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Today's the Day We Have to Be Romantic

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"We're going on a date," Amy said firmly. She wrote it into her daily planner, because some people relied on their synched-up watch-phone-computer schedules, but technology could fail. So, yes, she definitely maintained a digital schedule, too, but her paper planner was her primary source.

"Great. I'll just pencil that in," Jake said, and wrote in the air, speaking as he went. "Saturday. Watch TV with Amy until we both fall asleep on the couch. Great, solid, looking forward to it." He took a final swallow of his coffee and looked longingly at their apartment door.

"No," Amy said. "A real date. We eat nice food we didn't cook! We have a cultural experience! No one wears yoga pants and neither of us arrests anyone." She thought about their dating history and added, "Nothing where we get drunk five minutes in and then head straight to bed, either."

Jake stared at her. "What's left? You just ruled out everything we've ever done."

"That's exactly why we need to go on a date! We've been married six months and the last time I saw you in a nice suit was our wedding." Even then, by the time the wedding started, the suit hadn't been all that nice anymore. Criminals were really inconsiderate when it came to timing their bank robberies.

"I could put on a nice suit and we could watch TV?" Jake said, but he hadn't actually fled the apartment, so Amy knew she'd already won. She refolded her cloth napkin -- a wedding gift from her mother, who still believed Amy would actually be eating daily home-cooked meals on good china -- in celebration, aligning the corners perfectly.

"Put it in your schedule," she said firmly. "A week from Friday. You get Charles to make the dinner reservations and I'll get Gina to come up with something cultural."

"Yeah, no. I can't put it in my schedule. It's -- it's not me. I'm not a 'put a date in my schedule' kind of guy, I'm a freewheeling, spontaneous, I-just-happened-to-get-dressed-up kind of --"

"Fine. I will put it in your schedule. We are going on a date. We are going to eat good food and watch strange things and see each other looking pretty." Jake opened his mouth and she held up a hand. "Pretty, Jake. Both of us."

"I can't deny I've got a lot of that going on, I guess."

"A date. A real date. Nothing is going to stand in our way." And then Amy swallowed the last of her coffee and headed out the door. Some people might be okay with being late, but she was absolutely not one of them.

~

Charles made them reservations at a nearby Mesopotamian grill, which he said was "extremely in right now and definitely a distinctive, piquant experience that was broadening, but not excessively challenging to the developing palate."

"What the fuck is a Mesopotamian grill?" Jake asked in the car on the way there.

"I don't know. I was going to google it, but I had to finish the paperwork on the zoo homicide and then we had to leave or we'd be late for our reservations and Charles would murder us if we messed up his Open Table rating. Check on your phone."

"Nah. I like surprises." Jake settled back in his seat, the picture of a cool, with-it, spontaneous guy who rolled with whatever a Mesopotamian grill was.

The guy who seated them was dressed in, essentially, a silk loincloth, which seemed a little…not so ideal in a restaurant, but Amy was fine with it, she totally was, she was just choosing to stare at his head so she didn't have to see a stranger's nipples in the same room where she planned to eat dinner. And it was definitely popular, as Charles promised. They were led in past a crowd of hopeful diners, and Amy tried to smile and not feel guilty for cutting in line. She ignored the people waiting and kept her eyes on the dining room ahead. She automatically checked the exits (two), the décor (stone walls, fake grape vines, wooden beams), and the people (lots of them). And then, surveying the crowd, Amy felt an alarm go off in her head.

"Shi--shoot," she whispered, and Jake whipped his head around to look at her, his eyes wide. That was good, that was good, this way Jake's face was turned away from the suspect and his body was shielding her from view. She mouthed "Doug Judy" and gestured with her chin over Jake's shoulder.

"I'll go around the left," Amy whispered.

"No, I'll take left," Jake said. "He breaks left more often."

"I'm going left," Amy said, forgetting to whisper.

"Sir? Ma'am?" asked Loincloth Guy, and Jake risked a glance Doug-Judy-wards.

