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Think Once, Think Twice

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"Oh, God," Amy says into her hair. "I wish I was dead."

Well, that's what her brain is trying to convey to her vocal cords. The message is apparently intercepted and corrupted because what comes out is "Weshabadud," along with a sensation on her tongue that's a faithful replica of what she imagines that hoof in Boyle's favourite takeout would taste like, if anyone was stupid enough to let it near their mouth.

She turns her face further into the pillow, shudders down some nausea--don't think about the hoof, Amy, don't think about it--and casts her mind back to the previous night with the same sort of morbid care that she uses when walking through back alleys behind bars at 3am on a Saturday night. There's bound to be something squishy and foul lurking there.

The drunkest Amy has ever been in her life was at a wedding, and it was a complete accident. It wasn't her twenty-first, or her graduation from the police academy, or even the celebration of her first official collar (which was a total waste of time, as far as alcohol went: she was trying to impress Captain McGinley, back before she'd given up on him as a role model, and she was terrified that Drunk Amy might express some views or engage in some behaviours not in keeping with the image of Detective Santiago, up and coming young officer of the NYPD).

No: like the worst kind of cliché, the one night that left Amy with her cheek pressed groggily against a toilet seat, while the far-off sounds of With Or Without You and the not-quite-jasmine scent of the air freshener merged with her thudding pulse and the smell of her own vomit respectively, was her cousin Stacia's wedding. And even then, it wasn't like she didn't remember it the next morning. Sure, the details were fuzzy. But she had a clear and queasy memory of her champagne glass, its level rising and falling and then rising again, as the speeches droned on and a waiter who looked like a dapper teenaged version of Will Smith kept wandering past with the bottle and a wink.

In retrospect, Amy realises, he was probably trying to hit on her. And just as probably was eventually scared off by what Jake likes to call the Santiago Alcohol and Attractiveness Wormhole, in which she bypasses all of the fun and adorably free-spirited stages of inebriation and goes directly to maudlin and splotchy, do not collect $200.

Jake drew a whole diagram on the whiteboard when he was explaining this. It was in the form of a Monopoly board. Of course.

But that's it. That's Amy's one great drunkenness story, and it's no fun at all, and she's always secretly, bitterly wondered if people ever do become drunk enough that they can't remember what happened the previous night. Surely they all start vomiting before they get to that point. Surely it's a phenomenon that exists largely in movies with stupid plots about monkeys and/or prostitutes.

Nope.

She was pretty much dead wrong about that.

Eventually, enough light filters through her hair that Amy thinks she can risk opening her eyes fully. She takes the daring step of rolling onto her back, which in the moment ranks up there with kicking armed drug dealers in the knees in her personal bravery stakes, and she capitalizes on the opportunity to sit upright in the bed before her inner ear can work out what's going on and toss vertigo into the gumbo of horrible sensations.

So far, so bearable.

It's a hotel room. It's one of the more tasteless hotel rooms that Amy's ever been inside, and Amy is a cop. Awful hotel rooms are disproportionately represented in the Congratulations, It's A Crime Scene! stakes.

And hey, well done her for managing to put a word like 'disproportionately' together, what with the way her head is buzzing like the terrifying electric toothbrush that Scully brought in to the precinct one day and Jake promptly stole so that he and Rosa could Macgyver it into a sex toy slash suspect intimidation device, with the help of some duct tape and the contents of the Miscellaneous Cutlery Crap drawer in the break room.

("You don't want to know where this little baby goes," Jake had purred, perched on the edge of the interrogation room table like a sexually ambiguous Muppet.

The perp eyed it and said, "Is that a melon baller," in the voice of one who was rapidly recalculating the number of years they'd consider an acceptable jail term.)

Amy wiggles around a bit on the pillows to see if there's an angle at which she'll feel more human--no, apparently not--and pauses when something under her butt makes a tired, crinkly sound.

