“Remember the plan?” Jake hisses.
Santiago looks insulted. “I’m not even going to dignify that with a response.”
“Okay, okay,” he says, lifting his hands in surrender. They’re crouched behind a water fountain outside the precinct because there’s no such thing as excessive discretion. “On three.”
“Do I remember the plan,” Santiago mutters, “honestly.”
Because Santiago is hypercompetitive and frankly a little bit insane, she grabs his hand before he can start counting, and drags him after her into the bullpen. She stops short just a fraction of a second before they go through the doors, smoothly folding her arm through his. He’d almost be impressed with the gesture’s elegance if it weren’t also followed by a loud declaration: “Everyone, I have an announcement to make about my love affair with Jake.”
The entire room freezes. My ‘love affair’? Jake mouths, as Santiago’s eyes widen with panic.
“Sorry,” she says frantically, in that completely inefficient under-your-breath tone of voice that doesn’t actually work when the entire room is frozen still and listening to your every word. “Sorry. That wasn’t in the plan.”
"No kidding," he whispers back, but squeezes her arm. "Don't worry, I got this."
They still have the full attention of the room, although Rosa looks a little bored. Terry's frozen with a sandwich halfway to his mouth. Hitchcock and Scully look mildly disappointed, while Boyle looks like Jake just got him the moon. Gina is unimpressed, while the Captain—
Jake swallows. The Captain's face is stone. Cold.
Jake clears his throat. "Ladies and gentlemen of the precinct. What my girlfriend Santiaaa-amy is trying to say is that we are a couple. Who date. We are a lovingly dating couple. Boyle, will you please escort us to HR so that we can get our permission to date slips, please?"
"That's really not what they're called," Santiago inserts, somewhat apologetically. "They're actually just, uh disclosure forms—"
"Hold up," Gina says, and actually holds up one hand in front of her face, adding the second for added effect. "Hold up," she repeats. "Let's just get the facts straight here. Are you guys saying you're a couple? Who just got together yesterday and are disclosing that relationship to the workplace in a timely fashion?"
"Yes!" Santiago latches on gratefully.
"That would be December twenty third?" Gina presses.
"That is correct," Jake says.
"In that case," Gina starts, and then spins around to face the department. "Pay up, suckers, I just earned myself a trip to Florida."
A collective groan arises from everyone in the station, including a couple of perps.
"I can't believe it," Terry says, dejected. He tears a frustrated bite into his sandwich, and says, in between chewing, "I had you pegged for New Years for sure."
Scully elbows Hitchcock. "I told you we should have bet on Christmas. Everyone falls in love in Christmas."
Jake widens his eyes and puts on a shocked expression. "Oh my god, there was a bet?"
"About us?" Santiago plays along. She's actually pulling this one off well, all shock and indignation. It's kind of cute.
Gina smiles beatifically. "Of course, children."
Terry snorts. "It was obvious to anyone with a working pair of eyes. From the time Jake started confiding in every other person in this precinct that he had feelings for you, we all knew it was meant to be."
"Uh," Jake says, eyes darting to check Santiago's reaction, "that's not the way it ha—"
"That's exactly the way it happened, oh my gosh," Santiago says, looking entirely too pleased with herself.
"I knew it from the start," Boyle sighs dreamily. His eyes are positively sparkling. "I just want to tell you both that I am so proud of you, and so happy for you both. Can I give you a hug?" He clasps his arms round Jake's waist without waiting for a response. "I'm going to hug you too," he warns Santiago, before pouncing. Santiago pats his back feebly.
When he pulls back, his eyes are damp. "I just want to say. I would be so, so honored if you name your child after me. Charles would be wonderful, but I've always been very particular to Charlotte as well."
"Whoa, whoa, let's not get ahead of ourselves," Jake says, with a slightly maniacal laugh. "We're still just, haha, dating."
"We're daters!" Santiago confirms with a bright smile. Gina rolls her eyes.
"Okay," Boyle says, and clasps both of their hands. "I just want to say. I support you guys, and I will be there for you. Anytime, anywhere, no matter if you're just missing some gourmet oregano for a romantic dinner, or you're out of lubricant, or you need an emergency sitter for my godchild. I will be there. For you," he finishes, pointing at their generic chest level.
Santiago extracts her hand from Boyle's.
"That's a little creepy, buddy," Jake adds. "But I appreciate the sentiment. You're a good friend."
"Thanks, Jake," Boyle says. "You know, I've been waiting for this for a long time. My bet was on four months ago."
"Meanwhile I hit the jackpot," Gina sing-songs, flipping through a wad of bills that have by now converged in her hands. "Yes, thank you, all of the monies, give them to meee—"
"Hold on just one second, Gina," a deep baritone commands from the back of the room.
Ah. Crunch time.
"Captain," Jake says brightly.
Holt takes a few steps forward. Jake grabs Santiago's hand. Santiago sticks a hand down his back pocket.
Good girl, he thinks.
The Captain narrows his eyes. "So you two… had a sudden epiphany yesterday."
"Yes," Jake says. "Yes we did."