Of course, Judy spotted them and rose out of his seat. Amy instinctively reached for the gun she wasn't carrying and dove left; Jake went right. They came up on either side of Judy and made the collar so smoothly Amy felt like she was in a training video for the police academy.

"Jake! Amy!" Doug Judy said, sounding genuinely pleased to see them. "How have you been?" He put an arm around each of them.

"Doug!" Jake said cheerfully. "How's the, uh, Paleolithic grill?"

"Mesopotamian," Doug said. "You've got to try the pomegranate honey locusts and the warm barley beer!"

Amy and Jake exchanged glances. "You know, I am just heartbroken we're going to miss out on that," Jake said cheerfully, "but we have a little trip to take with you."

"And is the lovely Rosa" -- Doug Judy's voice went a little dreamy on the name -- "awaiting me outside?" He looked at Amy, then at Jake. "Oh, no, I've got this wrong. This isn't a stakeout, it's a date." He turned to Jake. "Man, I am so, so sorry. Hope I didn't mess with your scoring rate."

Amy bristled. "Um, this date was my idea, actually." She did the planning! She put it in their schedules! And Jake got the credit, solely because he was -- wait, she thought, hold your horses, young lady. It doesn't matter what the perp thinks of you.

Judy whistled and held his fist up for Jake to bump. "Nice," he said, and they walked out past all the waiting diners, Loincloth Guy trailing after them in visible confusion. This time, Amy's head was automatically held high. She was making an arrest, and a damn good one, too.

On the sidewalk, heading for the car, Doug Judy got a look at Jake's hand. "Wait wait wait wait -- you got married?"

"Six months ago," Jake said, helping Judy into the car.

"And you didn't invite me to the wedding? I'm hurt. I am hurt. I thought we had something."

Judy looked so honestly sad that Amy reflexively said, "Sorry, it's just" -- and then remembered about the perp thing again and finished -- "if we had known where to send the invitation, we would have gone there and arrested you, so you were never going to make it." She started up the car and merged into the traffic.

"I hope it was beautiful," Judy said earnestly from the back seat. "I hope it was the day of your dreams."

There was a pause as they both remembered it -- the robbery taking place right as Amy's limousine pulled up in front of the church, the chase through the kitchen of the pizza place, and the eventual arrest in the alley full of trash. Then, of course, the reception, where Gina hit on Amy's professional surfer second cousin, Rosa sat grimly in a corner, Holt and Kevin danced every dance, and Charles and Terry cried on each other's shoulders, overwhelmed by emotion, while Sharon and Genevieve passed them tissues and talked about baseball.

"It was pretty nice, actually," Amy said.

"Definitely the best wedding I've ever had," Jake said.

"I'm happy for you both," Judy said. "That's what really matters: love. Love, family, making it all work out."

"Yeah," Jake said. "And now we're at the precinct and we're gonna take you in to lockup."

"I understand, man, do what you have to do. No hard feelings."

Doug Judy was cooperative and cheerful as they escorted him into the precinct and processed him in.

The night finished with paperwork, meaning they missed the wild-animal-themed modern dance performance Gina had found for them, but Amy didn't mind at all. As they got ready to leave the office, just after midnight, she said to Jake, "See? Good things come from dating."

"You're absolutely right," Jake said. "I'm so glad we did this, and we should definitely do it again this time next year."

"Next week," Amy corrected.

Jake sighed pointedly, but he held her hand all the way to the car.

It all felt slightly less worth it when they got in on Monday morning and found out Doug Judy had disappeared from the lockup -- "like he turned into mist and floated away," a slightly shell-shocked rookie told them -- but, overall, it had been a nice night. And the next date would definitely work out fine, Amy reasoned. She'd learned what to avoid.

~

"This time," Amy said, "we're going in a little differently."

Jake ate a giant spoonful of Fros-Tees -- he swore store-brand cereal was the only kind that tasted right -- and nodded.

"This is a day off. Our time is our own, so we can start early. Criminals don't go out to eat at five o'clock on a Saturday."

