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everything is easier when you're home

Chapter Text

Amy Santiago loves her new apartment. One bedroom, one bathroom, good neighborhood and decent rent. One thing she does not love? Her neighbors. More precisely, whoever lives in the apartment that shares a paper thin wall with hers.

She has been living there for less than three days, and, in that short period of time, they have managed to infuriate her. And what makes everything even worse is that they are messing with her carefully planned sleep schedule. She probably would be just annoyed if it wasn’t for that.

The very first night, after a long day of unpacking, she was sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and a long lost book she had found while putting everything away, when she was interrupted by music coming from the adjoining apartment. And it was loud . She checked the time. 10:04 pm. There were still 26 minutes before she would go to bed, and she was sure that the music would have definitely stopped by then. No one listens to music that loud at such hours. So she tried not to think too much of it at first and continue with her things. Focusing on the book was impossible, though. She was completely distracted by what had started as rap and then morphed into Taylor Swift (her neighbors definitely had an odd taste in music).

As 10:30 neared, she started to think that maybe it would not stop anytime soon. And that was going be a problem. Even if her room was on the other side of the apartment and none of its walls were shared, she could still hear the music from there - not as loud as from the living room, but loud enough to prevent her from sleeping.

Still, she got into bed in an attempt to fall asleep at her regular time. She had the next day off, but there were lots of boxes left to unpack, so sleeping in was not an option.

She considered complaining about the music right then, but she would be making a terrible first impression. And maybe her neighbors weren’t actually inconsiderate, maybe they thought the apartment was still empty. She would go the following morning, introduce herself, and ask them kindly to never play music this loud again.

It was almost 9 pm when she started hearing movement in the other apartment the next day. She had knocked on the door across the hallway from hers in the morning, but no one answered. She supposed there was no one in the apartment, it was Sunday after all, so she would try again once she heard something.

But she was already wearing her pajamas, and she was comfortable sitting on the couch and watching an incredibly interesting documentary on jellyfish. She decided to go only if it was completely necessary. Luckily for her, there wasn’t much noise, only the muffled sounds of a TV and the occasional beep of a microwave.

That was until the moment she rested her head on the pillow. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but she guessed that the TV was suddenly on full volume (how else would she be able to hear it from her bedroom?) and some kind of action scene was on.

If she hadn’t been in bed, she would already be knocking on her neighbor’s door. But she was tired, and her bed was warm and comfortable, and whatever they were watching would be over eventually, right? She sighed deeply after she heard a loud explosion coming from the TV. This was going to be a long night.

That is why she fell asleep way past midnight, why she drank six cups of coffee during the day, and why right now she is knocking on her neighbor’s door (she knows they are home, Orinoco Flow has been on repeat for the past hour).

After knocking for several minutes, louder and louder each time, she finally hears the music stop and just a couple of seconds later the door opens. She is not really sure what she was expecting, but for some reason it definitely wasn’t a grown man of about her age. She’s taken aback for a moment, the words she had carefully planned suddenly forgotten. Confusion is clearly written on his face, and a moment passes before either of them says anything.

“I, um,” Amy starts, “I just moved here.” She points at her door. Maybe it’s because she is sleep deprived, or maybe the insane amount of caffeine running through her system is messing with her thoughts, but she finds her neighbor mildly attractive (okay, very attractive), and she doesn’t want the first thing she says to him to be a complaint.

At her words, the confusion on his face changes to surprise. But he doesn’t say anything, just nods slightly.

“I’m Amy.” She extends her hand towards him. He stares at her hand for a beat, his eyebrows rising even more, but he shakes it anyway.

“I’m Jake.”

She wants to start talking, to say all the things that have been bothering her since she moved, but she can’t find the words. Instead they stare at each other, and Amy is sure she’s never felt this awkward in her entire life.

“Look,” she beings, carefully measuring every word, “I’m sure you are aware of how thin these walls are.”

He nods.

“So,” she continues with more confidence, “you know I can hear the music that you’re listening to.”

He stays still, but she can see the moment he realises where she is going with this. A small smile forms on his face. “So you’re knocking on my door to tell me how impeccable my taste in music is?”

“What? No! First of all, you’ve been playing the same song for the past hour-”

“A great song.”

She rolls her eyes. “And second, I’m here to complain. You have everything at full volume even when it’s late at night, and I can hear it all the way from my room and it won’t let me sleep. First the music, then the TV and now-”

“Wait, wait. When did you move in?”

“On Saturday.”

“Oh.” His smile disappears instantly. Even though she met him literally five minutes ago, she can clearly tell that he’s feeling bad about it. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”

His words are honest, they make Amy’s anger dissipate. She sighs. “It’s okay, but please keep the volume down from now on.”

He nods, and, slowly, a smile reappears on his face. “You know, Mrs. Stevens never complained about the noise.”

“I’m assuming Mrs. Stevens lived here before me?”

“Yeah. She was the best. She was old and I think she couldn’t hear properly so I could have my music as loud as I wanted to and at whatever time I liked, she never said anything about it,” he sighs dramatically. “But she’s gone now.”

“Did she die ?”

“What? No! She just moved. Geez, you have dark thoughts.”

She rolls her eyes again. “Okay, well, she’s not living here anymore, I am, and I can hear what happens in your apartment and you can hear what happens in mine. So can we just please agree to keep the volume down, especially at night?”

He strokes his chin pretending to be considering his answer. Amy sighs deeply. She’s tired; she knows he is doing this to annoy her, and she’s not sure how much longer she can take it (although she may have had to hold back a smile at some point in their conversation, and his thinking face is actually cute).

“Fine,” he finally says, just as dramatically as she was expecting.

Chapter Text

Jake sticks to their agreement. The following couple of days are relatively quiet - Amy can still hear things coming from his apartment, but they are never loud enough to be heard from her bedroom, and she can only make out what they are if she actually pays attention to them. She can live with this. She is pretty sure this is a huge change for him, having to be quiet, and she really, really , appreciates the effort he is making.

She has only run into him once since their short exchange. She was coming back from work, later than usual because her captain had asked her to double check the paperwork the most recent detective had done. While she was trying to unlock her door, struggling to fit the key since she was carrying three bags of groceries as well as her purse, he opened the door with the intention of going out.

He seemed to be rushing out, but stopped short the moment he saw her. “Do you need help with that?” he asked once he realized what she was trying to do.

“No, I’m fine,” she answered. Her keys chose that precise moment to slip from her hands, the loud clash echoing on the hallway.

She tried to pick them up, but he beat her to it. She snatched the keys from his hand and went back to what she was doing.

He stood there, watching her intently as she juggled the bags and attempted to unlock the door. Amy could feel his gaze on her, and that annoyed her more and more by the second.

“Weren’t you going out?” she asked, exasperated.

“Uh, yeah.” Before he could turn and walk away, one of her bags slipped from her grip, but he was fast and caught it before it could hit the floor.

She sighed in frustration. She was not really angry at him, she knew he was just trying to help, but she was having a very long, very tiring day. Work had been particularly stressful, she had been stuck in traffic for ages, and her mom had called her to say that she had found the perfect man to set her up with, which then had led to a conversation in which she had to give her mom an explanation for not wanting to go out with her aunt’s yoga instructor’s brother.

Before she could notice it, he was holding all her bags. She opened the door then, stepped inside, and put her purse on the table. When she turned back towards him, he was standing on the doorway, doubting whether he should come in or not.

“You can put these there,” she said from her spot, pointing at the table.

He nodded, and, hesitatingly, stepped inside. He moved towards the table and carefully placed the bags on it.

“Thank you.” Her voice was low and shy. She was feeling terrible because of the way she had treated him, especially since he had only been trying to help.  

“No biggie.” He shrugged.

There was a small smile on his face and she found herself returning it.

“I’m gonna go now,” he said after a moment, pointing at the open door. “See you around.”

She just nodded and watched as he walked out, closing the door behind him.

The sudden loud music coming from his apartment snaps her back to the present. It’s not that late (she probably should start making dinner soon) so she has no right to complain, but she is surprised. Not by the volume of the music but by the choice of song. In the past few days she got to know Jake’s taste in music, and as weird as it was, it did not include showtunes. Memory from Cats is blasting through the wall and she can’t stop the chuckle that escapes her.

“Charles! Turn it down!” she hears Jake yell not twenty seconds later.

The music stops then, and she hears another voice saying: “But I always choose the music while cooking!”

That explains the song. But now she is intrigued by who this Charles is, and she knows she should not eavesdrop on Jake, but is it really her fault if she is just sitting on her couch and she happens to hear a conversation?

“I know that,” Jake says. “I didn’t say turn it off , I said turn it down .”

There is silence, and moments later the song starts again, the volume significantly lower than before, and Amy has to put all her focus on what is happening on the other apartment to make out what they are saying.

“Why do you suddenly care about it? I’ve heard your music playing all the way from my apartment.”

“Okay first of all that’s impossible, you live two floors up and on the other side of the building, and second,” his voice lowers significantly, and Amy struggles to hear the last part, “someone moved in next door and she’s already complained once, I don’t want to bother her again.”

A smile forms on Amy’s face at his words.

“You have a new neighbor?”

“Yeah.” His voice is even lower than before, just above a whisper, and she can’t believe these walls are so thin that she she is actually able to hear that (she makes a mental note to be as quiet as possible if she doesn’t want to be heard).

“Ooooh, I see what’s going on here.”

“Shut up, Charles.”

“I didn’t say anything!” he answers in a much higher tone than normal and Amy can barely hold back her laughter.

They don’t speak again after that. Amy finds herself enjoying the soft background music, and after a moment, she picks up the book lying on the coffee table and resumes her reading.

She is not really sure how much time passes. She is completely absorbed by the book, the conversation on the other side of the wall forgotten. A soft tap on her door makes her look up.

When she opens it, it is not the man standing in front of her that catches her attention instantly, it is the fact that Jake’s door is completely open and she can see inside his apartment. He is nowhere to be found, though.

“Hello!” the man says a bit too enthusiastically. “I was just wondering-”

“Charles, where are you?” Jake almost yells from somewhere inside his apartment. A couple of seconds later he’s standing on his doorway. “I told you it didn’t matter-” he starts, but freezes the moment he sees Amy. “I, um, hey.”

“Hi,” she answers, softly.

After a beat, he turns back to Charles. “Can we go back inside, please?”

“No, Jake, wait.” He turns to Amy. “I’m Charles, I live on the 6B.” He extends his hand and she shakes it.

“I’m Amy.”

“I was wondering,” Charles begins, “if you happened to have some salt? I’m cooking dinner for Jake and the salt is a key ingredient.”

“It doesn’t make any difference!” Jake complains.

“It enhances the flavor! I need salt!”

Jake sighs in frustration but doesn’t say anything more.

“I’m gonna go check, hold on,” Amy says and goes back inside her apartment.

She goes straight to the cabinet where she usually puts the salt, but is completely shocked to find that there is no more left. She doesn’t really remember the last time she used it, she is not one to cook much, and when it comes to food, she doesn’t really think about what she has and what she does not have, she eats mostly takeout or whatever ready meal she is in the mood for.

That’s when she notices the box of baking soda hiding in one of the corners of the second shelf in the cabinet. That will do.

She grabs the box, adds salt to her grocery list, and returns to where Charles and Jake are waiting for her.

“I ran out of salt,” Amy says, “but I found this.” She hands the box of baking soda to Charles.

He is taken aback by the box, examines it for a moment, and then turns back to Amy. “Um, why are you giving me this?”

“You can use it to replace the salt,” she says, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“WHAT?” Charles screeches.

Amy is so confused by his reaction that she takes a few steps back. She looks at Jake but he just shrugs.

“Do you really think that salt and baking soda are interchangeable?” Charles asks in disbelief.

“Yeah,” she answers, not doubting her answer for even a second.

Charles stares at her for a moment as if trying to tell if she is being serious or not, and when he realizes she does, in fact, think that baking soda and salt are no different, his face changes completely and Amy is scared that he might be in some kind of pain, the box of baking soda he was holding falling to the floor with a soft thud.

“Oh my god,” Charles mutters, leaning against the wall.

Amy is perplexed by the entire situation, and the amused expression on Jake’s face is not helping. Her gaze alternates from one man to the other until Charles starts breathing in and out dramatically, in an act of trying to calm down.

Jake moves to his side and starts patting him on the shoulder. “Buddy, it’s okay.”

“No, Jake, it is not okay!” Charles yells. “Listen,” he says to Amy, his voice back to a normal level, “I don’t know where you got that from but it is wrong , and, honestly, I’m scared for your life when it comes to food.”

Jake chuckles, and Amy gives him an angry look. She is about to say something to him, but Charles beats her to it. “I don’t know what you find so funny. I know what you consider to be edible food, and let me tell you that a spoonful of mayonnaise sprinkled with peanuts is definitely not it.”

“Mayo nut spoonsies”

“It doesn’t matter! It’s not food!”

Amy’s face crinkles in disgust. At least she knows what a healthy meal is.

“Anyway,” Charles continues, speaking to Amy, “as I was saying, I’m scared for your life so I’m going to take matters into my own hands and bring you food every other day like I do with Jake here,” he pauses, but after seeing the look on Amy’s face he adds, “if you’re okay with that.”

“Um, sure.”

“Didn’t your mom teach you not to trust strangers?” Jake asks, clearly teasing her.

Before she can say anything, Charles punches Jake on the arm.

“Ow! What was that for?” he exclaims while rubbing the spot where Charles hit him.

Charles doesn’t answer him, instead, he speaks directly to Amy. “Don’t listen to him, I’m not going to kill you, I promise . Please let me cook for you,” he begs.

She sees Jake laughing silently, and she just nods. She has a feeling Charles won’t drop it until she agrees.

“GREAT!” Charles  yells. He then looks at his watch. “Did you have dinner already?”

“No, I was just about to-”

“Why don’t you come eat with us? I’m making homemade mac and cheese and there is definitely enough for three.”

“Uh…” she is not sure what to answer. She knows he is cooking at Jake’s, she is almost certain they’re eating there too. This man who she has known for less than ten minutes is inviting her to another man’s apartment (who she has known for less than a week). Normally there would be a thousand red flags screaming inside her brain but she has a deep feeling within her that she can actually trust them. She is not really sure where this feeling is coming from or what it is based on, but she trusts her gut. She looks at Jake, trying to see if he is fine with having her over (it is his apartment after all), but his face is unreadable. She assumes that if he was really against it he would have said something. “Okay,” she answers.

It’s strange being in Jake’s place. Their apartments are symmetric, making her feel like Alice when she went through the looking glass. She was expecting him to be way messier than what she sees. Everything is actually well kept, except for the occasional pair of sneakers on the floor and a hoodie hanging from the armrest of an armchair. She notices that the couch is set against the wall that he shares with her, like hers is, and she has a feeling that if each of them were sitting on their couch, they could probably have a conversation through the wall. She sees the huge Die Hard poster then, hanging above the couch - how she missed it until then, she doesn’t know (it is big ).

Dinner is way better than she would have ever expected. Charles is an amazing cook. They end up having a saltless version of mac and cheese, which is not much different from the original - though Charles complains multiple times about how much better it would have been if he had used salt, also, what kind of person runs out of salt ? (that was addressed towards both of them).

When they are finished, Charles offers to clean up, but Jake dismisses him. “Charles, like every single time, I’m not going to let you do the dishes, you’ve already done too much. You can go home.”

“But, Jakey, I wanna clean up.”

“You don’t have to. Look, Amy’s here with me, she will help me.”

Charles sighs deeply, tries to come up with an excuse to stay, but after Jake insists, he leaves, reluctantly.

Once the door closes behind him, Jake turns to Amy, “You don’t actually have to help me with the dishes, that was just to make him go. If you don’t stop him on time, he will clean up the whole apartment.”

Amy chuckles. “It’s okay, I was going to offer help anyway. Did he really meant it earlier when he said he would bring me food?”

“Oh yes. There’s no joking with Charles when it comes to food. But as you just witnessed, he’s an excellent cook. And don’t worry, he will not try to kill you, he’s just a great friend. Some advice, though, let him know what kind of food you like best because if you don’t, he’s gonna choose what to cook and he’s into very weird and very gross things.”

“I’m sure it can’t be that bad.”

“I once saw him eat a bag of octopus balls”



Amy starts picking up the plates from the coffee table (that’s where they ate, because he doesn’t own an actual table), and Jakes joins her seconds after. They take everything into the kitchen sink, and Amy is about to start washing when Jake stops her.

“It’s fine, I’ll do the washing tomorrow, you don’t have to bother.”

Amy frowns. “Are you going to leave the dishes here overnight?”


“Jake, you shouldn’t do that! The plates will be harder to clean because the cheese will stick to them, and also billions of bacteria can gather there with time and that’s incredibly unhealthy. You know what, let me just clean them now.” She turns towards the sink right then, missing the smile that forms on his face.

She washes in silence. She can feel his eyes on her, though she can’t actually see him as he is standing behind her, in the kitchen doorway. Washing the dishes doesn’t take her long, she is finished just a couple of minutes later.

“I had fun tonight, thank you for having me,” she says once she’s ready to leave.

“You know, you should actually be thanking Charles. He was the one who asked you to come, and the one who cooked.”

“I know, and I’m going to thank him later too. But this is your apartment, so thank you.”

“No problem.”


Chapter Text

During the following couple of months, Amy sees Jake on a regular basis. She runs into him multiple times while coming home from work ( never in the morning though - that is the only time of day when he never makes a single sound), she usually sees him when Charles brings them food (she knows he knocks on both doors at the same time - she has a feeling he is trying to make them see each other), and one time Charles even invites them to have dinner at his place.

It never happens. They end up back at her apartment, both men trying to help her cope with her allergies because Charles forgot to mention he has three dogs (“Oh my god, Charles! You were trying to kill her!”).

She and Jake never really get to talk much, their meetings rarely last more than a few minutes, but she always finds herself smiling after seeing him, even if all he does in that short time is tease her.

She has been binge watching Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, one of her favorite shows ever, since she got back from work. She has the next two days off, so she is not really worried about staying up late (she cannot stop watching, the show is so good ).

It is way past midnight when she hears movement in the hallway. She had heard Jake leaving earlier, so she assumes it’s just him coming back. But instead of the sound of his door opening and closing, there is a loud bang on her door. Then silence, and then, “Damn it!”

It is Jake’s voice, so she pauses the show and gets up, ready to tell him to leave her alone. Doesn’t he know what time it is? What on earth could he possibly want that cannot wait till morning?

When she opens the door, he is sitting on the floor, his back resting against the wall, defeated. His face transforms into pure confusion the moment he sees her. He stares at her for a beat, head tilted, glassy eyes narrowed, as if he had found a sock in a kitchen cabinet, completely clueless about what it is doing there or where it came from.

“Who are you?” he asks, his words slightly slurred. He struggles to get up but manages to do it in the end, thanks to the support the wall provides.

Amy sighs, exasperated. The last thing she needs is a very drunk Jake knocking on her door in the middle of the night. She would have closed the door already, if the look of utter confusion on his face wasn’t so adorable.

“What are you doing in my apartment? How did you get in?” he asks when she doesn’t answer his first question.

“This is my apartment. Yours is over there,” she says, pointing to his door.

He turns, stares at it in disbelief, turns back towards her, and nods intently. “That’s my door.”

She sighs deeply in an attempt to hide the smile that slowly starts to form on her face. “Jake, go to sleep.”

He gasps, his eyes widening with shock. “How do you know my name?” he asks, taking a step back and almost falling. “Are you a psychic?”

“No, I’m not.” She can’t believe he is so drunk that he forgot who she is. “You really should go to sleep.”

“I don’t have my keys.”

There is no use asking him where he left them, he would not remember it in this state. The best option she can think of is letting him inside her apartment, sober him up, and then help him find the keys.

“Why don’t you come in?” His brow furrows so she adds, “We can look for them inside.”

He nods, like his keys being inside her apartment was a possibility he had not considered. She lets him in, and before she closes the door behind him, he is already sitting on the couch (not exactly sitting , more like sprawling).

She fills a glass with water and goes back to where he is. “How much did you drink?” she asks, finding a free spot on the couch and sitting next to him.

“I uh…” He thinks for a moment. “I had one beer, and then another.” He seems to be in deep thought so Amy just stares at him, waiting for him to continue. “Then Rosa wanted to do tequila shots.”

“How many did you do?” She does not know who this Rosa is. In all the times they have spoken, Jake never mentioned any of his friends; but that is not really important right now.

“Three,” he says, showing her said number of fingers, and then adds “and Gina bought me one of those fruity drinks she likes.”

Amy nods. “Is that all?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Okay. Drink this.” She carefully places the glass in his hand, making sure he is holding it properly so he will not spill its content on him or on the couch.

He does as she says, gulping down the water as if it was his very first drink in a particular sweltering day of summer. After putting the glass on the table, he shifts his position so that he is facing her and leans his head against the backrest of the couch. Amy stares at him from her spot; she can already tell that his eyes are a bit more focused than just a few minutes earlier.

“You’re very pretty,” he says.

Amy rolls her eyes, he’s still very drunk, he is not thinking his words through. And he probably will not remember any of this in the morning. Her cheeks get warm, though.

“I’m serious, you’re the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen.”

Her face is burning now, a small part of her brain telling her that, by the way he is looking at her, he really does mean it. But she chooses to ignore it. His words are considerably less slurred, she doesn’t have to struggle to understand what he is saying anymore, so she takes a shot and asks, “Do you remember where you put your keys?”

“In the pocket of my jacket.” His answer comes instantly, surprising her.

“And where’s your jacket?” He is not wearing it, and he most certainly does not have it with him.

“I don’t know.”

“When did you take it off?”

“At the bar, it was hot in there.”

“Did you pick it up before leaving?”

Realization washes over him. “No.” He frowns.

“Maybe one of your friends saw it and took it?”

He nods slowly.

“Why don’t you call someone and ask?”

“My phone was in the jacket as well.”

Amy sighs deeply. She watches as he wraps his arms around himself and bows his head slightly. She can tell he is feeling terrible for losing his jacket, he is seconds away from crying.

“It’s okay,” she starts, placing her hand on his shoulder, “we’ll look for it in the morning. You can stay here in the meantime.”

He nods, slowly at first and then more steadily. “Thank you, you’re the best.” He leans towards her, wraps his arms around her shoulders and hugs her tightly. She is completely taken by surprise, but the hug is warm and she finds herself enjoying the feeling of his arms around her.

When the hug is over and he is back sitting on his side of the couch, she stands up and grabs the glass on the table. “I’m gonna get you more water.”

He drinks it all the moment Amy hands him the glass. She watches him as he closes his eyes and leans back. He is most definitely spending the night at her place, there is no way they can find his jacket before morning, so Amy decides to go get him something he can change into, she has a special drawer for the clothes her brothers leave behind when they visit her - it’s almost full, they always forget something.

When she gets back to the living room, she finds him lying on the couch humming to himself. His eyes are still closed, one arm dangling from the side of the couch, the other holding an invisible microphone. The humming slowly intensifies, and before she knows it he’s singing My Heart Will Go On at the top of his lungs. What comes out of his mouth is not precisely a nice sound; he’s practically yelling, loud screeches way off key replacing the highest notes.

Amy just stares at him, eyebrows raised, mouth open, unable to look away from the performance taking place in front of her.

He switches songs right in the middle of the chorus, which results in an odd mashup of Celine Dion and Smash Mouth. Amy bursts into laughter the moment she hears him sing the first words of All Star. He doesn’t seem to notice her, though, all his focus on the song. He finishes the first verse; babbles the second part, the words fusing into something incomprehensible; and the moment he makes it to the chorus, he jerks to the side and falls off the couch into the space between it and the coffee table.

Amy’s laughter intensifies, tears forming in her eyes, and she gasps in an attempt to catch her breath. It’s not easy, though. Jake’s head pops up from behind the table, laughing along with her, and that only makes her laugh more.

A few minutes pass, both of them laughing uncontrollably, Jake sitting on the floor, Amy glued to the spot where she was standing the very first moment she saw him. After what seems like hours, the laughs slowly start to die down.

She walks towards him, still smiling, and places the clothes she chose for him on the table. He is staring at her from the floor, glassy eyes fixed on her, a broad smile on his face.

“That was… something” she says.

“If you think my singing is good,” he says as he gets up, “just wait till you hear me rapping.”

Before she can say something, before she can even begin to produce a word, he starts rapping No Diggity. Tries to rap No Diggity. The words come out in a jumble, a series of unintelligible sounds that are not in the slightest similar to the actual words of the song. Amy only identifies it because even as drunk as he is, he somehow has some rhythm.

At one point, and she is not really sure when, he stands on the couch, invisible microphone back in hand. His words are more clear when the song is slower, but still, they are closer to being screams than actual rapping (she is almost certain that the other people on their floor are able to hear him, even if their apartments are the only ones on this side). It is clear that he is feeling like the greatest rapper in the world.

He loses his balance after stepping on a cushion, but somehow manages to avert the fall. He just laughs it off and proceeds with the song, but Amy almost has a heart attack then; for a second she could see him plummeting to the floor and landing face first.

“Jake,” she says loud enough for him to hear over his own voice. He stops short. The look on his face reminds her of a toddler who just got caught doing something they were warned not to do. “Don’t stand on the couch,” she begs.

He nods and, with extreme care, sits down.

“Change into these, you’ll be more comfortable,” Amy says, pointing to the small pile of clothes.

He nods one more time, stands up, and starts undressing right then and there.

She stares at him for a moment, unable to move, until she becomes aware of what is happening. It is her fault, really. Since he got here, he has been doing everything she told him to. She should have realized that he would do exactly as she said. Her instructions should have been more clear. Go get changed in the bathroom . But they weren’t, and she now has a shirtless Jake standing in her living room, trying to put a shirt on, struggling to find the right hole to put his head through. She knows she should give him some privacy, and she does not wanna look, she really doesn’t, but he is right there (and he is attractive).

No more than five seconds later, the rational part of her brain catches up with what is happening. “I’m gonna get you more water,” she practically screams, before grabbing the empty glass standing on the table and rushing to the kitchen. She’s going to stay there until he is changed, she decides. She fills the glass with water and waits.

She doesn’t move for what seems like ages; she wants to make sure he is completely dressed once she goes back to the room, so she lingers long enough for him to have changed outfits multiple times. Before leaving the kitchen, she peeks through the doorway. He’s sitting on the couch, dressed , softly humming to himself, oblivious to his surroundings.

She slowly walks into the living room, Jake’s face lighting up the moment he sees her. He put on the shirt inside out, she notices, but makes no comment. Instead, she just smiles at him. After putting the glass on the table in front of him, she sees the messy heap of clothes on the floor and her instincts take over.

She is just finishing folding his clothes when he asks if he can have her phone. It’s a strange request, especially given the time (when did it get this late?) - maybe he just remembered someone’s number and wants to make sure his jacket is safe and sound? - so she fishes it out of her pocket and gives it to him.

But then again, he is drunk , and she should really stop thinking he is going to do the predictable thing. He automatically opens the camera app and takes a selfie. And then another. And then another. And another.

“Is that what you wanted it for?” she asks, placing the neatly folded pile of clothes on the table, next to the now empty glass.

“Yeah,” he answers, and pats the space next to him. “Come here.”

She sighs but does as he says. Once she is sitting, he shifts, adjusting himself so both of them fit into the screen.

“Okay, first one just smiling,” he says, waits until she is ready, and takes a picture (and two more just in case).

“Now, weird faces!” He starts taking ten pictures per second, making faces in each of them, never the same twice. He is so fast that Amy can’t react on time, she looks the same in all the pictures, half clueless and half amused. He stops the moment he realizes this.

“Why aren’t you making faces?” he asks, his voice showing the smallest glint of sadness.

“Because you’re not giving me enough time!”

“That’s the point . You don’t have to overthink it, just do whatever! Like this.” He takes a few more pictures of only him, trying hard to show her what she has to do.

“Okay, fine, I got it,” she says, moving closer to him so as to fit on the screen.

He takes an approximate of sixty pictures and only stops thanks to a yawn he tries to avoid but fails. That is the moment when Amy really notices how tired she is, she feels the long day she has had in every muscle of her body.

“I think that’s enough for tonight,” she says, taking the phone from his hand. He wants to complain, but she speaks before he can make a sound, “Jake, it’s really late.” She is met with a sad puppy looking face, and as adorable as it is, the thought of her bed in the next room takes over her. “We can go on in the morning,” (he’s probably not going to remember it anyway). He just nods his head in agreement.

“Okay, so, you can sleep on the couch, it turns into a bed. The bathroom is over there, the door on the right,” she says, signaling the doorway of the tiny corridor that leads to the bathroom and to her bedroom. She is sure he already knows where the rooms are, given the similarities between their apartments, but she tells him anyway, just in case. “I’m gonna go get you some sheets and a blanket.” She turns but pauses on the way to her room. “If you want anything from the kitchen, just get it, no need to ask.”

She sees him nod one last time before disappearing into her room. She is used to her family visiting her (usually without telling her in advance), so she has all the things a guest might need clean and ready to be used. It doesn’t take her long to get everything, and when she returns to the living room, Jake is standing in the kitchen doorway, glass of water in hand.

“Did you know that they didn’t actually use a real alien on E.T.?” he asks.

She is taken aback by the question, especially because the seriousness on his face shows that he is not joking; he truly believes that what he just said is a groundbreaking discovery.

“Really?” She decides to go along with it.

“Yeah,” he says, walking towards the couch and sitting, “and there weren’t any real dinosaurs on Jurassic Park either.” He takes a sip from the glass he's still holding. “It’s so disappointing.”

“Well, I suppose that’s because finding one of those is not exactly easy .”

“I guess.” He shrugs.

He finishes the water while Amy moves the coffee table to the side so as to have enough room to set the bed. She is about to ask him to get up, but he jumps up before she can say a word.

“What do you need me to do?” he asks, eager to help.

“Nothing, I’m just going to get the bed ready.”

“I bet I can do that faster.” She has no time to react. He takes the bedsheets from her hands and gets everything set in record time. She is impressed.

“Okay, I think you’re all set,” she says. She looks around the room, trying to see if there is something else she needs to do or warn him about. “I’m gonna go sleep, then,” she says when she can’t think of anything.

“I can do that faster!” he yells, dives into the bed, and closes his eyes.

She watches him for a couple of minutes, but he doesn’t move. In normal circumstances she would think that there is absolutely no way he could have fallen asleep the moment he rested his head on the pillow, but after the events of the night, she is not surprised.

She gives him one last look before turning the lights off and going to her room.

When Amy wakes up the next morning and goes to the living room after her morning routine, she sees Jake sleeping soundly in what can only be described as a cocoon of blankets. She doesn’t want to bother him - he should get as much sleep as possible, he is going to have one hell of a hangover - so she goes straight to the kitchen. Like every morning, she starts the coffee machine and picks up her phone with the intention of checking out the news.

She finds herself opening the photos app instead, curious to see the pictures Jake took the previous night. There are well over one hundred and he looks different in every single one of them of them. Her lips curl into a smile that grows bigger and bigger with each picture she looks at. She particularly likes the pictures of just him, the ones he took right when he asked to have her phone (he looks somewhat drunk, but he also looks cute).

A sudden noise makes her look up, soft and steady taps that slowly gain strength and turn into bangs. After listening for a few seconds she realizes that it is someone in the hallway knocking on Jake’s door.

She considers waking him up, but he seems to be in a very deep sleep; she has a feeling it’s going to be impossible no matter how hard she tries. So she goes with her second option - she opens the door.

The woman in the hallway turns to her, looks at Amy up and down, and proceeds with the knocking.

“Um, excuse me,” Amy begins, trying to get the woman’s attention. “Are you looking for Jake?”

“Why would I be knocking on his door if I wasn't?”

“Right. Well, he’s not there. He’s sleeping here.”

A wave of realization washes over the woman’s face. “You’re Amy?”

“Um, yes?”

“Good to see my boy Jake finally got some action. He’s been talking about you non stop for months now.”

“Oh no, no, no, no. You got it all wrong . He’s only here because he didn't have his keys with him. I just let him stay over like any good neighbor would do,” Amy babbles. Jake talks about her to other people?

The woman rolls her eyes. “Whatever. Can I talk to him?”

“He’s still sleeping, actually.”

“Ugh,” she says rather dramatically. “Okay, then. Give him this,” she hands her something Amy didn’t see she was carrying, something that looks very much like a leather jacket, “and tell him that Gina says that the next time he leaves without paying for his drinks she’s going to- you know what? Just tell him to call me, I like to threaten people directly.” She doesn’t wait for Amy to answer. The moment she finishes talking she turns and leaves.

Jake doesn’t wake up for a couple more hours, and Amy can tell when he does by the loud groan she hears coming from the living room. She is reading in her bedroom, the door wide open, so she can see him for a brief moment when he walks by, trudging towards the bathroom.

She is in the kitchen when he emerges, glass of water and aspirin ready for him. He doesn’t seem to be as confused as she expected he would be.

“Had fun last night?” she asks, her voice as low as possible. It still makes him flinch.

“Yeah, it was super dope. At least what I remember.”

She chuckles. “Your friend Gina stopped by earlier,” she says, filling a mug with coffee and placing it in front of him. “She brought your jacket.” He tilts his head in confusion. “You forgot it somewhere, I think. You didn’t have it with you last night. You were really sad about it. And your keys were in the pocket, that’s why you stayed here.”

He looks down, his cheeks slowly turning a light shade of pink. “I’m sorry for anything I might have done. I don’t- I don’t usually get that drunk.”

“Jake, it’s okay.” She smiles at him. “Gina also said you should call her. She seemed pretty angry about you not paying for something.”

He groans. “She knows I can’t pay for everything!” He takes a sip of coffee. “I’m gonna deal with that later.” He stares at her for a moment, his expression a mixture of regret and gratitude. “Thanks for letting me stay.”

“You know, you actually were fun to have around.”

He sighs. “All I can remember is getting the bed ready. Do I wanna know what I did before that?”

She laughs. “I don’t think so.”

Chapter Text

Jake Peralta hates waking up early. Always has. He can’t remember a time where he would do it without complaining, without wanting to sell his soul for another five minutes. His bed is always warmer, cozier in the morning. And even as much as he loves his job, getting up is always one of the worst parts of the day.

He would always arrive late, would always hit the snooze button too many times, or sleep right through the alarm. No one minded it, his work was never affected by him being minutes (hours) late.

That was until Holt became his Captain. Jake can count with his fingers the number of times he has been late in the three years since then; most of those times were during Holt’s first weeks, when Jake didn’t know how serious he was about the job. But still, he never gets to work more than two minutes before he is supposed to.

There is one exception. The one day he is eager to get there, the one day he jumps out of the bed the moment the alarm goes off and arrives at the precinct half an hour earlier. Tactical village day.

Testing new weapons, training situations worthy of an action movie, showing off to other precincts how amazing their squad is, coolest kill trophy (that this year is going to be his ); in his opinion, tactical village day is one of the highlights of being a cop.

He is just closing the door of his apartment, way earlier than any regular day, probably the earliest he has ever left for work, when the door in front of his opens and Amy comes out. In all the time they have been neighbors, well over a year, this is the very first time he has run into her while going to work in the morning (now that he sees at what time she leaves, he understands why).

It’s weird, he thinks, that they have not once talked about their jobs. Whenever they hang out, usually for dinner, their conversation takes off in the most random directions (he knows one of her brothers broke his arm when he was ten trying to do some trick with his bike, he knows she played the french horn in high school, he knows her trivia team is nationally ranked), but for some reason work was a topic they never discussed.

He can’t really guess by her outfit. The pantsuit she is wearing means that she could work in hundreds of different kinds of office, and the fact that she studied art history gives him no clue whatsoever.

“Hey!” she says, surprise written on her face. “You’re up early.”

“Good morning to you too.” Once he locks his door, he turns towards her. “But yes, I am early. I actually wanna arrive at work on time today.”

