from the rest of the Nine Nine detectives squad behind them. “We could go to a nice restaurant, or we could go to Shaw’s, or we could go home and just relax! It’s totally up to you, Jake, we can do whatever you want -”

He stops in his tracks, gaze fixated on the black text printed across the frosted glass window before him. Amy’s still talking, probably still making suggestions, and the rest of the squad has gotten caught up with something several yards back - he thinks it might have something to do with Scully’s shoes, but he’s not really sure - but all he can comprehend are the two words printed before him.

Marriage Licences

“Babe?” Amy’s voice rouses him from his sudden stupor; he turns his head sharply toward her and finds her there, inches away, question clearly written across her vaguely-concerned face. “What’s up?” He opens his mouth to answer her but the words don’t come, so instead he just turns back to the window. From the corner of his eye he sees her turn to look as well, and after just a moment he feels her stiffen. “Jake?” She asks, much more quietly than before.

“I wanna marry you,” he hears himself say, and he’s pleased to find that his voice isn’t as choked up as he suddenly feels. He looks back to her and the whole galaxy is in her eyes now, growing and expanding and shimmering and he knows he’s lost in them, has always been lost in them, can’t imagine himself anywhere else but lost in them. “We’ve been separated too many times, and - and we almost got separated again just now. I never - I never wanna have to be separated from you again, for the rest of my life. I wanna marry you.”

Amy releases something like a nervous laugh-sob, disbelief shining through every iota of her current existence. The squad is still loud some distance away but Jake has never been less aware of them as he turns to face her fully and grabs both of her hands in his. “You, you - you do?” She stammers.

“I absolutely do. There’s not a single doubt in my mind, Ames. There never really has been.” Her fingers curl almost painfully tight around his hands, and he squeezes back insistently. “I don’t wanna go to a fancy restaurant or to Shaw’s or home. I mean, eventually I do, but - not right now. The only thing I wanna do is marry you. Right here, right now.”

“Oh, my God, you’re not joking,” Amy says faintly. He shakes his head, smiling a little ruefully, and she swallows thickly. “O-okay, um - our families aren’t here.”

“That’s probably for the best. And we can - if you wanted to, we could do a proper ceremony and stuff later. Like, all the bells and whistles, or whatever. But this - this is just for us, for you and me. And the squad, I guess, but mostly just for us.”

A real, genuine smile is slowly taking root across her face. “But we don’t have rings,” she says.

Jake clenches his jaw briefly before reaching for his left breast pocket. “Actually, you don’t have a ring for me,” he says as he extracts a small grey velvet box. Amy’s breath visibly catches as he pops it open and tilts it slightly, allowing the respectably-sized diamond ring inside to catch the fluorescent light above their heads. “I’ve had this for two months, now. Been waiting for inspiration to strike.”

She reaches up hesitantly and trails her fingertips over the edge of the box, before turning her gaze up toward him. Her whole demeanor is suddenly blazing with determination and excitement, which sends a thrill down Jake’s spine. “There’s a jewelry store right across the street, we could -”

He snaps the box closed and steps closer to her, cutting her off with a quick, hard kiss. “I don’t need a ring right now. We could do that later. In fact, we could do all of this later. I could just propose to you right here and now and we could be engaged and then plan a wedding and make it a big official thing. I would be more than happy with that. But - but right now - this moment, for us, feels…big. And real. And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this than by marrying you. So…d’you wanna marry me?”

Amy chokes out a disbelieving laugh, and then launches herself forward. She flings her arms around his neck and kisses him, fingers briefly but firmly tangling in his neatly combed hair. “Yes,” she whispers against his lips.

Jake yanks his head back to stare at her, to assess the sheer excitement shining in those big brown eyes. “Yes?” He repeats, suddenly absurdly nervous that he might have misheard her.

But he didn’t mishear her, for she’s nodding quickly and bouncing on the balls of her feet and holy shit, he’s about to get married.

So he grabs her hand and turns back toward the squad, all of whom are only just then starting toward them. “Guys,” Jake half-shouts, “me and Amy are gonna go get married!”

Amy’s ‘Amy and I’ is lost beneath the deafening roar of celebration that fills the empty hall around them.

It’s chaos, it’s a lot of rushing, but eventually they find themselves crammed into a justice’s office. They’re facing each other and holding hands so tightly and somewhere behind him Gina’s still tutting about Amy getting married in a pantsuit but he doesn’t care, and she doesn’t care, and they’re grinning so broadly at each other Jake can barely even see straight. The ring he bought for her fits over her knuckle perfectly and the key ring pulled from Charles’ keys that Terry tried to resize is just a little bit too big but Jake honestly could not care any less because Amy’s crying when she slides it up his finger and he’s crying when the justice says they can kiss and so he tugs her forward and buries his hands in her long silky hair and it’s perfect, perfect, perfect.

“So if anyone asks,” Jake says as they walk down the steps of the courthouse as a slow-moving mob, “Amy and I are only engaged. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

Amy’s arm tightens around his waist as she nods, and he drags her closer to lay a kiss on top of her head with his arm slung around her shoulders. “Please tell me you’ll do the vow renewal on a farm,” Charles begs from Rosa’s other side.

“Maybe. We’ll think about it.” Amy turns her head up to peer up at Jake, and he immediately ducks his head to kiss the end of her nose. “But don’t call it a vow renewal,” Amy warns, “call it a wedding. Again, we don’t want anyone’s feelings hurt.”

“We will be exceptionally careful about terminology when speaking of it in a public setting.” Captain Holt says. They’re on the sidewalk now, gathered in a loose circle, and Jake can’t stop caressing the soft fabric of Amy’s jacket over her upper arm. “Peralta, Diaz, I am quite relieved that the verdict worked out in your favor. You’re damn good detectives, and I am immensely proud to have you both on my squad.” He pauses as the rest of the group heartily seconds him, and Jake can’t stop beaming. “And…Amy, Jake,” he turns toward them, and Jake swears his heart skips a beat because there are actual, real-life tears in his captain’s eyes. “I cannot begin to describe what an incredible joy it has been to watch the two of you grow and mature in your relationship with each other. You make a great team - great partners,” his eyes flash, “both in the field and in life.”

Jake extends both arms skyward and shouts, “YES!”

Laughter, breathless and excited, ripples through the group, as Holt flashes a rare, bright smile. “I’m sure you’re both looking forward to going home to unwind from what has turned out to be an admittedly…exciting day,” Holt continues, “but for those who are interested, drinks will be on me at Shaw’s.”

Jake reaches out and grasps Holt’s shoulder with his free hand. “That’s the best wedding gift you could have possibly given us,” he says, only half-pretending to be choked up.

He practically throws himself into Amy’s passenger seat but she’s already waiting for him inside, leaned across the center console and reaching for him impatiently. He meets her halfway immediately and kisses her, long and slow and firm, and the little breathy sound that escapes the back of her throat goes straight to his head. He angles himself a little more toward her and threads his fingers through the hair at the base of her scalp, pulling slightly, reveling in the warmth beneath his fingertips. “Mm,” Amy hums, flattening her hand against his chest to push him back and laughing quietly when he refuses to budge. “We’re gonna be late,” she scolds.

It’s not nearly as effective when it’s half-smothered by his jaw.

“So we’ll be late,” Jake mutters before pinching her side. She squeals and slaps his hands away, laughing when he releases a hybrid growl-sigh and falls back into his seat. “We just got married, have they no respect for the honeymoon?”

“Jake, Holt’s buying drinks. And we just got married, so it’ll probably be all night. Are you telling me you don’t wanna get super drunk for our honeymoon?”

“See, this is why I married you. You always have the best ideas.”

She grins impishly and starts the car. “Don’t you forget it.” 

He catches her hand as she reaches for the gear shift, interlocking their fingers and squeezing gently. “I never will,” he promises softly.

They’re an hour late to Shaw’s.

Chapter Text

She comes home close to 3 AM, humming while she struggles with the lock. Jake jerks awake from his position on the couch, squinting at the bright light cast by the Die Hard DVD’s main menu still playing on a loop. He blinks a little blearily, registering only faintly that a dark, blurry, Amy-shaped blob is moving through the living room toward him.

“Hey, Ames,” he says, grinning when she giggles (she’s always had a weird soft spot for his just-woke-up voice). “How was the party?”

“Charles won.” She drops to the couch beside him and he shifts, letting her tuck herself into his side, rubbing warmth into the freezing skin of her upper arm. He grins when she snuggles closer, nestling her face into the crook of his neck and sighing in contentment. “But…really, I won,” she mumbles as she traces a clumsy circle over his heart.

Jake kicks his feet up on the coffee table and hugs her closer, already feeling warm contentment tugging at his eyelids. “Yeah?” He asks softly. “How so?”

“Well Rosa liked Charles’ bachelorette party more than mine or Gina’s,” Amy explains in a voice so adorably sleepy and thin that Jake’s fairly certain he’s going to die, “but I got to come home to you.”

He laughs breathlessly, touched. “Aw. You’re so drunk you’re being nice to me.”

“M’always nice to you,” she grumbles. “I just don’t always show it.”

He chuckles and kisses her temple, grinning into her hair when she softly sighs again. “I missed you tonight,” he whispers.

“I missed you, too.” She’s slurring her words, clearly halfway asleep already. “I always miss you. I love you.”

She’s snoring before he can say it back, and even though there’s a part of him screaming to get up and get water and asprin ready for her to have first thing in the morning, he’s loathe to disentangle himself from her when she’s still so cold. Besides, he reasons, she needs shared body heat more than she needs painkillers right now. He’ll have plenty of time to take care of her hangover in the morning.

For now he settles down a little more in the couch cushions, glances over her one last time to assure himself that she’s warm and comfortable, and falls asleep beneath her.

Chapter Text

“Do you have any idea who I am?” Amy drawls.

Jake arches a single brow at her as he shifts in his seat beside her hospital bed, trying very hard to bite back the snort of laughter threatening to jut up his throat. She’s fully reclined except for her head, which she’s lifted off her pillow to allow her to stare at him more head-on.

It would be more intimidating - which is what he thinks she’s going for - if she was actually able to hold her head steady.

“You’re Amy Santiago.” Jake says, leaning forward to lightly pat her arm. “How’re you feeling?”

“Like a goddamn champion.”

He snorts as her head swivels around unevenly, bobbing slightly on her neck as she takes her recovery room in through half-lidded eyes. “Well, your appendectomy went perfectly. Are you in any pain, honey? The nurses’ station is right down the hall, all you have to do is just press this button here and -”

“Hey, hey, c’mere.” She waves him down, head falling backwards to her pillow, and Jake leans toward her. “Closer.” He laughs a little breathlessly and leans closer, until his chin is almost touching the mattress. “I could literally kick your whole ass.”

He falls backwards laughing, shoulders hitting the back of his chair hard enough to knock tears from his eyes. “Oh my God,” he sighs once he’s caught his breath.

“Keep laughin’, punk, s’gonna happen.”

“I don’t doubt it for one second.” He chuckles. “Listen, are you comfortable? You’re gonna have to stay here for a couple days while you’re recovering. You need any more pillows? Water, anything like that?”

“Whiskey, neat.”

“Okay, sure. Anything else? Maybe something that won’t kill you right now?”

She scoffs, air escaping in a hard tch between her teeth. “Puh-lease, P’ralta. I, unlike you, can actually handle my brown.”

He grins at her, nodding as he chuckles, and pats her arm again. “You’re right, you absolutely can. But how about we hold off on the whiskey until after all the morphine has left your system, hm? How’s water sound instead?”

Amy lifts her head, scowling, and sneers. “Do I look like I drink water?”

“Nine glasses a day since you were six years old.” Confusion flickers across her face, and he can’t help it - he leans forward far enough to kiss her forehead. “C’mon, lay down. Here, take the remote. I’ll only be gone for a minute, but if you need anything, just push this button right here. You want any ice chips before I go?”

“Only if they’re spicy. Gotsta have my spicy chips.”

“You should really try to get some sleep, sweetheart, you really need to. I’ll be right back, okay?” He stands and smooths her hair back, leans down, and kisses her hairline.

Her hands on the back of his head keep him from straightening and he lets her reposition him a few inches further down, lets her capture his lips in a searing, sloppy kiss. He loses himself in it for a moment, in the slow, hypnotic movement of her mouth against his; for a moment, he has to fight a very strong urge to climb onto the bed with her.

He’s brought back to reality when her fingers loosen in his hair and her arms flop back to the mattress, suddenly lifeless.

“Ames?” He yanks back a few inches to find her eyes closed and mouth parted, breath coming in slow, even puffs that wash over his face. “Oh, I am so making fun of you for this later.” He whispers to her sleeping face.

(He does, he makes fun of her for everything she said, and she informs him loftily that she stands by every threat she’d made - specifically, the one about kicking his whole ass.)

Chapter Text

Jake finds her again three hours after he wanders off into the general chaos of Shaw’s, smelling significantly more like whiskey than the last time she saw him and looking approximately six times more intoxicated. “Santiago!” he drawls loudly, and it’s a combination of the wine pleasantly simmering in her veins and the broad, carefree grin curving the animated features of his face. “Where’ve you been?”