"No one goes out to eat at five o'clock on a Saturday," Jake said. "I mean, unless they're really late for brunch."

"So it will be just us," Amy said. "Romantic!"

"The last time it was just us in a restaurant, you didn't think it was romantic."

"You were investigating a raw milk cheese fraud ring and you called me to come help because you were so worried about how you'd explain it to Charles."

"He's still really broken up about it," Jake said, going to the sink. "Also, your attention please: I am rinsing out my cereal bowl, as requested."

Amy's heart melted a little. "For that," she said, "I will even let you skip the second act of the New Life Gestation Power Twerk performance Gina found for us." She made a tiny notation on her schedule.

"Yeah, I shouldn't have told her we ditched the wild animal thing for paperwork. She's still mad."

"Okay, so, where are we eating?"

"I asked Charles to focus on Italian. I'm pretty sure they never ate locusts." Jake raised his hands in the air, asking for praise; Amy applauded.

"We leave at a quarter after four," she said, glancing at her planner.

"You have our date blocked out in fifteen-minute increments, don't you?"

"Just sketched out, really. I didn't worry about anything after ten-fifteen." Amy chewed her lip. "Maybe I should've gone to midnight."

Jake took her pen out of her hand. "Tell you what, I'll take care of the 10:15 to midnight planning." He bent over the schedule, but Amy grabbed his hand on its way to the page.

"Do not write anything dirty in my schedule," she said. She might be in her thirties and married, but a voice in the back of her head was still warning her about blackmail potential if her brothers found it.

"I'll write in code," Jake promised. She nodded, and he wrote SMEX in big letters covering the spaces for 10:00 and 11:00. He beamed at her and waited for a reaction.

Sometimes the key to living with Jake was not to give him the reaction he was looking for, so Amy just reminded herself that her brothers didn't live in her apartment or her purse and closed the planner. "Anything else you need to get done today should be finished by 3:00, to allow us time to get pretty, plus some additional padding in case we have to arrest anyone."

"Just gonna hit the gym and run by the corner store to pick up more Fros-Tees," Jake said.

"Can you get plain oatmeal, hand sanitizer, and string cheese?"

"Yup." Jake kissed Amy on the head and headed for the bedroom.

Amy spent the morning reviewing the most recent DOJ statistical update, and then checked out the changing demographics of the area the Nine-Nine served; she might have moved to Major Crimes, but a good police officer kept her eyes on lots of plates, or whatever the saying was. When her phone rang just before one o'clock, she picked it up and said "Santiago-Peralta" without really thinking.

"Hey," Jake said, against a lot of annoying background noise. "Gonna have to cancel our dance lesson; something came up."

"Something came up?" Amy repeated blankly.

"Yeah, sweetiepie, I'm sorry. Maybe we can reschedule for later? Maybe five o'clock?"

Dance lesson? Sweetiepie? Amy's mind snapped into focus. "Got me on speaker phone again?"

"Yup," Jake said. "You know me, love that speakerphone."

She thought quickly. "Can you at least pick up the oatmeal? I kind of need it."

"No, actually, I'm super tied up here, it's crazy. Really sorry about that. Maybe get someone else to pick that up for you. Rosa? Or Gina?"

Amy wrote TWO WOMEN on the notepad near the phone while she said, "Is it even safe to ask Rosa for something like that?"

"Yeah, probably not, actually. You know what she's like, especially this close to Thanksgiving." Someone in the background said something, and Jake added, "Gotta go. Bye!"

Amy dialed 911 while she was grabbing her go bag and shoving shoes on her feet. "This is Officer Amy Santiago-Peralta. Officer Jake Santiago-Peralta has been taken hostage in a bodega robbery on 38th and H; there are two other hostages, both female, and the hostage-taker is armed and dangerous. I will be onsite in two minutes."

She hung up before the dispatcher could order her not to approach, because sometimes the key to following orders was making sure people didn't give you the wrong one, and ran out the door.