“Wait,” she says as they start walking down the hallway towards the elevator, “does that mean that you’re always late? Jake, that’s so irresponsible! You need to-”

“Ames, chill. I’m always just on time. If I were always late, they would have fired me, don’t you think?”

“I guess.” She shrugs, the elevator door slowly opening before them.

Once they are both inside, he presses the button with the number one on it. It is not the first time he has been in the elevator with her, but again, it is the first time it happens in the morning, when she doesn’t have a single hair out of place, when she looks (only slightly) sleepy, when he can smell her recently applied perfume thanks to the enclosed space (should he start waking up at this time every day?). “Do you always leave this early?” he asks.

“Yeah, I like to stop for coffee on my way to work.”

“Makes sense. It’s still so much effort, I don’t know how you do it.”

“The secret is not staying up till two in the morning watching TV.”

“I don’t do that,” he says defensively.

“I once heard you yelling about the birth of a rhino in the middle of the night,” she says as the elevator door opens.

“How? Wasn’t that past your bedtime?”

She rolls her eyes and walks out in the direction of the entrance door, Jake only a few steps behind.

The sunshine blinds him for a beat when he steps outside the building, but it doesn’t take long for his eyes to adjust to the change in lightning.

“I’ll see you around,” she says and he just nods. He only half listened to what she said. This is also the first time he has ever seen her outside during daytime, their meetings confined to the interior of the building. He is hypnotized by the effect the sunshine has on her (it’s like she is glowing, and he just can’t take his eyes off of her). “Have a good day,” she adds after a moment of silence when neither of them move from their spot.

Her voice brings him back to reality. “You too,” he says. She smiles, nods, and walks away in the opposite direction he needs to go.

The time it takes Jake and the squad to get to the tactical village location is eternal . First they had to wait at the precinct (Holt was shocked to see Jake already sitting at his desk when he arrived - so shocked that Jake could actually see it on his face), and then New York traffic made everything slower (he needs to thank Rosa later for putting up with his babbling during the ride - she probably didn’t listen to a word he said but at least she didn’t change seats like Terry did), but the moment Jake gets off the bus he feels like a child who was taken to Disneyworld for the very first time.

It takes all in him not to run inside and wait for the squad, and when they finally enter the building he can’t help but yell, “Nine-Nine is in the village!”

Terry leads them to their assigned table where they drop their bags and start getting the equipment ready. They have hours before it is their turn to do the simulation, hours which Jake will spend testing the hundreds of weapons he saw while coming in. He is ready in record time, but stands by the table waiting for Rosa, who he thinks is purposely taking longer than she normally would just to annoy him. It is then when a very, very familiar voice calls his name.

It can’t be- There’s no way- What the hell is she doing here? It takes a moment before his brain can fully process the image of Amy Santiago, his neighbor , standing in front of him, here, in the tactical village, dressed in NYPD clothes that look exactly like his.

“Amy?” he manages to say, still completely dumbfounded by her presence. By the look on her face, he can tell that she is just as confused, just as surprised to see him as he is to see her. “You’re a cop ?”

“Yeah?” she answers, like this is something he should already know. Is he really so unobservant that he completely missed the obvious?

“You never said anything!” he yells, earning a few looks from the people nearby. “We’ve known each other for over a year and I’m finding out this way?”

“You never said anything either! I can’t believe this!”

He sighs deeply, trying to calm down. “Right. I thought my unconditional love for Die Hard made it very clear, but apparently I was wrong.”

She rolls her eyes, but he just laughs. Meeting her here is a weird turn of events. When he woke up that morning he did not have this encounter in mind. Maybe tactical village day is going to be even better than he had anticipated.

“So, tell me, what rank?” he asks, curiosity taking over him.


“Oh my god, samesies! Precinct?”

“8-2, you?”





“I just said that, yes.”

“RAYMOND HOLT IS YOUR CAPTAIN?” she shouts, and people are definitely looking at them now.

He doesn’t really understand what is going on, why she is going crazy like this. She reminds him of the last time he went to a Taylor Swift concert, that’s how much she is freaking out. “Um… yes?” he says slowly, bracing himself for the yelling that is going to follow his words.


“Amy, calm down ,” he says as he places his hands on her shoulders, hoping that would be of some help (she’s practically jumping ).

She takes a deep breath, trying to steady herself. “I’m fine, it’s cool, everything’s cool.” After a few more deep breaths she seems calm enough, so Jake lets his arms fall back to his sides.

“Why is that such a big deal anyway?” he asks, realizing his mistake the moment the last word leaves his mouth.

Amy starts yelling again, her words coming out fast, way too fast for him to understand every single one of them. He does grasp the general idea, though. Holt has solved some of the hardest cases she has ever heard of ( he caught the Disco Strangler, Jake! ), all the people she knows that have worked with him told her that he is incredibly professional and takes his job very seriously, and she would do anything to have the chance to work with him ( I’m gonna make captain someday and I could learn so much if I have him as my mentor! ). Well, maybe she isn’t really talking that fast. Maybe he is just distracted by the fact that her face lights up as she talks, eyes bright, huge smile on her face. It’s contagious.

“You should start a fan club,” he says when she finishes talking (screaming).

She rolls her eyes at him, but the smile never leaves her face.

“Peralta, are you coming or what?” Rosa asks, suddenly standing next to them. She is eyeing Amy, he notices, probably has been since he turned to talk to her, and he can tell that Rosa’s usual scary self is making Amy somewhat nervous.

Instead of giving Rosa a straight answer, he speaks directly to Amy. “Do you wanna come test all the cool weapons with us? I heard there’s one that can shoot around corners. How cool is that?”

“Sure,” she says after a moment of consideration. “I should finish getting my stuff ready first, though. It’ll just take me a minute.”

“No problem, we’ll wait.”

With that, Amy nods and turns, walking in the direction where she left her things.

“You were literally begging me to hurry up not ten minutes ago,” Rosa begins the second Amy is out of earshot, “and now you wanna wait ?”

“It’s just one more minute, it’s not that big of a deal.”

“Yeah, right. Who is that girl?”

Jake sighs. Rosa heard many things about Amy before, not because she wanted to, but because she was always there when Gina asked about her. And Gina only asks because she thinks he is in love with her or something. Which he is not . “My neighbor, Amy,” he answers.

“The one you’re super into?”

“I am not into her! You need to stop hanging out with Gina so much.”

“Why were you making heart eyes at her then? I can see , you know.”

“I was not doing that!”

Rosa rolls her eyes. “Whatever you say.”

He is about to tell her again that no , he is not into Amy, she is just a neighbor that he happened to befriend and whose company he enjoys (which does not mean that he likes her that way) when Amy returns.

“Okay, I’m ready.”

“Let’s go then!”

The moment they step outside Jake darts towards the table where the guns are displayed. There are so many and they all seem so cool , and he gets to test them all , he truly feels like a kid in a candy store.

Amy and Rosa catch up with him a few seconds later. He picks up one of the guns at random, turns to where Amy is examining another, and makes an exaggerated pose with the gun pointing upwards.

“Do I look like John McClane?” he asks, trying to stay as serious as he possibly can in order to imitate the poster he had seen millions of times.

Rosa is behind him, testing one of the biggest guns, so he can’t see her rolling her eyes. He can see Amy though, and she is trying not to smile at him (he can only tell because she is failing horribly).

“No, you don’t,” Amy answers. “Not at all.”

“Oh, come on!” He changes his pose to one he thinks is way more badass. “How about now? I could totally take down twelve terrorists on my own.”


He has seen her like this before, trying to hold back the smile that is already on her face. He is not really sure why she does that, why she tries so hard to hide the obvious - he is not complaining though, she looks adorable whenever she does that.

“Fine!” he says, defeated.

He places the gun back in the table and in the instant he turns away, Amy goes back to examining the one she had picked up earlier.

He watches her for a moment, the way she handles the gun, how she definitely knows what she is doing. It is then when he realizes that there is so much more to her than he had thought. It feels like a revelation to him, an enlightening fact that he is thrilled to have discovered.

She puts down the gun way too soon, or maybe she doesn’t, maybe she examined it thoroughly, but he was so captivated by her that he was not really aware of the passing of time.

Before he knows it, she is standing next to him, an expectant look on her face.

“Aren’t you going to take a look at those?” she asks, glancing towards the table next to them, where the guns are displayed.

“Yeah,” he begins, but pauses before he has the time to turn. Looking at all these cool guns is fun, but being able to try them out is way better. “Actually, I was just thinking about going to the shooting range and practice for a bit. How does that sound?”

“Ooh, that’s way more fun. Yes, let’s go.”

“Shooting paint at cardboard silhouettes, who doesn’t love that?”

“Right?” she says as she nods enthusiastically. “I bet I’m way better at shooting than you,” she adds the moment they start making their way towards the shooting range.

He knows he should ask Rosa to come along as well, Rosa loves shooting at stuff, but she is nowhere to be found. She’s probably inside testing all those weird machines they keep in there. She must have left at some point when Jake was too focused on Amy to notice.

“Really?” he asks. “Get ready to be super disappointed then, because there is no way you’re better than me. I have perfect aim.”

“So do I.”

“I never miss the target.”

“Me neither.”

“Let’s make it an official competition then. Please don’t cry when you lose.”

“Oh, it’s on.”

As much as Jake hates to admit it, and he really, really does (he’s probably never going to say it out loud), Amy is (just slightly) better than him at shooting.

“It’s only because you take five million hours to calculate everything,” he protests. “You don’t have that kind of time in real situations.”

“Just accept that I’m better,” she says smugly. “By the way, after that last one you owe me $50.”

They started betting after the first couple of shots. Amy’s aim was better than his in every single one of them (by mere millimeters), but that wasn’t going to stop him. And as he doesn’t know when to quit, he kept doubling his bets even when it was obvious that he was going to lose (he still had hope, okay?)

“Well, joke’s on you. I don’t have that kind of money.”

“Then you’re gonna have to clean my apartment or something.”

Suddenly the greatest idea ever comes to his mind. The idea for an ultimate bet that will be his redemption and that will allow him to rub his victory on Amy’s face.

“Okay, listen,” he begins, extremely excited about what he is going to say. “If you are so sure you’re this good on the field too, then let's bet on today’s simulation.”

“What do you have in mind?” she asks with interest, curious to see where he is going with this.

“Whoever has a better run wins.”

“But it’s not just us. The entire squad takes part in the simulation.”

“I know, but if you’re so good then you’ll be able to take down all the perps even if the rest of your squad is terrible.”

She frowns. “My squad is not terrible.”

“Let’s bet then.”

She takes a moment to consider it. He knows that if they actually do this, if their bet depends on the entire squad, there is absolutely no way that he is going to lose. His squad is literally the best ever.

“What are we betting?” she asks, which means that she is really thinking of accepting to do this, and that makes him even more excited, something he thought was not possible.

“If you win, I’ll pay you the $50. If I win,” he stops to think. He could easily ask her to give him money, and he actually needs it so it wouldn’t be a bad choice, but where’s the fun in that? He should choose something that she would never do unless she absolutely had to, and something that would be of benefit to him, or at least bring him some kind of satisfaction. The answer comes to him then, his lips curling into a smile that doesn’t stop growing until he is beaming with excitement. “If I win, you’re gonna have to watch all the Die Hard movies with me.”

There is a fraction of a second when she is taken by surprise because that was not was she was expecting, but she quickly washes it away. “Okay, but I don’t really care about the money, honestly. And you probably won’t give it to me anyway.”

“What do you wanna bet then?”

“If you’re gonna make me watch a bunch of movies, it’s only fair that I do the same thing, right?” He nods and she goes on. “So, if I win, I’m making you watch all the Harry Potter movies.”

“Alright,” he says, nodding excitedly. He extends his hand and she shakes it ( why is her handshake so firm? ). “Let the best squad win!”

The 8-2 does the simulation first. From the moment it started, Jake has not been able to stop thinking of what could possibly be going on in there. They don’t get to know the details of the simulation until it’s their turn to go in, and thousands of different scenarios are going through his mind.

This is the first time the 9-9 has been paired up with the 8-2 and though he is completely, absolutely positive that he is going to win the bet, he still wants, needs , to know what he is up against.

Fifteen minutes after the simulation started (who’s counting? Not him) Terry tells the squad to assemble. He starts talking, reminding all of them of the essentials - do this, don’t do that - but Jake is only half listening to him.

He goes on for what seems like forever, until he is interrupted by a loud buzz, followed by the door opening, and the 8-2 walking out.

Jake looks up instantly, searching for Amy. She comes out last, smugness written all over her.

“We had a perfect run,” she says the moment she comes face to face with him. “And I think we set a course record, so good luck with that.”

“I don’t need luck, I have skills!” he yells at her as she walks away. He is pretty sure she just laughed.

“What was that about?” Terry asks him somewhat annoyed but mostly curious.

“I made a bet with her, whoever has the best run wins.” He thought there was no way he could lose, not with the 9-9, but they’ve never had a perfect run. And even if they manage to do it, he is not so sure that they can do it in, literally , record time. That doesn’t mean he is not going to try . He can’t lose this bet, not after she proved to be better than him at the shooting range. He is not really interested in what he might win with the bet (though he kind of really wants to make her watch Die Hard), this is about honor .

“Why? Who is she, anyway?” Terry asks, still not fully comprehending the situation.

“Jake’s neighbor.” Rosa answers before he has the chance to.

“The one he’s in love with?”


“I’m not in love with her! Can you just drop that?” Jake yells. “How do you even know about her, Sarge?”

“Gina told me.”

Jake sighs, exasperated. That makes sense. He really doesn’t know why, but ever since he first mentioned Amy over a year ago, Gina has been completely convinced that he likes her. Which is not true. At least not like that . She is just a friend . He really needs to talk to Gina about spreading alternative facts about him.

“Anyway, can we please do our best and beat the 8-2? We can do it if we try hard enough.”

“Peralta this is not about-” Terry begins, but Rosa interrupts him.


“Hey, Santiago,” Jake calls.

Amy turns when she hears his voice. From the way she looks, he can tell that she is just as anxious as he was while she was doing the simulation. She doesn’t say anything, but her eyes are begging him to start talking, to tell her how he did.

“You know,” he begins. His words are slow and relaxed, he is torturing her and he knows it. “In all the years I’ve been in the 9-9, we’ve never had a perfect run,” her face lights up then, only slightly, but just enough for him to notice that, because of his words, she thinks she won the bet. “But today, we made history! First perfect perfect run for the 9-9!” He watches her freeze, eyes wide in complete shock. “May you remind me of the time record you set?”

“Eighteen minutes, forty one seconds,” she manages to say, words coming out slowly, her voice just above a whisper.

“Hey, Rosa! What was our time?”

Rosa was just walking by, but she stopped when Jake called her name. “Eighteen minutes, twenty eight seconds,” she says, before resuming her walk towards the place where she was originally going to.

He turns to Amy, the grin on his face impossibly bigger. “Did my squad just break the record your squad set?”

She is frowning, clearly upset by the turn of events. He likes to believe that normally he wouldn’t be such a sore winner, but she bragged earlier, so she kinda had this coming.

“That’s impossible,” she mumbles.

“But it happened! I mean, you should have known, I’m part of the best squad in the NYPD, no, in the country . Even you know that.”

She sighs, defeated.

He hears Terry calling him, it probably is time to leave. He has to go back to the precinct before he can go home. He can’t wait to tell Holt about what happened, he is going to be so proud of the squad. Thanks to his bet with Amy, Jake was extra focused on the simulation, and everyone else did an amazing job as well. It truly was one of the best days for the 9-9.

“I gotta go,” he says to Amy. “But I’m not gonna rest until our movie night happens, so start thinking of a day and when you know, just hit me up, you know where I live.”

He sees her rolling her eyes one last time before walking away towards the exit.

Chapter Text

Three days after their meeting at the tactical village, Amy finds herself knocking on Jake’s door. He won their bet fair and square (as much as she hates to admit it), and now she has to pay. The universe wanted this to happen, she thinks, because, by a huge coincidence, they both have the entire weekend off. It made perfect sense to hold the movie night then.

Originally, Jake had the intention of watching all five movies in one sitting on Friday, the very night after their shifts ended, but Amy knew this was going to be impossible. If they were to start watching that night, they would be so tired after the first movie that it would be impossible to go on. The solution, then, was either to watch them all in one sitting the next day, or to divide the movies between that night and the two days that followed. Jake insisted that it was key to watch all the movies in the same day, and that is why Amy is now knocking on Jake’s door early in a Saturday afternoon.

The door opens not five seconds after her last knock; he probably was standing by the door, eagerly waiting for her.

“I thought you wouldn’t come,” Jake says, as he steps to the side to let her in, a huge smile on his face.

“You would have broken into my apartment if I didn’t.”


She walks past him and into the apartment. Everything looks as it always does, slightly messy but not really chaotic; after all the times she has been there, most of them to have dinner, she got used to the place.

She is completely taken aback the moment she notices the huge mountain of food on the coffee table. The small piece of furniture is covered with thousands of different snacks (probably enough to last him for days), snacks that look very much homemade and definitely too elaborate for Jake to have made.

“What’s with all this food?” she asks, as she sits on the couch. Now that she looks more closely at what is on the coffee table, close enough that the smell of the food reaches her, suddenly making her hungry even though she had lunch not two hours before, she can tell that everything is probably delicious.

“Charles insisted to bring snacks after I told him you were coming over. And that’s not all the food there is,” he says, pointing at the table. “There’s more in the kitchen, and he went to his apartment to get even more in case it wasn’t enough.”

“Oh, wow.”

“He was so excited,” Jake continues. “I didn’t have the heart to stop him. Cooking really does make him happy.”

“Also, you love his food.”

Jake laughs. “True.”

Just then there is a series of soft taps on the door. When Jake opens it, Charles walks in carrying more food than she thought was humanly possible.

“Don’t you think it’s a bit too much, buddy?” Jake asks, taking some of the plates from Charles and disappearing into the kitchen.

Charles follows him, not stopping to look around, and not realizing that Amy is already there, sitting on the couch. “I’m just so excited that you’re having a date with Amy!”

Date? Does Jake think of this as a date ? Because, if you ask her, it couldn’t be the furthest thing from that. She is only here because she lost a bet and that’s all. But, she thinks, if the bet had never happened and he had asked her to come over, would she have said yes? Maybe. Would that have been a date? Probably not, as a date involves some kind of romantic feelings, or at least the possibility of romantic feelings that, in the case of Jake and her, are definitely not there. They are just friends. That’s all.

“Not a date, Charles!” Amy hears Jake say, and to her, he sounds rather flustered. He walks back into the living room then, his face a light shade of red.

“Oh, but it is! Even if you don’t want to admit it.” Charles argues, still in the kitchen. “You haven’t stopped talking about today in the past three days, and I know you well enough to know when you like someone. You two, alone, watching movies, it’s definitely a– Oh, Amy, hello! I didn’t notice you were here!”

“Hey, Charles,” she answers, amused by the whole situation. Jake’s face is a shade darker than before, thanks to Charles, but she doesn’t think too much of that. She would probably feel embarrassed as well if she was in his place.

Charles, on the other hand, looks as if he was about to burst from excitement. He is glued to his spot, gaze going back and forth between Jake and Amy, expectant to see how the events will develop.

After a moment of slightly awkward silence, Jake finally speaks. “Charles, don’t you have to feed your dogs or something? I thought you mentioned that earlier.”

“No, I mean, I did say that, but I fed them just now when I went to get the food. They should be good.”

Jake nods slowly. Amy is putting all her effort in attempting to suppress the laugh threatening to escape her. Charles is not taking the hint, and if he is, he is just straight up ignoring it; either case is hilarious to her.

“Do you wanna stay and watch with us?” she asks after yet another moment of awkward silence in which Charles does not show the slightest sign of being willing to leave anytime soon.

Jake’s face falls but he quickly recovers, his disappointment not visible for more than a fraction of a second. But Amy did catch it, and it puzzles her to no end. She thought that he would be thrilled to have more people he could force to watch his all time favorite movie and its sequels. Unless he really did think of this as a date and wanted to be alone with her. No, that’s crazy. They are just friends.

“Really? Can I?” Charles squeals, the high pitch of his voice making both Jake and Amy flinch slightly.

The question is directed towards Jake, he is the one who lives there after all. “Yeah, sure. I don’t see why not,” he answers after a beat, his voice tinted with a smidge of disappointment.

Not even ten minutes into the movie, the amount of food on the table has decreased considerably. For the time being, Jake is only eating from his bowl of personalized popcorn (he is not really sure what Charles puts into it to make it taste so good and honestly he is too afraid to ask). He let Amy try it before the movie started, but judging by the way she reacted, she didn’t find it very tasty.

He is paying more attention to her than to the movie itself (he needs to make sure she is actually watching, that’s the whole point of this). He only has a partial view of her as Charles mindlessly sat between them before the movie started. As this was not a date and as Jake definitely wasn’t expecting to be sitting next to Amy so he could annoy her with fun facts, he made no comment about it, ignoring the infinitesimal bit of annoyance he was feeling towards Charles.

She is paying attention to the movie, he notices, but even after learning this fact, taking his eyes off of her is proving to be impossible. She seems to find the movie interesting, though the violent parts are not exactly her favorites (Jake sees the way she cringes almost imperceptibly every time a gun is fired or there is a loud explosion; it’s super cute).

As time passes and the movie advances, he alternates his gaze between the TV and Amy. He wants to watch the movie, even if this is the millionth time he is doing it, but he also needs to know the way she reacts to every scene.

At one point Charles leans towards him and whispers in his ear, “The date is going really well!” His voice is almost too quiet for Jake to be able to hear what he is saying, so it takes him a second to fully process Charles’s words. When he does, he pushes Charles to the side, careful of not using too much strength so he doesn’t bump into Amy. Charles just winks at him, ignoring Jake’s glare.

After that first time, Charles starts whispering things in Jake’s ear every five minutes, all of them related to how well the date is going. Jake gave up telling him that it was not a date after the third time. And even if it was a date, it would be going horribly wrong with Charles there, sitting between them, commenting on every single detail.

When Jake thinks that it definitely cannot get any worse, Charles yells “Yippie kayak, other buckets!” over John McClane’s iconic catchphrase. The entire scene is completely ruined. It takes all the self control Jake has and a couple of deep breaths to hold himself back from kicking Charles out right then and there (Amy laughs though, so maybe what Charles did wasn’t so terrible).

The overall level of snacks has gone down significantly by the time Charles’s phone starts ringing. The movie is almost over, and Jake really doesn’t want to pause it, but Charles begs him. It’s Genevieve calling, the woman Charles has been dating for a few months now, and the moment Jake realizes who it is, he starts praying that the conversation won’t get too explicit (it has happened before, Jake’s been scarred for life).

Luckily it doesn’t. Genevieve just called to ask if Charles wanted to take the dogs to the dog park. It takes some convincing on Jake’s part - yes, he should definitely go, and yes, it’s okay if he leaves, Jake won’t be angry - but he finally agrees, though he refuses to leave before watching the end of the movie.

The moment Jake closes the door behind Charles, Amy hears him sigh deeply. She honestly didn’t think, when she asked Charles to stay, that Jake would be annoyed by it. But it turns out that Charles isn’t the best person to watch a movie with - she heard him whispering things to Jake all throughout the movie, though she couldn’t really make out what he was saying. And being constantly talked to during your favorite movie can’t be fun.

Jake returns to the couch after refilling his bowl of popcorn and setting up the next movie. There is still a ton of food on the table, but he has only been eating that disgusting popcorn that Charles made especially for him (it tasted so weird that she couldn’t even tell what’s in it, only that it is gross).

He sits only an inch away from her, their sides almost touching. She moved slightly from her previous spot right next to the armrest towards the middle of the couch, but still, she is on one side. And he is on the other. And there is space between them even if it is almost imperceptible. They are not touching.

“I’m sorry for asking Charles to stay. I thought you’d be okay with it,” she says, as she leans forward to grab a bunch of popcorn from the bowl on the table ( normal popcorn).

“I was! I mean, I didn’t mind him being here,” he answers but he doesn’t sound too convincing, she can see right through him.

“Okay.” Amy nods, turning to the front. She sees the menu of the DVD, the TV the only source of light in the room. It is still the afternoon, the sun is probably shining outside, but Jake had drawn the curtains before starting the first movie. The resulting darkness in the middle of the day crates and odd sensation, as if time has stood still, as if the whole world is inside this room and there is no life on the outside.

“Really, Ames, it’s fine.”

“I heard him whispering things to you the entire time. You can’t tell me that wasn’t annoying.”

“This isn’t the first time I watch a movie with Charles. I know how he can get, and trust me, that was nothing.”

Knowing Charles, she does believe that, but she doesn’t believe that asking him to stay didn’t bother Jake in the slightest. It’s incredibly frustrating that he won’t admit it, she just wants to apologize and he is not letting her. She saw the way he insisted that Charles should leave after he got the phone call, but if she mentions that, he is most definitely going to answer something along the lines of ‘Charles is probably going to have a better time if he goes out with his girlfriend than if he stays in watching movies that he has seen a million times before.’ Which, she admits, is the truth, but she is sure there was something beneath all that when Jake kept telling him that he should leave. Maybe she had been wrong before, maybe he does want to be alone with her. But that doesn’t make much sense, why would he want to be alone with her?

“Alright,” she finally says, giving up her hope of apologizing. She knows him, she knows how stubborn he is, so if he hasn’t admitted that he was annoyed yet, then he never will.

“Ready for the next movie?” Jake asks, as he chooses the start option.

Amy readjusts her position slightly. She needs to be as comfortable as possible to endure all the hours of action movies that were still left. “Yeah,” she sighs.

No more than a few words are exchanged during the second movie and half of the third. Jake no longer has the urge to see Amy’s every reaction, mainly because, even though all Die Hard movies are excellent, the first one is the one that truly matters. It’s still important to him that she likes the rest, of course, but he can die happy knowing that she liked the original one.

He has run out of popcorn, he notices. He considers getting up and refilling the empty bowl lying on his lap, but he has a feeling that it is not the best idea. He lost count of how many bowls of popcorn he has emptied since they first started watching, but it’s definitely more than two. As weird as his eating habits are, even he knows that eating more is likely to bring along negative effects.

He leans forward and places the bowl on the table. He can feel Amy’s eyes on him due to the sudden movement. When he leans back, repositioning himself on the couch, he sees from the corner of his eye that she is not exactly interested in the movie. Instead, she is staring at him, as if he was the only thing in the room that can keep her from falling asleep in the next ten minutes.

It is with this realization, that she is not really having a good time, that something inside him stirs. He figured that this whole movie day wasn’t something she would have chosen to spend her weekend on, she probably had lots of better things to do. And though it was her duty as the loser of the bet to watch the movies, he does not enjoy the guilt that he is feeling at making her do something that she is very clearly not enjoying.

“Do you wanna take a break?” he asks, without taking a second to consider how odd she might find the suggestion of a break in the middle of the movie.

“I’d rather not,” Amy answers, her eyes again fixed on the screen in front of them. “The sooner we are done with this the better.”

He stares at her for a moment, trying to guess her true feelings from the way she said that last thing. Is she really having such a bad time? Or did she just say that for the sake of annoying him?

“You don’t have to actually do this if it’s so terrible for you.” The words come out before he can really think what he is saying. Luckily, his voice sounds more concerned than accusing.

“What?” she asks, suddenly alert, the upper part of her body turning to face him.

It is too dark to actually see her face, the TV, the only source of light in the room, illuminates them only partially. But from what he can tell, the expresion on her face is one of utter confusion.

“I’m just saying,” he begins, “if you’re having a bad time or if you’d like to be doing something else, you can leave, I don’t mind.” He does mind, but he can deal with that. Just the thought of forcing her to do something she doesn’t want to do fills him with uneasiness.

Her brow furrows, and she looks beyond puzzled, which, if you ask him, is completely adorable (wait, what ?). He pushes that thought to the back of his mind, where everything he wants to deal with in another moment (never) is stored.

He waits for her answer, but it never comes. “What?” he finally asks. She has been staring at him, perplexed, for too long now.

“Are you being serious?” In a strange way, her voice matches her expression.

“Um… yes? You seemed pretty bored,” he comments, and watches as her head tilts slightly to the side. “I just wanted you to know that you’re free to leave whenever you want, you don’t owe me anything.” She opens her mouth to speak, but before she can let a word out he says, “I know, I know , the bet. You technically do owe me something, but I’d rather you do something that you don’t hate this much instead.”

“Jake, I’m not having a bad time,” she says, the beginning of her words overlapping with the end of his. Now he is the one who looks completely baffled. “Really, I’m not. What made you think that?”

“Well, I saw-” he pauses suddenly. Should he say that he saw her staring at him instead of watching the movie? Maybe it had been a second of distraction, but then again it hadn’t been just a second. He doesn’t know exactly how much time she had stared at him, but it was definitely long enough that there is absolutely no way it could have been an accident. And she seems oblivious to the fact that he knows she was looking at him. He is glad he stopped himself on time. “What you said before,” he says instead, “about wanting to get this done with.”

“That was only because I need us to finish watching this weekend, I won’t be able to do this again in a while.” Her words are honest, and a sense of relief slowly starts to spread inside him.

“Work?” he asks, and she nods in response.

In that moment, a loud explosion coming from the TV makes them both jump, and that is when he realizes that he never paused the movie. They missed a good deal.

“And, you know,” she says, still turned towards him, not caring about the movie still playing on the background. “I’ve already seen the movies, I know what happens.”

“WHAT?” he screams, but she just nods, her lips pressed in an attempt to hide the smile that is threatening to appear. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Would that have made a difference? You still would have made me watch them.” She shrugs.

She has a point. But that changes everything. “Okay, then,” he says, finally pausing the movie. “Let’s watch something else.”

“Okay,” she accepts his suggestion. “What?”

“What about those movies you were going to make me watch if you won?”

“Harry Potter?” she asks, her pitch higher than normal. Something lights up in her eyes, in her face. She suddenly is the embodiment of excitement, and he feels like an idiot for not suggesting this sooner.

“Yeah.” Her smile is contagious.

“But I can’t- you won the bet.”

“Yeah, I don’t care about the bet. If this is going to be our last movie night - movie day - in a while, let’s make the most of it. It’s pointless to keep watching something we have both already seen, don’t you think?” He speaks without thinking, and that’s how he doesn’t realize that he mentions future movie nights until after he finishes his statement. But he does not regret saying it, he would love movie nights to become a regular thing. He really does enjoy spending time with her.

Amy is over the moon thanks to his suggestion. She rushes to her apartment to get the DVDs, and if he’s being completely honest, the pile of movies she returns with scare him a little. But the pure happiness she is emanating quickly washes that feeling away.

She is practically jumping on her seat when the movie starts, but ten minutes later she is comfortably sitting next to him, the sides of their arms touching. He wants to pay attention to the movie, he really, really does. But her arm is touching his, they are touching , and his stupid brain can’t focus on anything else.

He shudders when a snake appears on screen, he is terrified of snakes. And wait, is the snake talking? Why is the snake talking? Right, he should pay attention.

Amy looks at him a few minutes later, her eyes still shining with excitement. He guesses she probably wants to confirm that he is still awake, that he is paying attention, just like he did when they were watching Die Hard. She gives him a small smile before turning back to the screen, and why is he feeling all warm inside ? That’s another thought that gets pushed to the back of his mind.

He can hear Amy whispering some of the lines, and although her British accent is terrible , that doesn’t seem to be holding her back. To him, she just keeps getting more and more adorable with each passing minute (yet another thought for the back of his mind).

Suddenly, a familiar voice interrupts his thoughts. He knows that voice, he has heard it a million times. And that voice doesn’t belong in a movie that is apparently about wizard children, it belongs in an action movie, his all time favorite movie. What the hell is Hans Gruber doing in Harry Potter?

Amy turns to him, two seconds away from bursting with laughter. He said that out loud, didn’t he?

“I know it’s not technically Hans Gruber,” he says in his defense. And he does know. But he was not expecting Alan Rickman to be in this movie, and they just watched Die Hard. Can you blame him?

Amy chuckles quietly but doesn’t say anything, turning back to the screen. He doesn't know if his brain and body are playing tricks on him, if he fell asleep hours ago and all this is a dream, but he swears he can feel Amy leaning towards him. It is just an almost imperceptible amount of pressure of her arm on his, probably not a fully conscious movement on her part, but it’s enough to make a million different thoughts go through his mind. But he is trying to focus on the movie, he wants to show her that he actually payed attention once it is over, so every single one of those thoughts gets thrown to the back of his mind, along with the previous ones (he is going to have a lot to think about later).

The movie turns out to be way more interesting than he had originally thought, though he is not sure he understood everything. He is definitely willing to give the other seven a shot.

“So?” Amy asks when the credits start rolling. “What did you think?”

She is looking at him expectantly from her spot on his side, her eyes still full of excitement even though the movie is over.

“I liked it,” he answers, and he means it. “But that school seemed pretty unsafe, if you ask me.”

She chuckles, but agrees with him. “The books are so much better, though,” she comments. “The movies changed lots of things and left so much out.”

She goes on talking excitedly about each and every one of the reasons why the books are better, which then leads to her lecturing him on how all the books are better than their respective movies, how every time she hears there will be a movie adaptation of a book she loves, she gets her hopes up and always ends up disappointed. Although he has read fifteen books, he is not particularly interested in the topic, but he could listen to her talk about this for hours, days, years. She is so passionate about it, she talks in such a way that makes him want to know as much as possible so he can keep the conversation going forever.

“Oh my god, look at the time!” Amy exclaims when Jake’s phone, which was lying on the table, lights up with a new text, enabling her to see that it is some minutes past 11 PM.

How did time go by so fast? They did spend the entire afternoon watching movies but still .

“Do you wanna watch the second movie?” he asks, trying not to show that he very much wants to go on. Whatever she chooses to do is cool. Even if they can’t hang out again until who knows when. It’s totally, completely cool.

“I’d love to, but I think it’s getting late. The second movie is over two hours long.”

“Right.” He nods, hoping his disappointment doesn’t show. He really doesn’t want her to leave yet. Suddenly, his brain, finally, after an entire day of behaving terribly, comes up with something that could make her stay. “What about watching Serve and Protect? I know you like the show, I’ve heard you watching it through the wall.”


“Come on, just one episode and then you’re free to go.”

She stares at him, considering his suggestion, for what seems like forever. The anticipation of her answer is killing him.

“Okay,” she finally says, sighing. “Just one episode.”

“Just one,” he agrees.

But one episode turns to two, two to three, three to four. Amy doesn’t leave until after three in the morning, and when she does, ignoring his pleads of “One episode more! The next one is really good!” he is left with a feeling of emptiness he has never felt before, the silence bringing back every single one of the thoughts he had pushed away. What the hell is going on with him?

Chapter Text

“Mom, for the last time, I’m not going out with… whoever this guy is,” Amy says into the phone. She cannot understand why her mother is so determined to find her a boyfriend. Amy had received a text from her earlier, while she was still at work, in which her mom let her know that she had set her up with some random guy. Not an actual random guy, her mom is not that desperate ( yet ), but he is something like her neighbor’s best friend’s son. A complete stranger to her. But her mom insisted, and she is not one to give up. So the first thing Amy did when she got home was to call her, with the intention of explaining to her that no, she is not going to go out with him, it’s not her problem that everything is already settled, and she doesn’t care that this guy is going to be incredibly disappointed. But her mom is not listening, and it is driving her up the wall.

“Amelia, listen, Gary is a doctor . He has so much work, but he agreed to take a night off and go out with you.”

“Guess he’ll have to do something else, then.” It is not the first time that she has had this kind of conversation with her mom, and she already knows how it is going to end. She hates arguing with her, she hates getting angry with her, but she can’t help it. The fact that her mom thinks she needs a boyfriend makes her furious.

“Can’t you at least give him a chance?” her mom begs.