Amy snorts, leaning to one side against the bar as he struggles to clamber up the barstool beside her. His eyes are bloodshot and half-lidded but he’s clearly feeling good, better than he has in a long while, and she’s grinning so widely her face is starting to hurt. “I’ve been right here the whole time, babe. Where’ve you been?”

His rosy cheeks darken as the circumference of his eyes nearly doubles. He starts chuckling nervously, drumming his fingers along the bartop, looking torn between wanting to lean closer and wanting to run to the other side of the building. “Wh-whoa,” he hiccups, “you - you’re really drunk.”

She laughs, confused, watching the emotions flickering in his bright, drunken gaze. In truth she’s only had two glasses of wine over the course of the night, and she’s spaced them both out enough that she hasn’t truly gotten much further past tipsy at any point. She’s there now, has been for the last twenty minutes, only vaguely aware of the rapidly increasing volume of the raucous shouts from the back of the bar. Shouts that have quieted down quite a bit in the thirty seconds he’s been seated beside her. “What makes you say that?” She asks him curiously.

“You called me babe?” He says slowly, the words only slightly slurred, looking like she’s just beamed down from Mars.

“…yeah?”

His nervous laughter is renewed, louder than before, only cutting off long enough to down half the beer bottle the bartender slides toward him at that precise moment. “You’re drunker than you’ve ever been in your whole life right now,” he tells her once he’s wiped the beer clinging to his upper lip off on his sleeve.

Amy snorts, more confused than ever. “Are you feeling okay, Jake?”

“Fine! Great! Never better! Hey, when - when is Vivian getting here?”

She feels her phone vibrate in her pocket a split-second later, and when she pulls it out, she’s received a new text from Rosa:

He’s so drunk he thinks it’s 2014.

The squad is gathered a distance behind Jake; when Amy glances at them over Jake’s shoulder, they’re all grinning, nodding conspiratorially, pointing at Jake.

“Soon,” Amy answers as nonchalantly as she can. He nods, takes another swig of beer, and lets his gaze wander over the patrons on the opposite side of the bar. It takes a moment - a quick mental stretch - but Amy’s fairly certain Charles and Vivian were only together for a few months at the beginning of that year. Before prison, before Florida, before he ever even went undercover with the Iannucci’s.

For a moment, she’s knocked breathless. It feels like it’s been a lifetime.

She recovers before he notices, her wistful smile turning mischievous in the blink of an eye. If she remembers correctly - and she’s pretty sure she does - he already had feelings for her then.

“Sorry about the babe thing earlier,” she says. His head whips back toward her and she leans toward him, smiling in what she hopes comes off as apologetic.

“Nah, it’s cool. I know how you get after four drinks.” He wiggles his eyebrows suggestively, and she can’t help it: she snorts. “I just didn’t know you had the hots for me, is all. Usually you hit on Rosa.”

“True.” He grins at her, bright and wide and happy, and it makes her insides feel like goo. “But, uh - that’s - that’s because I’ve always been too nervous to hit on you.”

He furrows his brow and pales a degree, but otherwise he does not move. “Y-yeah?”

Amy bites her bottom lip as she nods, and his eyes flick from hers down to her mouth, and when he meets her steady gaze again, his has darkened considerably. “Yeah. See, with Rosa, it’s kinda harmless. Since, you know, I’m not really into her like that.”

She gives him a pointed, lingering look, and the blush coloring the hollows of his cheeks reddens. He looks like he’s struggling to swallow, to blink, to even draw a breath. “What - what’re you saying?” She shrugs and winks, and he finally manages to swallow whatever’s lodged in his throat. “Wait, wait, you - Amy,” he turns toward her another degree, pushing his beer aside to slide his hands across the bartop, stopping a fraction of an inch from her forearm. “I know you’re drunk, but - but you don’t know what you’re saying, here. You don’t mean that.”

“What if I do?”

He inhales sharply, staring at her, and for a second she almost feels bad for messing with his head. “Amy?” He whispers.

“I like you, Jake. Really, I do.”

He blinks rapidly, clearly dumbstruck, so she reaches out to squeeze his upper arm reassuringly. “Oh, my God, you’re not kidding,” he breathes. He shifts a few inches closer as she laughs and nods, grabbing both of her arms and turning her toward him. “Amy, I like you so much. Like - like you don’t even know how much I like you, and I’m really drunk and I’m probably gonna throw up in a second but oh my God I really, really like you, I -” he stops and shakes his head. “You have no idea how long I’ve been wanting to tell you how much I like you, Amy.”

She’s so touched she can’t even speak, so instead she leans into his space and kisses him softly and slowly.

He jerks back, even paler than before. “Um - please, uh, please don’t take what’s about to happen as a reaction to what we just did.”

He scrambles off the barstool before she can ask and races to the bathroom, leaving her love-struck and laughing in his wake.

Chapter Text

The most heart-breaking thing about it, Amy thinks, is the fact that there are hand-written notes in the margins of some pages.

It wasn’t her intention to snoop, really (and is it really snooping if it’s technically her apartment, too?). It’s just that it’s been three weeks since that god-forsaken guilty verdict and this may or may not be the first day off she’s taken since then and she really can’t even remember the last time she came home because it’s not really home without him there. It’s just an apartment, a series of interconnected rooms full of things that hold no meaning to her, a group of walls marking off a certain square-footage that’s too - well, it’s too quiet, too empty, too…lonely without him there, too.

This is the first time in three weeks she’s allowed herself to exist within the walls once stretched to capacity with love, with laughter, with the occasional healthy bouts of exasperation. And really, honestly, she hadn’t intended to snoop. She was just searching for a certain hoodie - one she lived in for months at a time a year ago when this Jake-shaped hole was first blown through her chest - and in the process of looking through old boxes stacked at the back of the hall closet that never really got around to being unpacked, she’d found a binder.

A binder with her father’s name in Garamond typeface emblazoned across the front cover.

(She can’t help but instinctively wrinkle her nose - she would have chosen Tahoma.)

She’d picked it up carefully, hands shaking, as if it was a bomb poised to explode at any moment. But it isn’t a bomb and it doesn’t explode, even as the hefty weight of it registers in her short-circuiting brain.

There is no conceivable reason for Jake to have a binder with her father’s name on it hidden between neatly folded pairs of sweatpants. Unless - unless he didn’t want her to see it. Unless it was a secret binder, never meant for her knowledge.

There is a small part of her brain screaming for her to put it back.

She sets it aside instead, withdrawing her hands to fold in her lap so that she can just stare at it for a moment, before resuming her search through the box.

Eventually - once she’s clad entirely in his clothes - she pads back down the hall to their living room with the binder tucked beneath her arm. Her heart is doing this weird fluttering act, like a butterfly still caught in her cocoon, as she tips the binder open across her lap.

There’s a table of contents.

That alone is enough to make her eyes prick.

She blinks the blurriness out of her vision just to have her unshed tears renewed by the realization that he’d organized the contents by basic information, and then by chronological life events (she can’t help but to notice her birthday listed as a subcategory beneath Major Life Events - GREATEST DAY IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND AND ALSO THE UNIVERSE). He even has the Santiago family tree in the very back.

It’s extensive, and detailed, and yet he’s managed to squeeze impossible details into the margins: hella good detective. learn their dorky handshake?? one french creamer and two splendas in medium roast. LOVES football (NOT AMERICAN FOOTBALL, fútbol). has never seen Friends (FIND OUT which friend he is, v important). favorite candle scent: volcano no. 5 from anthropologie (???? what is amy’s fave).

She doesn’t realize she’s crying until she can no longer read his writing; she reaches up with one hand to wipe the tears away and runs the fingertips of her other hand over the shallow indents left behind by the pen he’d used.

Bitterness quakes through her, curdling like sour milk in her stomach; she hugs the binder close and gives herself over to it, lets it seize her, lets it permeate every ounce of her all at once. She never imagined she would be able to hold physical evidence of how much he loves her but here it is, clutched in her hands, pressed against her heart.

But here it is - clearly hours worth of research carefully collected and organized in decently-effective binder tabs. A good percentage of the notes are questions - some about her father, but most about her - so once she’s calmed a bit more, she reaches for the pen on the coffee table before her, pulls the cap off with her teeth, and begins to write.


“So - so cashmere over velvet?”

Amy laughs, closes her eyes, and leans her head back to rest against Jake’s shoulder. They’re in bed, Jake seated and reclined just slightly against the headboard, Amy settled between his legs and leaned against his chest. The duvet is pulled up to her hips and Jake’s binder is open across her lap; Jake’s reading her added notes over her shoulder, occasionally reading some answers out loud, lining her exposed shoulders and neck with kisses in the silence between. He’s got an arm looped around her middle, his hand large and warm where it’s splayed over her side; she trails her fingertips over his forearm lightly, in time with the steady, gentle caress of his thumb against her ribcage.

“Yeah,” Amy says, grinning when he presses a kiss against the shell of her ear through her hair. “Cashmere’s softer.”

He hums and the sound rumbles in his chest beneath her shoulders, and Amy swears her heart is positively soaring. “Speaking of soft,” he murmurs, “I really missed your hair.”

He’s been fixating on one part of her every night since he was exonerated three days earlier; one new feature to worship, to speak reverently of, to touch and kiss and caress and adore. He’s left the binder abandoned on her lap to finger the feathery ends of her hair where they’re just barely brushing her shoulders, and she closes her eyes at the gentle, repetitive tugs at her scalp.

“So soft and pretty. Just like you.” She turns her head to the side, toward him, and he immediately kisses her forehead. “Holy Moses, I missed you.”

“Jake,” she says softly. The sound that escapes him in response is quiet, but strangled in his throat.

He kisses down the side of her face, down her neck, where he lightly scrapes the edges of his teeth over her pulse point. She gasps, her grip tightening around his forearm, her legs shifting restlessly - which sends the binder sliding off to one side.

“Jake,” she repeats, and he grunts, never letting up. “Jake, the - the binder,”

“Shove it under the pillow,” he mutters into her shoulder.

“Jake -”

He snuffles out an exaggerated sigh - one that comes dangerously close to making her laugh - before leaning them both forward to grab the binder. “Is the other side of the apartment far enough away? Or should I call Charles? He can be here in, like, three minutes -”

Jake -”

“Or I could just fling it out the window?”

“Oh, my God, you’re such an idiot. Just put it in the closet and get over here!”

Chapter Text

Jake tells the maitre d’ first.

“The reservation is under Santiago. That’s Sergeant Santiago. My girlfriend’s a police sergeant.”

He tells the waitress next.

“What’re the specials from the secret menu? Y’know, the one for police sergeants only? She’s a police sergeant. And my girlfriend. We’re in love.”

The sommelier is after that.

“Yes, what wine pairs best with making out with a newly-minted police sergeant?”

Jake!” Amy snaps, a fierce blush pouring from the tips of her ears down to pool in her chest.

What? I’m genuinely curious!”

By the time dessert arrives, they’re both four glasses of wine in, and every single patron at the restaurant knows about her promotion. Jake keeps whisper-shouting it to people passing by, keeps tapping on the window front to his left and mouthing it to pedestrians while pointing at her across the table. Amy can barely see straight, can barely think straight, so punch-drunk (and actually drunk) that she can’t stop laughing, can’t stop leaning toward him, can’t stop tangling their fingers together on the tabletop. Their ankles are hooked beneath the table and she may or may not keep dragging her toes up his calf, enjoying the way he blushes and squirms in response a little too much.

Eventually they pay the bill and stumble out, arms linked, leaning into each other a little too heavily to pass as sober. Jake’s in her space, lips pecking lightly along her cheek and her jaw (and, once, her eyebrow) and even though the laughter is still bubbling between them she can feel a molten kind of heat pooling in the pit of her stomach that is severely interfering with her ability to walk in a straight line.

Jake hails a taxi and they fall into the back seat together, hands pulling and gripping and caressing. Amy gasps when he nibbles lightly on the corner of her jaw; her eyelids flutter open and she’s met with a slightly exasperated look from the driver through the rear-view mirror.

“Jake,” she mutters, pushing lightly at his shoulders.

“Mm? Oh,” he pushes back slightly, turns to the driver, and rattles off their address. “If I give you an extra twenty bucks, can we make out back here?”

“I don’t care.”

“Great. Oh, one last thing - what kind of discounts do you give to police sergeants?”

Chapter Text

It’s a warm, heavy weight rolling across her front that causes Amy to wake up laughing. “Did you know,” Jake whispers in a mock-dramatic voice, “that all mothers were born on Mother’s Day?”

She laughs, squeezing her eyes shut as Jake rains kisses across her cheeks, nose, and chin. His whole torso quakes against hers as he chuckles along with her, and she lets him nudge her nose with his to angle her head for a long, lingering kiss.

He does it once, twice, three times more, and when she opens her eyes he’s pulled his head back to grin broadly down at her. “Happy birthday.”

Jake.”