Holt's eyes travel to their clutched hands, and back up. "Santiago," he says.
Santiago's voice almost entirely doesn't tremble at all. "Yes, sir."
"Is this true?"
"Are you certain?"
Stay strong, Jake thinks at her, really really hard.
"I would be very disappointed," Holt stresses, his voice weighed down by probably every single iota of disappointment in the tri-state area, "if that were the case."
Santiago's pained expression is forceful enough Jake can almost physically feel it.
"I would, however," Holt continues, "see the matter more favorably, if I knew that your union was the result not of a spur of the moment act, but rather a longer process of careful contemplation, ripened by time and meditation that came to fruition around, perhaps, the very romantic holiday of St. Valentine."
He raises an eyebrow.
For a moment, Jake thinks she's going to cave. But Santiago draws in a breath, then lets it out in a rush. "Sorrysir, it's like Jake said, we need to sign those papers."
"And we're probably gonna bone tonight," Jake finishes. Santiago punches him in the shoulder.
The Captain holds her gaze, and finally nods. "Very well. I respect your decision. Peralta, please refrain from ever mentioning the word 'bone' in my presence again."
"And Santiago—" the Captain pauses, then jerks his head at Jake. "Good luck with that."
Santiago lets out a breath. "Yes sir, don't worry, I'll make you so proud. Oh god that sounded even more wrong than Boyle, please strike that from the record."
Holt frowns, which at least shows he cares, and turns back to his office.
"Aaaaand we're done here!" Gina says, waving her prize money. "Thank you, thank you, thank all of you, I will instagram you all from Miami!"
It's not until later that evening that Jake and – Amy, he thinks, really, now that she's actively groped his ass in front of their colleagues – find Rosa in the kitchenette, sitting on the counter and sipping a cup of coffee.
"So," Jake questions. "You weren't in on the office pool? At all?"
Rosa snorts. "I know better than that."
"What does that mean?" Amy asks.
"It means you two are way too dumb to actually be on the same page about how much you dig each other, and the only way you two would reveal your sudden dramatic love affair is if you joined forces with Gina who told you just how much money was riding on this bet and convinced you to 'get together' during her week and split the cash. Am I close?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Jake says primly, and manages to keep it up for a full ten seconds before blurting, "It was so much money, though."
"So much money," Amy says. "There were other precincts in on this bet! It was massive."
"Santiago here is donating her share to charity," Jake says.
"Most of my share," she corrects. "It's going to save a puppy shelter. The rest is going into savings."
Rosa smirks. "Course it is. So what’s your plan now?"
"Well, Jake and I are going to break up in a week and everything will just go back to normal."
"It'll be totally amicable," Jake says.
Rosa hmms skeptically. "Yeah. You could do that. Or."
Amy raises an eyebrow. "Or?"
Rosa shrugs. "There's another bet, you know."
"There's—what?" Jake's voice comes out uncomfortably high pitched.
"About how long you guys last. Lotta money on the line."
"I don’t even know why I'm surprised by this," Amy says.
"Who gets the money if we break up in a week?" Jake asks.
Rosa tilts her head. "I'm not the collector or anything, but I believe it'll be a split between Scully and Hitchcock, half of Homicide, and Bad Big Al."
"I can't believe no one thinks I can stay in a relationship for a single week," Jake says.
"I can't believe you're still allowing perps in on these bets," Amy says.
"So wait," Jake says. "What are the stakes on this thing?"
Rosa shrugs. "Basically, longer it takes you to break up, the higher the winnings are."
"Eeeenteresting," Jake says, steepling his fingers. "What do you say?" he asks Santiago. "Think you can fake date me for a little while longer?"
"I mean," Amy says. "All of the puppy shelters we could save."
"Yeah," Jake says. "All those puppy shelters."
Amy smiles. "I guess it wouldn’t be so awful."
He turns back to Rosa. "So, you in?"
Rosa snorts, and jumps off the counter. "No thanks, I'm a smarter gambler than that."
Jake crosses his arms. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Rosa rolls her eyes. "It means you dumbasses aren't going to break up anytime soon, fake relationship or not. I told you, I know better than that. I'm not gonna waste my money sitting in someone's petty cash box where it's not collecting interest for the next few years. But hey," she says over her shoulder, parting words as she leaves the room with another small smirk. "Congrats, you two."
"That's totally ridiculous," he says.
"Totally, completely ridiculous," Amy agrees.
There's a pause.
"So like," Amy starts. "Three months? Split the money with Gina?"
Jake grins. "I was thinking six."
"Yeah." Amy smiles. "That could work. There's, uh."
She points up. They're standing under a sprig of mistletoe.
"We were really crap at this today," she says honestly.
"We kinda were," he admits.
"Just. We should really practice this couple thing. Is what I'm saying."
"We—yeah," he says, and he doesn't think there's anything that could make him stop smiling now even if he wanted to. "We really should."
"God, I really wanna wipe that smirk off your face now," she says, and leans up and in.
And okay. For a while, he maybe stops smiling a little.