Amy sighs deeply in an attempt to keep herself from snapping at her mom. She is about to answer but a sharp clash, the sound of glass smashing against the floor and breaking into a thousand small pieces, coming from the other side of the wall startles her. It takes her a second to understand what that sound was, but once she does, she rolls her eyes. Jake is so clumsy . He should not be allowed to handle anything that could break easily. She thinks about getting him a set of plastic cups, the kind kids use, to mock him.

“Amelia, are you still there?” Right, she still has to deal with her mom.

“Yeah,” she sighs.

“Answer me, then. Can’t you give Gary a chance?”

Before she can answer that no, she can’t, because she doesn’t want to, another sound comes from Jake’s apartment. She is not sure what that was, what he dropped now, but that sound distracts her for a fraction of a second, long enough for her to act on impulse instead of thinking what she is doing.

“No, I can’t. I’m actually dating someone.” The moment she finishes her sentence, she realizes the huge mistake she just made. Everything is going to be a million times worse now.

It takes her mom a moment to answer. “Don’t lie to me,” she says, her voice low and serious, and Amy knows that she can’t back down. She cannot admit that she was lying. Her mom would make her feel guilty for doing that, and she would end up going on a date with this Gary guy just to make her happy.

“I’m not lying.”

“Why am I just hearing about this now?”

“I… um… I forgot to tell you?” Her mom’s eyes probably narrow with suspicion, she can picture her doing that same thing when she was younger and one of her brothers would lie about his whereabouts the previous night. She knows that last lie is terrible, but it is the best she can do on the spur of the moment.

“What is his name?”

Before she can answer, there is a knock on the door. A quite desperate knock. She gets up from her spot on the couch and walks towards the place the sound is coming from. When she looks through the peephole, she sees Jake standing there, a nervous look on his face.

Her mom’s questions started again a few seconds after the first one had no answer, and they are coming fast, one right after the other, not giving her time to think.

“Mom, I have to go,” she interrupts, making the wave of questions stop due to the unexpectedness of her words. Before her mom can begin to talk again, Amy says, “I’ll call you later, bye,” and hangs up. She is not looking forward to doing that.

When she opens the door, Jake rushes into her apartment without saying a word. He has always been incredibly respectful, so she is surprised by his actions. He is almost jumping, she notices after closing the door and turning towards him, he looks terrified.

“What is going on?” she asks, walking towards him. She has never seen him like this before, and it is filling her with more and more worry with every passing second. He is breathing fast, shaking slightly, so she grabs his arms and guides him to the couch, making him sit there. She sits next to him, placing a hand on his shoulder and rubbing slightly, trying to calm him down. It seems to be working.

“What happened?” she asks when his breathing returns to its regular rhythm.

“There’s something in my apartment.”

Her brow furrows in confusion. “What do you mean something ?”

“I’m not sure,” he pauses and takes a deep breath. He is starting to scare her. “Stuff is moving on its own.”

“What?” She was not expecting an answer like that. She had thought maybe there was a bug, a big hairy spider, a rat, but a ghost ? Never in a hundred years.

“First the bathroom door opened,” he says, his voice trembling slightly. “I saw it moving on its own.”

There has to be a perfectly logical explanation for that, she is sure. But she doesn’t say that, it is not going to be of any help, in fact, it would only make him feel worse. She never pictured Jake to be the easily scared type, but here he is, sitting, terrified, on her couch.

“And then,” he continues, “a glass broke, and I was nowhere near it.”


“It fell from the coffee table. I don’t know how, I was in the kitchen.”

She nods, trying to understand everything. Her hand is still on his shoulder, and she has to fight the sudden urge to hug him, he looks so vulnerable.

“Should I go to your apartment and check out that-”

“No, don’t,” he interrupts, eyes open wide. “Don’t go in there,” he begs.

“Okay, I won’t.” Her hand moves from its spot slowly down his arm, until it reaches his hand. He grabs it and squeezes, a little bit too hard.

“I don’t know what’s in there, I don’t want you to get hurt or something.” His voice is low and he is not looking at her, eyes fixed on his lap. It baffles her that he is so scared he doesn’t even want her to go check out the place, that he is so worried something might happen to her. She squeezes his hand in return.

“So you’re not going to go back ever again?” she asks after a beat of silence.

“I will have to eventually, but,” he pauses. Amy stares at him expectantly, but doesn’t push him to go on. His leg is bouncing incredibly fast and she is scared the pressure on her hand is going to prevent her blood from reaching her fingers. After a deep sigh, he continues, gaze never leaving his lap. “I thought maybe… maybe I could stay here until tomorrow morning?”

She bites her lip, considering what she should do. Of course she can’t tell him that he can’t stay, not in his current state, but she has work in the morning, and she has a feeling that, if Jake stays the night, she is going to get very little sleep. She could send him to Charles’s apartment, but what if he was out, or worse, what if Genevieve was there and he would be forced to be alone with them? That wouldn’t be fun, and probably incredibly disgusting (in Charles’s eyes, the line between appropriate and inappropriate is nonexistent). She makes her choice then.

“Okay,” she answers, “but you have to promise that you’ll let me sleep and that you’ll be up at least by the time I have to leave for work.”

“Yes, yes, I promise.” He nods his head eagerly, relief clear on his face. “Thank you.” He gives her hand a soft squeeze.

“No problem.”

He is still not looking at directly at her, but she can see a small smile slowly growing on his face.

“Did you eat?” he asks, after a few moments of comfortable silence. She wonders if he is aware that he is still holding her hand.

Amy shakes her head. “I got home just a couple of minutes before you knocked.”

“Should we order something? I’m not sure I trust your cooking skills.” All traces of fear have vanished from his face, his usual teasing smile is now replacing it.

She rolls her eyes but smiles anyway, he is probably right. “Sure,” she answers.

She is a bit scared to eat the pizza he ordered, but he promised it would be fine. She is glad she trusted him, it actually tastes good.

They are sitting on the couch, Jake insisted they should eat there instead of at the table (“that’s way too fancy for pizza”), and she threatened him making it very clear that if he stained anything with grease she would kick him out and make sure he spent the night at his apartment with the ghost. He took the threat too seriously - he ate slowly and carefully, making sure not even one crumb ended up on the couch or on the floor.

Serve and Protect is playing on the TV, they chose to watch it after almost two months since the last time they did that, but neither of them is actually paying attention. Instead, they are chatting, about everything and nothing, and she feels completely at ease spending time with him. It’s fun. She enjoys teasing him as much as she is sure he enjoys teasing her, though she is aware of a certain line that shouldn’t be crossed, just like he is.

Her phone, placed on the coffee table, lights up with an incoming call, interrupting their conversation. It’s her mom. She lets it go to voicemail. When she looks back at Jake he is staring in disbelief.

“What?” she asks.

“I never thought you wouldn’t answer a call from your mom. You’re such a rebel.”

She rolls her eyes, a small smile appearing on her face despite all her efforts to hold it back. Her phone starts ringing again just a minute after the first time and she sighs, exasperated. Again, she doesn’t pick up.

Jake is staring at her, a curious look on his face.

“I’m not in the mood to talk to her,” she says in answer to his unasked question.

After one more call and one text from Amy saying that she had been called back to work and that she can’t talk in that moment, her mom finally gives up. “Do you wanna talk about what’s bothering you?” he asks after she puts her phone back on the table with more strength than necessary.

“Not really.” Her mood changed completely after the first call, and she hates that Jake is there to see her like that. They were having fun, and now everything is ruined.

He is staring at her, eyes fixed on her face, as if trying to decipher what is going through her mind. She sighs, deciding in that moment that it’s better to just tell him, everything is going to stay weird if she pretends nothing happened.

“I was just talking to her before, when you knocked, and I lied to get out of something and now I have to keep it going. I need a carefully detailed story before I can talk to her again.” That is all he is getting, she is not going to tell him why she lied to her mom, or what the lie was. It’s too embarrassing.

He nods a couple of times, a smile forming on his face. “Lying to your mom? Who are you and what did you do to Amy?”

She punches his arm, making him wince exaggeratedly, faking immeasurable pain. She punches him again, harder this time, and moves from her spot on the couch, closer to the armrest and further away from him, rolling her eyes in the process.

They stay in silence for a while, eating pizza and watching the show. Amy’s mind is not really there, she is trying to come up with something, anything , she could use as an explanation for her mom. Because she knows she will ask her a million annoying questions. And if she happens to stutter for a second or mix her answers, her mom will know she lied and it will be hell.

She doesn’t enjoy lying to her mom, she is feeling incredibly guilty. But she has to make her understand that she needs to back off, let her live her life. She would love to find someone she could spend the rest of her life with, but she doubts that person is Gary the doctor, or any other random guy her mom might find for her. It will happen when it needs to happen, she is not going to push it (or let her mom do it for her).

“Are you gonna eat that?” Jake’s voice brings her back to reality. He is pointing at the remaining slice of pizza on her plate, leaning forward, ready to grab it.

“No,” she answers, shaking her head. She had forgotten about it, and now that it’s cold she has no desire to eat it.

Just like she expected, he picks up the plate from the table and starts munching on the pizza, enjoying every single bite.

“You shouldn’t eat that cold,” she comments. His eating habits don’t surprise her anymore, though that doesn’t mean she is not horrified by them.

“It’s not cold , try it.” He offers her the small bit left but she rejects it, shaking her head. He finishes the slice in one bite.

She stands up then, snatching the plate from his lap. She is picking up all the dirty dishes and the pizza box from the table when she hears him laughing. She lifts her gaze from the table and stares at him, eyebrows raised.

“Can’t you leave everything there for five minutes ?” He asks, chuckling.

“No, I can’t. I care about hygiene, unlike you.”

“That hurts,” he says as he puts his hand over his heart, and, again, exaggerates his reaction. She really needs to stop rolling her eyes at him, it’s not doing her any good.

He stands up to help her when it’s clear that, despite his comments, she is going to clean up everything anyway.

He throws himself on the couch once they are done with the dishes. Amy returns a few minutes later - she had stayed back putting everything away in its designated spot. When he notices she is back, he instantly sits up straight, in order to make enough space for her.

Thanks to the TV show, dinner, and their chatting, both of them had completely forgotten about why Jake was there in the first place. That is until a loud bang, the kind of sound a door would make when slammed closed with too much strength, is heard coming from his apartment. Jake jumps in his seat, and Amy turns towards the source of the sound, coming face to face with the wall.

“I told you there was something!” Jake’s voice is barely a whisper, but she can hear him clearly. He is frozen in his spot, the muscles of his arms are tense, his eyes, wide.

She puts an arm around his shoulders and starts rubbing his back, while her other hand finds one of his and sqeezes lightly. It helped him calm down before, so she doesn’t hesitate to do it again. After a moment, the muscles of his back slowly begin to relax under the pressure of her hand.

“Try to forget about it now,” Her voice is low, soothing. He nods once. “I’ll go check the place out with you in the morning, okay?” Another nod. “I’m sure it’s nothing.”

“You heard that.”

He has a point. She can’t think of any explanation for a door closing if there is no one in the apartment. But she is not exactly scared , the feeling of curiosity is stronger. She wants, needs , to find out what is going on. But he won’t let her do that until the the following day. So, for the time being, she focuses on Jake, on making him feel at ease again.

“I’m not gonna get any sleep tonight,” he sighs.

“We could watch something to distract ourselves,” she suggests, “it’s still early.”

“Yeah.” He nods, turning to face her. “I think that would work.”

She lets out the tiniest gasp the moment she realizes how close they are. Her arm is still around him, their faces just a few inches apart. She can see every single detail on his face, and the moment their eyes meet, her insides turn into pure heat. She had never noticed how warm his eyes are, not like this. Her face is getting hotter and hotter with every passing second, and she prays he is not able to hear her heart beating loud and fast.

When it all becomes too much, she lowers her gaze and turns, choosing to stare at the coffee table in front of her instead. She has let go of his hand, and her arm slowly find its way back to her side.

He clears his throat. “What should we watch, then?”

She sees from the corner of her eye that his gaze is focused on the coffee table as well.

“I don’t know, something the opposite of scary.”

They end up watching 27 Dresses. Jake said Charles loves that movie, so it definitely does not have one scary part. To Amy, the movie is not particularly interesting. She cannot pay attention for more than five minutes in a row, so she is kind of lost when it comes to the plot (it doesn’t really matter, she is sure how it is going to end). Jake seems to be into it, though. He laughs (quite loudly) in some parts and gasps in others. If it wasn’t for him, she would have turned the movie off and gone to bed long ago.

The ending of the movie makes him tear up a bit - he immediately brushes away the stray tear that rolls down his cheek. It makes her smile; she never imagined he was the kind of person who cries with romantic movies, and, in her opinion, it is kind of sweet.

“Should we watch something else?” he asks, sniffling his nose quite loudly.

She has noticed, although she is not exactly sure of why , that whenever they hang out he is determined to make it last as long as possible. Especially since the time they watched Die Hard months ago. He always wants to show her something or comes up with a crazy work story when one of them is about to leave. And he is so insistent that she gives in most times. But that is not happening today, not when she has work in the morning.

I should go to sleep, you can watch whatever you want,” she says as she stands up.

“Come on, please-”

“Jake, no . I have to wake up early, even earlier if we’re going to check your apartment for ghosts.”

“Well, thanks for mentioning that when I had completely forgotten about it. Now I will actually need to watch something else.”

She rolls her eyes and turns towards her bedroom, but stops not two steps later. “Are you going to need clothes to sleep in?”

He is not dressed the way she normally sees him, plaid shirt, jeans, and sneakers; he is wearing sweatpants and a gray t-shirt with a dark stain near the bottom (which could have originated from a million different substances - he always spills everything ).

“Nope, I’m good,” he answers from his spot on the couch.

“Okay, then. If you need anything, just ask.”

A few minutes later Amy is in her bedroom, sitting on the bed, reading. She has changed into her favorite sleeping clothes - a sweatshirt from her days at the academy, and the most comfortable pajama pants she has ever worn. She has her glasses on, contact lenses secure in their case on the nightstand should she fall asleep while reading (something extremely likely to happen). The glow of the bedside lamp illuminates the room. The far corners are dark, but she is getting just enough light to read. Some people watch TV until they fall asleep, others stay on their phones until they are physically unable to keep their eyes open, Amy reads. It’s her nightly routine (unless she is exhausted, in that case she tries to read twice as much the following day).

She is about to close the book and turn the light  off (she has read the same sentence five times and every single one of them her eyes keep closing), when she hears a soft tap on her bedroom door.

“Yeah?” she asks from her spot on the bed. She is warm, cozy, and tired. She is not getting up now.

Jake’s answer comes from the other side of the  closed door. “Do you have an extra blanket?”

“Yeah, come in, it’s in here.”

The door opens slowly and Jake pads into the room, carefully measuring every step. He looks around for a moment, and when he finally spots her, a wide grin appears on his face.

“What’s up with those glasses?”

“I need them to see,” she answers, sighing. It has been a long day, she was about to fall asleep, the last thing she needs is Jake Peralta making fun of her glasses in her own bedroom.

“That much I figured.”

“Why do you ask, then?” She takes the glasses off and puts them on the bed by her side before rubbing her eyes, trying to get rid of the sleep that is threatening to take hold of her any minute now.

“Because they’re gigantic .” Before she has time to react, he grabs the glasses from where she left them and puts them on. “Wow, you are blind .”

She nods, extending her arm for him to return them. Once her glasses are safely back on her face and she is able to see again, she points towards the closet, where she keeps the blankets and bedsheets. “There’s a blanket on the top shelf there.”

Maybe it’s the effect of the soft orange lighting of the room, maybe her brain is playing tricks on her because it needs sleep and she is depriving it of that, maybe she is simply going crazy, but the sight of Jake in a t-shirt that perfectly frames the muscles of his arms stretching to reach for a blanket in her bedroom is enough to make a million different thoughts flash through her brain (some of them slightly inappropriate). She is never going to admit it to anyone , and it’s probably the lack of sleep talking, but he is attractive (she has to force herself to look away from the line of skin exposed as a result of his movements).

In the end he manages to get the blanket (he fails to take hold of it properly and it falls past him to the floor, but hey, he got it down from the top shelf!). He wraps it around his neck as if it were a cape, making Amy roll her eyes, though the tiniest of smiles forms on her face.

He turns towards her, she knows he is going to make a joke or a silly comment just to annoy her, but in the last second changes his mind. “Goodnight, Ames,” he says instead, moving towards the door.

“Goodnight,” she answers, never having stopped smiling.

The moment he is out of the room, she lies down on the bed, makes herself comfortable under the warm blankets, and switches the light off.

The sound of the alarm makes Amy open her eyes. She has been awake for some minutes now, she always wakes up before the first alarm has the chance of going off (she has two others set for a few minutes later just to be sure). It’s still quite early, so the usual traffic noises from the city have not started yet, and the quietness of the apartment is soothing.

She tries to be as silent as possible while going through her morning routine. Jake is sleeping soundly on the couch, cocooned in blankets. She knows how much he loves sleeping, so she doesn’t want to disturb him or wake him up until it is absolutely necessary.

Forty minutes later, she finds herself poking his arm. He gave no signs of being even close to waking up, and if they are going to inspect his apartment before she leaves for work, he has to wake up in the next couple of minutes. When he doesn’t move, she pokes again, with more strength this time. Still nothing.

“Jake,” she says softly as she grabs the upper part of his arm and shakes slightly. “Wake up.”

He groans and turns, burying his face on the pillow Amy had provided the night before. She sighs, frustrated. She knew this would happen, he usually sleeps as late as he possibly can and then rushes to work, while she likes to leave with plenty of time to spare (she has never been late, and this is not going to be the first time).

“Jake!” Her voice is louder this time, more determined.

A soft groan, muffled by the pillow, comes from the spot where his face meets the white fabric. He is awake now, she knows it. She tries calling his name one more time, but he still refuses to move.

She gets an idea then, what her mom used to do to make her brothers wake up when they didn’t want to go to school. She leans forward, grabs the blanket tightly wrapped around him, and pulls.

He stirs the moment the cold morning air hits the bare skin of his arms. Then turns face up, and finally sits.

“You didn’t have to do that,” he complains, voice low and hoarse. His eyes are not fully opened, his hair messier than she has ever seen before. He shivers before rubbing his eyes with both hands.

“Well, you weren’t moving and I have to go to work soon.” She crosses her arms and waits, by the side of the couch, for him to get up.

“I’m sure you don’t have to be there for, like, another three hours.” Instead of getting up, he takes the blanket she dropped at his feet, pulls it up, and lies down again, hiding his face under the covers.

“Oh my god, you’re literally a five year old.”

“I can’t hear you from here,” comes his voice, muffled by the blankets.

It makes her furious that he has the ability to exasperate her so easily, so early in the morning. She sighs, rolling her eyes. It would be pointless for her to try to take the blanket away from him again, he is probably grabbing onto it for dear life  down there should she dare to repeat her actions. She takes a look at her watch, there’s still plenty of time, but at this rate, she starts to doubt whether she will get to work on time.

“If you don’t get up in the next thirty seconds, I’m going to leave and you’ll be locked in here until I’m back.” Nothing. “And don’t even think of spending the night here again.”

That does the trick. He lowers the blanket instantly, a worried expression on his face.

“I’m up, I’m up,” he says as he slowly sits, then lowers one foot to the floor and then the other.

Amy tries to look away when he stretches, tries because she can’t help but steal a few looks (what is it about that t-shirt that makes his arms look so good ?).

“What are we having for breakfast?” he asks casually, as he slowly stands up, stretching again in the process.

“If you wanted to have breakfast with me, you should have woken up thirty minutes ago. Now, come on, let’s go check out your apartment.”

“Right.” She thinks the disappointment shown on his face is genuine, but she doesn’t think too much of it, he’s probably messing with her. “You don’t have orange soda that I can put on my cereal anyway.” Gross.

She moves towards the front door, picking up her purse and her keys on the way. When she gets there, she realizes that he is not following her. Instead, he is glued to his spot next to the couch.

“Can I at least use the bathroom first?”

She sighs. “Hurry up.”

From the very moment they step into his apartment, he stays behind her, trying to protect himself from whatever has taken hold of the place and is trying to kill him (his words). The first thing Amy notices is the pieces of shattered glass on the floor next to the coffee table. There are a few cushions lying near, and some others piled on the couch.

“That’s one of the ghost’s doings,” he explains, when he notices what she is staring at.

“Did you pile up the cushions there, or was that the ghost too?”

“That was me, I saw a dope video online and I was trying to recreate it.” She is too afraid to ask what he was exactly trying to achieve. “But I didn’t drop them, it was a neat tower. And I certainly didn’t drop the glass either.”

“Well, here’s what I’m thinking, and it may shock you to death because I have a feeling you have zero knowledge of physics, but I think gravity might be at fault here.”

She watches as his head tilts slowly to one side, eyes never leaving the mess on the floor. “What do you mean?” he asks after a moment.

“That the cushions fell because a cushion tower is not exactly stable, and that while falling they pushed the glass off the table.”

He nods a couple of times, baffled by the perfectly logical explanation Amy provided. “Okay, so that’s explained. What about the bathroom door? It opened on its own, I saw that. And what was that noise we heard? I certainly wasn’t here when that happened.” He doesn’t seem so scared now as he was the night before, his tone is more daring, as if he were challenging her to find an explanation for that.

She moves towards the bathroom. The door is open and everything seems to be in its place (what Jake claims the correct places are). Absolutely nothing seems off about it.

“Oh my god!” Jake screams, and she rushes to his side. He is starring in a mix of surprise and horror at the closed door that leads to his bedroom “I never close my bedroom door!” That much she knows. Whenever she is at his place and needs to use the bathroom, she inevitably walks by the bedroom. She has been able to see the mess in there in multiple occasions (he never makes his bed either, that she is sure about).

“Okay, so the bathroom door opened and, hours later, the bedroom door closed,” she states, and he nods.

He gasps when she reaches for the doorknob, but she proceeds anyway. She feels a soft breeze when she steps into the room which immediately makes her look at the window. It’s completely open.

“Did the ghost open the window?”

“No, I did. The room smelled like cheese.” Again, she is too afraid to ask why.

He stares at the window for a second, then at the door, and then back at her. Realization dawns on him then. The bedroom door and the window are on opposite walls. Beyond that, the bathroom door is right in front of that of the bedroom. The previous day had been particularly windy, so the bathroom door could have easily been blown open, and much later, a gust of wind could have slammed the bedroom door closed. There had never been such a things as a ghost inside his apartment.

“I’m an idiot,” he whispers.

She is not sure if she was supposed to hear that, but she answers anyway. “You’re not. I mean, you could have checked what was happening instead of running out, but you were scared, and that doesn’t make you an idiot.”

He nods, the tiniest smile appearing on his face for a fraction of a second. “I’m sorry for annoying you and causing you trouble. Last night and this morning.”

“Jake, it’s okay,” she says, placing a hand on his shoulder for reassurance. “You weren’t that bad, I actually had fun last night.”

“‘You weren’t that bad, I actually had fun last night’ title of your sex tape.”

And right when she thought they were having a moment he goes ahead and ruins it. She rolls her eyes and turns towards the door, ready to leave for work, but he stops her, softly taking hold of her wrist.

“Thanks for letting me stay, for real.” All traces of joking have vanished from his face. He is being the most serious he has ever been around her. Which is strange, in a way, but it allows her to see, though only for a short moment, a whole new aspect of him, an aspect that lets her know that he is not really a kid on the inside, but that he can act like an adult if the situation requires it. She likes that.

“Anytime,” she answers, small smile on her face. “See you later?” He nods and lets go of her. She nods once in response before turning again and walking towards the door.

Before she knows it, the weekend arrives. It’s the first weekend she doesn’t have to go to work in ages, two whole days off, and she plans to enjoy them as much as possible. Winter is just around the corner, so she needs to reorganize all her clothes. A few days ago Kylie shared with her an intricate knitting pattern for a scarf that she is determined to try out. She also needs to finish the book she has been reading. It’s going to be a good weekend.

During the morning, as she reads on the couch, she can hear Jake moving around in his apartment. She wonders what he could possibly be doing, he is definitely not cleaning up. She also wonders if he is free that night, maybe he would like to come over for dinner. She is going to go ask him when she finishes this chapter.

Before she is able to do that, there is a knock on the door. For a moment she thinks it might be Jake, but the knocks are way louder than his, and she can still hear him moving around through the wall. She is not expecting anyone, Kylie would have asked her if she was at work before coming over, and she cannot think of anyone else who would show up at her door unexpected. It must be someone knocking on the wrong door, so she dismisses it.

They knock again, louder and with more persistence this time. Amy gets up, ready to tell whoever is there to go away ( nicely , of course), but the second she looks through the peephole and sees who is standing on the other side of the door, a sudden chill runs down her spine and her heartbeats multiply by a million. This cannot be happening .

She knows ignoring the knocks will not work, she also knows that the person who is knocking is not giving up until she opens he door. She has no choice but to open it, taking a deep breath before reaching for the doorknob, to seem as relaxed and cool and definitely not caught in a web of lies as possible.

“Mom, what are you doing here?”

She doesn’t get an answer until her mom is inside, the purse she was carrying on the table, suitcase put away by the couch. “I’m here to meet your boyfriend.”

Oh, darn it to heck, she is screwed .

Chapter Text

His favorite sneakers are lost. Jake is one hundred, one million percent, sure he left them by the couch. But they are not there . In fact, they are nowhere to be found. He has been searching all morning . He lost so much precious time he would normally use for chilling. Now his day off has become reorganization day - he should go get Amy, she would be so happy to help, but she would also lecture him on proper item organization and, as adorable as he thinks she is, he is not in the mood for lectures, especially because his favorite sneakers are lost .

He is lying flat on his stomach, next to the couch, trying to see if, for an unexplainable reason, his shoes ended up under it. It’s the fifth time he is checking, and once again, they are not there. He wants to cry.

He decides to spend the rest of the day there, on the floor, because what is even the point of moving if he lost his favorite shoes (he is going to get up to eat eventually, Charles brought chicken fingers over last night after days of begging). But not five minutes later, there is a knock on the door.

He knows it’s Amy, she has a particular way of knocking (or maybe she doesn’t, and it could be anyone, and he wants it to be her so badly that his subconscious is playing tricks on him). Anyway, he has a feeling it’s Amy and that is why he gets up and drags himself towards the door.

The moment he opens it, she rushes past him without a word, grabbing his hand on the way and leading him to the bedroom. What is going on ? He goes along with it, though.

He is able to look at her properly once they are both inside the room and the door is safely shut behind them. If she didn’t look so upset, he would probably make a joke about why she dragged him to the bedroom. But she is pacing around the room, biting her nails, and making a stupid joke would only make everything worse. That’s the very last thing he wants.

He takes a seat on the edge of the bed and pats the space on his side. She doesn’t sit, but her pacing does end. She comes to a halt in front of him, looking down into his eyes, completely serious.

“I need your help.”

“Alright,” he nods. “With what?”

“That’s the thing,” she answers, instantly resuming her pacing. He watches in silence as she goes from one end of the room to the other, his head moving as if he were watching a tennis match, until she stops in front of him again. “It’s a big thing, a very big thing, and I don’t want to drag you into this but I kinda really need you to say yes.”

“Okay, I’m in,” he says almost immediately. “What do you need me to do?”

“Shouldn’t you wait until you know what I’m asking before saying you’ll do it?”

“No, no, I’m in. Eyes closed, head first, can’t lose.”

She opens her mouth to say something but then decides not to, choosing to roll her eyes instead.

For a few seconds he waits for her to say something, to tell him what this is all about. But she has resumed biting her nails, and she is two seconds away from starting to pace around the room again.

So he acts fast. He stands up, carefully takes her by the shoulders, and leads her towards the bed so she can sit there.

“Ames, what is going on?” he asks after occupying the empty spot next to her. He stares at the hand resting on her lap, the one she is not biting. It’s tense, just like the rest of her is, and he really, really , wants to take it and squeeze it and make all the tension go away (the full body equivalent would be a crushing hug, and he really wants to do that as well, but the hand thing seems way more reasonable given the current circumstances). He doesn’t do either. He just waits, in silence, for her answer.

“Okay, so,” she begins after taking a very deep breath, “remember when you slept over at my place a few days ago?”

He nods. Of course he remembers, it was exactly five days ago - not like he’s counting the days since they last spent time together or anything.

“Okay,” she continues, “remember that my mom called?”

“I remember teasing you for not picking up,” he answers, but regrets it instantly. She was so upset after those calls, he shouldn’t have said that in such a light, joking tone. He’s an idiot. He then remembers the things she told him after that, about lying to her mom. How any of that is related to them having a secret meeting in his room because she needs his help is beyond him.

She acknowledges his comment with a nod, but doesn’t say anything back, doesn’t even roll her eyes (not like he would be able to see that, her  head is slightly turned away from him, eyes fixed on her lap). “Well,” she takes a deep breath, even deeper than before, and he knows she is getting ready to start talking. “I could ask you not to laugh, but you’re probably gonna do it anyway, so whatever. My mom is desperate to find me a boyfriend, I’m not sure why , because she’s always told me I can’t depend on anyone for anything, but anyway she is and she’s been setting me up with random guys for years now, she even got my aunt and one of my brothers into it as well, it’s incredibly annoying. The other night, right before you came over, I was talking to her and she was begging me to go out with this dude I don’t even remember who he was, and so to get out of it I told her I was already dating someone and hung up. I know , it was an extremely stupid thing to do, but I didn’t think things through.” She pauses to breathe, but the silence doesn’t last for more than a few seconds. “I had to prepare the entire life of my supposed boyfriend because my mom would ask questions and I had to be ready to answer them. But then I got busy with work, I forgot to do that, I didn’t call her, and now my mom is here , in my apartment, demanding to meet my boyfriend.”

She pauses then, and he waits for her to go on. But nothing happens, she has finished. His mouth is hanging open, eyes fixed on the side of her face, and he is doing all in his power not to laugh. This whole situation she got herself into is so absurd . She was the last person in the entire universe he would have pictured in this kind of trouble.

“Do you need me to help you find a boyfriend in the next ten minutes?” He asks earnestly. “Because I know I said I’d do it, but I’m not sure that’s possible.”

That earns him a glare, the first time she looks up from her lap since she started talking and it’s a glare . He’s not sure what he did wrong, though. He really meant what he asked, about finding her a boyfriend, there were no traces of joking on his words.

She seems to notice this, that he wasn’t teasing her, and her face softens. She rolls her eyes (he is not sure why she does that but he is glad she’s more relaxed). “No, idiot ,” she answers. “I need you to pretend to be my boyfriend.”

Oh. Right. Of course. Him. Pretending to be her boyfriend. Meeting her mom. Lying to her mom. “Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, yeah, sure, makes sense.”

“I know it’s a lot to ask, and- and you don’t have to say yes, but you’d literally save my life.”

He nods, slowly, a couple of times. “I already said I’d do it, didn’t I?”

Her eyes light up. “Is that a yes?”

He nods again, a smile appearing on his face. “You owe me a big one, though.”

“Okay, let’s go through everything one more time.”

Amy is dreading going back to her apartment. She managed to get away from her mom by telling her she was just leaving to go grocery shopping. Which wasn’t a complete lie, she needed to go grocery shopping (but probably wasn’t going to do it until the following day). The problem was that in the eagerness to leave the apartment she had not grabbed her purse and only realized she had forgotten it after spending a good deal of time explaining everything to Jake. So going back and getting it now would be just as suspicious as coming back empty handed later.

Unless she came back with her boyfriend . Then the fact that she went out without her bag would be completely forgotten. But before that could happen, they needed to have a story planned. A fake story about their fake relationship.

“Ames, we’ve been through this a million times!” Jake protests, letting himself fall back and landing face up on the bed.

“Jake, we have to be able to tell it as if it had happened for real! Because she is going to ask.”

“Alright, alright. Quiz me.”

She makes herself comfortable on the bed, crossing her legs and moving closer to his side. “How did we meet?”

“Duh, like we did for realz.”

How ?”

“You knocked on my door to complain about the noise and fell for me instantly.”

She rolls her eyes, though he can’t see her from his current position, his gaze is fixed on the ceiling. “Then?”

“Then we spent like a year without talking much, we only exchanged a few words when we ran into each other, until one day you saw me in my uniform and your mind was completely blown by how good I looked.” She punches him on the shoulder. “Alright, alright, we bonded over our job and I asked you out.” He pauses, smiling. Before she can ask him the next question, he goes on. “We went to the Natural History Museum.”

She smiles. She’s always wanted to have a date at a museum, any museum. They agreed on Natural History because according to Jake ‘it’s the least boring one,’ something she doesn’t particularly agree with, but she does understand that art museums are not for everyone (she can’t even picture Jake at a small art gallery).

“When did we start dating?” she asks.

“Last June.”

It was the perfect month. Not so long ago that she should have most definitely told her mom about it, and not so recently that it was a brand new relationship.

“Okay, then. I think we’re ready.” Of course they had discussed millions of little details, just in case , but Amy doubts that her mom is going to ask them the exact time and location of their first kiss (in Central Park, at sunset, after they left the museum - if she is going to make a story up, it’s going to be a romantic one).

“Wait, wait, hold on,” he says, sitting up. “What about touching? We need to be physically affectionate as well or it won’t be believable.”

“Yes, of course. I just assumed we would let it flow naturally.”

“Okay,” he nods. “Is there anything off limits, though? I don’t wanna do anything that would make you uncomfortable.”

“I don’t think anything appropriate enough to be done in front of my mom could make me uncomfortable.”

“Alright,” he says, standing up.

He extends a hand towards Amy to help her get up, and she takes it willingly. But he miscalculates - the pull from his hand is too strong - and she loses her balance, almost falling face first to the floor. Almost , because his reflexes are in prime condition and he catches her, steadying her by grabbing her from the waist.

“Careful, babe ,” he tells her, his hands still in place on her sides.

She turns to face him, rolling her eyes in the process. “Why do I have a feeling that I’m going to regret asking you to do this?”

“So… are we going in?” Jake asks, eyebrows raised.

They’ve been standing in the hallway, in front of her door, for the past ten minutes. Every time she reaches to open it something crosses her mind and she automatically pulls back her hand. She then proceeds to remind Jake to do or say something, mostly trivial things. He just nods as she talks, doing all in his power to pay enough attention to remember everything. Which is probably not going to happen, he is definitely not going to remember the color of the shirt he wore to their fourth date, and even if he did, he doubts that will come up in casual conversation.

She takes a deep breath and nods in answer to his question. But minutes pass and she doesn’t move.

“Ames, it’ll be okay.”

She nods a couple of times, trying to convince herself that his words are true - that everything will go according to plan, that her mom will not suspect anything, that she won’t have to go on dates with random guys anymore.

He is not enjoying seeing her so incredibly nervous, not even able to open the door of her apartment. She is even more tense than when they were in his room, if that is even possible. She is biting her lower lip, with so much strength that he is scared she is going to hurt herself, and both of her hands are tightly clenched on her sides. Before he knows what he is doing, he reaches for one of her hands and grabs it. He feels it relaxing instantly under his touch, so much that he is able to intertwine his fingers with hers.

Her gaze jumps from their hands to his face, her expression a combination of surprise and confusion. She opens her mouth to say something, but no sound comes out.

His first instinct is to let her hand go, release it as if it were boiling hot and burning every inch of skin that is in contact with her. But then he feels the effect his touch had on her, how much more relaxed she seems to be now, and squeezes instead, fixing his grip to hold her hand more firmly.

“It’ll make it more believable,” he shrugs, feeling the need to explain his actions, because her eyes are fixed on him, and he is starting to feel overwhelmed by the whole situation.

“Yes, of course,” she answers looking away, and he swears he sees the tiniest bit of disappointment passing through her eyes.

After taking a few deep breaths and considerably increasing the amount of strength with which she is holding his hand, she takes a step forward and opens the door.

Thanks to everything Amy had said, he was expecting her mom to be sitting on a chair next to the front door waiting for her, ready to demand an explanation of where she had been all this time because there is absolutely no way she was shopping without money. But she isn’t there. In fact, she is nowhere to be seen. He looks around the room for a moment, before fixing his eyes on Amy, who, he notices, looks utterly bewildered (she was clearly expecting her mom to be waiting for her as well).