He snorts and kisses her again, a low noise escaping the back of his throat when another laugh bubbles up from her chest. “Happy Mother’s Day, Ames.” As if on cue, the baby monitor on Amy’s bedside table begins to emit a small, tinny cry that is echoed by a tiny and shrill voice from down the hall. “That’s Peanutese for Happy Mother’s Day.” Jake murmurs in her ear.

“That’s Peanutese for feed me now before I burn this place to the ground,” Amy corrects him, stretching her arms out beneath the duvet before reaching down to lightly pinch his side. He twitches in response, pinning her hands down as he muffles his high-pitched giggle into the dip of her shoulder. “Alright, c’mon,” Amy laughs, “I gotta go get her.”

“Nope!” He chirps brightly. He pushes up on his hands and knees above her, ducking his head down for one last brief kiss before bouncing off the mattress and bounding toward the door. “Super-Dad to the rescue!”

Amy laughs again, rolling to her stomach and burying her face in Jake’s pillow. She can hear the quiet murmur of his voice coming from the baby monitor, soothing Rae until her crying quiets down.

You wanna go say Happy Mother’s Day to mommy?” He asks Rae quietly. “Hm? You wanna go tell her how much you love her? C’mon, we can go get some breakfast for you and mommy, and we can all eat breakfast in bed. How’s that sound?

Rae makes a gurgling sound, one Amy’s come to associate with contentment, and she’s grinning so broadly her face is starting to ache. Jake’s voice has faded from the baby monitor but she can still hear the quiet timbre of it, a faded early-morning rumble that never fails to make her stomach swoop.

She manages to doze off in the comfortable warmth of their bedroom, lulled to sleep by the distant sounds of plates clicking together and the microwave running coming from the kitchen and the spicy scent of Jake’s shampoo. She breathes deeply, evenly, feeling peace settle all the way down in her bones.

It could be a few minutes later, or a few hours later - she’ll never really know - but eventually she’s jolted back to reality at the sound of Jake nudging their bedroom door open with his foot. “Good morning, mommy!” Jake calls softly. Amy pushes herself up to her elbows and turns back to the door, blinking through her disheveled hair blearily.

Jake has Rae perched on his hip, and with his free hand he’s balancing a plate full of what appears to be eggs and bacon. Amy can also see a bottle of milk tucked beneath that same arm; she rolls to her side and pushes her hair back from her face so Jake can get the full effect of her bright smile.

“Oh my goodness, Rae , did you make this all by yourself?” Amy asks teasingly as she sits up and scoots back to lean against the headboard. Jake chuckles as he hands her the plate, and she waits until he’s seated and leaned back against the headboard, until Rae's situated with her bottle, before digging into the eggs. “Babe, are you eating?”

“I had cereal,” Jake says absently as he wipes the milk on Rae's chin away with the pad of his thumb. He dries it off on his boxers, and the flashes Amy a quick grin. “How’re the eggs?”

Mmm,” she hums approvingly through a mouthful.

“Good,” he leans toward her and she meets him halfway, the kiss chaste and slow. “Not to rush you, or anything, but eat up. We’re meeting Terry and Sharon at the park in an hour.”

“Wait, really? For what?”

“It’s a surprise.” Jake says with a cheeky grin.

“You have a surprise planned?”

“Girl, we got a whole day of surprises planned! Eat up, you’re gonna need the protein!”

“Wait, wait -”

“No waiting, no stressing - trust me, babe, this is gonna be the best first Mother’s Day anyone will ever have in the entire history of the universe, and that is definitely not an exaggeration!”

“Jake?”

“Yeah?”

“Rae just spit up on your leg.”

“…still not an exaggeration!”

Chapter Text

Jake is really, really messy.

It’s a fact Amy has known about him for about as long as she’s known his name, but not something she’s experienced as viscerally as she does one morning mid-January, when the carefully-packed walls of junk come tumbling down and she realizes that she is, for the first time in her life, woefully unprepared.

Packing up his apartment for the move to hers has been a much slower endeavor than she anticipated, but for once Amy finds that she doesn’t really mind being behind schedule - not when it means making fun of him for having a copy of the first Twilight movie hidden in the space between his bedside table and the wall behind it.

(“It’s my moms!” He’d cried over her laughter. “She left it here one night after we ate dinner and I keep forgetting to give it back to her! Shut up Santiago!”)

They’ve been at this for hours, since nearly 7 AM (it would have been exactly 7 AM if not for the grabby hands that kept pulling her back to the bed by the loose material of the t-shirt she’d stolen from him months earlier every time she tried to disentangle herself from his warm, sleep-heavy limbs). They’re supposed to already have his front closet, kitchen utensils, and bedroom closet packed; so far, Jake’s gotten three mixing bowls and a cookie pan tossed haphazardly in a moving box.

He keeps getting distracted, continuously glancing at her and craning his neck to catch a glimpse of whatever she’s holding at that moment. He stops every time it’s something interesting, claiming she needs to know the story behind it, which normally wouldn’t be a problem - except so far, the only thing Jake hasn’t stopped to talk about is a crumpled receipt and an old Taco Bell to-go bag she dug out from behind his couch.

(Even then he paused, pulling the receipt from her hands and smoothing it out, brow furrowed in concentration. She rolled her eyes and snatched it from his fingers, shouting “no!” over his quiet wail of objection.)

The morning quickly slipped away and before long Amy’s stomach began growling nearly in tandem with Jake’s. He’d declared that it was time for lunch and very nearly convinced her to go out with him, but then she’d caught sight of his unwashed laundry and had resolutely sent him off alone to pick food up.

Leaving her alone, to start a load of laundry and to wander into his closet to begin the arduous task of folding his seemingly endless supply of hoodies and leather jackets.

Top to bottom, her mother always said, and the words echoed back to her as she rose up on the step stool she’d brought with her the night before. There’s a new ring to it, a certain level of grim acceptance that she’s able to push away fairly quickly. It’s good, this clean-up. It means moving forward. 

The box is, for all intents and purposes, beneath the purest beam of light Amy’s ever seen. It practically begs to be dragged off the shelf, what with Jake’s messy scrawl carving out the words Holiday: Important on the side (which she knows to be code for Private: Embarrassing). An old but familiar feeling creeps over her as she throws one glance over her shoulder (Jake’s definitely still not back yet); it’s not until she’s got the box on the ground, tape half-way through being ripped off, that she recognizes it as adrenaline-fueled excitement.

She hasn’t had this feeling since long before they started dating, back when the foundation of their relationship rested in who could tease who the most. She imagines herself eight years younger, fresh-faced and determined to get the best of her irritating new partner. And when she opens the box and peers inside, that younger version of herself squeals with excitement.

It’s nearly half-full of cassette tapes CD’s. His hand writing litters each disc and case, sometimes with nonsensical titles like Sistah’s Mitzvah (she pulls that one out and sets it aside, gleefully imagining a thirteen-year-old Jake creating a playlist for Gina’s Bat Mitzvah) and stakeout w/ boyle, sometimes just with a date scrawled across the bottom of the disc. It’s a veritable gold-mine of blackmail, one she literally can not wait to lord over his head for the foreseeable…ever, and she knows her grin is as blinding as it is calculating because this is the single-most perfect thing she’s ever had the good fortune of stumbling upon -

Her grin vanishes the moment she spots April 19, 2016 across the bottom of one case. Her hands freeze over the edges of the box, fingers curling until her nails dig into the meat of her palms.

April 19th. The day he went into Witness Protection.

Acid is rising up her throat but she can’t bring herself to look away, can’t bring herself to move at all. It’s staring up at her and she’s struggling to breathe, because whatever is hidden on that disc holds a part of Jake’s life that she didn’t have access to. It holds part of him - however small - that she’ll never get back.

It’s warm when she finally, hesitantly picks it up.

The whole box is warm, really, but that doesn’t stop the breath from rushing out of her or her falling back to her haunches. She holds it as delicately as she would a priceless antique, one that threatens to shatter and disintegrate right there in her hands at the slightest mishandling. She swallows thickly and traces the handwriting with the tips of her fingers, trying to imagine what was going through his mind when his hand moved across this disc.

The sound system in his living room is suddenly calling to her and like a moth to a flame, she stands and moves toward it, eyes never leaving the disc. It’s not until she’s sliding the disc into the tray and watching it cue up that she even realizes what she’s doing.

There’s only one track on the disc, according to the CD reader. Her hand shakes when she reaches for the Play button.

“-ouldn’t even be able to physically do that, Jake,” her own voice rings out clearly through the speakers, so loud she nearly jumps out of her own skin. “What would keep you from falling into the water?”

There would be a safety net, obviously,” comes Jake’s retort. There’s a rustling sound, as if the microphone through which the conversation was recorded rubbed against something soft, and then a small thump. “What, you think I’m some kind of idiot?

Sometimes. What? You said earlier that it’s honesty night, so I’m being honest -

I said that to the perp, Santiago. You should be nicer to me, I thought we were in love!

A wide, breathless smile breaks across Amy’s face in tandem with her recorded laughter. She doesn’t remember having this conversation - not very clearly - but it sounds like typical stakeout banter. She had no idea he was recording them. “We are in love,” she hears herself say, “but that doesn’t mean I can’t think you’re an idiot sometimes.

Yeah, fair enough.” It’s quiet for a beat, and then - “you’re really pretty when you think I’m an idiot.

I must be pretty all the time, then.

Y’know, for a true statement, that’s extremely hurtful.

She laughs along with herself this time, edging backwards until she feels his couch hit the backs of her knees. “You know I’m just messing with you,” the recording says as she falls backwards into the cushions. “I love you, all of you. Even when I think you’re an idiot.

So all the time, then?” Amy can hear the cheeky grin even through the recording, and she can tell by her own recorded snort of laughter that she’d probably rolled her eyes then the way she’d just done. “I love you, too. For the record.

The recording goes quiet for a second - she thinks they might have leaned across the center console to kiss - and in the space of sound she hears keys in the front door. “The Thai place was closed for renovations, so I went by Sal’s instead!” Jake shouts from the entry way.

She doesn’t respond, can’t respond, and when she turns to look at him where he stands framed in the doorway to the living room, she realizes belatedly that her vision is blurred with unshed tears. He stops in his tracks, wary and confused, but before he can ask -

You have really soft hair, Ames. Have I ever told you that?

She responds in the recording, but Jake’s quickly lobbing the pizza box haphazardly on his coffee table, diving toward the CD player, jamming his finger over the buttons until the sound suddenly cuts off. He whips around to face her, chest heaving and eyes wide, arms raised on either side of him as if he fears she’ll try to get past him to press play. “How’d - where’d you find that?” He demands breathlessly.

“I - I was in your closet and - I saw this box -”

“Holiday, important,” he mutters under his breath.

“Right,” she nods, and when she blinks the tears in her eyes finally fall. She wipes them away quickly. “I just - I, um…I snooped.”

Jake clenches his jaw and swallows thickly, and for a second she thinks he might be genuinely upset with her. “I didn’t…I mean, um…there are some embarrassing things in there,” he says once he seems to clear whatever lump got lodged in his throat.

Amy nods slowly. “I saw. And I was gonna make fun of you, but…then I found that one.”

He stares, eyes wide, and chews the inside of his cheek. “I’m…sorry,” he finally chokes, quickly dropping his gaze to his feet.

“Wait, you’re sorry?” His head snaps back up, face twisted in confusion “Why are you apologizing to me?”

“I recorded you without telling you, I’m…pretty sure that’s illegal in some states. Right?”

“I mean, yes, technically, but -” she stands and crosses the space between them, grounding him to her with one hand on his shoulder and the other gently caressing down his arm. “I don’t care if you recorded me. That’s not even a blip on my radar right now.”

“You’re crying, though,” he says softly.

“That CD had the date you went into WITSEC written across the bottom.” His gaze softens further as he slowly nods. “You burned that CD the day you went to Florida.”

“I might’ve…broken some rules,” he says. “I logged into my Apple account on a computer in a public library five counties over from Coral Springs and found a recording I did from our stakeout a few weeks before. I just…needed to hear your voice.”

She pulls him closer and his hands are warm on her back, his lips soft and pliant against hers. They hold each other like that for an endless moment, all gentleness and comfort, and when they break apart their foreheads bump together lightly. “You will never, ever cease to amaze me, Jake Peralta.” She whispers with as much conviction as she can muster.

“Amazing you is literally what I live to do,” he murmurs, lifting his forehead to kiss the end of her nose. A second later he’s pushing her back but grabbing her hand, twirling her around and dragging her toward the kitchen. “Now, c’mon!” He shouts over her breathless laughter. “We’re, like, three hours behind schedule and that pizza won’t stay room temp for long!”

Chapter Text

It’s the solid landing of a tiny hand against his cheek, quickly followed by a quiet gasp and a muffled giggle, that rouses Jake from sleep.

There’s a warm weight on his chest, wiggling feet coming dangerously close to clocking him right in the chin, and there’s that hand again - this time with its partner, grabbing at his face and nose. He grins sleepily and turns his face closer to it - to her - and huffs out a quiet chuckle through his nose when Amy gasps exaggeratedly somewhere above him.