She gropes under the sheet to find out what it is. In the process she notes that she's wearing her second-nicest black cocktail dress and her most expensive bra, the one with the terrifying underwiring that makes her breasts feel like they've been put through hours of punishing PT if she wears it for more than a few hours at a time. She's never been dumb enough to sleep in it before.

The crinkly thing, when Amy manages to extricate it and smooth out the worst of the creases, is a piece of memo paper with the 9-9 letterhead, heavily stained and smelling like the floor of the holding cell they reserve for handsy drunks.

Amy concentrates through the buzzing and manages to focus by squinting her eyes. It's that or start looking around for her glasses, and that would require a lot more movement than she's comfortable with right now.

     THE PLAN™ courtesy of Detective Rosa Diaz

     1. Fly to Montreal VEGAS BABY!!

     2. Hit a classy hotel bar AND GET SUPER DRUNK

     3. Bone a stranger NOT THE SAME STRANGER FOR BOTH OF US. UNLESS SHE'S REALLY Grow up, Peralta.

     4. Slump over. You're welcome, losers.

Amy takes a deep breath and turns the paper over. The non-letterhead side is a battlefield: two sets of handwriting, both alike in indignity, both becoming less and less comprehensible as the words lurch down the page.

     Peralta dares Santiago to go over to the hen's night table and pretend to be a time traveller.

     Santiago dares Peralta to stand on the table and do his Darth Vader impression.

     Peralta dares Santiago to wear the coaster hat for the rest of the night!! haHA!!

     S dares P to go dunk his stupid head in the ornamental pond

     P dares S to drink ALL THE VODKA. YEAH. ALL OF IT.

"Oh my God," says Amy, in a tiny little voice. Her stomach emits another sad bubble of nausea.

Somehow, right now, Captain Holt knows about this piece of paper and is very disappointed in her.

She can't make out at all what the last few dares are, because they're less words and more flimsy squiggles that could maybe, on a good day, be mistaken for a two-year-old's idea of what words should look like. But given that the vodka dare was clearly carried out in full, she isn't sure she wants to know.

In the name of not-yet-knowing things about the previous night, she doesn't look too closely at her surroundings when she crawls out of the bed and in the direction of the bathroom. That's probably why she trips over a bundle of sheets on the floor, which is more solid than it first appears.

"Augh," moans the bundle of sheets.

"Peralta?"

After some weak, bulgy movements, Jake's head emerges from between the folds at one end of the sheet-bundle, like the birth of the world's most hungover butterfly.

"Santiago, I'm going to ask you something very important and I want you to think carefully before you answer. Do you have any aspirin?"

"Ugh," Amy says. Most of her wants to abandon him to his suffering while she has a go at showering her own away with some very, very hot water, but-- "Jake, what happened last night? I don't remember, but I think it was...messy. And public."

"Hur hur," Jake says, sort of. It comes out more of a slurred snort. "Name of your--"

"Shut up, Peralta, this is serious!"

"We were getting over our slump," he says, but he sounds uncertain. "Fly to--wait! We're in Vegas!"

Some more bulging happens as Jake does something flaily with his limbs which totally fails to disentangle him from the sheet.

"I remember checking into the hotel," Jake says, subsiding again. "I--whose room are we in?"

Amy makes herself look around with more focus. Her overnight bag is propped against the wall, open, and some of her clothes are hanging in the closet. Amy is fleetingly proud of her previous day's self; some basic standards of tidiness were adhered to, at least, even if everything went to shit after that.

"Mine," she says.

Jake lifts his head from where it's been smushed against the cocoon of sheets and also the floor. There's a complicated and unattractively twitchy look on his face. "Then why am I--did we--we didn't--"

"No!" Amy yelps.

"Right." Jake lets his face drop again.

Thankfully he seems willing to put Amy's certainty on this point down to womanly intuition. Probably because he's spent way too much time with Gina, who once proclaimed that she exuded so much intuition from every pore that people sitting next to her on the bus sometimes had emotional epiphanies from the sheer force of her presence.