“Mom?” she asks, her voice slightly higher than its normal pitch.

There are faint sounds coming from the bedroom, sounds of drawers opening and closing, of furniture being moved around. He hears Amy taking a deep breath and sighing, exasperated, next to him.

“Mom?” she repeats, louder. “What are you doing in my bedroom?”

“Oh, nothing,” answers a muffled voice coming from the other side of the closed door. “I was just looking around and I found something quite interesting.”

He feels the pressure of her hand on his increasing, and when he turns to look at her properly, he notices that she has absolutely no idea what her mom is talking about, and she is slightly terrified by that.

“You really weren’t lying about having a boyfriend, were you, Amelia?”

Jake turns to Amy at the sound of her mom’s voice, brow furrowed in confusion. He thought her mom would be hard to convince, Amy has been telling him that for the past hour - that they need to pull it off like professionals or she is not going to buy it (and even if they did pull it off, she might still not buy it). But now, from what he can tell, she seems quite convinced. All it took was for her to find a mysterious object in Amy’s bedroom.

Her mom appears in the doorway then, holding a pair of men’s sneakers. She is looking at the shoes closely, examining them, trying to find some sort of clue there. All her focus is on that, and she fails to notice Jake and Amy standing by the door.

“My sneakers!” Jake cries the moment he recognizes the object Amy’s mom is holding. He moves forward on impulse, but Amy’s hold keeps him on his spot.

He feels the eyes of both women on him. Amy, on his side, is staring with her eyes open wide. Her mom, in front of them, looks slightly taken aback.

His eyes go back and forth between the two of them until they settle on a spot in the floor a couple of inches ahead of where he is standing. None of them move for what feels like five hundred million years to him, until Amy’s mom takes a couple of steps forward and the tension and awkwardness in the room automatically soften.

“Amelia?” her mom asks, and when he finally dares to look up, he notices that the surprise is almost completely gone from her face and is now replaced with a knowing smile.

“Oh, um… yeah,” Amy begins, and Jake impulsively squeezes her hand. It’s the only thing that is helping her stay relatively calm and he knows that. Or maybe he is starting to get more and more nervous in the presence of Amy’s mom and squeezing her hand is the easiest way to get some sort of reassurance (because she squeezes back every time). “Mom, this is Jake, my um… my boyfriend.”

“Yes,” he adds, with absolutely no control over the words that are leaving his mouth. “I’m Amy’s boyfriend. We are dating.”

Amy’s mom nods once, smile never leaving her face, and moves closer to them. She stops right in front of Jake; gives the sneakers she is still holding to Amy who, when taking them, lets go of Jake’s hand; and pulls him down into a bone crushing hug.

He is stiff at first, completely taken by surprise, but after a moment he finds himself actually enjoying the hug. He can see Amy, whose face is now a light shade of pink, standing in front of him. She is staring at him, eyes narrowed and arms crossed, waiting for the hug to be over. He mouths “your mom loves me” after it has been going on for longer than a regular hug, and she rolls her eyes.

“Okay, mom, that’s enough,” Amy says, patting her mom on the shoulder.

She ends the hug then, but still holds on to Jake’s arm. “I’m so happy to finally meet you, Jake,” she says, giving his shoulder soft pats. “Please, call me Camila.”

“It’s great to meet you too.” She likes him, he is sure of that, and that really does make him feel good. But there is also a small part of him that is feeling incredibly guilty for lying like this. He gets why Amy wanted to do this, and he agreed to help her because that’s what friends do, but this just isn’t right . He needs to talk to her about it. Telling the truth can’t be that bad. But until he is able to do that, he is going to keep pretending, for Amy’s sake.

“So, Jake, those are your shoes?” Camila asks, still holding him by the arm.

“They are! I was actually looking for them just now. May I ask where you found them?”

“Hidden under Amelia’s bed.”

“Oh, really?” he asks, turning towards Amy with his eyebrows raised and the first signs of a smile. “I wonder how they got there.”

Amy sighs. Her face is now a deep shade of red, and she doesn’t dare look up at them, eyes fixed on the floor. “They weren’t hidden . I must have kicked them down there while cleaning,” she mutters. “I would have given them back to you if I had known you were looking for them.”

“It’s okay, don’t worry. I should remember where I leave my stuff.”

“Why did you take your shoes off in her bedroom anyway?” Amy’s mom asks Jake. Less than five seconds later, realization washes over her. “You know what, you don’t have to answer that.”

Amy’s face turns redder, if that is even possible, and he can feel the heat settling on his face as well.

Amy’s mom was ready to let it go, leave that  unfortunate comment in the past, but their reactions have her alternating her gaze between them, a smile on her face.

Jake wants to disappear that instant, be swallowed by the void, because why is he blushing this much ? If they had actually done what was implied, then it would at least make some sense to feel awkward, but obviously they haven’t. Because they’re just friends . And he has never thought of Amy like that ( he hasn’t ). But now that idea has been put inside his head and, as much as he doesn’t want to, he can’t stop thinking about it. He should have never agreed to pretend to be her boyfriend. He should have told her the idea was insane the moment she voiced it. This is taking him places he had been strongly avoiding, and now, when this is over (soon, hopefully), he is going to have to deal with all the thoughts he had been repressing during the last few months.

“Okay, you two,” Camila says, snapping Jake back to reality. “I’m going to finish tidying the bedroom, and then we can sit down and chat.”

Tidying the bedroom? Mom, what did you do?” Amy asks, her voice showing the slightest glint of panic.

“Nothing, I just found some clothes that needed to be put away. I’ll be back in a moment.”

Amy takes an impossibly deep breath the moment her mom disappears inside the bedroom and closes the door behind her. There is some shuffling, and then the sound of something heavy being dragged across the room. “Oh god, she’s rearranging all my furniture,” Amy sighs.

Jake chuckles, earning him a glare from her. He notices in that moment that she is still holding his precious sneakers and snatches them from her hand.

“Why did you steal them?” he asks, carefully examining the shoes in order to see if they suffered some kind of damage.

“I didn’t steal them. You forgot them here the other day.”

“Why did you hide them under your bed then, shoe thief?”

She rolls her eyes. “I didn’t hide them,” she says, crossing her arms in front of her. “I took them to my bedroom because I can’t stand having things lying around out of place. I was going to give them back to you when I saw you. And they were not under my bed. My mom might have kicked them down there by accident.”

“Okay, okay, okay,” he says, though he doesn’t sound really convinced. (He knows it’s very likely that he forgot his sneakers there, he just doesn’t want to admit it.)

“I’m sorry about earlier. My mom can be… too much sometimes.” Her voice is low, almost a whisper. “And the worst hasn’t come yet. Get ready for the questions.”

“Yeah, about that...” he begins, ready to tell her what’s been bothering him, but changes his mind at the last second. “Nothing, nevermind.”


Nothing .”

Jake ,” she presses.

“Ames, forget it.”

She is about to ask him again, but is interrupted by her mom appearing in the doorway. She is carrying a pile of neatly folded clothes which she puts on the table. “Now, Jake, let’s get to know each other a bit.” She grabs a chair from the side of the table and moves it near the couch. For a moment Jake thinks he is going to have to sit there and answer Amy’s mom’s questions on his own, as if he were a suspect in the interrogation room, but instead of moving towards the couch, Camila sits on the chair.

He doesn’t move until Amy walks past him towards the couch, grabbing his hand on the way and dragging him along. He takes a seat on his spot (he has been over to Amy’s apartment enough times to have his own spot), which happens to be on the side furthest from where her mom is sitting.

Without really thinking her actions, Amy sits on her spot on the other end of the couch. She realizes her mistake the moment she feels Jake moving closer to her - couples are supposed to cuddle, or at the very least be near each other, not sitting on opposite ends with enough space for two other people between them.

She moves too, but miscalculates Jake’s new position and crashes into him, falling awkwardly on top of him, her back bumping against his chest. She is about to fall to the side, but he steadies her by putting his hands on her hips. She stays there for a beat, trying to make sense of what just happened, how she ended up sitting on Jake’s lap. She jumps ( literally ) at the realization that she is, in fact, sitting on Jake’s lap . She doesn’t fall back down too far away, his hands still on her hips limit her movements, and she makes herself comfortable on his side. Their entire sides are touching, and she can feel the warmth coming from him. Added to the immeasurable heat on her face, she barely remembers what being cold feels like.

She steals a glance at him, wanting to apologize, and notices his face is bright red, probably the exact same shade as hers. She looks away immediately, not daring to say anything, not even in a whisper, should her mother hear.

Her eyes dart to her mom then, sitting on the chair, hand over her mouth in order to hide a smile and hold back a chuckle that is threatening to escape her. Amy’s face gets even hotter, something she thought was impossible (for a second she is scared that the rest of her body is suffering from a shortage of blood at the moment).

“So,” Camila asks after a beat, “how did you two meet?”

Amy automatically opens her mouth to answer but nothing comes out. Her mind is completely blank (not exactly blank , just fixed on the fact that she and Jake are sitting so close and why can’t she focus on anything else ?).

He starts talking the moment he realizes she is not going to answer. Amy is taken aback by how smooth his answers are, how naturally they come out. She nods along to everything he says, occasionally rolling her eyes, and leaning closer to him when he puts an arm around her shoulders. She only almost freaks out once, when the story of how he asked her out is completely different from what they had planned. He tells a story much closer to reality, almost the exact same story of how she ended up having to watch the Die Hard movies with him - only that instead of the Die Hard movies, she had to go on a date with him. (He also mentions that his original plan was to take her to an awful place and make her go to the worst date ever just to rub his victory on her face but then changed his mind when he realized that he actually liked her.) She should have guessed that he would be quite the charmer. Her mom laughs with every silly joke and comment, and after a while the questions stop being about their relationship and turn to Jake’s life.

Amy is listening intently, though she has heard the story of the first time he watched Die Hard a hundred times before. But then he starts talking about his childhood, his parents, why his mom thinks he became a cop - and though Amy knows all this, they have talked about it during dinner once, she feels a pang of affection towards him.

She is about to reach for his free hand when there is a loud knock on the door. The sound makes the three of them turn towards it, the same expression of having being interrupted at the worst time on all faces.

“Were you expecting someone?” Amy’s mom asks.

She shakes her head and turns towards Jake. Maybe he was expecting someone, it wouldn’t be the first time they have to look for him in her apartment. But he shakes his head as well.

“Amy, are you in there?” It’s Charles, yelling on the other side of the door and knocking non stop. “I need the dish I brought you lasagna in the other day. I’m doing something special for Genevieve, it’s our six month anniversary today and I’m gonna–”

“I’m coming, Charles!” she yells back, jumping to her feet. The last thing she needs is her mom hearing the details of what Charles plans to do with Genevieve. “Mom, I’ll be right back.”

“Who is that? Why is he bringing you food?” Camila asks, standing up.

Amy turns to Jake, still sitting on the couch, and silently asks him to do something, anything , to keep her mom from following her. It’s not her mom knowing about Charles what worries her, it’s the fact that if Charles knows she is there, he’ll want to meet her and he will definitely call them out on their little white lie (it could be intentionally or not - either way, she doesn’t want to find out).

He understands the message and moves closer to where the chair Camila was sitting on is. “He’s just a neighbor,” Jake says, catching Camila’s attention. Amy uses that moment of distraction to disappear into the kitchen. “Well, not just a neighbor, a friend of ours,” he continues. He sighs internally the moment Amy’s mom slowly sits back down on the chair. “He loves to cook, and he usually brings us food.”

Amy is rummaging in the kitchen, the sounds of pots being moved around and of cabinets opening and closing come loud and clear. He tries to keep his eyes on her mom, but they wander off towards the kitchen doorway.

“May I ask you something, Jake?”

“Yes, of course.” If he had been paying attention, he would have noticed the look on Camila’s face. A look lacking all traces of humor that had previously been there, a look that said that the conversation was about to get serious.

“What drew you to my daughter?”

He freezes. They didn’t plan an answer for a question like this. They did plan the events to the very last detail, exact dates and times left vague in case they both were questioned and one messed up, but not feelings . What is he even supposed to answer? He’s not drawn to Amy. He doesn’t know what someone would be drawn by, what he is supposed to say. What drew him to Amy? He doesn’t know. Because he is not drawn to Amy the way her mom thinks he is. And yes, it was pretty easy coming up with the events that helped the development of their relationship, but coming up with feelings is a completely different thing. The pressure of Camila’s stare on him is almost unbearable.

“I… um… I… she’s… cool?” He is an idiot. Camila’s eyes narrow slightly and the only thing he wants in that moment is to be swallowed by the floor and disappear forever. “I mean,” he tries again, “she’s great.” At least that came out as a statement rather than a question, but still it doesn’t mean that he is even close to being satisfied with the words that he is producing. Why isn’t his stupid brain working? “And… um… I... I like being with her.”

He is about to say something more - what exactly he is not sure - when he catches a glimpse of Amy rushing out of the kitchen and leaving the apartment, Charles’s dish in her hands. “And, you know, she’s really smart, and funny, and even more competitive than me, something I never thought would be possible.” He finds himself smiling, remembering their bets at the tactical village, how determined she was to beat him. “We really get each other, like I could talk to her about literally anything. We just clicked from the very beginning and she has always been a really, really great friend-” He stops suddenly, realizing his mistake. There is no point in hoping that Amy’s mom didn’t catch it, she is already tilting her head slightly and narrowing her eyes in confusion. “Which is why I thought of asking her out, and why I… um... why I fell for her.”

Of course he had to ruin it at the very last moment. He is only slightly panicking about how easily all those nice things came out of him, how he didn’t really have to think about them, how it didn’t feel like lying at all . He is more concerned about whether Camila bought it despite his slip up.

It seems to him that she did, though there still are some traces of uncertainty on her face. “I really do love spending time with her,” he finds himself adding. “Whenever I’m alone in my apartment and I hear she’s home I have to fight the urge to come knocking on her door. She’s often busy so I don’t want to annoy her. But lately I’ve been coming up with the weirdest excuses to come over.” He pauses suddenly. It goes completely unnoticed, though, because in that exact moment Amy comes back in and just few seconds later she is sitting by his side.

Amy says something, he hears her voice loud and clear, but he can’t really make out the words. What on earth was going through his mind when he added what he added? Amy’s mom hadn’t asked him anything, and that definitely wasn’t something he wanted to share with the world. So why did he say it? The most terrifying part? It was completely true. Not even one word was a lie. The only conclusion he can draw from that is that he doesn’t think about Amy as just his friend anymore. She’s now his best friend (he makes a mental note not to mention this in front of Charles, he would have a nervous breakdown).

“Jake?” Amy asks, slightly worried.

“Huh?” He stares at her for a moment and then turns his attention to her mom. There is a small, knowing smile on her face. A smile that makes his face suddenly feel warmer.

“I asked what you were talking about. Are you feeling okay? Your face is all red.”

“I’m fine.” His voice is just above a whisper. Why is it suddenly so hot in here?

Amy’s eyes are fixed on him, filled with concern and puzzlement. He really doesn’t want to make eye contact with her, he’s trying to calm down and that wouldn’t be of any help. But she won’t look away, and he can only stare at her mom for so long before he starts to seem creepy.

“I was only asking Jake a few questions,” Camila says, and he sighs in relief.

Now it’s Amy’s turn to freak out. She stares at her mom for a moment, then at Jake, then back at her mom. Neither of them is giving any sign of what those questions were, but she can imagine, and she doesn’t like it one bit. Although, by the look on her mom’s face, it seems that Jake did pretty well. (That doesn’t make her any less nervous. She has no idea what Jake said, and if he changed something from their original story without her knowledge, this could end horribly.)

“And, Amelia, let me tell you that if you had told me you were dating someone, I wouldn’t have tried to force a relationship on you. You’ve already found the perfect man for you and I couldn’t be happier that it’s someone like Jake.”

Her eyes widen despite her efforts to stay as calm and emotionless as possible. She turns to Jake, wondering what on earth he said to her mom to make her say that. Because, Amy knows, her mom is not easy to impress. And she becomes especially picky with the guys Amy brings home (not that she brought many guys home). If she doesn’t like a guy, as it usually happens, she smiles and nods, pretending to listen to what he says but not really paying too much attention. And the conversation is mostly superficial. Amy should have realized that something was different when Jake started talking about his childhood and her mom was actually interested. And now it is crystal clear - for the first time in her life, her mom likes the man she is dating. The only problem? She is not dating him.

There is a broad grin plastered across Jake’s face. He is probably doing a victory dance in his mind. He loves it when people say he’s a good guy. They once rode the elevator with an old lady who lives somewhere in their building. He not only pressed the button for her, but he also walked her to her door, carrying the bags she had with her. Later, he knocked on Amy’s door just to tell her that the lady had said that he was such a nice boy and that she was going to bake something for him. Amy has absolutely nothing against that, she actually finds it really cute. What she does not enjoy is the bragging that comes after, and she is absolutely positive that he is going to brag about her mom liking him for the next decade.

The grin disappears when he senses her alarm, though Amy is not sure if he got the right message. His reaction is to put an arm around her shoulders and bring her closer to him.

“You two remind me so much of Victor and me when we just started dating. Of course that was years ago. But we were just like you, unable to keep our hands off each other.”

Amy lets out a nervous laugh. She really doesn’t want to hear about what her parents did when they were younger, especially if it involves touching.

Her mom is looking at them expectantly, as if she were waiting for something to happen, for them to do something. Amy glances at Jake, who seems to be flustered again, face bright red and eyes anywhere but on her.

“Yeah,” Amy says when she is certain her mom won’t say anything else until something, anything, happens. “We definitely can’t keep our hands off each other. Right, babe?” What is wrong with her?

Jake nods his head once, gaze fixed on the coffee table in front of him.

“But of course we don’t want to make you uncomfortable, mom.”

“Oh, Amelia, please. It wouldn’t make me uncomfortable at all . You’re my daughter and I love you. There is nothing I like more that seeing you so happy and in love.”

Love? Who said anything about love? They just started dating - that’s what her mom thinks anyway - and it would be way too early to even mention love . Did Jake say something while she was gone? She doubts it, he seems just as disconcerted as she is.

But love is quickly forgotten. Her mom is still waiting for them to do something and Amy knows that they are not getting out of this. She looks at him for a moment, asking silently if he is okay with it. His expression softens, which can only mean that he is.

So she leans forward and pecks his cheek.

It’s a quick thing, not lasting more than one second, but her heart is suddenly beating faster, way faster. Jake seems to be frozen in his place, head turned towards her, his eyes fixed on hers. There is something in the way he is looking at her, something she hasn’t seen there before, and she is not quite sure what it means. She only hopes it’s nothing bad . She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if her relationship with him is ruined by this whole thing. She should have known this was a bad idea. She should have told her mom the truth at the very beginning and deal with the consequences instead of making this whole thing up and dragging him into it. She feels his arm bringing her closer to him and she lets herself lean against his side. Maybe it’s not as bad as she is thinking.

She’s not looking at her mom, she can’t do that. But she is not really worried about what she might think about her kissing him. She can’t help but think that they definitely gave themselves away by the way they both reacted. It was just a tiny, little peck, and they stared at each other in complete bewilderment after it, definitely not something that people who have been dating for months do.

There is no need for anyone to say anything, though, because in that moment Jake’s phone starts ringing.

“I’m sorry, I have to answer. It’s work,” he says after taking his phone from his pocket and checking the screen.

Amy catches a glimpse of the caller ID before he picks up and walks away towards the kitchen, and it takes all in her not to start freaking out right then and there because Captain Raymond Holt is calling Jake . She’s too busy thinking about that, trying to come up with a way to ask Jake to introduce her to him, that she misses the knowing smile with which her mom is staring at her.

Jake is back not two minutes later, his face showing clear signs of disappointment. “I’m sorry but I have to leave. My partner just arrested a guy that says he’s got a lot of information about a drug dealer that I’ve been after for months .”

“Oh, don’t worry, Jake,” Camila says, standing up.

“No but, I’m really having a good time. It sucks that I have to leave right now.”

“Well, we’ll have another chance to talk, hopefully.” That last part is directed to Amy, who is frozen on her spot on the couch, staring in disbelief at her mom and Jake’s interactions. “I’ll cook something for you next time,” Amy’s mom adds, her attention back on Jake.

“I’d love that! I’m sure you’re a wonderful cook, Camila.”

“Jake remember that… um… thing I forgot in your apartment?” Amy interrupts before it all becomes too much. “I need it now because I need to… use it. Can I go pick it up?”

“Um… sure,” he answers, head tilted in confusion.

Now ,” Amy adds, standing up and walking to his side.

He nods once and turns towards the door, but before he can take one step, Amy’s mom reaches for his hand and pulls him down into a bone crushing hug - the second one of the day.

“Be careful, okay?” she says, once the hug is over.

He nods, and Amy can’t help but roll her eyes when she notices that stupid grin back on his face. She takes his hand then, and drags him along towards the door and out. He manages to say a final goodbye to her mom before the door closes behind them.

“What did you forget here?” he asks once they are inside his apartment and the door is safely shut behind them.

She shushes him. “Be quiet ,” she whispers, pointing towards the wall that their apartments share.

“What did you forget here?” he repeats, whispering.

“Nothing. I just needed to get you away from my mom. Two more minutes and you’d be making plans to go on vacation with her.”

“Well, what can I do? She loves me.”

Exactly . Or are you forgetting this is not real ? I’m gonna have to tell her we broke up soon, and it’s not going to be a fun conversation if she loves you.”

“Well, I could just pretend to be your boyfriend every time she comes over.”

Amy raises her eyebrows and he looks away immediately, his face turning a light shade of pink.

“Look,” she begins after a moment of awkward silence in which neither of them dared to look at the other. “I don’t know how to thank you for what you did. I really, really appreciate it. But I don’t think it was the best thing to do. I started doubting this whole thing halfway through but it was too late.”

“Yeah, it was a pretty dumb idea if you ask me,” he says, eyes still fixed on the floor, but she can see traces of a smile on his face.

She chuckles and nods. “I don’t want you to get more involved in this than you already are.”

They stay that way a moment, standing next to each other in silence. She wonders why he won’t meet her eye, why his face is still red and it doesn’t show signs of going back to its normal color any time soon.

It seems that years pass before he looks up, clearly just remembering something. “I still have the Harry Potter DVD you forgot here ages ago. Let me go get it.” Before she can say anything he disappears into his bedroom. There is some shuffling, Amy hears, and she knows that, given his nonexistent organizational skills, she is going to have to wait a while.

So she moves towards the couch and sits there, wishing she had taken her phone with her to at least have something to do.

“Victor, I’m telling you, it was not a lie.” Amy freezes when she hears her mom’s voice coming from the other side of the wall. The fact that her mom waited until she was gone to call her dad makes her have the feeling that she is not supposed to listen to this conversation - though she is not sure whether you can call it a conversation if she is only able to hear half of it. She knows that eavesdropping is wrong , that she should give her mom some privacy, but she’s talking about her and her relationship. She has a right to know.

“That’s what I thought too.” Her mom’s voice is loud and clear, Amy guesses she is sitting on the couch, completely unaware of how thin these walls are. “But you should have seen the way they looked at each other. You can’t fake that .”

Amy’s stomach drops. She didn’t notice a change in the way he looked at her, except when it got way too awkward but that’s natural, right? And she definitely wasn’t looking at him differently than normal. So what does ‘ the way they looked at each other ’ even mean? She knows she should get up and go get a glass of water, go help Jake look for her DVD, go to the bathroom, anything that would make her stop listening now before her mom says something else that could make her mind run a mile a minute for the next month. But it’s hypnotizing, she cannot move.

“He is a good man, Victor. You know I wouldn’t lie about this. And he is so in love with her, you should have heard all the things he said. I have absolutely no doubt about it.”

Amy’s heart is beating too fast, and it’s so loud she can hear it. Which is a good thing since it makes her stop listening to what her mom is saying. Jake definitely should win an award for best actor. Whatever it is that he said, it convinced her mom that he is in love with her. Which is way more than she was expecting him to do when she asked him to pretend to be her boyfriend. She can’t help but wonder what he said, how he managed to make her mom be so utterly sure that he is in love with her, disappointment washing over her at the realization that she will never know. She would be laughing at the top of her lungs if she were able to breathe properly.

“Ames, are you okay?”

She’s not sure where he came from, how long he has been standing in front of her. She prays he didn’t hear her mom talking, that would be awkward . His brow is furrowed in concern, eyes staring intently at her.

“Uh… yeah, I’m fine. I was just thinking.”

“Okay.” He nods, not fully convinced. “I’m sure you’re comfortable in my couch probably coming up with a philosophical theory or something, but I really have to go now.”

“Oh, right.” She jumps to her feet, almost falling due to the dizziness she’s still feeling thanks to her mom’s words. He catches her, steadies her. It’s not the first time he’s done that today. She really needs to be more careful.

She snatches the DVD from his hand and practically runs towards the door. He follows her and they walk out together. She’s looking everywhere but at him, and she knows he notices how weird she’s being. But thankfully he doesn’t say anything. She thanks him one last time as he’s walking away towards the elevator, and enters her apartment, shutting the door behind her.

Her mom is, just as Amy thought, sitting on the couch, and she notices her putting down her phone rather quickly. It was definitely a conversation she was not supposed to hear.

Her mom stands up then, walks towards the suitcase that is still by the door, and turns to Amy. She can’t help but feel something is off. Her mom usually takes her room when she comes over, so why is her suitcase still there? Why hasn’t she settled in? Why is she grabbing the suitcase now?

“It was good to meet your boyfriend, Amelia. My visit has served its purpose.”


“I’m leaving now.”

She doesn’t understand. The world doesn’t make sense anymore, or she might be going insane. What is going on?

“You came all this way to stay for five minutes?” she manages to ask.

“Well, actually I came to visit Manuel. Did you know he moved?”

Amy nods, unable to produce any sound. She is aware that her brother recently moved in with his girlfriend, he now lives in a nice apartment in Manhattan - he made sure she knew about it by bragging non stop for days .

“Well,” her mom continues, “I came because he asked me to help him with something. He didn’t say what over the phone, but I have a feeling he wants to propose.”

Amy fights the urge to snort. There is absolutely no way her brother wants that kind of advice from their mom. He probably just wants to learn how to cook something, something that would be too hard to learn over the phone, so he can later brag about it and annoy Amy. (He and Jake would get along really well, she thinks. They both love annoying her.) Or maybe he does want some kind of serious advice that can’t be discussed over the phone. Either way, it doesn’t really concern her.

“So, why did you come here?” Amy asks, still trying to understand everything that is happening.

“I told you, to meet your boyfriend.”

“And what would you have done if he didn’t live next door and couldn’t come right away?”

“I think you know I would have stayed until I met him. And, if I’m being honest, I thought I would have to wait at least a couple of days. But I’m glad I got to meet him today. He’s a great guy, Amelia. And I know you well enough to tell he makes you happy.” The smile that forms on Amy’s face is completely involuntary. “And you make him happy too, he told me so.”

She suddenly can’t breathe and her heart rate just multiplied by a hundred. She knows her mom is not lying, she would never lie about something like this. She needs to know what Jake said, but it’s going to be something impossible. She can’t ask her mom without completely giving herself away. She can’t ask Jake without telling him what her mom said. And she is most definitely not going to face him and ask ‘What did you tell my mom to make her think you’re completely in love with me?’

“Don’t mess this up,” her mom says before hugging her tightly, telling her to call, and walking out of the door, leaving Amy alone with her thoughts.

She cannot believe she just lied to her mom as much as she did. She literally made up a fake life and somehow got away with it. She’s nowhere near being happy, though. The pure guilt she is feeling is enough to keep her awake for at least a week. And she dragged Jake into it as well . It feels wrong , but she can only think of one way to fix this.

She’s gonna have to start dating again. Not that it would be something terrible , she actually wants to find someone who could do with her everything Jake pretended to do today and more. She wants to find someone she enjoys being with, someone with whom she can be herself, someone who makes her truly happy. And then, once she finds that person, she’s going to come clean, tell her mom everything. Well not everything. She’s just going to casually mention she broke up with Jake and immediately say the new man’s name after. It’s a good plan. There is absolutely no way it can go wrong.

Chapter Text

It’s been a day since he heard movement inside Amy’s apartment. Which is fine, he’s not worried. She’s probably stuck at work - it has happened to him before, he spent an entire weekend at work once - or maybe she is on a multiple day stakeout. Maybe she went away for a few days and didn’t tell him. But he would have noticed if she had gone away, right? And, anyway, the last time he saw her was yesterday afternoon as she was rushing to work having being called back for what she said was an emergency. She’s most likely still there. He is not worried.

He considers calling her after not having heard anything for forty-eight hours, but he chooses against it. She would not like being bothered by him if she is still at work. Even if he was only calling to check she is okay. Which she probably is. He needs to stop thinking about her all the time, it’s not doing him any good.

He asks Charles if he happens to know anything about her when he brings him dinner on day three. He just shakes his head and says he made food for her as well, now he’s going to have to give it to Carl from the third floor. Before leaving he tells Jake to let him know when she comes back, and he also comments how odd it is that she left without telling him, every single time she has gone away for a few days she stopped by his apartment so he wouldn’t make extra food. Jake says she’s probably going to be back by the following day, but agrees to let Charles know anyway.

On day four he calls her. Not because he’s worried , he just wants to know her whereabouts because he misses her. As a friend, who he likes to hang out with, and who disappeared without a trace four days ago. But she doesn’t answer. He calls again before going to sleep. Still nothing. So he texts her, a simple ‘is everything okay?’ because that’s all he truly cares about. Not where she is, not why she left - only if she’s okay.

He starts to worry, actually worry, on the fifth day. She didn’t answer the text, and she’s not picking up when he calls her, and she hasn’t been in her apartment in five full days , and he hasn’t heard of her in five full days , and he doesn’t know what else to do. He doesn’t know any of her friends, doesn’t have her mom’s number, doesn’t have any other means to communicate with her than through the phone. Which she is not picking up . He decides, on impulse, to go to her precinct, demand they tell him where she is and not leave until he gets an answer because that’s probably the last place she went to and they must know. They have to know. Because if they don’t… he doesn’t even want to think about that possibility. But, in the end, he stays home. He doesn’t really have a right to that kind of information, they wouldn’t be required to give it to him. Because he’s nothing more than a friend to her. For all they care, he might just be a psycho after their best detective.

He can’t focus on anything on day six. Rosa had to fix all the paperwork he filed (he made dumber mistakes than usual, he doesn't normally file a murder under property damage), he spilled coffee on him multiple times, didn’t realize Hitchcock stole his lunch until four in the afternoon, and might have agreed to do something for Gina, though he is not really sure what it was exactly. He just kept nodding, agreeing, moving on autopilot because where the hell is Amy? He barely sleeps that night.

He spends the entirety of day seven alternating between knocking on her door, calling, and texting. Just as he thought, nothing happens. But he has not lost hope. Every time he knocks, every time he calls, there is a part of him (a rather big part) that feels like this is it - this is the time she is going to open the door, to pick up. But she doesn’t. Every time it’s the same. Nothing. His thoughts are consumed by her - where she might be, what she might be doing, why she is not answering. He stays the entire night awake, phone fully charged should he finally get a call.

On his way home from work on the eighth day he starts to seriously consider filing a missing persons report. The idea comes back that he could just stop by her precinct, try to get any information from there, but he is too sleep deprived at the moment to form coherent thoughts, and he really doesn’t want to seem like a lunatic. So he resolves that he will do it if he doesn’t hear anything by the next afternoon. And if they don’t know anything he’s going to look for her himself, he doesn’t care one bit about the hundreds of open cases he currently has.

But, luckily, thanks to the universe, it doesn’t have to come to that. Because when he is inside his building and is walking towards the stairs because the elevator is out of order - again - he sees her. She is standing at the bottom of the stairs, facing away from him. But he knows it’s her, he would be able to recognize her anywhere. Suddenly he is fully awake, the knot that has been in his stomach for the past week disappears, a weight is lifted from his shoulders, and he has to fight the urge to run to her, take her in his arms, and hug her as tight as possible, because she’s alive, she’s here , and she’s fine .

He freezes then, his stomach dropping instantly.

Looking at her now, really looking at her, he can tell that she is most definitely not fine. Why would someone who is fine need crutches?

“Amy!” he yells, not able to contain the wave of feelings rising inside him. Before he knows it, he’s by her side and pulling her into a bone crushing hug, unable to hold himself back because she is most definitely not okay, and yes, she’s alive, but she might very well not be. Because she disappeared for an entire week and now she needs crutches , and what happened to her ?

She’s stiff in his arms at first, but after a second he can feel her relaxing against him, putting her arms around his neck and hugging him back. Though she might be only doing that to support her weight - thanks to the suddenness of his movements the crutches are now lying on the floor.

He somehow manages to pick them up without letting go of her (if he does, she would end up in the floor as well), and only takes a step back when he is completely, absolutely, positively sure that she’s stable enough to stand by herself with the crutches.

“What happened?” he asks, not even attempting to hide his concern.

“Nothing,” she answers. “I’m fine.”

He gives her a look, a look that says ‘don’t even try to pretend you’re okay because you are not , I can literally see you’re not so please just tell me what happened,’ but she doesn’t answer. Instead, she turns back to the stairs and goes back to attempting to climb them.

He is by her side instantly, he gets there just as she is about to lose her balance, holding her by the waist and steadying her. She might not have fallen, but then again she might have , and he really doesn’t want to even think about the possibility that she might get even more hurt than she already is.

“I can do this on my own,” she tells him, pushing his hands away from her.

“You’re going to kill yourself if you attempt to climb three flights of stairs on your own.”

“No, I won’t. I know what I’m doing.” She turns back to the steps in front of her and resumes her climbing (her attempted climbing).

He watches her, he is not sure for how long, but it might have taken her a good fifteen minutes to get as far as the first landing.

She sighs in exasperation when he appears on her side.

“Can you please let me help you?”

She shakes her head. “I don’t need your help.”

“I don’t doubt that. But it would save us both a great deal of time and I’m sure you should be resting anyway.”

He stares at her, waiting for an answer. She’s not looking at him, eyes fixed on the stairs in front of them. He notices that all her weight is on her right leg and her left is slightly bent, barely touching the floor. He can’t help but wonder what happened to her, why she was gone for a week, but that doesn’t really matter right now. He just wants her to let him take care of her, and by take care he means help her get to her apartment before midnight.

“Okay, fine,” she sighs after what feels like forever to him.

“Alright, so…” He stares at her for a moment, then at the stairs, then back at her. He did not think things through. “How do we do this?”

“Don’t ask me , you are the one who insisted on helping.”

“Okay, okay, let me think.” It is then, while he ponders over which is the best way to get her to her apartment, that he realizes how utterly tired she looks. She probably hasn’t gotten a good night of sleep in ages - ages being the week she was gone. It’s not that she looks messy , she never looks messy, but there are bags under her eyes and she’s slightly pale and it takes her eyes an extra millisecond to open when blinking. He is going to do everything in his power to help her reach her bed as soon as possible. “What about a piggyback ride?” he asks. It’s either that or picking her up and carrying her (and he has a feeling she is not going to like that).

“That’s definitely not safe, Jake.”

“It’s safer than you attempting to climb the stairs on your own.”

“Okay,” she sighs after a moment.

She obviously can’t jump so he crouches down in front of her immediately. He feels her hands on his shoulders as she places herself in the correct position. He’s about to get up, her arms safely wrapped around his neck, when she pulls back slightly.

“Be careful with my leg,” she says, her voice low, vulnerable, and he’s unable to move for an instant, completely shocked because he has never , in all the time he has known her, heard or seen her like this. And he doesn’t like it at all .

He nods, unable to produce words. He wishes she would tell him what happened to her, or at least where exactly she’s hurt, because ‘leg’ is a wide concept and, although he is almost certain she means her left leg, he is not sure what spot or area he needs to avoid.