Five hours, a the world's crankiest negotiator, and a ton of anti-metric-system rhetoric later, they managed to resolve the hostage crisis. Amy had a hell of a headache, but they'd managed to recover all the hostages unhurt, although covered in cheese dip and frosting after the SWAT team's unfortunate shelf accident, and apprehend the hostage-takers alive, so it was pretty much a job well done.

By the time the interviews and preliminary paperwork were finished, it was almost 10:00, and Amy was definitely drooping a little as they left the building. "I think this frosting is a permanent part of my body," Jake said, picking at a patch on his head. "It's like it's grafted on."

"We can cut it out of your hair if worse comes to worse," Amy said.

"I'd rather learn to live with it, thanks. It can be my signature wound for the rookies to whisper about. And I'll change my name to --"

Amy cut him off by kissing him fiercely on the mouth. When she pulled away, he blinked at her. "I'm glad you're okay," she said. "I -- I am really glad you're okay. And you need to never get taken hostage again."

Jake kissed her back. "You know," he said, "we're not entirely off the schedule yet. We still have time for" -- he bounced his eyebrows at her and lowered his voice, probably trying to sound like Barry White -- "smex."

"Oh, definitely," Amy said. "You know how attached I am to schedules." She climbed into the driver's seat and Jake got in on the passenger side. In the close confines of the car, there was a definite aroma to him. "But first you're showering," she said. "No one who smells like cheese food product and fake vanilla is getting into my pants."

"All right," Jake said, scratching at a patch of dried dip on his shirt. "But I still want you to call me the Sweet Negotiator."

Amy started giggling helplessly. It wasn't even the stupid name, it was just -- Jake, still being Jake, after five hours as a hostage of someone whose demands included a billboard in Times Square denouncing the metric system and a ride on Trump's yacht. By the time she finished, her eyes were wet and she felt almost lightheaded.

"Okay, Sugar Talker, you're on." Prudence forced her to add, "Tonight only, Delicious Voice."

"Oh man, Delicious Voice is even better." Jake dropped his voice to what might possibly be intended as an Italian accent. "My weapon is my…sweet, sweet tongue," he said.

Amy stepped on the gas.

~

"Has it occurred to you," Jake said as he slotted the car into a space with approximately four inches of clearance, "that we're just really bad at dating?"

"When you're bad at something, you practice," Amy said firmly. "So you can get better at it."

"I'm just saying. So far, we've had one fake date, three dates we don't entirely remember, one date that ended after eleven minutes, and one date that never got started." Jake put on the parking break. "Wait, wait, don't get out yet." He darted around the car and opened the door for her.

Amy smiled her thanks at him as she squeezed out. She checked her watch. "Then we've already broken our record," she said. "This is the best date we've ever had, because we're twenty minutes in and there's still no need for handcuffs or a barf bowl."

Jake held up his hand and she gave him the high five. "Not totally sure we should count the time we spent driving here, though."

"It counts," Amy said firmly. She led him up the steps into the Brooklyn Academy of Music, because this time she'd played it safe and asked Kevin for dining and entertainment suggestions.

She learned from past mistakes. And also Charles wouldn't make reservations for them anymore. Apparently they were "pure Open Table poison."

As they rode the elevator up to the restaurant (on time for their reservations, even!), she took a moment to admire how right they had it this time. They were both dressed in nice clothes, and neither of them had forgotten and left a holster on, and neither of them had food or alley detritus in their hair. They looked perfect. They looked like what they were: a happy couple having fun together.

And then the lights went out, the elevator screeched to a stop, one of the people in the elevator with them shrieked, and Jake said, "Okay, now this feels like one of our dates."

"Everyone, remain calm," Amy said. "Most power outages are resolved within minutes." She picked up the emergency phone and reported their situation, and then waited. One minute. Two minutes.

"Hey," Jake said at the three-minute mark. "I'm Jake, and this is Amy, and we're cops, so we can basically promise you there will be zero crimes committed in this elevator during this power outage."