Amy's womanly intuition in this instance has more to do with the fact that she would never, ever put a pair of panties back on to sleep in once they had been removed for sex purposes, because ew, and also--

"I have a boyfriend," Amy reminds the both of them.

"Yeah, yeah," Jake says, with a hint of the brittle brightness that he gets whenever they're talking about Teddy.

"So neither of us remembers anything." Amy sighs. "That's just great."

"Wait," Jake says into the carpet. "We are detectives. We can detect this. We're gonna detect it so hard."

"There is some physical evidence," Amy says gloomily, and fetches the piece of paper.

Jake screws up his face, untangles a hand far enough that he can scrub violently at his hair, and sits up so he can grab the paper and read it.

"My Darth Vader impression is amazing," he says after a while.

"I'm sure it was." Amy snatches the paper back, shudders, and throws it onto the bed. It's hard to throw paper; it drifts in teasing little arcs and ends up on the floor. "That doesn't help us."

With great care, Jake manages to stand up, until he's got a single fold of the sheet draped over his shoulder like someone at the end of an eventful toga party. Beneath it he's wearing a once-white dress shirt and an actually quite nice pair of slacks, which means he probably went around for half of the previous night introducing himself in an awful British accent and ordering shaken-not-stirred martinis despite the fact that he hates martinis.

"Next step in searching for clues. Turn out our pockets."

"Yeah, sure." Amy slaps the sides of her dress.

"I don't know! Half of Gina's dresses have pockets!"

"Half of Gina's dresses have little hoods with fox ears on them. Or are made of crushed velvet and Lycra."

"Don't you like, tuck things into your bra?"

"What? Peralta, no."

"Paydirt!" he proclaims, fishing things out of both of his own pockets. "Let's see. Casino chip, nice. Two dimes. Hah! A napkin with someone's phone--oh, wait, no, that's my phone number, never mind. And this."

He unfolds a piece of paper which was clearly shoved into the pocket without more than a perfunctory crumpling. The part of Amy that sometimes stops tourists on the street to show them how to refold their street maps, because they're doing it all wrong, gives an inner twitch.

"Great," she says. "More stupid dares. Are any of those ones from the period in the evening when you still had a basic grasp of written English?"

Jake looks at it. He opens and closes his mouth. Then he laughs, high-pitched and bizarre, for almost ten seconds.

"Uh. The good news is, I think I might know what the last dare on your bit of paper was."

Amy's stomach tries to remind her about the hoof again.

"Good news," she says. "That means, that means there's bad news. What is the bad news?"

Jake holds out the piece of paper.

Amy squints her eyes into focus again. The words Clark County Nevada cohere at the top of the page, followed by--some other words.

For many long moments she feels nothing. She feels entirely numb.

Then she lets her knees collapse her down onto the edge of the bed. It's that or surrender to the scream that's building steadily and painfully behind her sternum.

"I," she says. "I need a cigarette."

"And now she descends into smoking?" Jake says, clutching at his chest in what must be an automatic version of his usual jackassery. He gives a weak cackle. "I can't believe you've hidden such a filthy habit from me, Amy Santiago, you are not the woman I married. Last night. Apparently."

Amy stares at him.

Slowly, Jake's face goes the same appalling shade of off-white as his abused dress shirt.

"Do you, um, do you think this could be a dream?" he says, voice laced with manic hope. "I might have smoked something, maybe we both smoked something, this could all be a great big peyote-induced hallucination! Yes!"

The scream has bypassed Amy's mouth and now it's filling her skull with a kind of floating, detached, lavender cloud of panic. She leans over and pinches Jake as hard as she can, using her nails and giving his skin a vicious twist through the shirt before releasing it.

"Aaaahhoh, oh. Oh. Shit," Jake says, and trips on a trailing edge of sheet and falls right over.