“Let me know if I’m hurting you,” he tells her on the way up. He feels her nod, her head brushing against his, and he can’t see her, but he’s almost certain her eyes are closed.

How they managed to get to her apartment carrying the crutches with them he has absolutely no idea. He also managed to convince her to let him take her to the bed - she almost jumped off and walked in on her own when they got to her door.

“Jake, I need to change, I can’t just go to sleep like this,” she protests when he drops her, carefully , on the bed. “I also need to go through all the plans I had for this past week and try to sort them out as soon as possible, and then I need to-”

Amy ,” he interrupts. “You need to rest .”

“I’m fine .”

“Please stop saying that.”

He tries to sit on the bed next to her, in the small space between her and the edge of the mattress. When she realizes what he is trying to do, she moves towards the middle of the bed, leaving enough room for him to sit down comfortably, but not enough for them to be on complete different sides. In fact, their arms are touching, and the moment she rests her head on his shoulder his face suddenly feels warmer, a lot warmer, and he wonders if she can feel his heart beating impossibly fast.

“Look, you don’t have to tell me what happened, but you’re obviously hurt so please stop trying to pretend you’re okay.” She sighs and he feels her moving even closer to him, readjusting the position of her head. He really, really wants to put an arm around her and bring her even closer and just hold her, but for some reason that he can’t fully comprehend he can’t move. “I just want to help you,” he adds.

When she talks, after a moment of silence in which the only thing they can hear are the muffled sounds of the city beyond the walls of the room, her voice is low, almost a whisper, and if his attention wasn’t solely focused on her, he wouldn’t have been able to hear her.

“I got shot.”

What ?” Suddenly he can’t breathe.

“It wasn’t serious or anything and I-”

“Someone shot you ?”

“Yeah, but it was nothing, really. I’m fine.”

She’s not fine, this is not fine. She was shot . He knew she was injured, that was clear enough for the world to see but he never, ever, not once thought it was this serious. He tries to ignore the echoing voice in the back of his head that keeps repeating ‘she could have died’ over and over again and does his best to focus on the warmth of her hand in his. “ What happened ?” he manages to ask, and despite his best efforts, the words come out low and shaky.

“I was chasing a perp and he had a gun.”

The lightness of her tone, the way she speaks as if she were telling him what the weather was like, has him with his lips pressed tightly, a frown on his face. “Were you alone?”

“No, with my partner.”

“Where did this happen?”

“In an alley next to the place where the guy was hiding, he was running away. Why are you so worried about all this?”

“What happened to the perp?”

“I don’t… I’m not sure.”

“You’re not sure ?”

“I spent the past week in the hospital, I didn’t have the time to find out.”

His heart is beating faster and faster with each word she says, so loud that is deafening. He’s going to be sick any second now. The mental image of Amy lying in pain, bleeding out in the ground in a dirty, urine smelling alley is simply too much for him to handle. His breathing only starts becoming regular again when she puts a hand on his shoulder and squeezes lightly.

But then the thought that he was doing all his best to keep at the back of his mind, the thought that - just as he feared - she had been in a life threatening situation, takes over him.

She really could have died. She could have bled out in a random alley in Brooklyn and he would never see her again. And the last thing he would have said to her would be that he’s not going over to her place for dinner again unless she lifts the ban on orange soda (which was a complete lie, he would spend every minute of the day with her even if it meant not drinking orange soda ever again). Those are pretty crappy last words.

He feels more pressure coming from the hand on his shoulder, and he knows she’s trying to reassure him, once again, that she’s fine, that nothing too serious happened. He can’t look at her, though. If he does he’s going to start crying. He knows he’s probably overreacting, but this is his best friend and she could have died .

“Jake,” she says after he puts an arm around her and brings her closer to his side. “Why are you so worried? I get that it could have been more serious, but it wasn’t. I’m fine.”

“You’re hurt,” he points out.

“Yeah, but-”

“And you were gone for days and I didn’t know where you were, or anything at all for that matter. I called you a million times to check on you but you didn’t pick up or answer any of my texts, and I tried to convince myself that you were okay and that I shouldn’t worry. It obviously didn’t work because I could barely sleep, but anyway when I finally saw you I was so relieved but then I noticed you were hurt and I felt that I had been right to worry and that I should have put more effort in trying to find you and not wait a week . I knew something was wrong on day one, I should have trusted my gut.”

“Jake, there was nothing you could have done.”

“I know, I just- I don’t- I’m glad you’re okay. You know, not okay okay, but… okay.”

She laughs at that. It’s soft and barely audible but it relieves him (only slightly, but it’s something ).

“Sorry about not picking up the phone,” Amy says after a moment of peaceful silence. “I left it at the precinct, inside one of my desk drawers, and I think no one knows it’s there so they didn’t bring it to the hospital.”

“It’s okay, don’t apologize. Just a heads-up, you’re gonna have one hell of missed calls.”

Her laugh makes him feel like maybe this thing, this whole situation, is not as bad as he thinks after all.

It’s only when he finally lies down on her couch that he realizes how tired he actually is. He hasn’t had a good night of sleep in over two days, and only now he starts to allow himself to rest.

It took some time but he eventually managed to convince Amy to let him stay over while she naps, just in case she needs anything. She made him promise her he would wake her up for dinner, that was the condition for staying. She didn’t want to fall asleep and wake up the following morning, she had things to do.

After making sure she was actually sleeping, he texted Charles to let him know Amy is back and to ask him to make something for her. He got twenty-two texts in response, fifteen of which consisted of emojis only, but in one of the remaining seven he said he was actually planning to make fried chicken and that he would bring some over later. That’s the second best thing to happen today - the first one being finding out that Amy is alive.

It might be his sleep deprived mind playing tricks on him, but as much as he tries not to, the image of Amy, lying in pain in an abandoned alley, covered in her own blood, keeps returning to his mind. And it’s vivid . So vivid that for a moment he doubts the entire day actually happened and Amy hasn’t come back yet and she might never do. He might never get to see her again, talk to her again. It makes him feel sick.

He’s going to make sure he can help in the investigation to find the perp who did this to her and make sure he spends the rest of his life in prison. Over the years he has found the way to make Captain Holt agree to most of the things he wants, and working along with the 8-2 to find a criminal is actually one of the most sensible ideas he has ever come up with.

He can’t close his eyes without seeing Amy bleeding out in front of him. He doesn’t really understand why his brain hasn’t caught up with reality yet, why he’s still so worried about her wellbeing when he knows perfectly well that she’s sleeping in the next room. And as tired as he is, being unable to close his eyes is a problem.

So he decides to go to the bathroom, wash his face, and do literally anything except try to fall asleep.

He stops sharp in the small hallway. The door of her bedroom is open, he left it like that to make sure he would be able to hear her if she called for him. Amy is sleeping - he expected her to be, so he doesn’t know what exactly makes him stop and stare. It might be the fact that he has never seen her looking so peaceful before. She’s on her side, covers wrapped tightly around her, her head the only visible part of her body. He knows he probably seems like a creep, but he can’t move, can’t take his eyes away from the sleeping figure in front of him.

All images of her dying vanish instantly. All of a sudden Amy’s not covered in blood, or alone in some hospital room with only the beeping of the machines as company, or dying . She’s fine . It’s the first time that those words don’t seem like a complete lie to him. She could have died, yes, but she didn’t. He will get to see her again, talk to her again, spend time with her again. And, if he’s being completely honest, that’s the one thing he is absolutely sure he wants to do for a very long time - be with her. And maybe not as friends. Not as just friends.

Suddenly all the odd feelings he has been having lately towards her make absolute sense.

He likes her. Romantic stylez .

Amy wakes up on her own some hours later - a good thing; he’s not sure if he would have been able to keep his promise, disturbing her sleep just seems wrong. He knows she’s awake thanks to the sound of crutches moving around, and although she hasn’t called for him, he’s on his feet and moving towards her bedroom instantly.

His mind has been moving a mile a minute since he returned to the couch from the bathroom. He’s not sure where his feelings for Amy came from or when exactly they got there. All he knows is that they’re there and they have been there for a while. He wanted to tell her right then, wake her up and just confess everything to her. In normal circumstances he would not even think about doing that, but the fact that she almost died changes everything. Maybe that’s why he’s still so upset about what happened to her (though significantly less than when he first found out she was hurt), maybe, somewhere in the back of his mind, he’s terrified of never being able to tell her how he feels.

He got as far as getting up and taking a couple of steps towards her bedroom when he realized what he was about to do was insane. First of all, he’s not going to disturb Amy when she’s finally sleeping, and second, he’s doesn’t even know what his feelings are exactly. He needs to sit down and think about it, really think about it, before he can talk to her. The very last thing he wants is to ruin their friendship thanks to unidentified feelings and his lack of self control.

“Do you need help?” he asks when he steps into the bedroom.

Amy is sitting on the bed, one crutch in hand and stretching to get hold of the other one so she can get up. He knows what her answer is going to be, so instead of waiting for her answer he moves to her side and hands her the crutch.

“Thanks,” she says, her voice low.

“Charles stopped by earlier,” he says as he watches her struggling to get up. “He brought fried chicken and it smells really good. I’m dying to try it.”

“You should have eaten, you didn’t have to wait for me to be up.”

He shrugs. There is no way he would have had dinner without her. “You know what,” he says after she falls back into the bed for the fifth time, “why don’t we just eat here? You don’t have to get up.”

“Eat in bed? Are you insane?”

“Okay, okay, bad suggestion. I forgot who I was talking to. Can I at least help you get to the couch?”

“I can do it.”

He sighs. “Alright.”

Dinner goes as it always does. The TV is on but neither of them are paying too much attention to it, choosing to talk instead. He teases her, she rolls her eyes, they laugh. The only difference is that everything she does, even the tiniest smile that appears on her face, makes his heart jump. It’s similar to learning a new word - you are not aware of its existence until one day you discover it and suddenly it’s everywhere.

It’s funny, he thinks, that up to a few hours ago he was convinced that his feeling for her didn’t go beyond the realm of friendship. It’s quite obvious now that he’s been feeling like this for a long time, and he’s kinda disappointed in himself that it took Amy almost dying for him to realize it.

“You should go home,” she says after he yawns for the third time in a minute.

“No, no, I’m okay.”

“Jake, I’m gonna be fine.”

“I know, I just… I wanna be near, just in case.”

“You live next door.”


“Jake, go home.”

He sighs. “Okay fine. But you have to promise me you’ll call me if you need anything. Just yell my name and I’ll be here right away.” For the first time he’s thankful that the wall separating their apartments is paper thin.

“I’ll call you, I promise.”

“I mean it, Ames. Don’t do anything stupid.”

“I won’t.”

He’s sent home thirty minutes after stepping into the precinct the following day. Once again, he barely slept during the night - he settled on the couch to make sure he would be able to hear Amy if she called, and his couch is not the most comfortable place to sleep in; and, even if it was, he was scared that sleeping would prevent him from hearing her. So for the third night in a row he doesn’t get more than two hours of sleep. Captain Holt was not happy with him frozen in his chair, staring blankly at his computer screen.

He’s not complaining though. If he’s home he can check on Amy, make sure she’s actually resting and not doing who knows what, maybe even spend the day with her. (He knows he’s going to get in trouble at work if this goes on, and he would usually hate being sent home, but right now he’s too concerned about Amy’s health to really care.)

Once he’s back in the building, he doesn’t even stop by his apartment - he automatically knocks on Amy’s door.

“Yeah?” Her voice is not loud, meaning that she’s not standing on the other side (something he’s thankful for, she shouldn’t be standing).

“Ames, it’s me. Can I come in?” She gave him a spare key the night before, as proof that she would actually call him if she needed something (she didn’t though, and, if he’s being completely honest, he’s a bit suspicious about that).


She is, as he suspected, lying on the couch. She’s holding a book, which she closes and puts on the coffee table next to her laptop when he sits by her side.

“How are you feeling?” he asks.

“Actually, really well.”

“Does your leg hurt?”

“A bit, but there’s nothing to do about it.”

“Can’t you take something for the pain?”

“It’s not that bad, really. I can deal with it.”

He nods and readjusts his position on the couch, making himself comfortable (and moving slightly closer to her).

“Don’t you have to go to work today?” she asks after Jake grabs the remote and turns on the TV.


“Why did I hear you leaving earlier then?”

The paper thin walls become his enemy yet again. “I… I wanted to try the coffee from the new shop down the street. Did you try it? It’s amazing.”

“Jake, I know you. You won’t wake up early unless it’s absolutely necessary, sometimes not even then. Why aren’t you at work?”

He can feel the heat settling in his face. “I was sent home.”


“Because apparently I am, and I quote, ‘too sleep deprived to work efficiently.’”

“Are you?”


“Did you sleep last night?”

“Yeah.” He doesn’t sound one bit convincing and he knows it.

“Oh my god, don’t tell me you stayed awake the whole night in case I called.”

“I mean, it wasn’t intentional . I tried to sleep, I just couldn’t.”

She sighs. She’s irritated, he can tell. But when she looks at him, her expression changes to one of pure confusion. “I just don’t understand why you’re so worried about me.”

He looks away, fixing his eyes on the coffee table. His heart is suddenly beating incredibly fast and looking at her is simply too much for him. “We’re friends,” he says, his voice just above a whisper. “I care about you.”

He looks up when he feels her moving closer to him. “I care about you too, that’s why it annoys me that you’re ignoring your needs and neglecting work because of me.”

“I can’t help it,” he shrugs. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. Just promise me you’ll sleep tonight. Or during the day. You know, as you’re not working.”

He nods, smiling a little. “I promise I’ll sleep.”

“Good. Now, how about you actually go to the new coffee shop down the street and bring me a cup?”

They’re halfway through the sixth episode of the day of Serve and Protect when Amy suddenly jumps to a sitting position. When the first episode started, they were simply sitting by each other’s side, but with each new episode Amy moved closer and closer until she eventually ended up with her head on his shoulder. He wanted to put an arm around her, he really did, but when the time came he couldn’t move.

“What?” he asks, puzzled by the sudden movement.

“I haven’t talked to my mom in over a week,” she says more to herself than to him. He chuckles, but she goes on before he can say anything to tease her. “Oh my god, this is bad .”

“I have no idea what’s going on right now.”

She looks at him then, his words reminding her that he’s in the room with her.

“My mom calls me at least once a week and-”

“You don’t have your phone.”

“Exactly. She’s probably called me a billion times. I’m surprised she hasn’t shown up at my door yet.” She sighs, returning to her previous position by his side.

“Do you wanna use my phone?” he asks, automatically fishing his phone out of his pocket and handing it to her.

“Thank you so much.”

He’s sure he shouldn’t listen to her conversation with her mom, but there’s nothing he can do about it - Amy’s by his side, leaning into him in such a way that he can’t get up. He tries to focus on the TV - neither of them bothered to pause it - but she’s talking right next to him so he can’t help but hear.

“Hi, mom, it’s me,” she says, her voice shy. After a moment - a long moment - in which she lets her mom talk she says, “I know, I know, and I’m so sorry. Everything’s fine, my phone just died a few days ago, I’m not sure what happened to it, and I still haven’t gotten a new one.”

He frowns. She’s lying to her mom, again , and he’s sure she’s going to get herself in another mess if she keeps doing that.

“This is Jake’s phone.” Silence. “He’s fine, everything great.”

Unconsciously, a smile forms on his face.

“Listen, mom, I can’t really talk right now.” Silence. “Yeah, okay, I’ll let you know. Bye, mom.” Once she hangs up, she leans forward and puts the phone on the coffee table.

“You’re lying to your mom again,” he says when she falls back by his side.

She sighs, resting her head on his shoulder and moving closer to him. “I know, but if she knew what actually happened she’d yell for like an hour and then show up at my door. And, honestly, I don’t want to deal with my mom right now.”

“I’m sure it wouldn’t be that bad if she came.”

“Are you forgetting that she thinks we’re dating?”

He snorts. “Trust me, I haven’t forgotten that.”

“So you’d have to pretend to be my boyfriend again.”

“Yeah.” He wouldn’t mind doing that again, though he wouldn’t exactly say he was pretending . Pretending to be her boyfriend, yes, but his feelings for her were the furthest thing from pretend. But he doesn’t want to lie to her mom’s face again, he remembers feeling it was wrong and wanting the whole thing to be over halfway through. In the very back of his mind he hopes that the next time he sees her mom they won’t have to pretend anymore. “You’re right, your mom being here wouldn’t be ideal.”

In that moment, a sound comes from her laptop. He’s been wondering what it is doing there, on the coffee table, open, since he walked into her apartment that morning. Amy leans forward, towards it, reads whatever is on the screen and turns back towards him. “My partner is going to pick me up in five minutes, I should get downstairs.”

“Um, what?”

“I have a physical therapy session in about an hour. I thought I told you.”

“You didn’t, and we both know that. Why?”

She shrugs. “Because you would have wanted to take me there.”

“What’s wrong with that? I’m already here, I could have given you a ride.”

“Remember you got sent home for being sleep deprived? You can’t drive like this, Jake.”

He sighs, she has a point. “If you had told me, I would have napped or something.”

“Well, it’s too late now.”

“I’m taking you next time,” he says, his voice filled with determination.


“I’m serious.”

“I know.”

He falls face first into his bed two minutes after Amy leaves. She didn’t want him to go downstairs with her, and he didn’t insist because he knew she wouldn’t change her mind (the elevator is working again as well, so he isn’t really worried about her dying on the stairs anymore).

He’s going to have to deal with his feelings for her soon, figure everything out, because in more than one occasion during the day he had to fight the urge to lean forward and kiss her - and pull her close and hold her, that too.

All he is certain of right now is that they’re really close friends and he doesn’t want to ruin that. She means too much to him.

He would definitely do something about it if he had at least a small, minuscule clue of Amy’s feelings towards him. But he doesn’t, and just thinking about it is enough to drive him insane. Sometimes it seems that things are perfect as they are right now, sometimes he feels like she may want something more as well. But it might just be his mind playing tricks on him, making him see things that are not actually there, and if he were to act on that, everything would end in shambles.

It could very easily be solved by just talking to her. If he sits down with her and he explains everything and they have a proper conversation like the adults they are, there is not much chance of a chaotic outcome. Things might be awkward for some time after but everything would go back to normal eventually.

He’s going to give his detective skills some time, see if he can figure out where she stands in all this, and, if when that time is up he still has no idea, he’s going to talk to her.

That’s the last thing on his mind before sleep finally takes over him.

Chapter Text

Amy Santiago doesn’t mind staying late at work - in fact, she quite likes it. It’s only been two weeks since she was cleared to go back on active duty, and it’s the first time since that day that her captain allowed her to stay and didn’t send her home the second her shift was over. After spending a never-ending period of time at home doing nothing, she was determined to make up for it and enjoy every second at work.

What she doesn’t enjoy - hates , actually, more than anything - is going home late at night in the middle of winter.

As someone who is usually cold in what other people consider to be warm temperatures, she has developed certain techniques to help her not freeze to death. She always brings an extra coat (sometimes two, sometimes a blanket as well), always walks on the sunny side, and always makes sure the thermostat in her apartment is set on the right temperature.

Of course all that is completely useless in the freezing streets of Brooklyn in what is probably the coldest night so far this winter. There is no sunny side to walk on, and her extra coats are barely helping, if they’re being of any help at all. At least it’s not snowing, something Amy is incredibly thankful for - she’s shivering so much she can barely walk the short distance from the car to her building. If it was snowing, she would probably freeze to death right then and there.

Stepping into the building has never felt better. She’s not completely relieved as it’s not exactly warm (she doesn’t stop shivering and she probably won't until she is buried under a mountain of blankets), but it’s definitely better than the street.

She can hear the TV in Jake’s apartment when she reaches her door and stops to look for the keys inside her purse. She’s been living next to him long enough to be able to tell that he’s in the middle of his weekly rewatch of Die Hard, a small smile appearing on her face at the thought of his excitement when it comes to that movie.

The smile vanishes and is automatically replaced by a frown the moment she opens the door and there is no wave of warmth encircling her. In fact, her apartment seems to be cooler than the hallway, which makes no sense at all. Unless the heating system failed and stopped working - something that had actually happened before, only that it had been during early fall so she was able to go on with her life without it until it was fixed.

She walks towards the heater, dropping her purse on the table on the way there. She doesn’t even need to touch it to tell it’s ice cold. Of all the days this could happen of course it had to be the day she spent the morning with the window open.

She had woken up in a great mood, something she’s not really used to - contrary to what people usually think, she is not a morning person - and she wanted to try to make something special for breakfast (how or why this thought crossed her mind, she has absolutely no idea). But, given her limited cooking skills, it ended up being a burnt mess (as she should have expected), which forced her to open the window to get rid of the smell. When she left for work the air in the apartment was as cold as in the outside, but she wasn’t worried, the heating would take care of that.

Wrong .

She would fix it, but she doesn’t know what is wrong exactly. It could take hours to find the problem. And, anyway, she probably needs to stop shivering before she can attempt to do anything. Getting warm is her top priority at the moment.

Changing her clothes is not fun. She would have kept her work clothes on, but they’re nowhere near warm, at least compared to what she normally wears to bed in winter. The moment the glacial air touches her bare skin her shivering intensifies, only coming close to stopping when her body is under six layers of clothes - it’s not enough, she needs more, but if she puts on another item, she won’t be able to move. (She doesn’t take the gloves, hat, and scarf off, she needs them to keep her from freezing to death.)

She knows she should eat something, but she’s in no mood to cook, especially after what happened that morning, and there’s nothing she wants more than to get into bed, do the day’s crossword, read for a while, and fall asleep. She’s not that hungry anyway.

She gives up the crossword after a bit - turns out writing while wearing thick, wool gloves is much harder than she anticipated. Reading is also uncomfortable - it takes her way too long to turn the pages and it makes her lose track of what is going on. She can’t even sleep, the cold is literally burning her face (not literally , she just really, really hates being cold) and if she puts a cover over her face she can’t breathe properly and she’s probably going to end up suffocating.

She’s not going to get any sleep unless she’s somewhere warm.

That’s how she finds herself knocking on Jake’s door.

She knows she made the right decision the moment the door opens and the so awaited warmth hits her face.

“Are you going to the North Pole or something?” he asks the moment he sees her, trying not to laugh.

She rolls her eyes and walks past him into his apartment, immediately feeling the effect of the warm air on her body. “My heat doesn’t work and I might die of hypothermia if I spend another second in my apartment.”

He closes the door and turns towards her, smiling widely. “Don’t you think this might be too much, though?” he asks, pointing at her wool hat. “And gloves? Seriously?” he chuckles.

“Go over there and check for yourself if you don’t believe me.”

“I do believe you, I just think you might be overreacting a bit.” He moves to her side and grabs her hat by the pompom on top, taking it off of her and putting it on his head. She glares at him, but he just shrugs. “You won’t need it in here.”

“And you do?”

“No, I just think it looks cute on me.”

She rolls her eyes but she can’t stop herself from smiling despite her best efforts. She watches for a moment as he walks past her and sits on the couch and decides to follow him, stopping for a moment in order to take her top coat off.

“You’ll have to watch the rest of the movie with me,” he informs her, pointing to the screen, the moment she sits by his side.

She knew he was watching Die Hard, knew what she was getting herself into when she decided to knock on his door. Enduring the movie for the hundredth time was a reasonable price to pay for being warm. So she just nods, takes the gloves off placing them carefully on the coffee table, and makes herself comfortable on the couch.

He bursts out laughing some minutes later when she takes off her second coat and the sweatshirt beneath it.

“What?” she asks, narrowing her eyes.

“Please tell me that’s the last layer of clothes,” Jake says, pointing to the sweater she’s wearing.

She knows he won’t stop teasing her about it if he knew the truth, so, instead of answering, she chooses to ignore him and focuses her attention on the TV.

“Oh my god, it isn’t. How many more are there? Wait, don’t tell me, I wanna guess.” He pauses to think for a moment, the smile on his face growing with each passing second. Finally, he says, “Three.”

“I have another sweater under this one and then a t-shirt,” she says smugly, glad he got it wrong.

“Close enough. But it’s three if you count that one,” he comments, pointing again to her sweater.

“But you said ‘how many more are there’, this one doesn’t count.”

“It’s still too many clothes to be cold.”

She shrugs, turning back to the movie. He doesn’t do the same - he’s staring at her, she can see it from the corner of her eye.

He does turn after a while, but not five minutes later he starts talking again.

“Did you eat?” he asks, his voice showing a glint of concern. “I heard you coming back late.”

“No, I was at work,” she answers. “And I was too cold to stop and get something on my way home. Or to cook anything, for that matter.” She’s not going to tell him about the incident of that morning, she wouldn’t hear the end of it if she did.

“Why didn’t you say something?”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Amy, you need to eat! That’s why you’re so cold, you don’t have enough nutrients.”

“Says the guy whose diet is based on candy and junk food.”

“Am I cold?”

“It has nothing to do with food, I’m always cold.”

“Well, you need to eat. Charles brough over a huge bowl of his special soup. I don’t really know what’s in there and I’m too afraid to ask, but it does taste good. I’m gonna get you some.”

“Jake, don’t-” But it’s too late. He’s already up and walking towards the kitchen, there’s nothing she can say or do to stop him. He’s going to bring the soup and he’s going to make sure she eats it all.

Something shifted between them that day she came home from the hospital well over a month ago. She can’t tell exactly what is different or what was the cause of it (maybe her almost dying, as he keeps insisting is what happened), but looking back there’s a clear before and after. It’s not bad , she’s not complaining, he’s still Jake after all, but his behavior keeps throwing her off (example: she is sure that if they had been in this situation six months ago, he wouldn’t have insisted so much that she ate, especially if they were watching Die Hard).

It’s not until the moment Jake places the bowl of soup on the table in front of her that she realizes just how hungry she actually is. She wasn’t lying when she said she wasn’t hungry, she did think she wasn’t hungry, but the soup smells delicious (like everything Charles cooks, honestly) and the warmth it emanates is enticing.

She expects some kind of comment on his part when she instantly leans forward and grabs the spoon he brought along with the bowl of soup. She’s basically admitting that he was right in bringing her some food, and that would normally mean an immense amount of bragging, but he doesn’t say anything. He just presses plays on the remote and resumes watching the movie. (Second example of his weird behavior.)

She’s not looking at him, her eyes are fixed on the TV even though she’s not paying one bit of attention to the movie, but she can see from the corner of her eye that every now and then he steals a glance at her. He’s probably just making sure that she is actually eating.

The soup does an amazing job at getting her warm - she takes one of the sweaters and the scarf off, leaving her with only two layers - but it also makes her extremely sleepy. She woke up earlier than usual, and it’s only in that moment that she realizes what a long day she has had and how tired she actually is.

Not really thinking her actions over, she places the bowl on the table and leans into Jake’s side. He automatically puts his arm around her, bringing her closer, and before she knows what she’s doing, she’s curling into his side. Six layers of clothes are nothing compared to the warmth his body provides, and that combined with the rhythm of his heart beating is enough to lull her to sleep.

She wakes up less than five minutes later, the gunshots and explosions coming from the TV are too loud to allow her to sleep for long. And the light coming from the screen is a problem too. So to fix that she readjusts her position, burying her face in Jake’s chest.

“Do you wanna go to bed?” he asks, moving his hand softly up and down her back. “You can spend the night here and not freeze to death.”

“I don’t want to bother you,” she says, her voice muffled against his chest. Staying over doesn’t seem like a bad idea, though.

“You won’t be bothering me. Only that I don’t work tomorrow so if you wake up early you’ll have to be quiet. I plan on sleeping in.”

“I don’t work tomorrow either,” she says, sitting up and rubbing her eyes in the process. She has to stifle a yawn before she can talk again. “Okay, I’ll stay.”

“Great, I’ll get the bed ready for you.”

“Wait, what?”

“What?” He was about to get up and head towards the bedroom, but instead he stays in his spot, a puzzled look on his face.

“You should sleep in the bed. It’s your bed.”

“It’s cool, I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“Jake, no. Take the bed and I will sleep on the couch.”

“Ames, this is literally the most uncomfortable couch in the world. Your back is going to kill you if you sleep here.”

“And yours won’t?”

“I’m used to it.” He shrugs.

She shakes her head. “You’re not sleeping on the couch.”

“Neither are you.”

She sighs in frustration. He’s so stubborn . She came to his apartment uninvited, ate his food, and now he wants her to sleep on his bed while he spends the night on what he claims is the worst couch in the world? She’s not going to let that happen.

“I’m not taking the bed,” she says, crossing her arms.

Amy .”

“I’m serious, I’m not.”

“Well, I’m not either. I guess we’re both staying here then.”



“What if,” she starts after spending about a minute in complete silence, “instead of staying here we both sleep in the bed?” she suggests. “It’s big enough and, honestly, if we’re going to share something, the bed seems to be the better option.”

He stares at her, eyes burning into hers. She thought her suggestion made sense, he wanted her to take the bed and she wanted him to, and they both would be so much more comfortable there. It’s not ideal , but it definitely isn’t a bad idea, right? Besides, she could totally use the extra warmth sharing the bed with him would provide.

“That seems... reasonable,” he manages to say after what seems like forever, nodding his head slowly as if he was trying to convince himself of what he’s saying.

“It’s not weird, right? Would that make you uncomfortable?” she asks.

“What? No!” he blurts out. “I mean, I’m not- I don’t- it’s definitely not weird given the circumstances, I’m totally cool with it. And you’re right, there’s enough space for both of us.”

“Okay,” she says slowly. “Are you sure?”


He turns towards the TV, stops the movie, and gets up to place the DVD in the box where it belongs. She thought he was planning on finishing the movie before going to sleep. It’s not normal for him to decide to stop watching Die Hard halfway through -  he must be as tired as her.

The bed is not what she would call comfortable , which, in Jake’s defense, he never said it was. All he said was that the couch was the worst. Considering the lump that is currently poking her back and the sinking in the area where her butt is, if the bed is better than the couch, it might actually be the worst couch in the world after all. She’s glad neither of them ended up sleeping there.

But as uncomfortable as the bed is, it is warm, and that’s the most important thing at the moment. Her own mattress might be (is) more comfortable, but it’s currently inside a freezing room. Warmth beats comfort (at least it does to Amy).

Her entire body shifts when Jake climbs into the bed a moment later, and it continues shifting until he finishes readjusting his position. He’s on his side, not facing her, almost on the edge of the mattress (if he moves one inch to the right, he’s probably going to fall off).

She’s almost on the edge of her side as well, she notices, but she’s not going to move closer to the middle, even if there is enough room for two other people between them. The further they are from each other, the less awkward the situation is. And she’s not one to move much while sleeping anyway, she’s not at risk of falling off.

She watches from the corner of her eye as he wraps the covers tightly around him, pulling them away from her slightly. She hopes with all her heart that he’s not the kind of person that steals the covers - she’s going to have to take some drastic measures if he is.

There is only one bedside lamp, and it is on the nightstand on her left. So she watches him and waits until he is completely set, and when she is certain that he is, she extends her arm and turns it off.

“Goodnight, Ames,” she hears in the dark.


The room is dark when he opens his eyes. Not completely dark, there’s the usual glow of the city lights coming from the outside, but dark enough to let him know that it’s still the middle of the night. A quick glance at the alarm clock on his nightstand (why does he even have an alarm clock? he hasn’t used it in years - and where did it come from? he most certainly didn’t buy it, or maybe he did and he just can’t remember right now) informs him it’s just past 4 a.m.

He can’t exactly remember what he was dreaming about, only that it was an odd dream - not bad, just weird. But that’s not what made him wake up. No, what woke him up is an urgent need to pee. He needs to go and he needs to go now.

It’s only when he tries to get up that he becomes aware of the warmth pressing against his left side.

Amy is curled against him, covers pulled up to her nose. Her head resting on his chest and she has an arm wrapped around his middle. He needs to double check if he’s still dreaming.

He has no idea how she got there. He made sure he was as far away from her as possible when he got into bed - he didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable, and he was scared he would explode if they somehow ended up cuddling like they had done in the couch earlier. (If he wasn’t half asleep, he would have died right there.)

Despite all his precautions, she still found the way to gravitate towards him in her sleep. The most likely reason is because she’s attracted to the heat his body radiates, just like a cat that craves warmth. (Should he be comparing Amy to a cat? He’s not sure. But they have more in common that the need of warmth, like being extremely cute for example - each in their own way, of course. Cats are adorable fluff balls, Amy is literally the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.)

Back to the point, the very last thing he wants to do right now is get up. Damn his stupid bladder. It only fills once every two days but of course it has to happen at this very moment.

He won’t be able to get up if she has her arm wrapped around him. He tries to move it, carefully so as not to wake her up, but the moment he grabs her wrist and attempts to lift it, her hold on him tightens, hand grasping his shirt. She readjusts her position as well, moving even closer to him and burying her head on chest. (He automatically puts his arm around her, which is not convenient at all in his current situation.)

“Ames, are you awake?” Stupid question, she obviously isn’t.

She groans in response, which is already way more than the silence he expected.

“I need to get up.”

She shakes her head, or at least that’s what he thinks she’s trying to do. She’s also not moving from her spot. He never in his life thought that cuddling with Amy would turn out to be a problem for him.

“I’m serious,” he begs.

“No,” she complains, her voice low and raspy. “Don’t go, you’re warm.” Her words are slurred with sleep, but he understands them perfectly. What kind of torture is this?

If he wasn’t literally in pain, he would have follow her orders without complaint.

Please , Ames. I’ll be back soon, I promise.”

She groans, louder than before, but eventually rolls away.

He gets up as soon as he has a chance, in case she changes her mind and doesn’t let him move in what remains of the night. He doesn’t run to the bathroom the second his feet touch the floor, though. Instead, he makes sure that the covers are safely wrapped around her.

The somewhat chilly air of the room is not particularly enjoyable, but it helps him clear his head a little.

What the hell just happened?

He knows he can’t read too much into it, Amy was barely conscious, if she was at all, but he can’t help tiny spark of hope that ignites inside him. Maybe, just maybe , she does have some sort of feelings for him. Romantic feelings. Like he has for her. Why else would she literally hold him and refuse to let go? Right, warmth.

He’s been trying to figure out where she stands in all this for too long, way longer than he planned to. But she’s impossible to read, at least when it comes to this specific topic.

Or maybe he’s just not seeing the obvious signs. At least that’s what Charles says. He swears there’s been something between them since the day they met, that all they do when they’re together is flirt shamelessly. Which is not true at all, his feelings for Amy are very, very recent. So if Charles is wrong about that, he could very well be wrong about what Amy thinks.

The easiest way out of this is just talking to her, but for some reason he just cannot do that. Whenever he even considers bringing up the subject he suddenly can’t think and his body won’t articulate the sounds needed to have an actual conversation. Okay, he does know why. He’s scared. Not scared of her not feeling the same way, scared of opening his dumb mouth and making everything unbearably awkward between them, so awkward that they would stop hanging out altogether. Which is literally the worst thing that could happen to him.

So instead of doing the adult thing he’s keeping his mouth shut and letting his thoughts drive him insane. It’s cool.

The first thing he notices when he gets back to the bedroom is that Amy is no longer occupying his side of the bed. She’s sleeping in the middle, curled on her side, in a cocoon of blankets. It’s the cutest thing he’s ever seen.

He makes his way to the bed, doing his best not to disturb her. He almost manages it, but the moment he sits down the mattress shifts. It’s a small movement, but it’s enough to make her lift her head from the pillow and stare at him with eyes filled with sleep.

“Go back to sleep,” Jake says softly as he makes himself comfortable. She’s left him with no blankets to cover himself with, but he doesn't mind. He’s not that cold anyway. (He’s lying, of course he’s cold, but he can’t just steal the blankets away from her.)

She nods her head once and moves closer to him. Before he can do anything about it, her arm is once again wrapped around him, but this time, instead of resting her head on his chest, she buries it in his neck.