That got a little nervous laugh, which was good. The primary danger in elevator emergencies was panic.

"I'm Cynthia," said another voice. "And I wish I had gotten something to drink before I got stuck in this elevator."

"I'm Tirzah, here with my wife Rita."

"And I'm Rita, and I'm really hoping we get out of here soon, because I'm eight months pregnant and it'll be like twenty minutes before I have to pee."

There was a nervous pause, and then Rita added, "But the good part about being stuck in an elevator with a pregnant lady is that we bring food and water everywhere. So if people are hungry, well, I can't tell you what flavors I have, but I can pass out mystery protein bars."

Amy opened her flashlight app and passed her phone to Rita, who inventoried her purse -- five protein bars, a package of saltines, two bottles of water, and a package of sanitizing wipes. Amy made a mental note to add all that stuff to her purse as soon as she was out of here.

They passed around one of the bottles of water.

After another five minutes, Rita said, "Okay, my feet are killing me. I don't care if it'll take four paramedics to get me back up again. I'm sitting down." Tirzah kind of guided her down and sat with her, and then Cynthia, Amy, and Jake sat too.

Amy racked her brains, trying to think of casual conversation to make, but she'd never even thought to google 'topics of conversation suitable for chatting with strangers in a dark, enclosed area,' which was an oversight she would rectify as soon as she got out of here and had phone reception again.

Cynthia said, "Does anyone else feel hot?"

"Well, yeah, but that's been an eight-month constant for me, so…" Rita trailed off. "You feeling okay otherwise?"

"Just a little light-headed," Cynthia said. "I really, really want to get out of here."

"Hey, everybody, want to help me practice my labor breathing?" Rita said. "Deep breaths in -- count, Tirzah -- and out."

Tirzah counted, and everyone else breathed as loudly as possible, and they got through about five minutes that way, and then Cynthia said quietly, "Sorry, guys, I'm just really freaking out," and started to cry.

Amy looked at Jake; the phone flashlight was off, so she couldn't see him, but she knew he was looking back at her with the same wide, panicked eyes she could feel herself making. In the Nine-Nine, there were people who handled sobbing victims (Charles, Terry, Captain Holt if they were truly desperate), and then there were people who inevitably made the crying worse (Amy and Rosa). Jake generally went to the bathroom when people started to cry and came out again when it was all over, because crying made him nervous, and when he was nervous he tended to try to lighten the situation with humor, and that generally did not work out so well with, for example, the recently bereaved.

But somehow he was still better than Amy, despite her multiple readings of Emotional IQ, Be More Sensitive: A Manual for Law Enforcement Personnel, and Reaching Out, Touching Others. (Everyone was better than Rosa, who sometimes made passersby cry with the force of her regular resting expression.) Amy nudged Jake with her foot, a clear 'okay, you're up' nudge. Jake nudged her back, obviously saying 'I can't handle panicking people.' And then Tirzah said, "It's okay, Cynthia, it's gonna be fine," followed by a lot more soothing words, and Amy sighed with relief.

It took 85 minutes to get out of the elevator, by which time they'd missed their dinner reservations and the start of the performance.

Jake finished hugging Cynthia, Rita, and Tirzah goodbye and Amy said, "Definitely remember to text us when the baby's born!" Then she turned to Jake. "We could still catch the second half, I guess." She tried to brush elevator lint, protein bar crumbs, and the glitter from Cynthia's shirt off her dress.

"We just spent an hour and a half in an encounter group in an enclosed space and now you want to go see something called Hagoromo?"

"It features puppetry and costumes and is a 'stunning reinterpretation of a Noh theater classic,'" Amy said. "Oh! And there's a youth choir." Jake stared at her until she realized what she was saying. "Or we could just go home and watch Gordon Ramsey yell at people." She sighed. "I think that's more our speed."

Jake nodded. "Mrs. Santiago-Peralta," he said, and held out his hand. "Let me show you how to have a good time." She took it, and they walked back to their car arm-in-arm.