“I think Dada is faking, Rae,” Amy murmurs. He can hear the grin in her voice, mirrored in Rae's high-pitched coos probably muffled around a pair of spitty fingers. “You gotta wake him up! Say wake up Dada! Breakfast is getting cold!”

Jake hums, loud and long, and the sound quickly tapers into a laugh that rings through the room along with Rae's. His eyes split open and his daughter is right there, right above his face, eyes bright and wide-open beneath a mop of dark, curly hair. She swings her arms up and down quickly, apparently delighted at the fact that he’s awake; he hoists her up over his head and holds her aloft for a moment before bringing her back down and kissing her cheek.

“Happy Father’s Day,” Amy chuckles from where she kneels beside the bed as he brings Rae back down to safely sit against his chest. He turns his head toward her and smiles a little sleepily, letting his eyes flutter shut when she leans in toward him and kisses him. “C’mon, I wasn’t kidding about breakfast getting cold. Besides, Rae and I have a surprise waiting for you.”

“Ames,” he says as she lifts Rae from his chest, “I thought we agreed I didn’t need a Father’s Day gift.”

“It’s not a gift,” she calls over her shoulder. “It’s a surprise.”

He has half a mind to grumble, but thinks better of it at the last second, choosing instead to heave a loud sigh as he rolls out of bed.

There’s a spread of food all across the dining room table, two empty plates set neatly in their usual places and a high chair in between them. Amy’s already strapping Rae in, talking to her softly; Jake pauses in the doorway, heart swelling almost unbearably with affection.

Amy catches him. “You gonna eat or stare at us all day?” She asks as she takes her seat.

He answers her cheeky grin with a roll of his eyes and steals forward, planting a swift kiss on Rae's cheek before settling into his seat. His glass is already full of orange juice and the bacon, sausage, and eggs are within reach; beyond those lies a platter of biscuits and another platter of cinnamon rolls. But between his plate and his glass is a small rectangular box that looks as thought it might have once held a pen, wrapped once around with a simple brown bow just a few shades darker than the box itself.

“Open it,” Amy urges him softly.

He does. It takes a moment to get his fingers to cooperate with the bow - Amy double-knotted it - before he just slides the bow off and practically throws the lid across the table in annoyance. He doesn’t throw it, though, because the moment his gaze lands upon the contents of the box, his entire body freezes.

And he stares.

And stares.

“Is - is this - are you - ?”

Amy’s nodding, her grin broad and blinding. “I haven’t been to the doctor to confirm, but - I’m three days late.”

“This is a positive pregnancy test,” he tells her, voice rising in pitch. Amy nods, the beginnings of laughter spilling from her chest. “You’re - you’re pregnant!”

He springs out of his seat and nearly trips over Rae's in his haste to get to Amy, who seemed to anticipate this reaction - she’s already on her feet, laughing into his neck when he sweeps her up in a tight hug. Rae squeals, unhappy with the lack of food on her tray and the apparent distraction of both of her parents, but Jake can hardly hear it - they’re having another baby. Rae's going to be a big sister. They’re going to have another baby.

“I told you it was a surprise,” Amy tells him, somehow ecstatic and lofty at the same time.

“This is the best Father’s Day ever,” Jake mumbles into Amy’s shoulder. He pulls back slightly, just far enough to kiss her forcefully for a brief moment. “I love you so stinkin’ much, Ames.”

“I love you so much.” She whispers, shaking her head like she still can’t believe it.

“Seriously, this is the best Father’s Day in the entire history of the world! Does Rae know?” He stoops down beside her high chair, stifling a laugh when her big tear-filled eyes dart from the sausage to Jake’s face. “Did you hear that, Peanut? You’re gonna be a big sister!”

She wails and flails her arms toward the food. “Yeah, she’s more hungry than anything else right now, Dada.” Amy tells him, prodding him out of the way to reclaim her place beside Rae. “We’ll tell her after nap time.”

“Hers or ours?”

Chapter Text

It happens while she’s yelling about fish, of all things.

Actually, really, it’s not so much yelling as it is a frustrated and spirited one-sided debate with the eight frozen fish sticks stuck to each other and the inside of the packaging from whence they came. Amy’s been doing her damnedest to get them unstuck for nearly five minutes now - and really, there’s no logical reason for them to be this stuck except for the fact that Jake forgot to secure the packaging the last time he came rummaging through here and thus freezer burn has stuck them all together like glue - and she’s very quickly running out of patience and feeling in her fingers. There has to be some trick, some quick something she can do to get their lunch unfrozen; it’s right around the time her wildly-spinning mind has conjured the image of a butter knife crowbar that she notices it.

Jake’s leaning against the door frame right at the entrance to the kitchen, watching her struggle. Heat blossoms in her cheeks - she’s never done well with unwillingly serving as entertainment - but the amusement in his eyes is soft, affectionate, and immediately makes her stomach bottom out. He’s got that poorly-repressed smile on his face, the one that makes his lips draw back and up but not quite over his teeth, like he’s trying so hard to tamp it down but it’s just too much to contain. His eyes are practically liquid from how warm they are, how much they shine as they track her every move. He even exhales a quiet laugh through his nose as she straightens and quickly blows a lock of hair that fell across her face in her struggle out of her line of vision.

“What?” She demands, hoping to gather the last vestiges of her dignity.

“Nothing. You.” He shakes his head, still smiling, and glances down at his feet.

She deadpans, eyes narrowed, and lets the still-cool cardboard box brush against her thigh as she drops her arms to her sides. “Ha-ha, very funny, Amy can’t cook -”

“That’s not why I’m smiling.” He interrupts, stepping toward her until he’s just inches away. He pulls the box from her hand and retreats a pace or two, eyes still not leaving hers even as he reaches into the box with his free hand. “Although that is true.”

Amy crosses her arms over her chest and cocks one hip, leaning all of her weight on one leg. “What, then? Is there something in my hair? On my face?”

“No, not at all. You look beautiful.”

She glances down - ratty leggings with a hole in one thigh and an old paint-stained camp shirt she stole from one of her brothers - and then raises a single brow incredulously. “Really, Jake?”

“What? You’re glowing.” His voice quivers with an unheard snicker and she rolls her eyes, moving past him toward the cabinets to extract two pint glasses. “I’m serious, babe!”

The pet name leaves his lips on a grunt; one glance over her shoulder confirms that he’s pulled the stack of fish sticks out of the packaging and is attempting to pull them apart with his bare hands. “Unbelievable,” she murmurs, shaking her head.

“Hey,” she’s halfway to the refrigerator but she pauses at the sound of his voice, frozen mid-step, two glasses clutched in each hand. “D’you have any idea how much I love you?”

This isn’t the first time he’s asked that question, but her heart still flutters as if it is. “Jake…”

“I’m serious,” the fish sticks are on the counter and his back is to them, facing her, approaching her slowly with that same soft look from before. “Do you know? I mean really, really know?”

He pulls the pint glasses from her hands and she immediately reaches for his shoulders, grounding herself to him, thumbs absently trailing up the curve of his neck. “I do,” she says softly, because it’s true, she does know - more so now than any other time. “Of course I do.”

“Good.” The word is quiet, his voice deep, and then his lips are moving soft and slow against hers and the back wall is solid against her shoulders. His hands move leisurely down her sides - he must have set the glasses down without her noticing - and they find purchase on her hips, holding her to him. Her heart is palpitating, her stomach flipping and bottoming out and it’s incredible because they must have done this exact same thing a hundred times before and it still feels as exciting and new as that very first time.

He pulls back before she does, chuckling when she strains to follow him, and when her eyes flutter open he’s looking down at her like she’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. There are stars in his eyes, supernovas, that make her hands shake and her knees weak. Over and over and over again, she falls for him; over and over and over again, he catches her.

“I - I need to lie down,” she stammers.

He laughs outright at that, his head tilted back and Adam’s apple bobbing in his elongated throat, and when he steps away he keeps his hands steady and supportive on her so that her trembling knees don’t affect her quite so violently. “Gimme, like, twenty minutes and I’ll have lunch ready,” he says as he leads her to the couch.

She flops down face first and waves him off, inhaling the scent embedded in the fibers of the couch - one part her, one part him. She lets out a quiet groan and closes her eyes, listening to the familiar sound of his bare feet moving across the living room floor.

“Hey!” He calls once he’s back in the kitchen. “We made out for so long the fish sticks came unstuck!”

Chapter Text

Jake’s well into his third beer when a peculiar pounding sound out of sync with the rhythm of the quiet music playing in the background of Die Hard catches his attention. It sounds as if it’s coming from his front door; it sounds as if the person administering it is trying to beat through the wood with their bare hands.

The alcohol has numbed the edges of his brain, blurred the furthest corners of his vision, so he stands on mostly-steady legs and makes his way across the short distance between his bed and his front door.

He takes one look through his peephole and feels his heart lodge itself firmly in his throat; the alcohol has not taken such a strong hold yet that the sight of Amy Santiago’s face, distorted by the fish-eye angle of the peephole and the fact that she appears to be leaning toward it, as if she’s trying to look through it into his apartment, doesn’t send some level of alarm through his entire system.

“Amy?” Her name leaves his lips unbidden, choked, as if it clawed its way out through the contracting muscles of his throat to alert her of his presence through the five-inch sheet of wood between them.

“Open the door, Peralta.” She’s snarling, demanding, he realizes. There is no humor or understanding in her voice, no kindness of warmth. It’s the tone she uses when she’s talking to a perp through a closed door. “Now.”

He does as he’s told, non-existent tail between his legs, leaning away from the door to slowly, slowly reach for the deadbolt. He can hear the impatient click of her heels against the thin carpet outside his door as she taps her foot, so with one last steeling breath, he unlocks his door and forces himself to open it wide.

His uneven inhale rushes out of him all at once the moment his vision adjusts to the sight before him. The angle he’d had through the peephole hadn’t given everything away; looking at her now, head-on, reveals to his swirling brain that she is, in fact, wearing a beautiful white dress. It’s fitted up near the top and cinched halfway down her waist to give way to a long, flowing gown, and as much as he hates to admit it she is absolutely stunning.

The bitter taste of bile rises up somewhere in the back of his mouth.

“Are you gonna stand there staring at me all night or move so I can come inside?” She snaps, and he stumbles back immediately, holding his breath as she brushes past him into his apartment. He closes the door, eyes never leaving her even as she stops just a few paces in and turns to face him, arms crossed over her chest. “You didn’t come.”

He blinks, waiting for the rest of the sentence, but it never comes. “I’m sorry,” he coughs, “I didn’t come…where?”

“To my wedding. My wedding was today. You didn’t come.”

Jake opens his mouth - to say what, he’s not sure - but all that escapes is another exhale. He shakes his head, hands rising a few inches off his sides before falling back weakly.

“That’s it? That’s all you have to say? Just -” she mimics his movements, her irate fury growing more visible by the second, and if he could he would sink right into the fibers of the carpet beneath his feet right this instance. “Are you kidding me, Jake?”

“What do you want me to say?” He asks, words sharpened by the razor’s edge that has been slicing his heart raw for months. “What do you want from me, Amy?”

“I want to know why you didn’t come to my wedding!” Amy shouts, loud enough to make his ears ring. “I want to know why, after six months of helping me plan everything, six months of fielding my crazy 2 AM phone calls and helping me organize five binders and handling the travel arrangements for my abuela when I was physically incapable of handling the stress, you couldn’t even be bothered to show up for the reception!”

He laughs, inwardly wincing at the manic quality of the sound. “Is this a joke?” He asks, running a hand through his hair. “Are you seriously standing in my apartment asking me this right now? It couldn’t wait until after the honeymoon?”

“No, it couldn’t wait until after the honeymoon, you jackass. You’re my partner and I thought we were friends, but apparently I was wrong.” Her voice breaks, and he can’t help it - his gaze snaps toward her, concern flaring on instinct. “And I want to know why. Why didn’t you come to my wedding?”

His heart is pounding a terrifying rhythm in his chest, a lump rising up from the depths to tangle itself in his vocal chords, and he stares at her, stares at her so hard she transforms from this vision of beauty in the most stunning dress he’s ever seen to a vision of beauty in a maroon pantsuit, fresh-faced and eager as one might expect Amy Santiago to be on her first day in a new precinct. He blinks and she’s gone, replaced by this weary, weathered-looking version of her - and the dam breaks.

“Because I didn’t want to come.” Jake hears himself say, and the hurt that flashes across her face is so real and visceral he feels it in his own chest. “I didn’t want to come, because…because when I imagined seeing you in a white dress, I…always imagined it would be from an altar, watching you walk towards me. I couldn’t go to that wedding because I couldn’t watch you marry someone else. I can’t - I can’t.”

Her expression is unreadable, so he turns away, focuses his attention on the two empty beer bottles lying forgotten on the floor next to his couch, trying to ignore the itch in his fingers to reach for the half-full third one still sitting on his coffee table.