He wants to say something, he has to say something, he just doesn’t know what . But even if he did, if he somehow found the right words for this specific situation, she wouldn’t be able to hear him. Because in less than ten seconds she fell asleep again (she was never fully awake in the first place).

He sighs. Unless he is willing to wake her up, there’s nothing he can do about this. And he’s not waking her up. He knows she’s been overloaded with work since she went back, even though she refuses to admit it. He has eyes, he could see how tired she’s been lately. She needs to get as much sleep as possible, and subconsciously cuddling with him is not a good enough reason to wake her up. And it’s not like he can get up and go sleep somewhere else, her hold on him is strong.

So he closes his eyes and less than a minute later he’s fast asleep.

The sun is pouring in from the window when he wakes up. His eyes are not open yet, but he can sense there is much more light in the room than when he last woke up.

He’s warm under the covers, a nice contrast to the somewhat cold air that touches his face. He rolls to his side and buries his face in the pillow in an attempt to block the sunlight and sleep for a while longer, it’s his day off after all. He’s readjusting the covers around him when he remembers. He wasn’t under any blanket when he fell asleep. Where did these come from?

He lifts his head and opens his eyes, the bright light blinding him for a moment. It’s then than he remembers why he fell asleep without any blankets in the middle of winter.

Amy had them all.

Amy slept in bed with him.

Where is she?

Not by his side, that much he knows. But she did spend the night there, right? And she did cuddle with him to stay warm. Unless he dreamed it. And in that case it was one hell of a vivid dream.

He sits up, suddenly curious about Amy’s whereabouts. It’s just in that moment that he notices the smell of freshly made coffee coming from the kitchen.

That’s where she is.

He jumps up (not literally, though the intention is there, he can’t move too fast in the morning even if he wanted to), picks up a hoodie from the pile of clothes on top of his dresser, and walks out of the room, heading towards the kitchen.

“Hey,” he says the moment he sees her standing by the counter, coffee mug in one hand and phone in the other.

Apparently she had the same idea as him and thought that one of his hoodies was the best fashion choice for the morning. He’s not complaining, far from it. He’s literally dreamed about this, waking up and finding Amy making breakfast with his clothes on. But he finds it odd that she picked one of his hoodies given that she has a dozen discarded coats lying around the apartment. She probably was cold when she got up and just picked up the first thing she saw.

“Hey,” she answers, looking up from her phone the moment she hears his voice. She smiles a little when she sees him, and he can literally feel his heart melting.

“Did you sleep well?” he asks, moving towards the coffee maker.

“Actually,” she begins, locking her phone and placing it on the counter, “you probably should get a new mattress.”


“I’m serious, that one is going to ruin your back.”

“Well, I’ve had it for years and I’m perfectly fine.”

“You know you’re supposed to replace your mattress after some time, right?” she says, opening a cabinet and handing him a clean mug.

“Eh, I’ll be fine,” he shrugs. He takes the mug from her and fills it with coffee, taking a sip after adding sugar to it. “Anyway,” he continues, “mattress aside, did you get any sleep?”

“Yeah,” she almost whispers after a moment. She fixes her eyes on the tiled floor, and he can see her face getting redder by the second.

He frowns, not fully understanding her reaction. He only asked if she slept, a completely normal question to ask. And he knows she did sleep, at least for a while. So why is she acting so weird?

A thought suddenly crosses his mind. Does she remember what happened in the middle of the night? No, she can’t, she was barely conscious. What if neither of them moved after he got back to bed and she woke up with her arms around him?

He sighs, almost completely certain that’s exactly what happened. That would explain the blankets around him as well, she probably put them there when she got up.

But why is she feeling embarrassed about it? Because that’s what’s going on with her - he knows her too well, he can tell these things. She didn't act weird after they cuddled on the couch the night before. Maybe it’s because, in the couch, she knew he was aware of what was happening, but in the bed he was asleep, he didn’t know what was going on. Or at least that’s what she thinks. Maybe she’s scared of having done something that would make him uncomfortable if he was conscious.

But she didn’t. Not at all. He can’t say anything about it though, not if he wants to put this behind them as soon as possible. She doesn’t know that he knows what she did, he was asleep when she woke up after all - mentioning it would only make things worse.

But if she knew what he actually thinks, what he feels, without references to the events, she would feel better.

He needs to talk to her. Now .

Or, you know, ask her out and see what happens - talking about feelings is not something he’s good at.

“I was thinking,” he begins, eyes fixed on the counter (hers are still on the floor, she can’t see him blushing, it’s all good), “maybe we could hang out again soon?”

She frowns. “What? Since when are you actually asking me to hang out? You usually just show up.”

“Yeah, yeah, but,” he takes a deep breath, trying to calm down, trying to stop his heart from beating so fast, “I mean like… like going out somewhere. Instead of, you know, staying in like we usually do.”

“Oh. That sounds good. Maybe I could meet you and your friends at the bar you hang out after work? Does Captain Holt go there as well? I would die if I got to meet him.”

He chuckles, of course that’s what she cares about. “We can totally do that, but I meant doing something else.”

She frowns, confused. “Something like what?”

“Um… like… you know, like…” Why can’t he form a coherent sentence? What is wrong with him?

“Wait,” she says suddenly, turning towards him for the first time since they started talking. “When exactly do you want this to happen? Because I’m going away for two weeks tomorrow.”

“Where?” He’s genuinely curious, but he fails to hide his disappointment. There is no way they can go out today, not if she’s leaving tomorrow.

“I signed up for code camp. I was actually gonna ask you to look after my apartment while I’m gone.”

“Code camp? What is that?”

“Don’t you read your emails? I’m sure they sent the information to everyone in the NYPD.” She waits for him to answer, but he just shrugs. “It’s a voluntary refresher course on police codes.”

“That sounds lame.”

“Well, I find it useful. It’s a good thing that I’m the one going and not you.”

“I hope it’s not as boring as it sounds, for your well-being.” She rolls her eyes, a small smile forming on her face. She’s adorable when she does that. She’s adorable all the time but especially when she does that. “Anyway, we can do something when you’re back, right? Would you like that?”

“Sure, it’s gonna be a nice change, actually going out I mean.”

He nods, unable to hold back the smile that forms on his face. He’s not completely sure she understood what he means exactly - a date, he’s trying to ask her out on a date - but there will be time to explain it later, and he’s getting two full weeks to think about how he’s going to do it.

He doesn’t realize he’s staring at her until a loud knock on the door makes him look away. He knows who it is before he opens the door, he’s very familiar with that particular way of knocking.

“Gina, what are you doing here?” he asks as he opens the door. “Rosa’s here too, great.”

“You promised to take me shopping, remember? When I beat you at darts.” Gina says, making her way around the apartment as if it was her own.

“That was today?”

“Uh, yeah? You said you’d do it your next day off. What’s this?” she asks, picking Amy’s sweatshirt from the couch. “Are you with someone?”

“No! I mean yes, but it’s not what you think.”

Amy chooses that exact moment to walk out of the kitchen, no longer holding a coffee mug. “Um, hello,” she says, her eyes jumping from Rosa, who’s standing next to Jake, to Gina, who’s sitting on the couch, phone on her hand.

“I don’t know what you think I’m thinking,” Gina begins, “but this looks like she spent the night here.”

“Yeah, but-”

“And you boned all night,” Rosa adds.

“See, that’s not what happened!”

“Then how do you explain all the clothes lying around?” Gina asks.

“I’m gonna go,” Amy says, speaking directly to Jake.

He doesn’t want her to go, she shouldn’t have to go. This is the worst way this could have ended, but there is no way he is getting rid of Gina and Rosa without doing what they want first. And apparently what they want, or what Gina wants, is for him to take them shopping.

“Okay, I’ll talk to you later,” he says. Five seconds later, she’s walking out of the door, not even bothering to pick up all the coats she brought along with her the previous night.

“Bye, Amy!” Gina yells after her.

“Was that necessary?” Jake asks.

“We just stated the obvious, girl.”

“You made her leave!”

“Why do you care so much?” Rosa asks.

“Yeah, Jake, why do you care so much?”

“Because she’s my friend! And you made her uncomfortable.”

Gina rolls her eyes, turning to the wall behind her. She knocks there twice before yelling “Amy, sorry for saying you and Jake had sex even though that’s definitely what happened.”

“Can you please stop it?” Jake says, his tone a lot more serious than normal. So serious that it wipes the smile away from Gina’s face.

“What’s going on?” Rosa asks.

“Nothing!” Jake yells, sitting on the couch.

“Dude, seriously, what’s up?” In all the years he’s known her, he’s never heard so much concern in Rosa’s voice.

“I just wanted to spend some more time with Amy,” he says, just above a whisper so that his words are not heard on the other side of the wall.

Gina and Rosa share a look, a look that makes Rosa roll her eyes.

“Our boy Jakey is in love!”

He’s thankful that Gina keeps her voice low, because if she had said that loud enough for Amy to hear, he would have to deny it thoroughly. But she was quiet, and he’s too tired of keeping his feelings to himself.

“Yeah, I am. I’m like stupidly in love with her. But there’s not much I can do about it,” he shrugs.

“Um, have you tried talking to her?” Rosa asks matter of factly.

“I want to, but I just can’t seem to do it,” he sighs. “I’m scared of what she’s gonna say.”

“Dude, she’s so into you.”

“Yeah,” Gina agrees. “It’s disgusting.”

“You think?”

“Um, yeah? Didn’t you see the way she was blushing when Rosa said you guys boned? She’s definitely thought about that. I have a question though. Why are her clothes all over the place if you didn’t have sex?”

“It’s a long story,” Jake answers. “But you really think she likes me? Likes me likes me?”

“Yes,” they say in unison.

“Just talk to her, Jake.”

“Yeah, girl. I can’t believe you missed all the signs. And you call yourself a detective.”

“Okay, I will,” he says, nodding.

He’s been a complete idiot. Now that they point it out, there have been signs that Amy might like him, he just straight up ignored them, scared that it was all in his head, that he was seeing things that were not there. But they are there. Gina and Rosa wouldn’t lie about this kind of thing.

“I’m just gonna wait until she’s back from code camp. It wouldn’t be convenient to do it now if she’s leaving for two weeks tomorrow.”

“Code camp?” Rosa snorts. “Lame.”

Chapter Text

He misses her.

It’s only been a day since she left and he misses her already. A lot. Stupid code camp.

He misses running into her in the hallway, he misses seeing her when Charles brings them food, he misses the sounds that come from her apartment signaling she’s home. She’s not a noisy neighbor - not at all - but the walls are thin enough to allow him to hear what happens on the other side, even if the sounds aren’t exactly loud. His favorite is when she watches Jeopardy; she goes insane . It’s adorable.

He’s not getting any of that for two weeks - two incredibly boring, Amy-less weeks.

He can’t call to check how she’s doing (and to hear her voice) - before she left, she told him she’d been to that same place in another occasion and the reception there is terrible . He can’t even text her random stuff that reminds him of her (and almost everything reminds him of her). He’s not going to hear about her at all for two whole weeks .

It’s on the next day, when he goes to Amy’s apartment to check everything is okay (she asked him to do that, he would never dare to step into her place while she’s gone otherwise), that he discovers that spending time there is somewhat like being with her. Everything in the apartment screams Amy. Every single thing is carefully placed in it’s designated spot, there isn’t one speck of dust on anything, not even on the mildly terrifying grandma-like decorations, and he smiles when he notices the piece of paper with handwritten instructions she left for him on the table.

He picks it up and reads it through (how is her handwriting so neat?), smiling even wider when he sees the smiling face she put at the end after thanking him for what he’s doing for her. She’s truly the cutest person he’s ever met.

God, he misses her.

He’s going to ask her out when she’s back. He is . And he’s going to be straightforward about it because she didn’t seem to take the hint the first time. And he’s going to tell her how he feels - if he holds it in much longer he’s going to explode.

He puts the paper in his pocket, wondering what he could do to make their possible future date special. Because (if she agrees to go out with him) they’re not having an ordinary date; he’s going to make sure they go on the best date ever , even if it means doing the boring stuff she likes, like going to the library or to one of the museums without the cool dinosaurs. If she’s happy, he’s happy, and there’s little he enjoys more than watching her geek out like she did when they watched Harry Potter.

His eyes light up then - he just came up with the best idea ever .

He knows what he’s looking for isn’t in the living room, so he rushes to Amy’s bedroom, unable to hold back his excitement. It doesn’t take him long to spot the books, she practically built a shrine around them. That makes him stop. If he’s going to borrow the books without asking her, these books, he needs to be careful. The most careful he has ever been in his life. That means using actual bookmarks and not dog-earing the pages, not having any kind of food or drink anywhere near them, and not taking them out of Amy’s apartment. He’s going to be spending a lot of time here if he plans to read all seven Harry Potter books before she’s back.

He knows he should ask her before borrowing them, but he has no means to communicate with her and, even if he did, he wants it to be a surprise. He would consider to buy his own copies if he had the money (which he doesn’t, he’s in debt, so that is automatically out of the question), but he’s not sure if they are worth it. Although, the one movie he watched was good, and, if Amy loves them as much as she does, they can’t be that boring, right?

They’re definitely not boring. At all. Before he opened the first one, he thought it was a stretch to attempt to read all seven books in two weeks, but at this rate he might actually make it. He can’t put them down, not even to go to sleep.

Amy was right, the books are a lot better than the movies - he can only vouch for the first one as it’s the only movie he has seen, but he has a feeling the same applies to the others as well. He can’t wait until she’s back and they get to watch them together.

That’s his master plan: read all the books, suggest watching the movies together - as a date - and surprise her with his knowledge.

He’s halfway through the fifth book when he realizes there’s no way he can finish on time. Part of this is due to work - he’s stayed late almost every day after he got a new lead on a murder - but he knows he also wasted a lot of precious time crying over Cedric’s death (he didn’t deserve it!). Amy is returning in two days, and, since Holt asked him to work a double shift the next day, he doubts he will even have enough time to finish this one. He doesn’t mind not being able to start the sixth, but he needs to know how this one ends. But he won’t, and he has to accept it. Unless…

No, Jake, what are you thinking? Calling in sick, lying , so you can finish reading a book is a crazy idea.

But that’s just what he does.

He’s going to make it up to Holt somehow - he’s going to work double shifts for a month or even temporarily move to the night shift. Whatever he has to do he will. Right now his top priority is finishing this long ass book.

He almost throws the book across the room when Sirius dies, but luckily for him, he remembers where he is and whose book it is and how he’s supposed to be careful with it. So he closes it, with more strength than necessary (he’s angry, okay?), and places it on the coffee table in front of him. He can’t go on reading right now, he needs time to process everything that just happened.

He has one more day before Amy comes back. He has to go to work, there’s no escaping it this time, but there are just a few chapters left in the book, not a lot of pages compared to what he’s been reading daily - he can definitely finish it when he gets home. He needs to clean up the place as well. The paper with instructions that Amy left for him is still buried in the pocket of his jeans, where he put it when he first found it. He’s been so focused on the books that he completely forgot about it. And, after practically moving to her apartment in order to read, the place is much messier than when he first walked in almost two weeks ago.

So, the moment he returns from work he reads what he has left of the book and, once he finishes (it took him longer than he thought it would because, again, he had to stop to cry), he places it in the bookcase, careful to make it look like no one touched any of Amy’s precious books.

He doesn’t finish cleaning up until a few minutes past midnight. He’s tired, exhausted, but the apartment looks perfectly clean, as if he hadn’t spent every single minute of his free time there. He made sure to follow each and every one of her instructions, and every single thing is in the exact same spot in which she left it.

Amy is going to be thrilled to find her apartment in perfect conditions.

He can’t believe the two weeks are finally over. He’s so excited to see her, he’s missed her so much .

He knocks on her door two minutes after he hears her coming back. He was home, sitting on the couch, staring blindly at his phone, his excitement preventing him from focusing on anything. He hadn’t asked to have this particular day off, it just happened to be the one assigned to him, something that was most convenient. If he had to wait until he got out of work to see Amy, the anticipation would have killed him.

He has a feeling she knew he would show up the second she came back. She opens the door instantly, not even asking who it is. The smile on her face is blinding, and he's almost certain that his is just as big, if it isn’t bigger.

“Hey!” she exclaims, moving to the side to let him in.

It’s only now, with her physically standing in front of him, that he realizes just how much he’s actually missed her. He doesn’t even what to think about the possibility of spending this much time away from her again. Greeting her with a simple ‘hey’ just wouldn’t do, not after two weeks of not knowing anything about her. So he moves closer and pulls her into a hug.

She hugs him back instantly, her arms finding their way around his neck the second their bodies touch. He doesn’t want to let go - if it was up to him, he’d stay like this forever - but the last thing he wants is to make her feel uncomfortable, so he pulls away after a moment (one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do).

“I’m glad you’re back,” he says once they pull apart and they’re standing in front of each other again, no longer touching in any way. “I missed you,” he adds. He means it.

“I missed you too.”

Is it possible for his insides to melt? Because that’s exactly what he’s feeling.

“And I’m happy to be back,” she continues. “Camp beds are the worst , even worse than your mattress.”

“Um, rude?”

She shrugs and turns away, the smile never leaving her face.

She picks up the traveling bag she had deposited on the table and makes her way towards the bedroom, Jake following her.

The moment he crosses the doorway, his eyes dart to the bookcase. He’s scared she might notice something is off even though he was careful to put everything in the exact same spot where he found it. He doesn’t think she’s going to be angry or anything if she finds out he’s been touching her books, he just wants it to be a surprise when he tells her what he’s been doing these past two weeks.

But she doesn’t even look at the bookcase. She just drops the bag on the bed and opens it, so as to start unpacking.

“Do you need help with that?” he offers, standing by her side.

“No, it’s okay. I have a method.”

He chuckles. Of course she does.

“Are you sure?” he asks. “You could tell me what you need me to do.”

“Yes, I’m sure,” she insists, taking a shirt out of the bag. “But you can stay if you want. I assume you have the day off?”

“I do,” he says, sitting on the bed, facing her. “So, how was code camp? Was it as boring as it sounds?”

She doesn’t answer right away. For a moment, he’s scared that his question might have offended her and that she’s going to kick him out. He’s about to apologize, tell her that he was just trying to be funny and that’s he’s an idiot, but before he can open his mouth, a shy smile appears on her face.

“It was great actually.” She’s not looking at him, her eyes fixed on the shirt she’s folding.

To say he’s puzzled would be the understatement of the century. There’s absolutely no way that police codes could make her smile like that (or maybe there is, this is Amy after all). Something happened at camp, he’s certain of that, and, if he’s being honest, he’s a bit scared to find out what.

“Really?” he asks, doing his best to keep a light tone. “If I remember correctly, the first thing you mentioned was how uncomfortable the beds were, and an uncomfortable bed is a bad thing, Ames.”

“Yeah, I know, but I had fun.” There’s that smile again. “Anyway,” she says, placing the shirt on top of a pile of neatly folded clothes, “how have you been?”

What the hell happened in that camp that not only has her smiling like that but also makes her change the topic in a very unsubtle way? Because that’s exactly what just happened. Why doesn’t she want to talk about it? He sighs. He doesn’t have a right to know, no matter how close they are - if she doesn’t want to tell him, he’s not going to force her to (his curiosity might drive him crazy, but what can he do about it?).

“I’ve been fine, I guess? Work has been crazy, being the best detective in the NYPD has its downsides.”

“Of course it does,” she says, rolling her eyes. She turns again to the bag and continues unpacking. “Any good cases?”

“I actually closed one yesterday, a murder. Lots of blood, it was great.” He proceeds to tell her all about it. He’s not supposed to share every single detail just yet, but this is Amy, he can trust her.

She’s not reacting like she usually does though. He just told her how he and Rosa found out what the murder weapon was and all she did was nod slightly, no comment whatsoever. It’s like she’s not actually listening to what he’s saying, like her mind is somewhere else. She’s probably just tired, she just spent two weeks away studying police codes and presumably getting very little sleep. He can’t blame her for not paying attention.

He’s going to go home and let her sleep, he decides, right after he finishes his story. But there’s something he needs to do before leaving, something that he’s been dying to ask her for the past two weeks and that can’t wait until the next time he sees her. It needs to happen now.

“Jake, we’re friends right?” she asks, interrupting him as he was telling her how they caught the murderer.

He frowns. Why is she asking this? “Yeah, of course we are,” he answers without a second of hesitation.

“I mean the kind of friends that talk about stuff, real stuff.”

“Amy, what’s going on? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, yes, everything’s fine. It’s not a bad thing, I promise.”

“What’s going on then?”

She’s nervous, he can tell by the way she’s fidgeting with the shirt she’s holding. Her eyes are fixed on it as well, avoiding eye contact with him. He’s about to reassure her that yes, they are the kind of friends that talk about real stuff, she can tell him anything, but she talks before he gets the chance to open his mouth.

“I met someone at camp.”

And just like that, his entire world falls apart.

“I mean, I didn’t technically meet someone. I ran into someone.”

“Oh?” is all he manages to say.

“He was at the 8-2 when I started working there, and we got close, went out a couple of times, but then he was transferred to Queens and we got out of touch.” She pauses her rambling to breathe, significantly less nervous than before. “He’s at the 7-4 now,” she continues, “and we spent most of our time at camp together, helped each other memorize, it was really fun.” She pauses again, sitting on the bed next to Jake. “He asked me out.”

He’s feeling the equivalent of someone stabbing him in the chest and moving the knife around. “What did you say?” he asks after a moment, his voice coming out hoarse due to the sudden dryness of his mouth.

“I didn’t answer yet. I told him I needed to check my work schedule. I don’t know what to do.”

He takes a deep breath. “Why?”

“I don’t- I’m not sure,” she sighs. “After what happened with my mom I’ve been trying to start dating again. But it’s hard . All the dates I went on lately were boring and spending a month on bed rest was not helpful either, you know?”

He nods. How did he miss that she‘s been going on dates? They spent almost all their free time together, it doesn’t make sense. Is he really that oblivious to his surroundings?

“And I really like Teddy - that’s his name - but I’m scared of dating him and things ending horribly wrong.”

“Why would that happen?”

She shrugs. “It’s what always happens. Dating is the worst. I can’t wait to be married to the love of my life and leave all of this behind.”

“Ames, look,” he says after a moment, taking her hand in his, “for all we know this Teddy guy might be the love of your life. I mean, you said you dated before and somehow bumped into each other at code camp, right when you’re interested in dating again. That’s too much of a coincidence if you ask me.” How he got those words out without bursting into tears is beyond him, but he means it. He might be in love with her and this conversation might be destroying him emotionally, but that’s not going to stop him from being the friend she needs.

“You think so?”

“Yeah. You should go out with him.” Her happiness is all he cares about, and, if going out with Teddy is going to make her happy, he’s going to have to find a way to deal with his feelings on his own.

She nods, a smile slowly appearing on her face. “Okay,” she says, more to herself than to him. “I’m gonna text him.” She turns to him, smiling widely now. “Thank you so much, Jake.”

“No problem. That’s what friends are for, right?”

“I don’t understand why you ordered pizza when you knew I was coming over. You know mine is way better than Tony’s,” Charles says, taking a seat on the couch next to Jake, glaring at the unopened box of pizza on the coffee table.

He’s thankful that Charles agreed to come over. Amy’s going out with Teddy in - he checks the time on his phone - ten minutes, and he needed a way to distract himself; he would have spent the night lying in bed and staring at the ceiling reconsidering every choice he’s ever made regarding his feelings for her if he had been alone.

If only he had told her, actually told her, before she went to camp… he wants to believe everything would have been different. But he thought waiting was a good idea - he can’t believe what an idiot he is, the biggest idiot in the entire universe. He missed his chance with the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful person he has ever met, probably the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful person in the world. And now she’s about to go out with perfect Teddy, and she’s going to fall in love with him and they’re going to get married and have a bunch of babies and he, Jake, is going to die alone. At least she’ll be happy, that’s all he really cares about. Yeah, Charles being here is not helping at all.

“Are you listening to me?” Charles yells, probably not for the first time.


“I said I can make homemade pizza so we can compare it with Tony’s and you can see how awful it is. It’s never even made it into my weekly Brooklyn pizza-ranking email blast!”

“You’re not going to cook now, Charles. Tony’s is fine, and cheap. And we already have it here.”

“Ugh, fine. But next time I’m choosing what we eat.”

“Yeah, okay.” He’d normally be opposed to that, Boyle’s choices are almost always completely disgusting and usually include animal parts that are not normally consumed by humans, but right now he doesn’t care. He just heard Amy’s door opening and closing, which means Teddy is here to pick her up. The infinitesimal bit of hope that was still somehow inside him fades away along with the sound of Amy’s steps in the hallway.

“Jakey, what’s going on?” Charles asks. “I know something is up, and it’s something serious because, I’m not sure if you noticed, you actually agreed to let me choose the food next time.”

“I’m fine. You haven’t chosen the food in forever, it should have been your turn long ago.”

Charles gives him a suspicious look, but eventually nods and turns to the TV. Right, they were watching something. Don’t ask Jake what though, he has no idea.

Neither of them speaks again for a while. Charles is engrossed in the movie, he picked it after all, and Jake has all his focus on the slice of pizza he’s currently munching on. He tried to pay attention to the movie, he really did, especially because Charles is probably going to quiz him on it when it’s over, but the second he realized it was a romantic comedy (Boyle’s favorite genre, he shouldn’t have let him choose - they should have watched Die Hard, that would have made him feel better), he gave up. He’s in no place to watch people fall in love and living happily ever after.

“Where’s Amy?” Charles asks eventually, taking a sip from his glass of water.

Jake’s stomach drops. “Why do you ask?” he says, trying to sound as if he hasn’t been thinking about that the entire night.

“She always joins us whenever we have dinner. It hasn’t been just the two of us in ages.”

“Oh, um… she had a date,” he attempts to sound casual, like he’s just stating a simple fact that doesn’t affect him in any way, but he fails miserably.


“Charles, calm down.”

“What do you mean she had a date?” Charles is yelling now. If Jake had known he would react like this, he never would have mentioned it.

“I feel like that’s pretty self explanatory.”

“With who?”

“A dude she ran into at code camp.”

“Oh my god, Jakey, I’m so sorry,” Charles says, patting Jake on the shoulder, looking like he’s about to start crying.

“What? Why?”

“Because you’re in love with her! And she should be on a date with you .”

“Okay first of all, that’s crazy, I’m not- I don’t like Amy like that, she’s just a friend.” There are many reasons why he can’t admit his feelings for Amy to Charles. One is because he might have a heart attack and die; another, because he cannot keep a secret. If Amy ever finds out about Jake’s feelings, it’s going to be because he tells her, not someone else. “Second,” he continues, “she wanted to go out with this guy, and I don’t have the right to stop her from dating whoever she wants just because I like her - which I do not, but, like, if I did.” He wants to punch himself in the face.

“But if she knew you’re in love with her-”

“I’m not.”

“She wouldn’t have gone out with this guy, I’m sure.”

“You don’t know that, Charles. How are you so sure she even likes me like that?”

“Because I have eyes! I can see the way she looks at you, and the way you look at her for that matter. You two need to stop being idiots and just admit your feelings.”

“She’s on a date with another guy as we speak!”

“Because you won’t tell her how you feel! Do you even listen to me when I talk?”

“I told you, she wanted to go out with him. She was really excited about the date.”

“How do you know that?”

“She told me!”

“You listened to her talking about the date she was having with another guy?”

“Yes? We’re friends and she wanted to-” Charles punches him then, hard , on the shoulder. “Ow! What was that for?”

“I can’t believe you! You should have confessed your undying love for her, not listened to her talk about someone else.”

“Undying love? We’re just friends .”

“Yeah, right, and I haven’t already written my best man speech for your wedding.”

“You what?” If he’s being completely honest, he’s not even surprised. “You know what, Charles?” he sighs. “We’re gonna keep arguing if we don’t stop talking about this, so can we just stop and enjoy the movie?”

“Only if you admit that you like Amy.”

“But I don’t.”

Jake .”

“I don’t!”

“I know you.”

And Jake, knowing Charles, is certain that he’s not going to leave him alone unless Jake does what he wants. “Okay, fine! Yes, I like her! I really, really like her, and it kills me that she’s on a date with another guy but there’s nothing I can do about that. Happy?”

By the grin on Boyle’s face, he seems to be very happy indeed. “Was that so hard?”

“You have to promise me you won’t tell her.”

“I won’t, I promise. I might have to stop talking to her altogether, but I won’t tell her.” Jake nods, silently thanking Charles. “You have to stop torturing yourself though. There’s no reason why you should listen to her talking about other guys.”

“She’s my friend, Charles. If she wants to talk about other guys with me, then I’m gonna be there for her. I just want her to be happy.”

“Oh my god!” Charles screams, his voice way too high. “You are in love with her!”

“Shut up, Boyle.” Jake says, pushing him to the side, but Charles just giggles, clearly delighted with this new information. “We’re not talking about Amy anymore.”

The universe hates him, Jake’s sure of it, although he can’t think of what he did to deserve this. It’s too big a coincidence that Amy comes back from her date right the second that Jake opens the door to let Charles out. He was finally able to stop thinking about her after their conversation, focusing his attention on the movies Charles chose for the night, but seeing her now brings to surface every single thought he tried so hard to bury in the back of his mind.

She looks so beautiful in the red dress she’s wearing. She looks beautiful at all times, she is beautiful, but right now she’s on a different level entirely. He knows he needs to stop staring and say something - if he doesn’t, Charles probably will, and he’s scared of what might come out of his mouth - but he can’t think of anything, his mind is completely blank.

“Hey, guys,” she says eventually.

“Hello!” Charles yells, his voice way too high. He’s grinning widely, eyes going back and forth between Jake and Amy. There is absolutely no way he’s going to keep his mouth shut.

Amy raises her eyebrows, an amused expression appearing on her face. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes,” Jake says before Charles has the chance to speak again and give himself away. The guy can’t lie to save his life. “Charles was just leaving, right?”

“Yes, yes I was,” he says, not moving from his spot.


“Right! Yes, I’m gonna go. It was great to see you, Amy.” He turns to leave, but before he takes one step, he changes his mind and turns back towards Jake, leaning closer to him and whispering not so quietly, “You should tell her.” After that, he turns and walks away.

Jake closes his eyes, feeling his face getting warmer by the second. Charles was not subtle at all , Amy definitely heard what he said. He wants to be swallowed by the ground and disappear into the void.

“Tell me what?” Amy asks after they hear the elevator door closing behind Charles.

“I- um…” He’s going to kill Boyle. “That you should join us next time. Dinner was not the same without you.” He doesn’t realize what he’s saying until the words leave his mouth. It could have been worse. He could have come up with a crazy lie that would have been too ridiculous for her to believe and he’d then be forced to be honest with her. At least what he said was the truth, even if it wasn’t what Charles meant. “Anyway, how did the date go?” This is probably what Charles meant when he said that he has to stop torturing himself. Her answer is going to hurt, he’s certain of that, but he needs to know.

“It was amazing,” she answers, smiling widely. Her happiness is contagious, and he finds himself smiling back at her, even though all he wants to do right now is go cry in the bathroom. “I haven’t had a date this good in ages, it was a nice change.”

“Are you gonna go out with him again?”

“I hope so. I mean, we did talk about it but nothing was set just yet. But yeah, I want to see him again.”

“And to think you weren’t sure about going out with him.”

“Yeah, about that,” she says, taking his hand in hers, “thank you for talking me into doing this. I don’t think I would have gone out with Teddy if it wasn’t for what you said, and I really did have a good time tonight.”

He nods once, forcing himself to smile. “I’m glad it worked out.” He tries his best to sound casual, like this isn’t affecting him, but he fails (he’s not surprised, really), and his voice cracks in the middle of the sentence. Amy notices of course.

“Are you okay?” she asks, frowning.

“Yeah, I’m just tired.”

“Are you sure? Do you want to talk about something?”

“I’m fine, Ames, really. And I don’t think we’re in the best place to discuss anything,” he says, gesturing to the hallway they’re currently standing in.

“Right,” she says, smiling a little. “But if something’s bothering you, you can talk to me.”

“I know,” he sighs. She’s looking at him, her eyes filled with concern, and it takes every ounce of self control he has not to pour his heart out right then and there. But he doesn’t, he’s not going to ruin her night. “I’m- I’m gonna go to bed,” he says, pointing to his door.

“Yeah, of course. You’re tired, you should go to sleep. I’m sorry for keeping you here.”

“It’s okay.”

“I’ll see you around,” she says, smiling. He nods, smiling back at her.

They both disappear behind their respective doors at the same time.

He doesn’t even bother to clean up, or to turn off the TV, or to change into his sleeping clothes. He heads straight to his bedroom and climbs into bed, burying his face in the pillows, wishing that when he wakes up, his feelings for Amy will be gone, disappear forever. It’s not going to happen, he knows it, but he can hope.

“Dude, are you okay?” Rosa asks, joining him on the booth he’s sitting on.

They’re at the bar, celebrating yet another closed case with the rest of the 9-9. They took down an entire drug dealing operation, he should be jumping with happiness, or bragging about how he’s the best cop to have ever lived. And he was doing just that, but as the five drinks he gulped down started to have their effect on him, his mood worsened.

“Yeah,” he answers, “why?”

“You’ve been staring at that for at least fifteen minutes,” Rosa says, pointing at the empty glass in front of him.

He shrugs, rubbing his face with his hands in an attempt to clear his mind a little. He’s done celebrating, he wants to go home.

“Is this because of Amy?”

“What? What do you know about Amy?”

“Gina told me she’s been going out with some dude.”

“How does Gina know that?” he asks, and Rosa just shrugs. He’s been careful not to mention Amy’s love life to anyone else, the last thing he needs is to have another conversation like the one he had with Charles. But Gina has a way of finding out things, he’s not sure how - no one is sure how - she just does, it’s terrifying. “Where is she anyway?”

“Dance rehearsal.”

“Makes sense.”

“So is this about Amy or not?” Rosa asks.

“Yeah,” he answers. It might be the alcohol in him, but he doesn’t feel like pretending he’s not affected by this right now. “I should have told her how I feel when I had the chance. Now I’m gonna die alone.”

“I’m with you, waiting was dumb.”


“I’m just stating the facts, you’re an idiot for waiting.”

“Gee, thanks, Rosa.”

“And you’re a bigger idiot for sill not telling her.”

He frowns, confused. “What?”

“You think you missed your chance? She’s been to, what? Three dates with this guy?”

“How do you know that?”

Gina . Anyway, I’m sure that if you told her that you’re completely in love with her, she would ditch the guy.”

“Charles said the exact same thing, but that doesn’t make me wanna tell her! She’s happy with Teddy, and I have no right to ruin that for her, no matter how new the relationship is.”

Rosa sighs. He doesn’t want to talk about this anymore, it’s too painful. At least when he’s pretending not to care he’s not constantly told that he’s an idiot. He tries to walk away, make a dramatic exit, but the moment he stands up everything starts spinning, forcing him to sit down again. He’s going to have to stay in the booth for a while.

“Don’t you think she has a right to know?” Rosa asks the moment he lies his head on the table. It’s cold, it feels good.

“I don’t see how it would make a difference.”

“You don’t know that.”

“And you do?”

“No. Only Amy knows, and if you wanna find out you have to tell her how you feel.”

He sighs, exasperated. “I’m not going to tell her, not while she’s with Teddy.”

“Alright then. But you have to stop moping around, it’s incredibly annoying.”

“Whatever, Rosa.” He slowly tries to get up again, succeeding this time. “I’m going home.”

She stands up a moment later and joins him (it’s not hard, he only managed to take three steps). “I’m going with you. You won’t get there in your current state,” she says, grabbing his arm to help him walk more steadily.

Rosa doesn’t stay for long. She only wanted to make sure that he got home safely and not somehow ended up eating Chinese chicken salad half naked on the subway platform (it’s happened before, Gina has the pictures he sent her saved in case she needs to blackmail him). So, once she manages to make him sit on the couch and places a glass of water on the table in front of him, she leaves.