~

The next Thursday, Amy headed down to her old office to wait for Jake, who was running an interrogation.

"So," Terry said, five seconds after she arrived. "What are you trying for date number four?"

"I've given up," Amy said flatly.

There was a stunned silence in the bullpen, and then Rosa said, "Ha. I take the pool."

"I didn't think you'd admit defeat until date six," Gina said, clearly irritated. "Where's your dedication? Where's your drive now, sister?"

"Hey, I know when to give up," Amy said. That was met with a disbelieving silence. "I do!" She sighed. "Well, in this case I do. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong, so. Time to fall back and regroup. Work a cold case or something."

Terry said, "This is a tough time, but Terry's there for you," and hugged her.

"Jake thinks we're just not cut out for dating," Amy said.

Rosa snorted. "If I can date, anyone can date."

Amy sighed again. It was tough to admit, even to herself, that she was worse at something interpersonal than Rosa, but the facts were indisputable. "How many times have you been stuck in an elevator with your dates? How many times has anyone taken you hostage on a day when you have dinner reservations?"

Charles said sadly, "I had a perfect Open Table rating. A perfect one. I spent years nurturing that rating. How am I going to get reservations at Butterpat now?"

Terry said, "We are supposed to be sympathizing with Amy about her and Jake's dating issues, people!" Rosa snorted. "Okay, that's it. I'm scheduling this entire office for another Results-Oriented Communication and Workplace Relationships training."

Gina perked up. "Oh, can you ask them to send another trainer like we had the last time? He was" -- she growled, purred, and made claw hands.

"You got an interpersonal skills training from a…weretiger?" Amy said blankly.

"Oh, he was a tiger all right," Gina said. "Maybe I'll give him another call." She pulled out her phone.

Terry pointedly picked up his own phone. "I'm going to ask them for someone old," he said.

"Maybe you can get a vampire this time!" Amy offered brightly.

"Wait," Rosa said. "Don't make us do another training." She paused, then continued, "Please. That last guy almost made us hug."

"You can't improve your relationship-building skills without hugs, Rosa!"

Rosa was obviously thinking fast. "What if I" -- she hesitated, visibly uncomfortable with what she was about to say -- "what if I come up with an alternative experiential activity? Results-oriented," she added. "I promise."

Terry hung up the phone. "This had better be good."

"Briefing room. Monday," Rosa said. "It'll blow you away."

Jake walked into the bullpen. "All bow before me. I, Jake Peralta, am a god among detectives." He held up a piece of paper. "Signed confession, baby!"

Terry took the form and patted it gently. "Come home to Terry," he cooed at it. "Terry's going to file you away and make everything right for you." Amy noticed he stroked it a few times as he filed it away.

Gina's five o'clock alarm went off, and she, as always, was up and out the door with all her stuff before she'd finished swiping it off again.

"Well, I'm taking my lovely wife and we are going to our delightful home for some" -- Amy shot him a look and Jake changed courses smoothly -- "extremely appropriate quality time."

"Netflix and chill, love it," Charles said appreciatively. "Love to think of you two love birds loving it up!"

"Charles, you just made the word 'love' weird," Jake said. "How do you even do that?"

"Whoops, sorry." Charles made a saying-no-more lip-zipping gesture.

Amy stood up. "Bye, everyone."

They picked up Thai food on their way home and ate it while watching small children make complex foods out of sardines and bleu cheese. When they were done, Jake threw away the boxes and they switched to watching people build what they called "tiny houses," although to Amy they were "normal Manhattan apartment floor plans."

"Ah yes," Jake said, settling into his corner of the couch and wrapping his arm around Amy's shoulders. "Dating, Jake and Amy style."

Amy felt a tiny pang of regret. She still wanted the pretty clothes, the culture, the foods eaten off real plates. It was a challenge, and she hated backing down on those. But she was too happy to care.

Well. Too happy to care a whole lot, anyway.