“It’s not your problem,” he says off-handedly, “I know that. I’m not…trying to make it your problem. I’ve been working really hard to be supportive and to be a good friend because I’d rather be your friend than nothing at all but helping you plan - helping you get ready to marry some other guy - it just got to be too much. And then I woke up this morning and I couldn’t put the damn suit on because when I thought about wearing a suit to your wedding, I thought it would be a suit you approved of, a suit you had on a list of suits you picked for me, a suit you wanted your husband to wear. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t -”

He stops short at the soft hand that slides up the back of his shoulder to curl around the top, at the gentle tug that turns him back toward her, at the smell of her perfume suddenly so strong in his nostrils at her proximity. She’s there, right there, curled hair falling around her face in perfect waves and skin faintly sparkling with something he thinks probably came from the personal makeup collection of Gina Linetti and eyes, beautiful familiar dream-haunting eyes, sparkling with unshed tears. There’s more, so much more, but that’s all he has time to process before her lips are on his. And he’s instantly intoxicated, more drunk than any beer could ever get him, a quiet groan of relief escaping his healing chest as his arms find purchase around her waist. She’s tiny, so small, smaller than her fierceness would ever suggest, but he can feel her straining up on her toes even in the heels as he pulls her up closer. She’s everything he’s ever dreamed of, everything he’s ever wanted - and it hits him like a freight train that she’s someone else’s now.

He pulls back harshly, their lips smacking, and the look of bewilderment on Amy’s face is so pure he almost finds himself leaning back in to kiss it away. But he doesn’t, he doesn’t kiss it away, he doesn’t close his eyes as her fingers card through the hair on the back of his head or release the whimper that bubbles up in his chest when she bites her lower lip in confusion. “You’re married,” he explains, voice low and rough from the sudden and vicious heartbreak.

Her face alights with understanding. “No,” she says quickly, shaking her head, loosening the curls still trapped beneath his hand on her back. “No, I’m not.”

He blinks, and then glances down between them, making a show of staring at her dress. “Sure looks like you are.”

“I left, idiot. I couldn’t -” she stops, shakes her head again, and the arms she’s had loosely looped around his neck tighten their hold. “I had a panic attack before I was supposed to go out there and I asked Gina to go find you, because you…you’ve always been great at calming me down. And I just - I needed to see you. She left, and then came back a few minutes later saying she couldn’t find you anywhere. That’s when I realized you weren’t there, and…I knew I couldn’t do it. I knew I couldn’t go out there. And I was so…mad about it. Because Teddy’s a good guy, and on paper we’re really great together. He’s the exact kind of person I imagined I would marry some day when I was a kid.”

She stops again, eyes roving unabashedly over his face, and he holds himself very still despite the fact that heat is rising up his face and his heart is due to beat right out of his chest at any moment. “But…” he prompts her in a whisper after a short stretch of silence.

A corner of her mouth twitches upward, and the fingers still tangled in his hair flex so that her nails gently scratch against his scalp. “But he’s not you,” she murmurs.

He discovers the dam hadn’t broken before, it had only cracked, because the moment the words leave her lips any and all vestiges of self-control he’s been exercising so vigorously since his return from his undercover mission six months earlier is gone, vanished in an instant. Jake yanks her back to him with all the desperation of a drowning man thrashing toward the surface and his whole world narrows down to her sharply expanding lungs trapped beneath his forearms, her hands scrabbling for purchase in his hair and on the side of his face, the quiet whimper he draws from her throat as her lips part beneath his probing tongue. His heart is an expanding supernova in his chest and she’s the whole galaxy in his arms and against his chest and slotted against his hips. Everything, everything, all he’s ever dreamed of having and all he’s never dared to hope for.

There’s just one last detail tickling in his brain.

He pulls back slowly, reluctantly, savoring the way she leans into him and chases after him. “You told Teddy, right?” He murmurs, and her eyelids flutter open. “You didn’t leave him hanging?”

There’s an uncertainty about him, a far-off fear - after all, if he was the one who got left at the altar by Amy Santiago, he’d be searching every nook and cranny in New York City to find out why.

“I - yeah, of course I did,” she says slowly, and the last little bit of anxiety in his heart settles. “I asked him to come into the dressing room and I explained everything to him. I…didn’t think you’d care that much.”

“I’m just too tipsy to fight him if he comes banging down my door like you did a minute ago,” he mutters, and her face lights up with a brilliant grin. “Plus…if it was me…I’d want to know.” He says softly before pulling her back in for another desperate kiss. He’s utterly lost in her, mind spinning so thoroughly his very soul is jarred when Amy’s back slams against the wall beside the door (there’s a distant, but realistic chance that he’s the one who did the slamming). It’s good, it’s so good, it’s every good thing in the world concentrated down into the feeling of his body pressed against hers.

“For the record,” she mumbles against his lips (because he has no intention of letting up any time soon), “I picked the suit I picked for Teddy because it was the only one I couldn’t picture you in.”

He groans at that, hands tightening in their fanned-out grip on her rib cage, and her responding laughter is breathless. He pulls back slightly, forehead bumping against hers, panting into their shared space. “You’re killing me,” he chokes, and she scratches at his scalp again.

“Are you kidding me? You came at me with that ‘I imagined you walking down the aisle toward me’ bull and I’m killing you?”

“You liked that line, huh?” He mutters through a smirk, laughing when she lightly knocks a fist against his chest. “I meant every word of it.”

“I’ll make you a deal - if you help me get out of this wedding dress, I promise that the next one you’ll see me in will be the one I’m wearing while I walk down an aisle toward you.”

He does.

(And two years later, she lives up to her end of the bargain.)

Chapter Text

Amy Santiago wakes up slowly on her day off. It’s the one day out of the week she doesn’t bother with the three alarms, electing instead to trust the factory-default alarm app that came pre-programmed on her phone to rouse her by nine o’clock at the absolute latest. On this particular day she wakes at 8:42 and stretches beneath her comforter, slow and spine-tingling - and in her stretch, her left fingers skim across a large stretch of warm but empty mattress. 

This has her eyes splitting open and her brow furrowing at once. Jake may have only been acquitted and released from prison three days ago but already she’s readjusted to sharing the bed again; to find it empty is to choke down a small, skittish wave of panic. The mattress is still warm, after all - he was in bed recently. And now that her senses are starting to fire on all cylinders, she’s absorbing the heavy scent of coffee and bacon in the air and the sounds of Taylor Swift playing quietly nearby. 

And then she hears his voice - quiet, but still cracking as he tries to sing along with a high note. 

Contentment, thick and warm, settles over her as she kicks the comforter away. The grin that has been seemingly stuck on her face for the last three days is back in spite of the way her sore facial muscles scream in protest. She doesn’t let that stop her, though; she grins all the way through stepping back into the underwear hastily discarded on the floor the night before and donning one of the plaid shirts he’d left hanging on the doorknob on and buttoning most of the buttons. 

His back is turned as she emerges from their bedroom, allowing her a long moment to stare in appreciation at the way the muscles of his back move as he works over whatever he has cooking on the stove. He’s moving his hips with the beat of the music - louder now than it was from the bedroom - and she smirks at the paint-stained basketball shorts hanging low on those hips. He suddenly throws his head back and whisper-shrieks the high note he’d missed before, which draws a loud, bright laugh from her chest involuntarily. 

Jake whips around, spatula raised like a weapon, before his wide eyes register what he’s seeing. “Hey, you,” he says with an easy grin, lowering the spatula. He rakes his eyes over her appreciatively, and he releases a low groan. “It’s way too early for you to look that hot.”

“I do what I want, when I want, Peralta. You should know that by now.” She winks and saunters further into the kitchen, only just then catching whiffs of the cinnamon rolls baking in the oven to her right. “Speaking of it being too early - aren’t you supposed to be asleep for the next three hours?” 

He snorts, turned back toward the eggs sizzling in the pan before him. “Believe it or not, I actually do sometimes function before nine AM on our day off,” he tells her mock-loftily. 

“Is that, like, one of those two truths and a lie statements?” He shoots her the bird but laughs all the same as she hops up on the counter to watch him work. “So what’s all this for? Were you just craving breakfast food while you were in there?” 

“No,” he says lightly, but she can see the flash of something in his eyes - guilt surges through her system for bringing it up, even indirectly. He still hasn’t really been able to tell her about everything he went through while he was behind bars. “This is actually a celebratory breakfast.” His voice brings her back to attention; she furrows her brow as he dusts salt over the eggs. 

“A celebration of what, exactly?” 

He turns his head toward her, eyes rising slowly and appreciatively over her legs before leveling with her amused gaze. “You,” he shrugs. 

“Me? Why me? What’d I do?” 

“You were born, dummy,” 

Her heart skips a beat. “Jake…my birthday was last month.” Carefully, she says it, but when he looks at her she knows they’re both remembering the phone call he’d made on her actual birthday, the way he’d cried as he apologized over and over despite her earnest assurance that he had nothing to apologize for. 

“I know.” He’s a little more guarded now, choosing to busy himself with shutting off the burners on the stove and pulling down two plates from the cabinet. “I just…” he sets the plates down and pauses, weight leaned forward on the counter. “I wanted to make it up to you.” he finally says as he turns back to her.

“Jake,” she whispers, lifting her hands to reach for him. He goes to her at once, slotting his hips between her knees as she pulls him in and tucks his head against her shoulder. “You have nothing to make up for. You are the sweetest and most romantic person I have ever met,” she says softly into the bend of his neck, “and I love you so much more than you will ever, ever know.” 

His arms have wrapped warm and tight around her waist, the tips of his fingers digging almost painfully into her sides. “I’ve missed two,” he whispers, and she closes her eyes against the raggedness in his entire being. “Two in a row. You deserve more than that, you deserve everything in the world -” 

“Stop it,” she says, loud enough for him to hear the edge. He pulls away but doesn’t go far; she squeezes his shoulders with his hands and resists the urge to shiver at the way his hands are grazing lightly up and down her sides. “I don’t care about what you think I deserve. It’s not about what I deserve. I want you. I love you. Missed birthdays due to circumstances out of your control and all.” 

He pulls a face - one that looks dangerously close to crumbling into tears - and tilts his head forward to lightly bump his forehead against hers. “Next year,” he says softly, “I’m gonna make the biggest deal out of this. Out of you.” 

There’s a part of her - a part he’s called a know-it-all in the past - that longs to remind him that he’d said the same exact thing last year after getting back from witness protection. But she banishes the thought immediately, choosing instead to pull him back in with her grip on his shoulders and kiss him as tenderly as she can. 

“Mm,” Jake hums against her lips, before squeezing her hips and stepping back, deliberately pulling himself out of her grasp. “As much as I’d love to re-christen the kitchen counters,” he says loudly, smirking at her exasperated eye-roll, “breakfast is getting cold and I have an entire day of make-up birthday activities planned for us. So let’s go, Santiago, stop loitering and get off the counter!” 

“Do I get to know what the activities are?” she asks as she hops off the counter.

“Not all of them, but I’ll give you a hint about the post-breakfast activity,” he says over his shoulder as he spoons eggs out on both plates. “It involves re-christening something or somewhere else in this apartment.” 

She freezes, eyes wide and mouth open in a grin. “Are you serious?” she asks as he passes her a plate. 

“Oh, deadly serious. I never joke about birthday activities. Now, I know you usually only eat two pieces of bacon - but trust me, you’re gonna need the energy from this third one.” 

“You’re disgusting.” she tells him through a broad grin as she turns away toward the dining room table. 

“Babe, hang on,” he pulls her back by her elbow, catching her when she stumbles slightly. He pulls her plate out of her grip with one hand and dips her backwards slightly, far enough that she instinctively scrabbles for a grip on his bare chest. He kisses her, slow and firm, thorough enough to make her knees weak and her heart melt in her chest. And when he pulls her back upright and her eyelids flutter open, he’s grinning brightly at her. “I love you so much, Ames,” he says as he offers her the plate back. 

“Hum,” she breathes, unable to form any other words - her tongue is suddenly tied. He snorts, looking far too pleased with himself, and she snatches the plate out of his hands. “Show-off.” She mutters as she makes her way back out to the dining room. 

“Happy late birthday!” he calls after her.

“You better save the cinnamon roll with the most frosting for me!” she shouts back.

“I’m sorry I can’t hear you, you’re too far away!”

“It’s my birthday, Peralta, I’ll kill you!”

Chapter Text

It’s sixty-five degrees in the waiting room of Jericho Supermax Prison, and despite the fact that Amy’s nose is definitely a delicate shade of pink and her hands are trembling where they’re balled into fists in the excess material of Jake’s stolen hoodie wrapped around her torso, the guards do not appear to be bothered by it. They look on in supreme disinterest, their gazes glazed where they’re fixated on the walls opposite where they stand, and Amy hunkers down a little further on herself as she glances back and forth between them.

The clock hanging on the opposite wall tells her she’s been sitting here for just over fifteen minutes now - has been on the prison grounds for just over half an hour - and while her hand still throbs a little at just how quickly she filled out all the release paperwork, there’s an excitement thrumming in her veins that diminishes the discomfort. Any minute now, the warden told her when she’d handed over the paperwork. He should be out any minute now. 