He lets himself fall to the side, readjusting his position so that he is lying face down. Rosa forgot to turn off the light, and it’s burning his brain so, to make it stop, he buries his face on the cushions. The darkness feels nice.

A minute later he hears Amy’s laugh. It’s the most beautiful sound he’s ever heard, and his favorite too, and for a moment he thinks he’s dreaming. But then a man’s voice joins her, and it becomes clear to Jake that the voices are not coming from inside his head - they are very real and coming from the hallway.

Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. She brought Teddy over.

He jumps up, doing his best to ignore the feeling of dizziness that takes over him due to the sudden movement. He doesn’t want to hear anything that may happen in Amy’s apartment once they actually go inside, something that is taking them forever if you ask him. What could they be possibly doing in the hallway that is keeping Amy from opening the door? Right, he doesn’t want to think about that.

It takes all the strength he has, but he eventually manages to stand steadily, just as the sound of Amy’s door closing reaches his ears. He’s not sure how he gets there, or how much time it takes him, but he suddenly finds himself lying on his bed - his super uncomfortable bed, as Amy said the morning after she slept there (she didn’t actually use those words, but he got the message). Now she’s going to be sleeping on a much better bed next to someone who actually had the courage to ask her out, someone she wants to share a bed with for more reasons than just heat. How did he even think he had a chance with her?

He lets out a deep groan the moment the alarm goes off the following morning. Who let him get that drunk on a work night?

Reluctantly, he gets up, the sun pouring in through the window making him squint. He showers, dresses, drinks two cups of coffee - all of that in autopilot. If he stops and thinks of what he’s doing, of how he’s feeling - physically and emotionally - he’s going to go back to bed. But he cannot do that. If he misses work again Holt is going to kill him.

Remember that the universe hates him? Well, apparently it still hasn’t finished torturing him, because Amy chooses the exact moment that he’s locking his door to walk out of her apartment. And she’s followed by a man he can only assume is Teddy. He wants to die.

“Jake! Hey!” Amy says, a bit too loud for his liking. It makes his brain hurt, but he doesn’t really care. She sounds happy to see him and that automatically makes him feel better.

“Hi,” is all he manages to say. He’s never drinking again.

“Teddy,” she says, linking her arm with his, “this is Jake.”

“Hey, man,” Teddy says, nodding slightly. “I heard a lot about you.”

He might be looking too much into it, but it seems to Jake that Teddy is not particularly happy about that.

“Jake,” Amy continues, “this is Teddy, my boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend?” Jake asks before he can stop himself. The last time he talked to her she said she wasn’t sure if this ‘thing’ - that’s how she called it - with Teddy was heading somewhere. But that was over two days ago. Apparently things can change radically in just two days.

“Yes, boyfriend,” Teddy says.

Yeah, Teddy doesn’t like him one bit.

He can’t say he likes him either, but by the way Amy is smiling at him, she likes him, and that’s all that really matters.

“I- um, I didn’t know.” He’s suddenly dizzy, but he has a feeling it has nothing to do with his hangover.

“It’s very recent,” Amy says.

“Well, I’m happy for you.” His comment is directed at Amy and at Amy only, and he makes that as clear as he can, fixing his eyes on her and smiling a little as he speaks. He means every single word. He is happy for her - really, really happy. She was looking for a serious relationship and she got it. He’s glad the universe hates him and not her.

He can literally feel his insides melting when she smiles back, something he got used to feeling while he’s with her.

“Amy, we’re gonna be late.” Right. Teddy is still there.

“Oh, yeah. Let’s go.”

Before she can say anything else, Teddy takes her hand in his and starts walking down the hallway towards the elevator, Amy trailing behind him. They’re not even halfway there when she suddenly stops and turns around, letting go of Teddy’s hand in the movement.

“Weren’t you going out as well?” she asks Jake, who hasn’t made an effort to move from his spot.

“Um, yeah. But… I’m- I think I forgot something,” he answers, pointing to his door. “You go ahead, I think it’s gonna take me some time to find what I need.”

“Okay,” she says slowly.

She most likely didn’t buy his lie, and he doesn’t blame her. It was bad. If he had mentioned an actual thing, it would have been different. But his brain is not functioning properly at the moment and he just took what he knew was the best he would get. He would have had to share the elevator with them if he hadn’t said anything, and finding himself in an enclosed space with both Amy and Teddy is not something he’s looking forward to.

“I’ll see you around,” she says, once again with that adorable smile on her face.

Teddy is staring at them, and for a moment Jake wants to start a conversation with Amy just to make him angry. But then he reconsiders it. Amy is going to work after all  - he can tell by the clothes she’s wearing - and if she doesn’t hurry she’s actually going to be late because for some reason (which he doesn’t want to think about) she’s leaving at the exact same time as him (horribly late).

So he just nods, going back inside his apartment the moment she turns away.

He leaves again ten minutes later when he’s certain that neither Amy nor Teddy are near the building anymore, trying to come up with a valid excuse to tell Holt because he’s most likely going to be late. Again .

In the couple of months that follow, he only ever sees Amy when they run into each other in the hallway. Teddy is around a lot - his voice can be heard through the wall almost every day - so he can’t show up at Amy’s door whenever he misses her like he used to do. They don’t have dinner together anymore either. Of course he always asks her if she wants to join Charles and him whenever they have plans to have dinner together, but she always declines, saying she’s spending the night at Teddy’s or that they’re going out somewhere, but she’s definitely coming next time. It still hasn’t happened.

He’s not angry though. He’s not. She’s happy with Teddy - she said so in one of their short chats in the hallway one time he ran into her when he was coming home from work - and if she’s happy, he has absolutely nothing to complain about. He only wishes his feelings for her would go away.

He thought it would happen eventually, that this stupid crush would slowly start to disappear and he would be able to move on with his life. But, as his feelings are not just a stupid crush, they’re not going anywhere. He’s going to spend the rest of his life madly in love with a woman he can’t be with, and he’s going to have to learn to live with that.

But it’s okay because they’re friends, and that’s all that matters to him. They were friends before she started dating Teddy and before he developed romantic feelings for her - things don’t necessarily have to change now. Except that friends, and especially those who live literally next to each other, are supposed to spend time together, or at least have a conversation that lasts more than five minutes.

That’s how he decides to knock on her door.

He has the day off, and from what he was able to hear she does too. And, even better, Teddy isn’t around. It’s perfect.

“Hey!” By the way she’s smiling, she seems happy to see him. Surprised too. Surprised and happy.

“Hey! Are you busy?”

“Not really. Why?”

“We just haven’t spent time together in a while, I thought maybe we could hang out for a bit.”

“Yeah, of course,” she says, moving to the side in order to let him in. “It’s my fault, I’ve been incredibly busy lately. Today is the first time I actually got some time for myself in ages.”

“If you want to be alone you can kick me out, no hard feelings.”

“No, no, it’s okay,” she says as she closes the door behind him. “You’re right, we haven’t spent time together in ages. I’m glad you came over.”

“Just like old times,” he says, plopping himself down on the couch.

She rolls her eyes. “It hasn’t been that long.”

He shrugs, turning to face her when she sits next to him. “So, what have you been up to?”

“I’ve been working late almost every night, I’m trying to get more arrests than last year.”

“Of course you are,” he laughs.

She punches him lightly on the shoulder. “I’m already behind, thanks to medical leave and code camp, and if I’m gonna make captain one day I need to-”

“You need to stop working so much because it’s gonna be bad for your health.”

“I’m fine ,” she insists, and by her tone it seems to him that this isn’t the first time she’s having this conversation with someone. “Anyway, what about you?”

“I’ve been investigating this guy that is laundering money for drug dealers, but I can’t say much about it. I mean I told you about ongoing investigations before so it’s not that. I’ve specifically been told to keep my mouth shut, although I’m not exactly sure why .”

Amy frowns. “It’s not something too dangerous, is it?”

“I’m- I honestly don’t know.”

“Well, be careful.”

He nods, enjoying the warmth of her hand on his arm. He wasn’t lying when he said he didn’t know how dangerous the whole thing is, Holt has been particularly weird about this case and he didn’t share much information. He knows close to nothing.

“Jake, can I ask you something?” she asks after a moment.

“Yeah, of course,” he answers, not failing to notice the way her hands are fidgeting. “What’s up?”

“Do you- What do you think about Teddy?”

He frowns. “What do you mean?”

“Just that. What do you think about him?”

“Oh, um…” Shit. What is he supposed to say? He’s met the guy for a total of two minutes and he didn’t seem like the most enjoyable person to have around. But he can’t say that, can he? “Well, we barely talked that one time, I don’t- I don’t have an actual opinion about him yet.” He watches her nod slowly, something is clearly bothering her. “Why?”

“It’s just, things are getting too serious too fast and…” she sighs. “I don’t know.”

“But you’re happy with him, right?”

“Yeah, yeah, I am. I really like him. I’m just- I’m second guessing everything, I guess. But you didn’t come over to hear me talk about my relationship with Teddy, you probably don’t care about this at all so let’s just-“

Ames ,” he says, taking her hand in his. “I care about you , and if this is something you want to talk about, I’m here.”

She takes a deep breath, her lips curling up slightly. “Thank you, Jake. But I think I need to figure out what I’m feeling on my own first.” He nods. “Anyway,” she continues, her tone changing completely, “what do you wanna do? Should we watch something? That’s kind of our thing, isn’t it?”

“I guess,” he laughs.

Jake’s completely absorbed in the movie. She doesn’t blame him - she was the one who suggested that particular movie in the first place because she had already watched it, and she’s sure she reacted the exact same was as him. But that’s the bad thing about thrillers - once you know the ending, the rest of the movie becomes a lot less interesting.

So, when her phone lights up and starts ringing with an incoming call, she picks it up and goes to the kitchen.

“Hi, mom.”

It’s been a while since they talked. Her mom usually calls her at least once a week, but every time she’s called her recently Amy was at work, or with Teddy - either way, she couldn’t talk. Which leaves them with a lot of catching up to do (or what would be better described as her mom attempting to find out as much about Amy’s life as she possibly can).

“How’s your boyfriend?” Camila asks after she runs out of questions about Amy’s wellbeing.

Amy frowns. She thought she hadn’t told her mom about Teddy yet. But thinking back to the last time they talked, she might have and she just doesn’t remember. She was with Teddy then, he had brewed her a rose infused pilsner in his home brewing kit and he had been eager for her to try it. It was disgusting - it tasted like hand lotion and the bubbles didn’t happen - but she drank it anyway (he eats the food she makes after all). That’s when her mom called, and no matter how much Amy insisted that she couldn’t talk at the moment, Camila refused to hung up. It’s possible that one drink Amy was careless and told her mom about her new relationship.

“Teddy’s fine. We went to-”

“Who’s Teddy?” Her mom interrupts, clearly confused, which makes Amy confused.

“My boyfriend.”

“What happened to Jake?”

Oh no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. She’s the biggest idiot to have ever lived. She knew this would eventually blow up on her face, but she thought she would at least see it coming and not bring it on herself.

“Amelia, are you there? Tell me what happened with Jake.”

“Yeah, I’m here. We, um, we broke up.”

She hears her mom sigh. “Why?”

“It’s a long story.” So that’s what she’s going with. She can’t come up with a detailed story to tell her mom in the spur of the moment. If she does, it’s probably going to be bad and her mom will know she’s lying, that she’s been lying since the moment she told her she had a boyfriend all those months ago. “But we’re still friends,” she adds.

“I’m sorry you couldn’t work things out, you two seemed to be so in love.” Seemed .

“It’s fine, really. Like I said, we’re still friends.” Her mom is disappointed, that much is clear to Amy. But there’s nothing she can do about that - it’s a consequence she has to face for lying.

“Tell me about this new boyfriend,” Camila sighs after a moment of silence. “What did you say his name was?”


“How did you meet him?”

She tells her everything. How they used to work together years ago, how he was transferred and they lost touch, how they randomly bumped into each other at code camp. Her mom is listening - she asks questions and makes some comments here and there - but it seems to Amy that she’s not really interested in the conversation, that there is something in her mom’s mind that is stealing her attention.

She doesn’t realize how much time she’s been on the phone until Jake appears on the kitchen doorway, empty glass on his hand. The movie is probably over, he wouldn’t have paused it just to refill his glass. She smiles when she sees him - she’s glad that he came over to hang out (though she spent most of the time talking on the phone in another room - she’s going to apologize and make it up to him somehow), she missed him. Maybe, like he said earlier, she has been working too much lately. And it might be due to how long it’s been since they’ve done this, how long it’s been since they actually spent time together, but every time he walks into the room she can’t stop herself from smiling.

He opens the mouth to say something, probably to tease her about how long she’s been on the phone, but she acts faster. She gestures him to keep quiet and points to the phone mouthing the word ‘mom.’

He raises his eyebrows in surprise, but a moment later he nods, and, after refilling his glass with orange soda (he actually went to get the bottle from his apartment before the movie started), he goes back to the living room.

She joins him a minute later, having told her mom that she had to leave and couldn’t talk any longer. The last thing Camila said was that she’s looking forward to meeting her new boyfriend. Amy knows what that’s code for.

“I’m so sorry about that,” she says, sitting on the couch next to Jake. “I just hadn’t had an actual conversation with my mom in forever.”

“Wow, you’re bad .”

She rolls her eyes. “Shut up.” He laughs and, as much as she tries not to, she laughs too. But then she remembers the conversation she just had, and how it’s very likely that her mom is going to show up at her door unexpected any day. “She asked about you.”


“She still thought we were dating.”

His expression transforms from one of surprise to one of pure confusion. “She doesn’t know about Teddy?”

“She does now, I had to tell her after I mentioned him when she asked how my boyfriend was doing. She meant you, of course. I don’t think she cares about how Teddy is doing.”

“Why do you say that?”

“She just seemed… off, like she wasn’t paying attention to what I was saying whenever I talked about him. And she asked about you again before we hung up.” She sighs. “She really likes you.”

He smiles at that and she has to fight the urge to roll her eyes again. “It’s not my fault that I’m this charming, I was born like this.” She can’t stop herself from laughing at the ridiculous face he makes. “But seriously,” he continues, “asking me to pretend to be your boyfriend was a huge mistake. The bar is set way too high now.”

“Yeah, that was the mistake.”

“Lying was pretty dumb too if you ask me.”

“I was aware of that. I’m glad I told her the truth and this is over.”

“You didn’t tell her the truth.”


“You told her we broke up. That’s not the truth.”

She sighs. “I guess, but that doesn’t make a difference. Except that she will probably want to see you when she comes over.”

“She’s coming over?”

“She didn’t say it, but we both know what happened the last time I told her I was dating someone. I wouldn’t be surprised if she shows up at my door tomorrow.”

Three days later Camila Santiago knocks on Amy’s door.

She saw it coming, knew that her mom would drop everything and come meet her boyfriend right away (she actually thought something might have happened to her when two days had gone by and she still wasn’t there), so this time she’s prepared. Her apartment is immaculate, her room is ready for her mom to settle in during her stay, and she warned Teddy of her mom’s possible visit so he wouldn’t freak out if she asks him to come over for dinner at short notice.

She thought he was going to be nervous about meeting her mom, especially since they only have been dating for a couple of months, but he took it surprisingly well, said he was excited to meet her (but that he would like to know the exact day so that he could have it on his calendar to which she repeated for the tenth time that she couldn’t possibly know).

She follows her mom to the bedroom - she’s staying longer than last time, that much is clear to Amy from the suitcase she’s carrying, though she can’t decide if that’s a good or a bad thing - and then proceeds to ask her if she needs any help unpacking. Of course the answer is that she is perfectly capable of doing it herself, thank you very much. Camila also informs her that she plans to cook dinner that night so Amy should ask her boyfriend to come over (that explains the bags of groceries she brought along, she knows her daughter well enough to know that her fridge would be nearly empty or lacking the ingredients she needs). Amy sends Teddy a quick text, smiling at his almost instant response.

“Didn’t you work today?” Camila asks once she finishes unpacking, heading towards the kitchen.

“I did,” Amy says, following her. “But my shift ended two hours ago.”

“And you boyfriend is still at work?”


“What’s his name again?”


She nods, but Amy knows she’s not interested in remembering that. It’s probably the fifth time since she first mentioned Teddy over the phone that her mom asks her to repeat his name.

“Since when do you drink this?” Camila asks, standing by the open fridge door, bottle of orange soda in her hand.

“That’s Jake’s,” she says without thinking her words through. It’s only when she sees the look of pure confusion on her mom’s face that she realizes what she said. “He came over a couple of days ago and brought it along because for some reason he refuses to drink water.” Yeah, that doesn’t help. Now her mom is raising her eyebrows suggestively. Great.

“Does he come over often?”

“Actually, no, he doesn’t. I only ever see him in the hallway now.”

“Why? I thought you said you were friends.”

“We are , we’ve been busy, that’s all.”

“Right,” Camila says, not sounding one bit convinced. “So you wouldn’t mind if I asked him to come have dinner with us tonight, would you?”

It’s not hard to tell that Jake’s home at the moment, most likely alone. He's been listening to music for the past hour - after all this time Amy is used to hearing whatever song he is obsessed with at the moment on repeat for days - and singing along to it - which is not a common occurrence but it has definitely happened before (she’s not complaining - as long as he keeps quiet at night - weirdly enough, he can sing).

“No, not at all,” she answers, ignoring the voice in the back of her head that is telling her that this is a huge, enormous mistake.

Chapter Text

Only a few minutes after leaving to knock on Jake’s door, Camila returns to Amy’s apartment, Jake trailing behind her.

“He had nothing to do so I figured he could join us now and help me cook,” Camila announces the moment they cross the doorway.

He’s smiling, the same way he smiled when Amy told him her mom likes him, and she has to fight the urge to roll her eyes at him. He probably jumped at the chance to help her mom, eager to prove her right.

But, once her mom’s words settle in, Amy frowns. If her mom needed help cooking - which she doubted - Amy would be more than capable to help her. She might not be the greatest cook in the world, but she can follow instructions - loves following instructions - and the chances of her accidentally messing up are infinitesimal if her mom is there to supervise her. She doesn’t know why she asked Jake to come over, but she’s sure it isn’t because she needed help.

“Hey,” she hears Jake say as he walks past her, following Camila into the kitchen.

“Hey,” Amy echoes, turning immediately, joining them a second later. She can’t leave them alone for too long - the three minutes they just had when Camila asked him to come over were more than enough. Her mom could ask him literally anything about their supposed relationship and break up, and, as Amy didn’t have the time to come up with a detailed story thanks to work and the preparations for her mom’s imminent arrival, she’s terrified of what his answers might be. Plus she needs to be aware of what he tells her in case she gets interrogated without him later.

But Camila’s questions are light, not too personal, and Jake answers them casually, sometimes even making her laugh. Amy knows what he’s doing; he knows her mom absolutely loves him, and he’s using his charm to divert her from asking the awkward questions she meant to ask. He’s a genius (not that she’s ever going to say that to his face). She makes a mental note to thank him later.

“So,” Camila starts some time later, after Jake finishes telling her about a particular funny thing that happened at work, “when is Terry coming? Dinner is going to be ready soon.”

“It’s Teddy .”

“Teddy’s coming?” Jake frowns.

“Yeah,” Amy answers, a similar expression on her face. “Mom, you didn’t tell him?”

“He wouldn’t have agreed to join us if he had known,” Camila shrugs.

Amy sighs, exasperated. She’s not sure what is going through her mom’s head, why she is so determined to make this dinner as awkward as possible. Because she’s doing this on purpose, Amy’s certain of that. There is absolutely no way her mom thinks having dinner with both her daughter’s current boyfriend and her ex is going to go well.

Jake is not her ex though, so for once this huge bag of lies is going to come in handy. There is no reason for him to feel uncomfortable around Teddy, though he’s going to have to pretend he’s at least a bit uncomfortable. But she’s not worried. He’s an amazing actor, she thinks. If she didn’t know better she’d say that the look of pure disappointment that appeared on his face the second he heard Teddy’s name was his actual reaction.

“You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to,” Amy tells him, because that’s what someone would tell their ex if her current boyfriend was about to arrive, right? Pretending to have broken up and stayed friends is somehow harder than pretending to date. She has no idea what she’s supposed to do or say.

“Of course he’s going to stay,” Camila says before Jake gets a chance to state his opinion. “He’s already here, unlike your boyfriend who is late.”

“He’s probably stuck at work.”

“Well, if he doesn’t hurry, we’re going to start eating without him.”

Amy sighs, rolling her eyes. “Jake, can you help me set the table?” she asks, dragging him out of the room, away from her mom.

“I’m so sorry about all that,” Amy whispers, grabbing the top plate from the pile that she placed on the table earlier. Her mom is still in the kitchen so she probably can’t hear them, but the door is open and Amy’s not taking any risks. “You really don’t have to stay if you don’t want to. My mom clearly doesn’t like Teddy so dinner will not be fun.”

“No, no, I mean, if I left, your mom would drag me back here. She knows where I live.” He smiles when he says the last part, and Amy has to suppress a laugh. “And, anyway, I don’t mind staying.” He shrugs. “Your mom did say that she would cook something for me the last time she came over, and I want to taste her food. From the smell I can tell it’s amazing. Unless you want me to leave,” he adds quickly. “In that case I’ll say I have to go to work or something, but you’ll have to save some leftovers for me.”

“No, no, no, no,” she says, moving closer to him until they’re standing directly in front of each other. “I don’t want you to leave, I just don’t want you to feel like you’re forced to stay.”

“Ames, I really don’t-”

“Jake, can you come help me with something?” Camila calls from the kitchen.

Amy sighs. “You better go.”

He nods once and a moment later he’s gone.

One of these days, her mom is going to drive her insane.

She calls Teddy when she finishes setting the table - she forgot the napkins, she’s going to go get them in a second - but he doesn’t pick up, which really doesn’t help at all. Where is he? His shift ended about an hour ago, he should be here by now. And he would have said something if he had to stay late and wouldn’t make it to dinner, right?

She calls him again, and, when he doesn’t pick up, again , she texts him, asking what’s going on and begging him to hurry up. Once her phone is back in her pocket (after at least five minutes of waiting for Teddy to answers her texts - which are still unanswered) she starts moving towards the kitchen in order to get the missing napkins.

The voices coming from the kitchen make her stop sharp. She was too worried about Teddy not being there to pay attention to what Jake and her mom were talking about, but something her mom just said piqued her interest.

“What do you think of Amelia’s new boyfriend?”

She asked him that same question herself, she shouldn’t be scared of the answer. Nevertheless, her heart is suddenly beating faster.

“I’ve only seen him once,” Jake answers. Amy can’t see him, but she’s sure he shrugged. “He seemed alright.”

“But from what she tells you- I assume she talks to you about him since you’re friends?” A pause. “What do you think about him? About their relationship?”

“Oh, um… She really likes him, and it’s not hard to tell that he makes her happy. But,” another pause, “she- I think she’s scared, which makes sense since it’s the first serious relationship she’s had in ages.”

“What do you mean?” Camila asks, noticing Jake’s slip up.

Amy is about to walk into the room to put an end to their conversation, hoping her mom won’t ask further questions, but a knock on the door makes her turn the other way.

Teddy’s here. Finally .

She rushes to the door, greeting him with a peck on the lips.

“What took you so long?” Amy asks. She’s a bit annoyed at his delay, she won’t deny that, but the relief she feels having him there is stronger.

“I had to stay late at work and finish some paperwork.”

“You could have let me know,” she points out.

“I know, I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would take that long. And I was driving when you called just now, that’s why I didn’t pick up.”

“It’s okay,” she tells him, taking his hand in hers and guiding him to the kitchen.

The first thing she notices when she walks in is that her mom is not facing the counter like she expected to find her. Instead, she’s staring at Jake, arms crossed in front of her, her eyes narrowed. Jake doesn’t seem like he’s just been caught lying though, something Amy’s thankful for. She’s going to have to get him alone and ask him what he told her mom - she might have believed whatever he told her, but her mom is not dumb, another slip up and it’s over.

“Um, mom?” Amy says, stepping into the kitchen, Teddy by her side. Both Jake and Camila turn towards them, and Amy notices that Jake fixes his eyes on the tiled floor  in front of him when he sees Teddy standing next to her.

“You didn’t mention that Jake would be joining us,” Teddy says, speaking directly to Amy, a glint of annoyance in his voice.

“I didn’t-”

I asked him to come,” Camila interrupts.

Amy frowns. That’s not what she was going to say. She simply was going to mention that she didn’t know Jake was coming over when she texted Teddy earlier, but now, thanks to her mom, it seems like she didn’t want Jake to be there - which is not true at all, she specifically told him she wanted him to stay a few minutes ago. He doesn’t seem to remember that though, the hurt look on his face tells her that much.

She’s going to talk to him later. She now should be more worried about the fact that her mom and her boyfriend’s first meeting went horribly wrong.

“I didn’t think you would mind,” Camila continues before Amy has the chance to say anything, or to drag Teddy out of the room. “Amelia said there’s nothing between her and Jake anymore, they’re just friends now.”

Amy freezes.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Teddy asks, his eyes gaze jumping from Camila to Amy.

Camila raises her eyebrows, smiling smugly. “She didn’t tell you that they dated?”


“TEDDY, CAN I TALK TO YOU IN PRIVATE FOR A SECOND?” Amy yells. She needs him to be away from her mom, and it needs to happen now .

She doesn’t wait for him to answer, just tightens her hold on his hand and pulls him out of the kitchen and into her bedroom.

“You and Jake dated ?” Teddy asks the moment Amy closes the door behind them. “I knew there was something between you two. You won’t shut up about him and the way he looks at you-”

“We never dated,” Amy says calmly, sitting on her bed. Teddy’s walking up and down the length of her room, not looking at her.

“So your mom decided to lie just because?” Teddy scoffs. “I’m not stupid, Amy.”

“She wasn’t- She didn’t know what she said isn’t the truth.”

He stops sharp, fixing his eyes on her. “What?” He frowns, clearly confused.

Amy takes a deep breath, trying to find the words to explain everything. Asking Jake to pretend to be her boyfriend all those months ago was a huge mistake, she felt it back then and she’s sure about it now. But she can’t go back in time and fix it, and she doesn’t even want to think about what could happen if her mom finds out she’s been lying all this time. She has to tell Teddy the truth and ask him to go along with it, that’s the only solution (or the only solution she can think of right now, locked in her room with him while her mom is out in the kitchen with Jake).

“Don’t ask me why because that’s a long story for another day,” Amy begins, “but a while back I told my mom I was dating someone and asked Jake to pretend to be my boyfriend when she showed up at my door unexpectedly.” She waits for him to react in some way, but he doesn’t move, he just stares at her, frowning. “It’s been a long time, and now my mom can’t know it was all a lie. Jake’s here pretending to be my ex because he’s a great friend, but trust me, we never dated.”

Her eyes are fixed on him, waiting for some kind of reaction, but he doesn’t move. “That’s… not what I was expecting,” Teddy says eventually, uncrossing his arms and letting them fall to his sides. “It’s not like you to do something like that.”

“I know. Lying was stupid and I shouldn’t have done it. But I did, and I can’t change that.” Amy gets up, moving closer to him and taking his hands in hers. “Please don’t say anything.”

“Amy, I don’t think I can-”

“Teddy, please .”

“Fine,” he sighs.

Dinner starts surprisingly well, at least compared to what Amy was expecting. Everything Camila cooks is delicious (this is obviously no news to her), and the food is doing an amazing job at keeping everyone from talking. The only words exchanged so far were between Jake and Camila - he said the food was great and she accepted the compliment. Still, Amy knows better, knows her mom well enough to know there is absolutely no way she will keep quiet the entirety of dinner. This is only the calm before the storm.

“So, Jake,” Camila begins after noticing that Jake’s plate is empty and refilling it  automatically, without asking if he wants seconds. “How’s work? Amelia told me you’ve been very busy lately.”

Teddy’s plate is empty as well, Amy notices, her mom could have easily refilled it as well. But of course she wouldn’t have known since she hasn’t even glanced at Teddy since he arrived. A quick look to her left lets Amy know that he’s frowning. She doesn’t blame him. If she was in the same situation as him, she would be feeling awful as well. She’s going to have to talk to her mom later, tell her to at least be nice to Teddy, even if she doesn’t like him for whatever reason, because he doesn’t deserve the way she’s treating him.

“Oh, um, yeah, I’ve been busy,” Jake answers, Camila’s question taking him by surprise. “I’m working a big case. It’s top secret, though.”

“It’s not too dangerous, is it?” Camila asks, placing a hand on Jake’s shoulder.

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Good. We wouldn’t want you getting hurt, right, Amelia?”

“Yes. I mean, no. I mean,” Amy takes a deep breath, trying to calm down. She doesn’t even know why she’s suddenly so nervous, but she is, and it’s not letting her think her words through. “I don’t want you to get hurt,” she finally says, fixing her eyes on Jake.

He nods once, a small smile appearing on his face, and Amy smiles back at him. Why is it that every time he smiles at her she finds herself smiling back? More importantly, why does this happen only with him ? She doesn’t smile back at Teddy when he talks about pilsners (his favorite topic of conversation), and she (maybe) loves him. So why does Jake have that effect on her?

“Are you sure there’s nothing between you two anymore?”

Camila’s question has a different effect on each person sitting at the table. Teddy chokes on his drink and starts coughing, Amy’s smile disappears instantly and she freezes, and Jake looks down, fixing his eyes on the plate in front of him.

It doesn’t take long for Amy to come back to herself. Her mom has taken this too far. She can’t even look at Jake now? And the worst part is that she wasn’t even looking at him in a loving, romantic way. She was just looking at him, the same way she always does.


Teddy’s voice makes her realize that neither her nor Jake answered Camila’s question. Instead they’re both staring uncomfortably at the table in front of them, which makes Camila believe she’s right - at least that’s what Amy assumes from the smug smile on her mom’s face.

“The funniest part is,” Camila says, “neither of you were able to tell me why you broke up when I asked. I think it was just a stupid mistake.”

No , Amy thinks. The stupid mistake was to pretend we were together in the first place .

“You and Terry just-”

“It’s Teddy .” Amy’s angry, so angry that she’s not even going to pretend she isn’t for the sake of this dinner (it’s already going horribly wrong, so what’s the point?).

“You and Teddy ,” Camila says the name slowly, emphasizing every syllable to show she’s saying the right thing, “have barely any chemistry, I noticed it the moment you first mentioned him, there was no need to meet him. Now, you and Jake-”

“Why did you come if you didn’t want to meet my boyfriend?”

“To get you and Jake back together, I thought it was obvious.”

She’s going to kill her mom. Teddy looks furious, and Jake’s face is bright red, though she can’t see him properly as he’s looking down, in an attempt to ignore the incredibly awkward situation surrounding him.

“Amelia, seriously, he’s the best guy you’ve ever-”

“Amy, can you please tell her the truth?” Teddy’s words make Jake look up and fix his eyes on Amy. She, on her part, is completely frozen, suddenly unable to breathe.

“Amelia?” Camila asks when she doesn’t move. “What does he mean?”

She opens her mouth to speak, but no words come out. Even if she could talk, she wouldn’t know what to say. She steals a glance at Jake, and she’s sure his expression of pure panic mirrors hers.

“Amelia?” Camila insists.

“I don’t- I-”

“She and Jake never dated,” Teddy finally says.

She’s dreaming, this is simply a nightmare. There’s no way this can be actually happening.

Camila frowns. “What?”

Nope, this isn’t a nightmare, this is very real.

She no longer wants to kill her mom, now Teddy is on top of the list. It’s not like she was ever going to tell her mom the truth, but if for some reason she had to find out, it would have been nice that it was Amy who told her, preferably years from now as a funny anecdote that happened a long time before. Teddy had no right to do this, no matter how angry he is.

“It was all-”

“You shut up,” Camila orders Teddy, who immediately stops talking and leans back in his chair, crossing his arms. “Amelia, explain all this.”

Amy’s eyes are fixed on the plate in front of her. She doesn’t dare look her mom in the eyes. “There’s not much to explain,” she shrugs.

“You could start by telling me what this whole ‘she and Jake never dated’ thing is about.”

“It was all a lie so you would stop setting me up with random men because you kept doing that even though I repeatedly told you I wasn’t interested in dating.” Her tone is more aggressive than she intended it to be but she doesn’t care. She’s angry, okay? “And the second I told you I was dating someone you showed up at my door demanding to meet him. I freaked out and asked Jake to pretend to be my boyfriend so you would leave me alone.” Amy pauses, taking a deep breath in an attempt to calm down (it’s not really working though). “I know it was a very stupid thing to do, but maybe if you didn’t want to control every aspect of my life, this wouldn’t have happened.”

“So it’s my fault that you lied?”

“That’s not what-”

“You know what? I don’t want to hear this right now.” Camila pushes back her chair and stands up. “I can’t believe you’ve been lying to my face all this time, and you,” she turns towards Jake, who has been completely frozen since Teddy opened his stupid mouth, “I was so wrong about you. Though maybe you and Amelia are meant to be together, since apparently you both love lying.”

“Mom, this is not Jake’s-”

“I’m going to bed,” Camila says before walking away and slamming the bedroom door behind her.

For about a minute, the room is completely silent. Jake’s looking down, eyes fixed on his lap, and Amy is scared he might burst into tears in any second. She can only see Teddy from the corner of her eye, and she thinks he’s staring at her, trying to come up with something to say. She really hopes he keeps his mouth shut, he’s already talked too much tonight. Amy, on her part, is trying to figure out what she’s going to do with her mom, because Teddy and Jake won’t be here the following day, and she’s going to have to deal with her mom’s anger all on her own.

“Amy, I’m sorry,” Teddy says eventually, and if Amy thought she couldn’t be more angry she was just proved wrong. She hasn’t been this furious in her entire life. “I didn’t-”

“Teddy, don’t. I really don’t want to hear this right now.”

“But really, I’m-”

“You know what? You should go.”


“I’m serious.”

Teddy nods once and, reluctantly, stands up. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” he says before opening the door and stepping out of the apartment.

The second the door closes behind Teddy, Amy buries her face in her hands, groaning loudly. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong and all she wants to do right now is go to bed and cry, she’s going to figure out what to do in the morning. But she can’t do that. Her mom is in her room so she has to sleep on the couch - not the preferred place to cry herself to sleep - and she has to clean up everything before even considering going to sleep. And there’s so much to clean up, it’s probably going to take her hours (not actual hours, but longer than usual as she has to wash everything her mom used for cooking plus the plates used by four people). This is literally the worst day of her life.

A warm hand on her back makes her look up, and seeing the concerned look on Jake’s face, now sitting next to her, is enough to make the tears she’s been trying to hold back roll down her cheeks.

“Ames,” he says, moving his chair closer to hers until there is literally no space between them, “it’s gonna be okay.”

She nods, taking a deep breath in an attempt to regulate her breathing. It doesn’t work though. A second later she starts sobbing (she doesn’t even know why she’s crying this much, which only makes her feel worse).

Jake’s hand moves from her back to her shoulder, pulling her closer to him and hugging her when she buries her head on his chest.

Amy discovers that that actually helps. A lot. The warmth of his body is soothing, and it doesn’t take long for the tears to stop coming.

“I’m sorry about all that happened,” Jake says once her breathing is back to normal.

She shakes her head, sitting up straight. She immediately feels the lack of warmth the moment they are no longer touching, and she’s not sure she likes that. So, to make up for it if only partially, she takes his hands in hers.

“Don’t apologize. None of that was your fault.”

“Yeah, it was. I should have left the moment I heard Teddy was coming. This was supposed to be a thing between you three.”

“My mom would have talked about you even if you hadn’t been here,” Amy says, tightening her hold on his hands. “If it’s anyone’s fault it’s hers, she was being awful to Teddy. And maybe mine too. You know, for lying.”

He chuckles. “I lied too, remember?”