~

The next week was hell, mostly because Madeleine Wuntch was on the warpath with Major Crimes in her sights, following an expose on unsolved murders in Brooklyn. Amy got assigned a number of cold cases, including one so old she had to go into the basement to pull its file and fight off a spider that had been using it as a home. By Friday, she was actually glad she had no dates planned for the weekend -- she couldn't face another crisis.

Jake texted her at noon. Taking the afternoon off, Charles is dropping me off. Amy just nodded wearily and went back to trying to call the nursing home where the victim's daughter was currently living. And where they apparently didn't believe in answering phones.

At five, she packed up her stuff, including a couple of files she planned to just maybe look at this weekend, definitely not work on, and texted Jake. Should I pick up food?

Nah, he sent back, so Amy went home.

She opened the door, dropped her bag, and stared, because almost the entire Nine Nine team was there, standing in the middle of -- her living room? It looked different, mostly because someone had put a LOT of purple velvet over most of her stuff. Terry smiled and called, "Jake? JAKE?"

Jake poked his head out of the bedroom. "Hi, honey, we're going to do Netflix" -- he winced, like someone out of sight had punched him, and changed what he was saying -- "we are going to have a date, except without the potential for disaster."

Terry nodded and whipped one of the velvet drapes off something that turned out to be an easel pad. It was open to a page that read OPERATION: GOOD DATE.

"I came up with the name," Terry told her.

Captain Holt said, "I suggested Operation: Another Valentine, but I was" -- he shifted his gaze to Terry -- "overruled."

"I love Operation: Another Valentine," Amy said loyally.

"I'm sure you appreciate the poem it references," Captain Holt said, "far more than these philistines do."

"You explained the reference," Terry said. "Twice. I just don't think it's the right tone."

"Look," Rosa snapped. "I'm the one who planned this, I get final say on the mission name. 'Good Date' is better than some stupid poetry name." Charles cleared his throat, and she added, "And it's also better than Red Hot Loving Night, which was our other option."

"Yeah, I think we should definitely go with whatever you've chosen and not think about Charles's choice anymore at all," Amy said hastily.

"Thank you," Terry said patiently, and flipped over the page. The next one said: Step One: Pretty Clothes. "I think Gina's basically done with Jake," he said. "You're up next."

"This is why I just wear leather jackets," Rosa told Amy.

"Well, sometimes I like to look pretty," Amy said. "Uh. Not that you're not pretty in a leather jacket! Because you are! But, like, dressing up just -- it makes everything seem" --

"Go get dressed," Captain Holt said firmly. Amy shot him a grateful look -- maybe he wasn't her mentor anymore, exactly, but he was a consistent provider of excellent, clear, appropriate direction -- and went to the bedroom.

When she walked in, she said, "Wow." Wow, first, because Jake looked fantastic -- she was really damn sure he hadn't previously owned a suit that fit him that well. It fit him like -- like -- it fit him really well.

And also wow because the bedroom looked like a clothes-focused tornado had hit it.

The tornado in question was sitting on the bed, wearing a shirt that said "fashion goddess" in rhinestones and taking a selfie. "Okay," Gina said when she finished. "Jake, you look as good as I can make you. Time for me to work my magic yet again." After a pause, she added, "That means go away, Jake."

Jake opened his mouth, appeared to calculate the odds of winning the argument, and closed it again. He left.

"Okay, I already went through your entire wardrobe," Gina said.

"I can tell." Amy eyed the room helplessly, wondering how long it would take her to clean it up.

"Oh, don't worry about this." Gina didn't explain why she shouldn't worry about it, but right then she reached over and pulled out -- oh god.

"Um, I can't wear that," Amy said. "I never even took the tags off it, I'm probably going to return it, it's -- I can't wear that." She'd bought it online in a fit of late-night optimism, tried it on once, and realized she could never wear it anywhere. She only still had it because she felt bad about returning it.

"Don’t worry your pretty little head," Gina said. "I took the tags off for you. Now, do you want me to put this on you, or do you want to go in there" -- she gestured to the bathroom -- "and do it yourself?"