Of course, the more minutes that pile up (sixteen now, sixteen minutes since she first sat down) her mind conjures up more and more disturbing reasons why he’s taking so long. Maybe there was another incident in the yard, or maybe his crazy cellmate finally got sick of what she’s sure has been incessant Die Hard quotes. Maybe he’s so enthralled in whatever novel he’s started this week that he’s actually begging for five more minutes in the library. Maybe the man she heard on the phone last week has made good on his threat. 

Seventeen minutes. She can’t breathe. 

It’s fine, it’s okay, she assures herself. They won’t let him get hurt, not now that they know he’s an innocent man. And they do, they do know he’s an innocent man - she’d seen it in the warden’s eyes, seen the surprise and the confusion and the guilt. It had taken everything in her not to reach across the table and grab the man by his greasy lapels to shake him - you’ve been torturing an innocent man! she’d screamed inside her head. 

But the time to rub Jake’s innocence in other people’s faces will come later - right now all she cares about is getting to him and making sure that he’s okay and that no one with bad intentions will ever be able to get to him again. 

Nineteen minutes. What the hell is taking so long? 

There’s a tear in the cuff of the left sleeve of this jacket and she busies herself with examining it, trying and failing to remember if it’s always been there or not. She’s had this hoodie for a long time - longer than she cares to admit. Jake had assumed she’d borrowed after his ordeal in Florida, and she’d been happy to nod along and pretend like that was true, but it wasn’t. Really, honestly, she’s had this thing since he went undercover with the Iannucci’s (though, to be fair, it spent a pretty good amount of time in the trunk of her car). He’d left it behind after he cleaned out his desk and taking it home with her hadn’t even required a conscious thought. 

She couldn’t admit the real reason why back then. Oh, what a stupid woman she once was. 

The warden has been gone for twenty-three minutes and there’s a tear in the sleeve of this hoodie and she can’t understand what’s taking so long and she’s absolutely freezing and if she doesn’t see Jake alive and well in the next thirty seconds she’s going to steal that guard’s baton and literally fight her way through the prison to wherever they’re keeping him, gladiator style. 

Or, you know, she’ll ask one of the guards what’s going on. Either way. 

Luckily she doesn’t have to do either - a mere twenty seconds later a low mechanical buzz sounds from the other side of the heavy metal door between the waiting room and the rest of the prison. Amy’s already on her feet before she’s even aware of making the decision to stand and she’s tugging at the torn sleeve, anxious, bouncing on the balls of her feet. The warden enters first, his gaze landing immediately on Amy, before he turns to the side and steps back - 

- leaving plenty of room for Jake, who takes off like an Olympic runner at the sound of the starting shot the moment the warden steps out from between them. She barely has time to process the absolutely crazed look in his eyes before he’s completely bowling her over. His momentum combined with her lack of preparedness sends them both stumbling - him forward, her backward - but luckily before her feet completely slip out from under her she’s making harsh and heavy contact with the wall behind her. 

Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god,” he’s mumbling so fast she can barely make out the words, his voice higher and raspier and so much more fearful than she’s ever heard it be before. “Is this real are you here am I free?” 

She hugs him back the best she can, face half-buried in his shoulder - and the material of his shirt, his jacket, his clothes that she brought with her after haphazardly throwing her suitcase into a hotel room upon arriving in this god-forsaken South Carolina town is so much softer than that awful starchy jumpsuit he was wearing when she did this just last week. “Jake,” she says, partially out of instinct upon hearing how frantic he is, but also because Jake

“Oh my god, Amy, oh my god, is this really happening?” 

She can’t see his face - it’s still tucked rather violently into her hair - but she can hear the tears in the way his voice quivers. It’s the same quiver she heard the night she first bailed him out of prison, the night this hellacious nightmare first started. She swallows thickly, lifting a shaking hand to stroke his hair; when her fingers make contact with his scalp, his whole body shudders. “It’s real,” she assures him in a voice that just barely cracks through a whisper. “It’s real, it’s real.” 

It’s sixty-five degrees in the waiting room of Jericho Supermax Prison and Jake Peralta is absolutely disintegrating in her arms. 

He’s absolutely sobbing, his fingers harsh and bruising vices where they dig into her ribs and shoulders, and if it wasn’t for the solid wall holding her up she’s quite certain she’d bow beneath his full body weight leaning heavily against her. It’s different from the way he’d cried the night she bailed him out of jail back in New York - that was a broken cry, a scared cry, a relieved cry. This, this is a completely different beast. It’s primal, it’s paralyzing, it’s the most horrible thing she’s ever heard in her entire life. 

The guards and the warden are all watching them. 

So there’s maybe a part of her that wants to completely break down, too. It’s not a completely ridiculous notion - this man in her arms, the love of her life, has been through absolute hell and she’s been powerless to save him for the vast majority of his time in hell. There’s a lot of latent anger and frustration and fear working through her own system, and up until now she just hasn’t given any of it the time of day (anger and frustration and fear weren’t gonna get Jake out of prison - a calm and level head did). It would be easy, then, for her to succumb to the weight of him pulling her down, to sink to her knees and fall apart with him right there on the waiting room floor. But she can’t, not here. 

That’s what the hotel room is for. 

So she starts rubbing his back in controlled and even strokes, her hands broad and flat and as warm as they can possibly be in this crappy excuse of a waiting room. “Sh, Jake, it’s okay,” she whispers just loud enough for him to hear. “It’s okay, it’s over. Sh.” 

It takes him a moment, but eventually he seems to come back to himself a little bit. His grip around her loosens, going from painful to just tight enough to cut off circulation, and his lungs begin expanding a little more rhythmically beneath her hands rather than in terrifying and erratic quakes. She feels him nuzzle in a little closer, like he’s getting comfortable for the long-haul, so as gently as she can she reaches up to touch the back of his head. 

“Let’s get out of here,” she whispers. 

She feels him nod, and then a moment later he pulls back just far enough to look her in the eye. His face is somehow pale and red at the same time - a sallow and splotchy blush covering what bits of skin she can see beneath the beard - and his eyes, oh god, his eyes. They’re bloodshot and swollen, downcast and timid, sunken so far into his face she almost doesn’t recognize him. Is this really the same man who used to so gleefully film her turning her car on after filling her vents with glitter? 

“Babe,” she says without thinking. 

His eyes flick up at that, searching her face for half a second before practically diving back into her space. She releases a quiet, surprised noise as her head hits the back wall - not hard enough for her to jerk away - and he responds in kind with what she can really only describe as an absolutely feral growl. 

Her stomach flips. 

“Not here,” she murmurs against his lips, pressing both hands into his chest to push him away just slightly. 

He pulls back an inch and when her eyes flutter open it’s to the sight of pure hunger in his gaze. “I’m not waiting twelve hours -” 

“I got a hotel room and two flights back to New York tomorrow morning,” she interrupts before his voice can rise in volume much more. He softens slightly, brows lowering into a furrow. “I can’t wait either.” 

His jaw clenches and his throat works as he swallows, gaze dropping down to her lips before back up to her eyes. “I love you so much,” he mumbles. 

She pushes up to the balls of her feet, hands sliding up his chest and around the back of his neck to anchor herself to him. This kiss is softer - less frantic now that the promise of a private safe haven awaits them - and when Amy slowly pulls away Jake cranes after her, his soft and pliant lips laying open-mouthed kisses on the corner of her mouth and her cheek. She can register the scratch of his beard along her face (and, though she doesn’t really give it much thought, the fact that it’s a really unpleasant feeling despite the more than pleasant look) and the way his hands are gentle, almost reverent as they skate up her back to press her closer to his chest. And oh, oh god, she’s missed him. 

She has to frame his face with her hands and pry him away when his lips begin to trail further down, toward her jawline - it’s just a short jump to her neck and if he gets started on her neck there’s absolutely no going back - and when he leans away he doesn’t hold back a desperate whine. “Amy,” her name leaves his lips in the same tone as a petulant child but she bites her lip all the same - it’s been far, far too long since she’s heard him say her name. 

“Hotel room,” she reminds him. 

He’s all action then, grabbing her hand and practically racing toward the door. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” he mutters, shouldering the door open and leading the way out into the hallway. 

She laughs, suddenly so giddy she’s practically dizzy with it, racing down the hall with his hand caught in both of hers and her smile so broad her face already aches with it. She’s been dreaming of this moment for so long now that she hardly dares to believe it’s actually real, biting down hard on the inside of her cheek just to make sure she isn’t gonna wake up alone in her bed in a minute. 

But no, it’s real, because there’s no way she could ever imagine the look on Jake’s face when he first steps outside of the prison grounds. The tall chain link fence clangs shut behind them and he turns, his hand loosening almost completely in hers for a moment, his eyes distant as he scans the prison sprawled out before him. Amy pauses in her tracks, heart pounding, impatient to get to the car and to leave all of this behind them but knowing Jake well enough to know that he absolutely needs this right now. 

He turns to look at her and the expression on his face pins her, freezes her, completely and utterly paralyzes her. He looks at her and he sees her soul, all of her, piercing through every last bit of her until all that remains is that quivering, raw, vulnerable mass of stuff that is her broken heart. He looks at her softly and the mass throbs; he looks at her softly and her very soul cries out for him. 

“I never want to be away from you again,” he says, so quiet and small, and when he reaches for her she knows it’s not just her other hand for which he’s asking. 

She looks him in the eye and holds his gaze for as long as she can stand it - about three seconds - before her free hand slides across his palm and an overwhelming joy floods her every sense. “I don’t either,” she says, emotions poorly contained. 

He smiles, big and wide and so completely and disarmingly Jake, and then pulls her in toward him. And if there was any doubt in her mind before - any resurfacing worry about being out-of-sync again or else finding a different version of him in his clothes - it dissipates at once. Because even though she knows for certain that he’s changed - that he’s probably seen and done things that will affect him for the rest of his life - she also knows for certain that right here and now, in this moment, they both know the exact same thing: 

One day in the not-so-distant future, Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago are going to get married. 

And as she climbs into the driver’s seat and watches him settle into the passenger’s seat, the only thought that enters her head is that she absolutely positively cannot wait.

Chapter Text

Amy never learns the perp’s name.

It’s quite possibly the least important thing in the entire universe - his name, that is to say. All she knows, all she needs to know, is that Charles brought him in on an aggravated assault charge and an obstruction of justice charge and the perp had Charles on the ground howling in pain with one swift kick to the shins. She’d heard the howl and had just enough time to lift her head from the casefile spread across Rosa’s desk and see that big behemoth running straight for her, anger and desperation colliding in his cold eyes. She’d thrown an arm up on instinct, and that was what he grabbed her by, what he wrenched back and up, effectively immobilizing her and simultaneously dragging her back, away from Rosa’s desk, her body between his and the rest of the precinct. 

Which was full of other detectives and officers at the time. All of whom had their weapons drawn and pointed right at him. 

And because he was peering out at them over her shoulder, they were all pointing their weapons at her, too. 

On a normal Wednesday, it might not have been such a scary position to find herself in. She’s had training in this, after all, in classes that she excelled in. On any normal Wednesday she would be able to take a deep and calming breath to steady herself and easily break the stupid perp’s wrist, might be able to twist within his grasp to simultaneously knee him in the groin and elbow him in the temple. She would be able to escape all on her own, and would be heralded a hero. 

Of course, it’s not a normal Wednesday. Because on this particular Wednesday, Amy’s functioning on two hours of sleep and approximately five and a half cups of coffee. On this particular Wednesday, she’s simultaneously starving and nauseous, having gotten so caught up in this murder case she’s been working with Rosa that she simply hasn’t had the time to eat. She’s exhausted and clammy and probably just about on the verge of succumbing to the flu she knows has been going around the beat cops downstairs. 

She’s also exactly one month out from her wedding day. 

It’s just her luck, then, that it’s also happens to be Jake’s day off. The perp wrenched her arm up higher and pressed the serrated blade of a knife against her jugular, and she struggled to maintain her footing, the mental image of Jake sprawled out shirtless across their couch in his stupid Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle boxers bursting in sharp clarity in her mind. Terry was screaming for the perp to drop his weapon and Rosa was shifting, trying to get a clear shot, but the perp had his back against the wall and she could hardly draw a breath beneath the force with which he held her throat and slowly, slowly, she was made to shuffle toward the elevator. 

It wasn’t until they were in the elevator that she remembered her gun was still in her desk drawer. Probably a good thing, considering her complete lack of mobility, but still - she’d felt completely stupid and vulnerable as the elevator doors closed. 

She’s not sure how or why but somehow, someway, that perp dragged her into a car. He’d shoved her into that passenger’s seat and slammed the door and her fried, malfunctioning brain completely and totally froze. She’d watched him sprint around the front of the car and she’d completely choked, motionless, watching him jump into the driver’s seat and wrench the keys in the ignition. The engine roared to life beneath them and he’d yanked the gearshift down to drive and, on auto-pilot, she’d pulled her seatbelt on. 