"The thing is," Amy said, "it makes me look, uh. You know, it's just not me. I'm more of a classic, elegant, um, not that dress kind of woman."

"I know, but the goal today is pretty, not boring." Amy tried to think of how to convince her, but Gina barreled on. "Okay, so that's a vote for 'Gina puts it on Amy,' fine, I can make this work."

"No!" Amy said. She grabbed the dress, to the extent that it could even be called that, from Gina and fled into the bathroom.

"I'm not through with you!" Gina called after her; Amy could tell just from the sound of her voice that she was already looking at her phone.

Thirty minutes later, Amy emerged from her bedroom wearing a look Gina had described, without shame, as "mermaid princess, but sexier." The team applauded; Amy would have bowed, but she was afraid key body parts would fall out of her top if she did. She did feel kind of like a princess, though.

And then she caught Jake staring at her, his mouth slightly open, and -- well. That was the whole point of pretty clothes, so. She was almost ready to forgive Gina for the whole fashionista terrorist routine.

"Okay," Terry said. "Thank you for joining us, Amy, we can now move on." He flipped the page to Step Two: Romantic Dinner.

"Charles is on it," he explained.

"Five more minutes!" Charles called from the kitchen. "I wasn't expecting you to dress this quickly, it's throwing my timing off."

Amy thought for a moment about pomegranate honey locusts, and then she realized she was in her own apartment. If there were locusts for dinner, she could have butter chicken and biryani at the door in twenty minutes, and she already had good beer. She felt something in her relax at that realization. "Okay," she said. "What next?"

Terry flipped the page to Step Three: Cultural Activities, and Captain Holt cleared his throat. "Kevin and I," he said, "have prepared a selection of classic movies for you to choose from, taking into account ratings from the American Film Institute and four pre-eminent movie critics; we also consulted the film department at Columbia. We have silent and black and white options, and a full selection of subtitled works by Kurosawa, Fellini, and Bergman."

"Awesome!" Jake said, in an extremely fake voice. "I sure do love -- uh, Fellman."

Captain Holt continued smoothly, "We also included Die Hard, in case the two of you began to miss the inevitable disasters that accompany your dates."

Amy vowed that she would watch all of the movies they picked and definitely improve her mind and become cultured. Just…maybe not tonight. Die Hard was comforting. All the disasters got fixed.

Terry flipped over another page. Step Four: Peace and Quiet. "Rosa?"

"Okay, so I planned this, but I don't do," and Rosa gestured to the room at large. "The romantic stuff. So I'm staking out your apartment tonight. No one's going to commit a crime anywhere near you. No hostages, no robberies, none of that." Terry nudged her, and she added, "Also, I blackmailed Stensen into covering Major Crimes tonight, and Terry's taking the overnight supervisor shift to make sure neither of you gets called in."

Amy sniffled, honestly touched. She felt fingernails digging into the back of her neck. "My makeup is my art, and you will not destroy my art," Gina hissed at her, and Amy felt the urge to cry receding.

"Thank you," she said helplessly.

"Okay," Charles yelled from the kitchen. "Dinner is served, and I mean right now."

Jake walked up to Amy and offered her his arm. "Can I escort you in to dinner, madam?" he said in what he probably thought of as a British accent.

"Please do, sir," she said, making a stab at a southern accent that probably didn't work out at all either.

"Yeah," he said. "I'm gonna show my lady a good time." Rosa cleared her throat. "With some help!"

Amy pressed a little closer to him, and Jake wrapped his arm around her.

"Okay," Rosa said. "We're out of here."

"I just want to show them how to approach the soufflés --" Charles said, but he didn't get to finish, because Rosa was bodily yanking him out of the apartment. Amy saw Terry pick up the easel and carry it out, and then she stopped paying attention, because, hey, this was her date.

They had fancy soufflés to eat, a classic action movie to watch, and some gorgeous clothes to take off later.

Perfect.