It’s the single smartest thing she does all day. 

Her common sense and critical thinking came back to her as they sped off, realizing upon speeding past a building she knew to be on the way to the highway that they were, in fact, in a stolen squad car. She knew she would have to act quickly because the perp was driving erratically (that happens when he’s only got one hand on the steering wheel and the other brandishing a knife at her throat) and it was really only a matter of time before he hurt someone. There were already cop cars racing after them, their sirens screaming, and the feeling of nausea was back tenfold and brought with it a truly debilitating amount of vertigo. She realized she was full-on panicking, and as the perp drove their car down an on-ramp to careen onto the highway she closed her eyes and let it all have her for just a second. 

But when her eyes split open she acted on pure instinct. She’d dived to the left, feeling the unforgiving blade of the knife knick against her throat, and had seized the steering wheel. She remembers hearing the perp shout, hearing the tires squeal, hearing the sickening crunch of the metal guards on the shoulder giving way beneath their car, and the feeling of weightlessness - 

And then the world went black. 

When she came to again she was on her back in what felt like grass, blinking up at the cloudy sky, trying and failing to piece together how she got there. She knew she was bleeding, she knew she was hurt, but she lifted her head anyways. 

Just to spot the squad car the perp escaped in a few yards away, upside down in the deepest part of the ditch beside the highway, the engine releasing a thick, dark plume of smoke into the air. People in various uniforms were all around her, their voices loud in her ringing ears, and as she struggled to roll to her side her vision was suddenly full of Terry’s face shining in sweat and twisted in terror. She couldn’t hear him over the chaos but she could read his lips: 

Are you okay?” 

Warmth was trickling down the side of her face and she couldn’t speak, just reached out to anchor herself on his forearm, rolled to her side, and finally, finally threw up. 

The nausea didn’t die down. 

They’d loaded her onto a gurney and even though she was having a hard time speaking she knows, she knows she managed to slur Jake’s name, because Terry nodded and disappeared from her side and she rode to the hospital alone, twisting her engagement ring around the base of her ring finger with the pad of her thumb. 

Into the emergency room they raced her, easing her from gurney to bed, doctors and nurses swarming her on all sides. It was as chaotic as the actual scene - people pricking the pits of her elbows with needles, people shining lights in her eyes, people cutting her clothes off, people wrapping gauze around her head and arms and legs, all while talking to her. She’d leaned back into her pillows and stared, certain that even on a good day she’d be feeling as lost as she felt right that second. 

Through it all, she kept twisting her engagement ring around her finger. 

But then they started to leave, some in pairs, some individually, until she was alone with a single doctor. He was calm, calmer than anything she’s been exposed to today - and slowly, bit by bit, Amy felt herself relaxing. 

“You don’t seem to have any apparent brain damage, which is good considering it looks like you smacked your head on that car door on the way down the shoulder,” he’d said, smiling good-naturedly at her over the top of his clipboard. It’s the first thing she recalls actually hearing since before Charles howled in pain back at the precinct. “We’ll get your test results back shortly, just to be sure, but things look good as of right now.” 

“Thank you,” her voice was soft, careful, reserved. “Is my fiancé is here?” 

He’d smiled. “I’m not sure. I’ll go check the waiting room.” 

But he came back much too quickly to have checked the waiting room (part of her hates that she knows approximately how long it takes to get from where she is in the emergency room to the waiting room and back), a new clipboard in his hand, a new hardness to his features. Her alarm was a palpable thing, welling up from the pit of her stomach, but the words were stuck inside her throat and all she could do was struggle upward, weight leaned back on her uninjured left arm. 

Her doctor stopped beside her bed, eyes darting up from his clipboard to look her in the eye. “We’re going to need to run more tests right away,” he’d said, voice tight. “There were no outward signs of abdominal trauma but we’ll need to make sure there’s no internal bleeding or hemorrhaging -” 

“What’s going on? What’s - what’s wrong with me?” 

He’d paused, brow furrowed slightly. “We’ll want to verify that the baby is unharmed.” He’d said slowly. “You’re only about three weeks along, so the likelihood that the fetus was injured in the crash is minimal, but we’ll want to check the uterus for any damage -” 

“I’m,” she gasped, her ragged voice cutting him off. “I’m - I’m preg- pregnant?” 

His chin lifted, understanding lighting the backs of his eyes. “Ah, you…you didn’t know, I understand. Um…” he swallowed thickly. “Yes. You are pregnant, Miss Santiago.” 

And aside from the abrasive gasp and her bandaged hands flattening against her own stomach, her entire world came grinding to a halt. 

“As I said before, there doesn’t appear to be any obvious signs of trauma, but we’re going to make absolutely sure that everything is okay,” her doctor said as nurses began quickly filing into the room behind him. “I know it’s difficult, but please, try to stay calm Miss Santiago - you’re in the best possible hands right now.” 

The best possible hands. “Jake,” she heard herself gasp. “Jake.” 

And then came the tears, hot and thick and never-ending, and she was on her side wailing as they quickly rushed her through the emergency room. Cold, as per usual, but now it’s all the way down in her bones, creaking in her joints, clinging to the very fabric of her being. Her arms are sore and thickly bandaged and wrapped around her middle - around her child, there’s a baby in there, her baby, Jake’s baby - and she’s completely out of her mind. The universe has never been particularly kind to Jake or to her by extension, but this - the discovery of the existence of their child in the context that said child might be hurt or worse - it’s unnaturally, unsettlingly cruel. 

She doesn’t remember much about the tests they run - an MRI maybe, more blood tests, something like that - she’s just catatonic, still sobbing, occasionally moaning Jake’s name through the tears. And when they take her back to that first room with the promise to be along the moment they get the results back, she curls up on her side, drawing in on herself as much as possible, everything about her set to protect her still-flat belly from the outside world. 

It’s here that she quickly reviews her morning - every miserable second of it - and realizes that she never even knew the perp’s name. 

Jake’s voice comes ringing out (loud and frantic and demanding) through the relative silence a few minutes later, sourced somewhere outside her doorway, and she’s pushed herself up on her injured right arm to scoot closer to the edge of the mattress on instinct. She has every last intention in the world to up and run out into the hallway and into his arms, injuries be damned, far too focused on the sense of safety Jake’s voice brings her even when it’s pitched like that to even pay attention to the sharp pains igniting in every facet of her body. But luckily before her feet can even touch the ground he’s there, racing into her room, the poster child of frantic concern. She’s sobbing still but her broken voice is now muffled into his hoodie, her trembling hands clenched tight along his back, eyes squeezed closed. She can feel him speaking more than she can actually hear him - his chest vibrates beneath her cheek - and slowly, calmly, he strokes her hair. And it occurs to her after a few minutes of this that he must not know - even though he’s always one to keep a level head when she succumbs to her panic attacks, this, this is too calm, too understanding in the face of complete and utter calamity. 

So she pulls away slightly, just far enough to look up at him through her swollen eyes, but not so far that his arms fall away from her. And when he looks down at her he’s pale and windswept but warm and concerned and relieved and tender just as she’s come to expect from him - but none of the terror of their newest reality shines in those brown eyes, confirming what she already knows. He doesn’t know. They didn’t tell him. 

Which, okay, doctor-patient confidentiality or whatever - but this is Jake, her fiancé, the - the father of her child. She can’t be the one to look him in the eye and tell him the truth. She can’t

“Oh my god, oh my god, I’m so glad you’re okay,” he reaches up to frame her face in his hands and she almost whines, quiet and pitiful. “Terry called and said some perp went insane and grabbed you and tried to take you hostage? And there was some accident on the highway or something - did the car really flip?” 

It seems so far away now, but she knows there’s a thin scab on her throat from where the blade of the knife broke skin, she knows the ankle currently dangling off the bed is broken and that her right arm is all but shredded thanks to shattered flying glass, so she sniffles and nods, her entire body quaking with a barely-restrained sob. 

“Oh my god, you must’ve been so scared…oh Ames,” he practically coos, pulling her back to his chest with a hand on the back of her head, resuming his steady stroking of her hair. “It’s okay, honey, it’s okay, it’s over now -” 

“J-Jake,” she mumbles, stuttering when her lips get caught on the fabric of his hoodie. “I - I need - I’m -” 

His hands sweep broadly up her back, gentle and soothing. “Sh, it’s okay, I got you -” 

“No,” she pushes on his chest, arms trembling, and he steps back and away, his concern growing. She drops her gaze at once, tears renewed, and turns her head away when he ducks his head to try and catch her gaze again. 

“What?” He grips her upper arms and gently rubs his palms up and down over her skin. “Ames, what’s going on? What’s wrong?” Hopeless, terrified, she trembles on the bed and wishes she’d never gotten out of their bed that morning. She can’t stand it, she can’t, not with him looking at her like that, not with him holding her and touching her like this. “Amy, honey, you’re scaring me,” he reaches up and pushes her hair back away from her face, gently swiping the pad of his thumb over her cheekbone with the motion. “Talk to me. Are you okay? Are you in pain? What’s going on?” 

She stares at him a moment longer, hands roving up his arms and smoothing down his chest, before she exhales and drops her hands down to grip both of his. “Jake,” she breathes. “I - I-I’m…I’m pregnant.” 

He goes completely stiff, aside from his eyes bulging. A tense beat passes, her breath held. “Pregnant?” he finally repeats, his lips not moving. 

She nods, closing her eyes in anguish. “They said - everything looks fine, but…but th-they’re running tests r-right now,” she hiccups, “to - to make sure everything’s - that I didn’t - that it’s not -” 

He makes a noise - strangled, loud, from the back of his throat - that sounds something like a brief moan as he exhales. She falls quiet, tears steadily dripping down her face, watching his eyes flicker over her face and neck and then dart down to her stomach. “You’re - you’re - oh my god, oh my god,” his eyes are full of tears and he shakes his head, hands falling away from hers to quickly run through his hair. “You almost died, you could have died, and you’re - holy shit,” he’s down on his knees now, sliding closer to her, his focus intently trained on her stomach. “It’s - it’s not - you were - but how -” his words are lost to his uneven breaths, his choked up sobs, his trembling hands on her hips. “Amy,” he finally manages to gasp. 

 

He’s back on his feet in an instant, his arms wound even tighter around her torso than they were before, only now his face is buried in her neck just as hers is buried in his. Now his sobs are muffled into her skin, the quiet sound mingling with her own weeping, his fingers now tangled in her hair rather than stroking. He grabs at her like he might grab at a lifeline, clinging to her so desperately it’s like he was in the car, too.

He wasn’t, but his child - their child was, and oh, oh god, just like that she’s falling apart all over again. 

Time passes. She lays back down eventually but this time she’s backed to the furthest edge of the bed, centimeters from falling off but held in place by Jake’s arms holding her impossibly close to his chest. She cries and cries, her salty tears soaking into a wide damp patch over his chest, and even though he eventually picks the smooth and steady stroking motion back up over her hair she can hear and feel that he, too, is crying steadily. She knows no matter what those tests come back and tell them that she won’t lose him but god, mourning the loss of their unborn child is not what she imagined they might be doing one month before their wedding day when he proposed to her all those months ago. 

He holds her so close and strokes her hair and eventually begins kissing her - her forehead and her temple and the top of her head and her hair, basically every part of her he can reach - and every time they hear the tell-tale click of fancy doctor-owned leather shoes clicking along the tile floor outside, she feels his arms tense and tighten around her. It’s almost as if he believes that if he holds her close enough he’ll be able to shield her, to protect her from the results of the only tests in the world she was in no way prepared to take. 

It’s staving off the inevitable and she knows it, but she just can’t bring herself to care; instead she just nuzzles closer, letting the familiar scent of their detergent and Jake’s deodorant overwhelm her system and soothe her frayed nerves. 

But eventually, eventually, the footsteps outside their door get closer and louder and stop right behind her. Her doctor clears his throat and Jake lays a hand on the back of her head - gentle, but still so clearly protective - and she curls closer. “You must be Jake,” her doctor says politely. 

“I am,” Jake rasps over her head. The hand curled against her spine disappears for a moment to shake the doctor’s hand (judging by the momentary quake of the mattress beneath her side) before reappearing again, flatter than before. 

“I’ll get right to the point,” her doctor says. There’s a rustle of paper, and Amy holds her breath. “Amy, we’re gonna keep you overnight for observation and we’re also gonna set you up with an OB-GYN on site here at the hospital to come in once a week for the next few weeks so we can track the baby’s development and make sure that everything stays on track, but according to these tests, there was no damage to your uterus or to the fetus. Everything appears to be perfectly healthy and normal.” 

Slowly, slowly, she turns her head away from Jake’s chest to peer bleary-eyed at her doctor. “Our baby’s o-okay?” she gasps, gripping Jake’s hoodie as hard as she can.

Her doctor smiles, warm and reassuring. “Your baby is doing just fine,” he says with a nod. 

And just like that she’s falling apart again - but this time it’s in pure joy, in sheer and utter relief. She smothers herself into Jake’s chest and feels him hugging her closer, his own body shaking against hers as he, too, seems to collapse. All she can process is him, the way he seems wrapped around her, the way their world so close to crumbling is slowly, slowly knitting itself back together again with each gentle grip of his hands along her shoulders. 

She supposes at some point her doctor must have walked away, because the next time she surfaces in reality her room is much darker and they’re alone. Jake’s taken to stroking her hair again, his lips pressed against the top of her head, and as she rolls away slightly he pecks her forehead before angling back to look her in the eyes. They just stare at each other a moment - slow, absorbing every last detail - before the warm weight of his hand suddenly settles over her belly. A smile spreads across her face as his thumb begins to stroke over her skin. “I love you,” she whispers, raising her own hand to gently touch the side of his face. 

“I love you, too,” he breathes, “so much. So much. I love you, I love you, I -” he chokes, eyes falling closed, hands splaying wider where they’re flattened against her. “I’m so glad you’re okay and that - that our baby’s okay, too,” 

Tears - happy tears - spring up in her eyes. “Our baby,” she repeats, loving the emotion that wells up inside her and the distinct edge of wonder in Jake’s eyes when they flutter open to look at her. “We’re gonna have a baby.” 

“We’re gonna be a family,” he whispers, and oh the look on his face is too much to bear. “You’re gonna be a mom and I’m gonna be a dad and - and we’re gonna be a family.” She nods, too overcome by the mental image of a sleep-tousled Jake in the not-so-distant future standing in their kitchen bottle-feeding a squirming baby in his arms to speak, and the movement brings their foreheads together. “We’re gonna be so happy and - and I’m never gonna leave you, okay? Never, I’m never ever gonna leave either one of you, I love you so much Amy, oh my god…” 

He makes the promise again in his vows a few short weeks later (his hands clutching hers tight both with emotion and to keep her from toppling over on her booted foot hidden beneath her gown) and several more times after that throughout her pregnancy. And it’s not as though she doesn’t believe him, or anything - quite the opposite, in fact. It never fails to make her downright glow with happiness and contentment.

But in truth, the weight of the statement doesn’t fully register in her mind until she’s back in the hospital, trembling and drenched in sweat, the echoes of insurmountable pain fading quickly as the sharp, high-pitched cries of their seconds-old daughter pierce the air around her. Amy lifts her head from her pillow just in time to see her doctor carefully passing a tiny flailing bundle into Jake’s arms and Jake’s looking down at that bundle like she’s the most wonderful thing he’s ever seen, like he’s holding the most priceless gem in the world in his arms, like she’s the single greatest thing that has ever happened to him in his entire life. And then he looks up at Amy and his eyes are glassy with tears unshed and he’s laughing and crying all at once, shuffling closer, leaning down so Amy can gently lay a hand over their daughter’s soft belly. 

“Hi,” Jake whispers, barely audible through the emotion that seems to be jutting up his very throat. “Hi, peanut, it’s so nice to meet you.” 

Little Rachel wails, her eyes screwed shut in displeasure, and Amy reaches for her instinctively. Jake shifts closer and slowly passes Rachel over into Amy’s arms - and for the very first time, Amy gets to hold her daughter. “Oh, Rachel, you’re so beautiful,” Amy breathes, well aware of the tears streaming down her face. “Shh, it’s okay, it’s okay,” 

Jake edges onto the bed, his arm wound around Amy’s shoulders, his free hand gently folding Rachel’s blanket down beneath her little chin. “Mama’s here,” Jake whispers, “and so is dada.” Amy leans into Jake’s side a little more, and even though her gaze remains fixated on Rachel’s face she can feel Jake shuddering beside her, his forehead and nose pressing against the side of her head. “I love you both so much,” he whispers. “I’m never gonna leave you, I’m never gonna leave.” 

It takes a surprisingly little amount of effort to tear her gaze away from Rachel, turning her head toward her husband to find him red-eyed and one breath away from dissolving into an emotional wreck right there beside her. It’s the same look he always gives her, stripped down by their own exhaustion and delirium, made 100% real and breathtakingly poignant. “I know,” she whispers, leaning her head forward to bump her forehead against his. “I - we are the luckiest girls on the planet.” 

He leans down and kisses her at once, his tears dripping down and mingling with hers on her face, his hand soft and warm where he brushes against her arm as he gently strokes the top of Rachel’s head. “I love you,” he whispers against her lips when she starts to pull away. “And I love you,” he leans forward, directing this whisper at Rachel, his lips lightly brushing over her forehead. “Ames and Rae,” he breathes as he leans back against Amy’s pillows. “My girls.” Amy grins tiredly, leaning her head down against Jake’s shoulder, reveling in the warmth of his arm around her and Rae’s little body pressed against her chest. It’s the last time either of them speak for several hours. 

That comes later, when they’re in the recovery room and Rae’s sleeping soundly in her bassinet next to Amy’s bed and Jake’s laying on his side right next to Amy and Amy’s just about to slip into a dreamless sleep. Jake’s head shifts on the pillow, his lips briefly puckering against her cheekbone. “Hey Ames?” 

She doesn’t bother opening her eyes. “Hm?” she hums hoarsely. 

“Can we find out about the next one the old-fashioned way? Y’know, peeing on a stick and all that? I jus’ feel like it would be a lil’ less stressful, is all.” 

It’s definitely the sleep-deprivation, but Amy snorts and elbows him in the gut, his corresponding grunt drawing a wide grin across her face that only fades when she finally, finally drifts to sleep. 

(They find out about Elijah just over two years later and it is, for the record, the old-fashioned way, much to their relief and unadulterated excitement.)

Chapter Text

Jake seems anxious.

It’s not entirely unexpected as of late - it’s been a rarity to see him awake and not twitching or otherwise bristling with poorly-contained energy ever since they got back from South Carolina. But there’s been a certain level of containment to it, like he’s pulling the imaginary restraints taut, forcing himself to shrink and curl and…well, to put it frankly, disappear.

(It all comes unfurled when she sits down right next to him and reaches around to slowly and thoroughly work her fingers over the knots of muscles in his neck.)

There’s a new edge to that energy tonight, though. Something harder, something more desperate, something that makes anxiety drip down her spine and flood her stomach. And he’s been like this for most of the day, too - ever since he got back with Charles and Captain Holt with a perp in tow. She gets the sense that he maybe wants to talk about it but definitely doesn’t want her to ask, so she’s been waiting (rather impatiently, if you ask her) for him to bring it up.

They get home around six and eat dinner in their kitchen nook, their conversation as free-flowing as it has been since he first got home, and even though he’s smiling and laughing and joking like he always does he’s definitely, definitely quieter than usual. And his smiles aren’t touching his eyes - there’s something there, something haunted and pained, something that makes her chest ache to look at. Not for the first time she finds herself wishing with every fiber of her being that she could somehow bend the fabric of space and time to go back all those months ago back to that courtroom, to just pluck him right out from behind that table and whisk him far, far away where no one could ever find him. She wants to stand up and shove the table between them out of the way and just hold him, to cover him so completely that the nightmares and demons can no longer find him, until his gaze is no longer fractured and the life has fully returned to his face.

But she can’t. So she doesn’t.

Instead, she gathers their dishes and kisses his forehead before hauling everything over to the sink, leaving him leaned back in his seat, gaze unfocused as his thoughts wander. He’s still sitting exactly that way when she brings him a mug of coffee doctored exactly the way he likes it (that is to say with far too much milk and sugar) and when he seems to jump a little before smiling gratefully up at her and taking the mug from her hands, she affectionately ruffles his hair.

He’s drained half the mug and has migrated from the kitchen nook to the living room by the time she emerges from their bedroom clad in her pajamas, and her heart somersaults inside her chest at the way his gaze softens when he sees that she’s in one of his old t-shirts. They sit together on the couch, Amy leaned into his side and Jake’s arm around her shoulders, until she’s yawning and the Property Brothers credits are rolling and his mug is almost empty. Through it all, his leg is jiggling and his fingers are rippling along her arm and his mug. He stays quiet, though, occasionally dropping kisses to her shoulder and her hair, and she thinks to herself that it’s okay if he can’t talk about whatever is clearly bothering him today - they have the rest of their lives to talk about that kind of stuff.

Of course, it doesn’t take the rest of their lives for him to talk about it. Perhaps it’s the image of her shuffling down the hall ahead of him toward their bedroom, her body loose along the joints from want of sleep, her hair down in cascading waves around her shoulders. Perhaps it’s the last of the coffee finally absorbing into his system as he makes his way to her old side of the bed. Perhaps it’s the way they turn down the comforter and the sheets in tandem, or that she tosses one of her small throw pillows at him with a small and playful smile.

Whatever it is, it does him in. He straightens up as she slides beneath the covers and watches her adjust and settle, the softness in his gaze now distinctly tinged with pensiveness, his lower lip all but disappeared where it’s trapped between the rows of his teeth. He watches her settle, and then he leans forward with his hands planted on the mattress, and says, “I helped Charles arrest someone today.”

She doesn’t sit up, but she does lift her head slightly. “That’s great, babe,” she says, genuinely meaning it. “What was the case?”

“Uh, larceny.”

Her brows rise as she rolls to her side to better face him. “You love larceny.”

A smile passes over his features. “I do,” he nods. “And it was a sneaker store that was hit.”

“So what you’re saying is, you solved your dream case today?”

He laughs, but still, his smile doesn’t reach his eyes. “I guess so. Holt was evaluating me.”

“Evaluating you?” she repeats, feeling her brows furrow together. “For what?”

“I…might’ve found a loophole to get out of desk duty early. It involves an official evaluation and Holt chose himself to be my evaluator. Did you know he has evaluation pants?”

“What are evaluation…actually, I’ll ask in a minute. First…you’re trying to get out of desk duty early?”

He ducks his head, looking a little sheepish. “I’m just going a little crazy, is all,” he mumbles. “Y’know, you and Charles and Terry are all out working cases, Gina’s on maternity leave, Rosa…I actually don’t know where Rosa was, but she wasn’t at the precinct. So basically I was there alone with Hitchcock and Scully and they kept trying to get me to go to WingSluts with them and…” he trails, gaze firmly fixated on the mattress beneath his hands. “I just feel like I’m going a little stir-crazy is all.”

A moment of stillness passes before Amy leans forward and covers one of his hands with her own. Jake’s eyes flick up at the movement, guarded, vulnerable. “I’m sorry you’re feeling that way, Jake,” she says as genuinely as she can. “It’s perfectly natural and understandable why you are. As for the whole loophole thing…I mean, if you think you’re ready to be back on active duty, then you have my complete and total support on this.”

A smile spreads slowly across his face. “Really?”

“Really, really.”

He laughs, a sharp noise, and yanks his hand from beneath hers. “Of all the times to make a Shrek reference…” he mutters as he clambers into bed beside her. “You’re the best and I love you so much but also you’re the worst and I hate you.”

She hums and rolls forward, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “My sweet spot,” she sighs as she rolls back to her side. He rolls his eyes, still grinning at the ceiling. Another moment passes. “Is that…what’s been bothering you all day?”

He turns his head on his pillow to look at her. “You could tell something was bothering me?” He asks, confused.

She scoffs. “I can read you like a book, Peralta. Of course I can tell when something’s bothering you. I just didn’t wanna push, because I didn’t want you to feel like you have to talk about it. I’m all ears if you do, by the way.”

Jake exhales slowly through his nose, eyes roving over her face. “Yeah, I do,” he rasps after a moment.

Amy shifts a little closer.

“Earlier, when we were arresting the guy, he…he just…” he trails, turning his head back toward the ceiling. He runs a hand through his hair. “He was yelling - that he was innocent.”

She holds her breath.

“He…I don’t know, this is so dumb, but…he sounded…he sounded like I did. Which is insane, because I was actually innocent but this guy obviously did it. But he sounded like I did and it - it kind of…I don’t know, it got to me a little bit.”

Slowly, slowly, Amy reaches across the space between them and squeezes his bicep. “Jake,” she murmurs.

“I know it’s dumb,” he says, and if she’s not mistaken there’s a tremor in his voice. “All the evidence points to this guy. And, y’know, before…this would’ve been a slam dunk, open-and-shut case. I was super thorough, there’s, like, no way it’s not him, but…I don’t know.”

She strokes his bicep with the pad of her thumb until he turns his head again, hesitation written all over his face. “It’s not dumb.” she says softly. “Honestly, I think it’s an expected side-effect of everything you went through. But you have good instincts, and when you trust your gut you’re almost always right. I’m sure you got the right guy, babe.”

He doesn’t look entirely convinced, but the fractured quality of his gaze has dimmed significantly, so she considers it a win. “I love you so much,” he murmurs before craning his head toward her.

They kiss, slow and unhurried, his hand briefly, lightly tangling in her hair when he reaches to touch the back of her head, and then they’re settling back into their spaces and adjusting the comforter to ride a little higher on both of them. Amy watches Jake shift, trying to find a comfortable position in which to settle down, and when he finally goes still and his eyes close, she pokes his arm and grins when he peers at her from the corner of his eye. 

“Tell me more about these evaluation pants.”