“Only because I asked you to. You just were being a good friend, and I really appreciate that.” He nods once, Amy’s lips curving into a small smile. “And not many people would sit through the disaster that was dinner and stay after it ended the worst way possible.”

“Someone’s gotta help you clean up, right?”

Amy beams. What did she do to get a friend like him? “Who are you and what did you do with Jake?”

“Trust me, if it was up to me, everything would stay like this,” he frees one hand from her grasp and gestures to the table, still a mess from the prematurely finished dinner “until I run out of clean stuff to use. I’m only doing this because I know you won’t rest until everything is spotless.”

She laughs, he’s probably right. “Thank you,” she says, wiping her eyes.

Everything gets cleaned in record time. Jake is surprisingly efficient at washing dishes, something Amy finds weirdly attractive (she pushes that thought away immediately, she has a boyfriend after all), and they make a great team, so, before she knows it, she’s sitting on the couch, remote on her hand.

“What the hell?”

Amy looks up when she hears Jake’s voice coming from the kitchen. He insisted he could dry everything on his own and basically kicked her out. He appears in the doorway seconds later, his frown too exaggerated to be real.

“What?” she asks when he doesn’t say anything.

“You made me drink water during dinner when there’s a bottle of orange soda in your fridge?”

Amy chuckles. “You should be thanking me.”

“I can’t believe you did something like this!” he says in mock indignation.

She rolls her eyes. “I’m sorry for trying to get you to be more healthy.”

“I feel cheated!”

“You’ll get over it.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t throw it away,” he says after making his way towards the couch and sitting next to her, “considering how you think it’s poison or something.”

“I don’t think it’s poison, though it does have an insane amount of sugar. I just think you should drink more water, you’re going to feel better.”

“There’s water in soda!” he protests.

She opens her mouth to answer but ends up rolling her eyes instead. “You can take the bottle back to your apartment if you want. It’s not like anyone would drink it here. Other than you, I mean.”

“Nah, you keep it. Next time I come over and you try to make me drink water I’ll have my good old friend orange soda to save me.”

She shakes her head. He’s unbelievable.

“Do you wanna stay for a bit and watch Serve and Protect?” Amy asks after a moment of comfortable silence. “I haven’t had the time to watch it in ages and I’m so behind.”

Not one hour ago all she wanted was to be left alone and go to sleep. Now, she’s not sure she wants Jake to leave. She’s only feeling better thanks to him, and she’s scared that if he’s not there with her, she’s going to start crying again.

“Sure,” he nods, smiling.

‘A bit’ turns into three hours, and Amy yawns when she presses play to watch what they agreed would be the last episode of the night. She’s curled against Jake’s side, her head resting on his shoulder and his arm around her. It’s not her fault that his shoulder is so comfortable, okay? And friends can cuddle, there’s nothing weird about that. Still, she has a feeling Teddy wouldn’t be too happy if he found out about this. She doesn’t care, though. She’s still furious at him and it’s not like she’s doing something wrong.

Halfway through the episode she hears the door of her bedroom opening and, seconds later, her mom walks into the room, heading towards the kitchen. Amy watches her every movement from the corner of her eye, and she sees that Camila stops sharp when she realizes Amy’s still awake.

“Don’t you have work in the morning?” Camila asks.

Jake looks up then, realizing in that moment that Amy’s mom is in the room, and Amy sighs, moving away from Jake and reaching for the remote to pause the show. She was close to stop feeling bad, but of course her mom chooses that exact moment to come along and ruin everything.

“Yeah,” Amy’s answer is simple.

Camila glares at Jake, frowns, and fixes her eyes on Amy again. “Can I talk to you for a moment?”

Amy sighs but stands up anyway, joining her mom in the kitchen a few seconds later. She wishes Jake was with her (for emotional support) because, she can tell by her face, her mom is still quite angry (not a surprise, she was expecting her to be furious).

“What are you doing?” Camila asks, crossing her arms in front of her.

“Watching TV?”

“What are you doing with Jake ?”

“Watching TV,” Amy repeats, not sure what her mom was expecting her answer to be - she saw they were watching TV.

“Why is he still here?”

“He helped me clean up.”

“It took you both over three hours to clean up?”

Amy frowns. “No, we actually finished really fast. He just stayed to watch a show with me. Am I allowed to tell my friends to stay or do I have to ask you for permission first?” she snaps.

“Amelia, you’re dating another man.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Camila takes a deep breath, and when she speaks, her voice comes out low and calm, a big contrast to her previous mildly-aggressive tone. “I had a feeling you were lying when you told me you had a boyfriend that time, that’s why I came. But by the time I left, I was convinced I was wrong.”

“I don’t know where you’re going with this,” Amy says defensively.

“You and Jake aren’t exactly academy award winning actors.”

Amy frowns, still unsure of what her mom is trying to tell her.

“I don’t think either of you were pretending.”

Amy’s genuinely confused by her mom’s words. This entire conversation makes no sense at all. “What?”  

Camila sighs, a sigh that means ‘I can’t believe I’m going to have to explain this to you, how oblivious do you have to be to not see what’s right in front of you.’ “You and Jake have feelings for each other, anyone who spends five minutes with you two can see that. And it’s fine if you don’t want to do anything about that but-”

“I don’t have feelings for Jake,” Amy interrupts because she doesn’t. They’re just friends. “And I really don’t think he has feelings for me either. I don’t know what you think you’re seeing, but it’s not there. You’re imagining things. There’s nothing  romantic between us.”

Camila sighs again, and it makes Amy feel like the dumbest person in the world. “You can deny it all you want, I know what I’m talking about. But that’s not what I meant to tell you. You’re dating another man, and you can’t do whatever you want with Jake just because ‘there is nothing romantic between you.’ It’s not right.”

“We were just watching TV!”

“You were cuddling! Next thing you’re going to tell me is that you slept together, but it’s fine! You’re just friends!”

Heat rushes to Amy’s face and she fixes her eyes on the floor. There is no way her mom could have possibly guessed that she did, in fact, sleep with Jake - as in shared a bed with him (which she doubts is what her mom meant). Still, that happened only once and before she started dating Teddy - it’s completely irrelevant right now. Her mom has a point about the cuddling though. She did feel like it would bother Teddy if he knew.

Amy doesn’t know how long she stood there frozen, staring at the floor, but when she looks up, her mom is near the doorway, glass of water in her hand.

“Don’t be stupid,” she tells her before turning around and walking out of the kitchen.

When Amy returns from the kitchen, Jake is sitting on the couch, phone in hand - the exact same position he was in when she got up. He looks up when he hears her coming back, moving slightly to the side to make room for her. Amy doubts he heard her conversation with her mom, but there’s a part of her that is terrified of that possibility. It’s silly though. He couldn’t have heard.

“I think I’m gonna go,” he says when she sits next to him.

“What? Why?” Because of what your mom said, that’s why .

“It’s late, and you should get some sleep after everything that happened today. And I have to go to work in the morning but that’s not really relevant since I will probably be late no matter what time I go to sleep.”

Amy chuckles. “Can’t we finish this episode first?” she asks, pointing to the TV where Detective Cole Tacker is frozen as he picks up evidence (without gloves, something that makes Amy cringe no matter how many times she’s seen him doing that).

Jake sighs. “There’s still over thirty minutes left, Ames.”

She nods, trying to hide her disappointment. Her mom’s words resonate in her brain but she does her best to push them back and forget them. Her wanting him to stay has nothing to do with romantic feelings. She just doesn’t want to be alone.

“Okay, I’ll stay,” he says after a moment, suddenly changing his mind.

“You don’t have to stay, you know that, right? You can leave if you want to, I don’t mind.” She does mind, but she’s not going to admit that. She’s never going to hear the end of it if she does.

“Are you sure?” he asks, and by his tone, Amy knows he’s going to tease her next. “Because you were just begging me to stay,” he says, smiling. “I know you can’t get enough of me, but try to be a bit more chill about it.”

Amy rolls her eyes. “You know what, I changed my mind. You can go now.”

“Nope. Now I’m staying.” To make it more clear that he doesn’t plan to leave any time soon, he makes himself comfortable on the couch, leaning back and sprawling, taking most of the free space.

If it were anyone else doing this, she’d be extremely annoyed, she thinks as she presses the play button on the remote. Not the staying part, that part worked out the way she wanted to, but the taking most of the couch part. It’s her couch, and she’s pressed against the armrest, barely able to move. But for some reason, she doesn’t mind Jake. Again, her mom’s words echo in her brain - you and Jake have feelings for each other - but she quickly dismisses them. It’s probably the craziest thing she’s ever heard her mom say.

They watch the rest of the episode in comfortable silence. She hates to admit he was right, but she does need to get some sleep. She’s fine during the first ten minutes, but after that she yawns every ten seconds and at some point she falls asleep. She’s not sure for how long, but by the time the episode is over she realizes she has no idea what happened.

“Okay,” Jake says, standing up and stretching, “I am leaving now. Beg all you want, you won’t change my mind.”

Amy rolls her eyes, but she doesn’t have the energy to fight the smile that appears on her face. “You wish.”

She stands up and walks with him to the door. The thought of him going back to his apartment leaves her with a strange feeling in her stomach, a feeling she doesn’t like one bit, but she does her best to ignore it. There is nothing she can do about that. If she asks him to stay again he’s going to tease her for years. And he’s going to have to leave at some point, right? He can’t stay here forever.

“Hey,” she calls, standing next to the open door of her apartment. Jake’s facing his door, looking for his keys in the pocket of his leather jacket, but he turns to face her the moment he hears her voice. “Thank you for everything you did today.”

He opens his mouth to say something but changes his mind at the last minute and just nods, smiling a little.

“I wanna make it up to you.”

He raises an eyebrow. “What do you have in mind?”

“I… I don’t know, actually. If you can think of anything-”

“I can.” It’s Amy’s turn to look surprised. “Just promise me we’ll hang out again soon and not in like… months from now.”

Amy only realized she had been neglecting her friendship with Jake when he knocked on her door a few days ago, and it made her feel terribly guilty. That was not what he deserved, and she had to do something about it before it was too late. She decided in that moment that she was going to make some time for him, even if it meant seeing Teddy less often, so she nods without hesitating. “I promise.”

A week goes by before she runs into Jake again. It’s probably the longest they have gone without seeing each other at all in years (without counting the times one of them was away), and Amy would be worried if it wasn’t for the noises she can hear every night coming from his apartment. What surprises her is that she spent a considerable amount of time at home - she didn’t want to leave her mom alone in her apartment for longer than necessary so going out with Teddy was off the table - and she only ever hears Jake sounds late at night. Now he is the one who is working way too much.

He steps out of the elevator she was waiting for, and his face lights up the second he sees her standing in front of him.

“Ames! I was just wondering when you’d get home.”

“Well, here I am.”

“I can see that. Anyway, is your mom still here?”

Amy frowns. He wanted to see her to ask her about her mom? “No, she left two days ago.”

“Is she still angry?”

“Yeah, but she’ll get over it.” She shrugs. “Why are you suddenly interested in my mom’s whereabouts?”

“Oh, right. Gina and Rosa are coming over tonight for this sort of game night which basically consists on getting drunk and playing board games.” Amy raises her eyebrows in surprise. “We normally do this at Gina’s place, but her neighbors keep filing noise complaints because she likes to have music playing in the background and she doesn’t know what low volume is, so she decided to do it at my place instead.” Amy frowns and she opens her mouth to protest - if Gina’s neighbors complain about the noise what makes him think that his won’t? (and by his neighbors she means herself) - but he continues before she has a chance to speak. “I was hoping you’d come - I also asked Charles and he literally screeched, he was so excited - but you wouldn’t if your mom was still here, and I think the noise might have been a problem too.”

She freezes for a second, surprised. She didn’t think that’s where he was going with this. “Oh, okay,” she says eventually, nodding slightly.

“So you’re coming?” he asks, his smile getting impossibly bigger.

“Oh, um, yeah, sure.”

“You know, you can- you can bring Teddy along if you want.”

“Oh no. I don’t think he’d be interested, and he’s working tonight anyway.”

“How’s everything between you two?”

“He called me first thing in the morning after the disastrous dinner to apologize. We talked, a lot , and everything’s back to normal, but I haven’t seen him since. My mom was around, and between his job and mine we didn’t have a chance to meet up. But yeah, it’s all good.”

“Well, I’m glad you sorted things out.”

The elevator dings in that moment, making them both turn towards it. A second later the doors open and Charles walks out, followed by his three dogs. Amy moves away on instinct, and Jake bursts out laughing.

“Hey!” Charles says, waving at them even though they’re less than six feet apart. “Jakey, I’m so excited about tonight, I can’t wait to show off my dance moves!”

Amy wants to laugh (dance moves? what is he talking about?), but her nose is starting to itch, and if she doesn’t get away from the dogs soon, she’s going to start sneezing. And if she starts sneezing, she won’t stop for hours. She covers her nose with her hand, but it doesn’t help much. “I’m gonna go home,” she says, pointing to the elevator with her free hand. “I’ll see you guys tonight.”

“YOU’RE COMING?” Charles yells, making Amy stop on her way into the elevator.

Jake immediately shushes him, they’re in a public area of the building after all. “Charles, I told you I was going to ask her.”

“Yeah, but she said yes!” Is he crying ? Amy has no idea what’s going on.

“She just agreed to come to a small party, it’s not a big deal.”

“Yes, it is! She’s going to your place and you can tell her-” he stops suddenly, and she has absolutely no idea where he was going with that, but now she wants, needs to know.

“You can tell me what?” The question is directed to Jake, who fixes his eyes on the floor and whose face automatically turns a dark shade of red.

“Tell you… about… this um… this car he wants to buy,” Charles says, not sounding one bit convincing.

She would tell him that she’s not buying what he’s saying and keep asking questions - now her curiosity is multiplied by ten - but she needs to get away from the dogs. Now. “Okay,” she says slowly. She’s going to ask Jake later what Charles was talking about. “I’ll see you tonight, then.”

Amy doesn’t have to be in Jake’s apartment to understand what he meant when he said that Gina doesn’t know what low volume is. She’s almost ready to leave, all she needs to do is put on shoes, but the music blasting through the wall is distracting. She’s sure the main reason Jake invited her was so she wouldn’t complain about the noise - she barely knows Gina and Rosa after all. She’s only seen them a few times, and all Gina has ever done is try to get Jake to admit he and Amy had sex (it’s a bit awkward, but in Gina’s defense, she found them sleeping at each other’s place in more than one occasion).

The music is even louder when she walks into Jake’s apartment, and she can barely hear what he says over the pop song she can’t quite place blaring in the room. Jake notices this and automatically turns down the volume, making Gina stand up from her spot on the couch next to Rosa, arms crossed in front of her.

“What are you doing?” she asks Jake threateningly.

“It’d be cool if we could, you know, hear each other.”

“This is the first time in your life you’re interested in hearing each other. I wonder why that is.” For a split second, Gina fixes her eyes on Amy, but she quickly looks away and sits down again, still visibly annoyed.

In that moment, Charles walks out of the kitchen, carrying a tray filled with what Amy suspects are homemade snacks. “Hi Amy!” he says excitedly, as if he hasn’t seen her in months when in fact it’s only been a few hours. “We’re so excited you came, right Jake?”

“Right,” he answers, fixing his eyes on the floor. He’s blushing slightly, Amy notices, and it makes her smile a little.

“Can we get drunk already?” Rosa groans after a moment. “I’m not sure how much of that I can’t stand without alcohol.”

Gina sniggers. “Yeah, either that, or you two get a room.”

The game part of the night doesn’t last long. After many drinks and a few rounds of Uno (Rosa is the unbeatable champion - no one is sure how it is possible but she wins every single game), Gina, loving chaos as much as she does, suggest they play Monopoly. Amy had too much to drink, Jake notices, and she’s being weirdly confident, something that he finds incredibly funny. He decided not to get too drunk - he’s scared of what he might say to Amy if the alcohol affects his self control - so after just one beer, he sticks to orange soda.

The game starts out fine, but just a few minutes later Amy owns almost everything. She does a small victory dance every time someone has to pay her, and it’s the cutest thing he has ever seen. He wants to keep the game going for as long as possible even if he owes Charles an insane amount of money (he’s used to being in debt anyway), but after Gina goes to jail for the fifth time she refuses to continue playing, Rosa agreeing with her.

“You’re just angry because I’m winning,” Amy says, her words slightly slurred.

“Only because you cheat,” Gina retorts, making Amy furious.

“I don’t cheat! Take that back!”

“It’s the truth.”

“No, it’s not! I’m not a cheater! You’re a sore loser!”

Jake steps in before Gina can talk again and make Amy more upset. “Gina, can you help me bring more snacks?”

“I’m in the middle of something here.”

“I’ll help you, Jakey!” Charles jumps up, ready to rush to the kitchen, but Jake stops him.

“No, Charles, you stay here and put everything away. Gina, you come.”

She only stands up and joins him after Rosa whispers something to her. It only takes them a few seconds to get everything, but when they return to the living room, the first thing that Jake notices is that Amy and Charles seem to be deep in conversation. He’s telling her something and she’s listening attentively, making Jake freeze on his spot. If Charles can barely keep his mouth shut around Amy while sober, he doesn’t even what to think of what he might be telling her now that he’s drunk.

He has nowhere to place the snacks as Charles didn’t bother to put the game board away like he told him to, so she shoves the bowls he’s carrying into Rosa’s arms and quickly takes a seat next to Amy.

“What are you guys talking about?” Jake asks, trying to sound casual. Not that either of them would notice of he sounded worried. They’re way too drunk.

“I was telling Amy about this new restaurant I went to with Genevieve.” Charles face suddenly lights up, a huge smile appearing on his face. “Jakey! You two should go on a date there! It was really fancy and-”

“You two?” Amy asks, frowning.

“Yes, you two!” Charles says, pointing first to Amy and then to Jake.

“Why would Jake and I go on a date?”

“Because he’s in lo-”

“Charles, you glass is empty.” It’s the first thing he can think of, which is not bad at all if you really think about it. He would have said anything to stop Charles from finishing that sentence.

Charles stares at his glass for a full minute, then, without a word, he stands up and heads towards the kitchen.

Amy gets up after him, and for a second Jake is terrified she is going to follow him.

“I’m going to pee,” she announces, her seriousness making him chuckle.

The second he hears the bathroom door closing behind her, he moves towards the couch, where Gina and Rosa are sitting, with barely any space between them. “Can you guys help me with something?”

“You already owe me like three favors, girl.”

“I know, Gina, but please .”

“What do you want?” Rosa asks.

“Can you keep Charles away from Amy? I’m scared he’s going to tell her I’m in love with her or something.”

“But you are in love with her.”

“Yeah, I’m aware of that, Rosa. But I don’t want her to find out through Charles and he’s too drunk to hold his tongue.”

“She’s not going to remember anything in the morning,” Gina shrugs. “It won’t change anything if he tells her.”

“What if she does remember?” Jake protests.

“We’ll do it,” Rosa says. Gina huffs, but Rosa ignores her, reassuring Jake that they will do what he’s asking them to with a nod. “Now go flirt with her or something.”

“What are you talking about? I’m not flirting with Amy.”

Rosa rolls her eyes. “Okay, then, don’t flirt with her, but go away.”

“But will you distract Charles?”

“Oh my god, Jake, we will,” Rosa insists. “Now leave us alone.”

Everyone has been acting weird since she came back from the bathroom. Maybe not, maybe all the alcohol in her system is making her paranoid or something, but since when are Gina and Rosa so interested in Charles that they won’t let him leave their side? They haven’t paid attention to anyone but each other all night. It’s weird.

Jake hasn’t left her side either, but she’s not complaining about that. He’s fun, he makes her laugh, and she might be drunk but she can tell he’s trying to make her drink water. He’s taking care of her. He’s such a good friend.

He has to go to the bathroom, he tells her, and she just nods, watching him as he walks away. Why does she miss him already? He has been away for a total of ten seconds, and he’s literally in the other room. She wishes he would pee faster.

Someone taps her shoulder, and when she turns around, she finds Charles standing next to where she’s sitting on the floor.

“Do you care to explain yourself?” he asks, sounding offended.

Amy gives him a puzzled look. She has no idea what he’s talking about.

He sits down next to her, arms crossed in front of him. He looks angry, and Amy wishes they weren’t alone in Jake’s living room. Wait. Where did Gina and Rosa go? She looks around but they’re nowhere to be seen.

She turns back to Charles. “I really don’t know what you’re talking about,” she tells him, stifling a yawn.

“Really? Because a little bird told me that you said my chicken soup was disgusting.”

“Huh?” Amy frowns. Why would someone tell Charles that? She loves everything he cooks. “Who told you that?”

“Gina! She said you told her that and that I should stop talking to you.” Amy’s frown intensifies. Why would Gina do that? “I can’t believe Jake is in love with someone who says that stuff about my food.”

“Charles, I don’t hate- wait, what?”


“What did you say about Jake?”

“I said that-” he stops, covering his mouth with both of his hands. He looks shocked for a moment, but eventually he lets his hands fall. “Jake? I didn’t mention Jake. What are you talking about?”

“Yes, you did!” He did, she’s not imagining things, no matter how drunk she is. Maybe he is so drunk that he doesn’t remember what he just said.

“I didn’t. And this isn’t about Jake anyway. This is about my soup.”

“I don’t know why Gina told you that, but I don’t hate your soup. You’re a great cook.”

Is he tearing up? “You think so?”

“Yeah,” she nods eagerly.

“For real?”

“Yes, Charles, for real.”

“Where are Gina and Rosa?” Amy and Charles turn when they hear Jake’s voice. He’s frowning, and that makes Amy frown. She was just wondering the same thing. They’re so in sync.

“They left,” Charles answers.

“They left ?” Jake echoes. “When?”

“When you went to the bathroom.”

“They just got up and left?” Jake asks, moving to where they’re sitting.

“Yeah, pretty much.”

So that ’s where Gina and Rosa are. It all makes sense now. Only that Amy didn’t hear them getting up or the door closing. She was too worried about when Jake was coming back to notice.

“And you two talked while I was in the bathroom?” He offers his hand to Amy to help her get up. She takes it, but she still falls back to the floor three times before she can stand up.

“Yeah,” Amy says, grabbing onto Jake’s arm to keep her balance. “Gina told Charles that I didn’t like his soup.”

“Why did she say that?” Jake frowns, guiding Amy towards the now empty couch. She falls on it with a soft thud, and it’s so much more comfortable than the floor. She lies face down, stretching as much as she can.

“So I stopped talking to her,” Charles says, still on the floor. “That’s what she said at least.”

Jake lets out an exasperated sigh and moves towards Charles to help him up. He doesn’t stumble as much as Amy did, so Jake can let go of him once he is standing.

“I’m going to go too,” Charles says, moving towards the door. “You can give me back all the plates and bowls tomorrow.”

“Are you good to go on your own? Do you want me to go with you?”

“Jakey, you’re such a good friend. Don’t worry I’m fine.” He leans closer to him and whispers, “stay here with Amy.” He’s a very bad whisperer, Amy thinks. She was not supposed to hear that, she’s sure of it. She yawns, burying her face in a cushion.

She hears the door opening and closing, and Jake walking around the living room, picking up whatever was left on the coffee table.

“Ames,” she hears a few minutes later, “are you gonna stay there forever?” She nods, making him chuckle. “The couch’s uncomfortable, remember?”

She does remember, but it doesn’t feel so uncomfortable to her right now. “I don’t wanna move.”

“Okay, then. But don’t complain later.”

She shakes her head and turns, changing her position so that she’s now lying on her side. “Charles said you’re in love with me.”

He freezes, the blood rushing out of his face. “He- he- um, he did?”

Amy nods, rubbing her eyes. “He denied it later, but I heard him.” She yawns. “It’s funny because my mom said the same thing.”

Jake frowns. “What?”

“She said we have feelings for each other. How crazy is it that people think we’re in love?” Amy chuckles.

“It’s… it’s really crazy.”

“Right?” She yawns yet again. “I’m gonna sleep now,” she says and closes her eyes.

“There’s nothing that’s gonna make you get up and move to the bed, right?”

“Right, because I’m already sleeping.”

Jake chuckles. “Goodnight, Ames.”

“Your couch is the worst ,” Amy complains as she stretches.

“I told you so,” Jake says, handing her a mug of coffee. She was still asleep when he woke up - he thought she was dead for a moment there, she never wakes up after him - so he figured he would make her breakfast (by breakfast he means coffee). He doesn’t know if she’s supposed to be at work (if she is, she’s terribly late, it’s like 11 a. m.) but knowing Amy, she never would have gone out the night before if she had to wake up early. “You didn’t want to move.”

Amy groans, rubbing her eyes. “I didn’t even realize I drank that much.” She takes a sip of coffee. “I can’t remember anything.”

It’s a good thing, he supposes. It means she has no recollection of her conversation with Charles, or her conversation with him when everyone was gone. There’s a pain in his chest when he remembers her words. It hurts to know that she finds the possibility of them being in love crazy, but he’s going to have to learn to live with that. He’s known this for a long time, and hearing it from her is what he needed to actually do something and move on.

“You won at Monopoly. Well, not exactly won since Gina got angry and we didn’t finish the game, but you were winning by a lot.”

“Really? I wish I could remember that,” she sighs.

“You would brag about that for days if you did.”

Amy chuckles. “Maybe.”

“You also almost got into a fight with Gina because she called you a cheater.”

“Oh, god.”

“That made you really upset,” he says, sitting next to her.

“Well, yeah. I’m not a cheater.”

She says that so matter-of-factly that he can’t hold back a laugh. He knows she’s hungover and has a headache and that he should keep quiet, but she’s so incredibly adorable that sometimes he can’t stop himself.

“Will you come again next time?” he asks, still smiling.

“Yeah, and I’ll make sure I don’t drink too much so I can make fun of you, loser.”

“You’re no longer invited.” She punches him on the shoulder (she’s weirdly strong for someone who is hungover). “Okay, okay, you can come.”

“Good. I can’t wait to kick your butt.”

“I can’t wait to kick your butt.”

She rolls her eyes. “You’re an idiot.”

“That hurts.”

“It’s the truth,” she shrugs, doing her best to hold back a smile. For real, how is it possible to be that adorable? “But seriously now, thanks for inviting me, I had a lot of fun.”

He nods, his smile getting bigger if that is even possible. “Wait. I thought you didn’t remember anything. How do you know you had fun?”

“I’m trying to say something nice and you’re being impossible.”

“I’m sorry.” He chuckles. “I’m glad you came,” he says earnestly, earning a soft smile from Amy that makes his heart melt.

Yeah, it doesn’t seem like he’s going to get rid of his feelings anytime soon.

“So, did you have fun in… wherever it is that you went?”

Jake’s sitting on Amy’s couch, sipping from his glass of orange soda. Teddy planned this weekend trip to make it up for what he did during dinner with her mom, and it took some convincing on his part, but Amy agreed to go. If Jake’s being honest, it was a bit annoying how insistent Teddy was.

“The Berkshires, and it was okay.”

“Okay good, or okay meh?”

She chuckles “Okay good. We had fun. It wasn’t mind blowing but it was…”

“Okay,” he finishes for her.

She nods, smiling a little, and focuses her attention back on the TV. Neither of them is actually watching, but it offers a nice escape when one of them wants to stop talking about a certain topic.

He wants to ask her about it, wants her to talk about it with him, but he’s not going to pressure her. When she’s ready to talk she will, just like she’s done so many times before. He’s still curious though. Are she and Teddy not okay? That’s not something he wants to think about, so, just like her, he fixes his eyes on the TV.

Less than five minutes later, Amy taps his shoulder.

“Your phone’s ringing,” she tells him, pointing to the coffee table where he placed his phone earlier. The screen is lit up, and he frowns when he sees who’s calling. He really doesn’t want to go to work right now.

He sighs, picks up the phone, and moves to the kitchen. He doesn’t want to annoy Amy with his stupid call from work.

“Sup, Captain?”

“Peralta, I need you in the precinct.” Holt sounds serious, or maybe he doesn’t, Jake can’t never tell, even after all these years.

He groans internally. “Sir, it’s my day off, can’t someone else do whatever you need me to do?”

“There’s been an update on the Wint case and I need you here now .”

That’s his big case, the case he can’t talk about, the case he barely knows anything about. “Okay, I’m coming.”


Holt hangs up, and Jake stares at his phone for a moment, unable to move. He has absolutely no idea what any of this could mean, he doesn’t even know if Holt was being actually serious or if he was using his seriousness to get Jake to go to the precinct. But if he’s calling about the Wint case, a case that ‘should not be discussed unless completely necessary,’ it has to be something serious, right?

Right. Get to the precinct now.

“Ames, I gotta go,” he tells her when he steps out of the kitchen and into the living room.

“Okay,” she says from her spot on the couch. “Are we still having dinner tonight?”

“Depends on what time I get back. If it’s not in the middle of the night, then sure.”

“Great,” she smiles. “Just let me know.”

“Will do. See you later.”


Less than two hours later, he’s back in his apartment. He should have texted Amy earlier and told her that they would be having dinner together, just like they planned to, but he can’t. Because he won’t. Because he’s going undercover. He’s going in an undercover assignment with the FBI.

He should be jumping with joy, this is his dream . He’s wanted something like this since he can remember. So why can’t he shake this strange feeling off of him?

Probably because it could be very dangerous, he thinks as he packs. He could not come back. And no one outside the squad can know where he’s going. He’s just going to disappear without a trace until his assignment is complete. That could be months from now, even years. He supposes the NYPD is going to say something to his mom, but what about his friends? He needs to tell Charles not to make food for him for an indefinite period, and he can’t just disappear without saying anything to Amy.

The pain he felt on his chest when she laughed at the idea of them being in love comes back sharp, and it’s more painful that it has ever been. What if something happens to him, if he doesn’t come back, and she doesn’t even know why he left?

He has to tell her. It’s Amy . She can keep a secret, especially one as big as this one. It could compromise the entire case, he is aware of that, but he can’t just disappear. It’s a risk he’s willing to take.

He knocks on her door some minutes later, bag of clothes in his hand.

The expression of pure puzzlement that appears on her face the moment she sees him standing in front of her makes everything seem more real. He might actually not see her again. That is a very valid possibility. “Jake? I thought you were at work?”

“Um, yes, I was. But…” He sighs, trying to put his thoughts in order so what he says makes at least some sense. “Remember that big case I was working?” She nods. “Well, turns out the guy I was investigating has ties to this huge crime family and the FBI asked me to go undercover.”


“You can’t tell anyone about this. Promise me you won’t.”

“I- I don’t understand what’s happening. You’re going undercover?”

“Yeah, and no one can know, so promise me you won’t say anything.”

“I- I promise. How long will you be gone?” She looks like she’s about to cry, and if he was feeling bad earlier, he’s now feeling a lot, lot worse.

“I don’t know. It’s an indefinite time kind of thing.”

She opens her mouth to say something, but closes it after a few seconds when she realizes no words are coming out. She tries again but still nothing. Eventually she decides to pull him into a bone crushing hug.

He drops his bag at the suddenness of her movements, and quickly wraps his arms around her.

“Please be careful,” she says into his neck, where her head is currently buried.

“I will.” He tries to sound cool, like this isn’t affecting him in any way other than having been assigned his dream case, but he fails miserably. His voice breaks, and he needs to put to use every ounce of self control so he can fight the urge to cry.

“I’m serious,” she says once they pull apart. “Don’t do anything stupid.”

“I won’t, Ames. I’m actually really careful when it comes to work.”

She nods, wiping a stray tear off her cheek.

This is it. This is the moment when he should turn away and leave and not look back. But there’s one last thing he has to tell her before he does that, because, as careful as he might be, there is a possibility, a very real possibility, that he won’t come back.

“Listen, I- I- There’s something that you need to know.” He takes a deep breath, trying to calm down, if only slightly. When did he start shaking?

“Jake, what’s going on?” She’s frowning slightly, and her voice is incredibly soft. It’s now or never.

“Okay, um, so… I’m- I’m- I’m like… completely in love with you. Have been for quite some time now actually. I didn’t want to say anything because you’re with Teddy, and I respect that, but now I might actually- something might happen on this assignment and I- I wanted to be honest with you, just in case I don’t come back.” He somehow is able to maintain eye contact with her while he speaks, but the second he stops he fixes his eyes on the floor. “So, um… yeah, that. Remember you can’t tell anyone about the case. I’m gonna go now, America needs me. Bye”

He knows he will probably regret this sooner rather than later, but he’s not strong enough to take one last look at her face. So instead he picks up his bag and walks away, disappearing into the elevator.

Chapter Text

If someone had told Amy when she first moved in that she was going to miss the music blasting through the wall at night she would have laughed in their face.

She still would. She doesn’t miss the music at all.

The problem is that the silence that now takes its place reminds her of a certain neighbor who is who knows where, surrounded by criminals, and probably in constant danger.

The same neighbor that, before leaving for an indefinite time, told her he’s in love with her.

She is not sure how long she stood on the doorway, staring blindly at the spot where she saw his body disappearing into the elevator, her thoughts flashing by a hundred miles a minute. She realized too late that she could have stopped him and asked what the hell he meant, but really, was there much to explain? Yes. There was. She wouldn’t have a million questions to ask him if there wasn’t.

Still, that isn’t the worst part of it all. What’s actually kept her awake more nights than she’s willing to admit is that she has absolutely no idea what’s going on with him. He’s not safe, that much she knows, but just how unsafe is he? Has someone threatened to hurt him? Has someone actually hurt him? How much longer will he have to stay wherever he is?

She supposes his squad gets updates and that’s slightly relieving. She has no right to know about the case, she isn’t supposed to know there is a case in the first place, but if something… bad happens they will know, and she will find out eventually, right? Right. Gina comes to check on his apartment at least once a week, Amy’s seen her a few times, and she would tell her if something had happened. No news is good news.

The first month was the worst. She couldn’t stop thinking about him, about what he said before leaving. Her brain played his words on repeat, over and over and over again - it was impossible for her to focus on anything.

Teddy noticed this, of course. They were having dinner the day after Jake left and she was being quiet. Not quieter than usual - she was not saying anything at all. He asked her if everything was alright and she just shrugged, nodding slightly. He asked her again a couple of days later, and her answer was almost identical. After a third time, he let it go.

She feels guilty for keeping all this from him. Not Jake’s feelings, that is none of Teddy’s business, but the fact that those feelings - hearing about those feelings - are making her reconsider every single choice she’s ever made regarding her love life. She’s never been more confused in her life. It’s not something she enjoys.

She doesn’t want to break up with Teddy. He’s sweet, and nice, and a really great guy. The only major fight they’ve ever had was when her mom came over, and they talked about it like the adults they are. It’s the longest stable relationship she’s had in a really long time. She doesn’t want to give that up.

It’s not like she has feelings for Jake anyway. All this confusion has nothing to do with that. Not at all. Okay, maybe - just maybe - there are moments when she thinks about what dating him would be like, but those thoughts disappear as fast as they show up (they actually last longer than she’s ever going to admit - whenever she thinks about it, it’s the only thing on her mind for the rest of the day).

The point is she’s confused.

And she misses him.

Why else did she burst into tears the second she saw the bottle of orange soda in the back of her fridge?

She was looking for something to eat one time she’d come home from work in the middle of the night, and when she opened the fridge and was met with the half empty bottle she froze. The next thing she knew she was crying. Not just crying - full on sobbing. She wanted to talk to him, got as far as grabbing her phone and searching for his contact, but she knew it’d be pointless. She barely slept that night.

One time, a couple of months later, she ran into Gina and Rosa in the hallway. On impulse she opened her mouth to ask them if they knew something, anything at all, about Jake, but she stopped herself right on time. They obviously knew about his assignment, but she didn’t want to mention it and get Jake in trouble for telling her. So she just gave them a small nod and walked away and into her apartment. She knew Gina had a story prepared in case someone asked about Jake’s whereabouts - something along the lines of visiting a distant relative upstate for an indefinite amount of time, at least that’s what Charles said she told him - and she was expecting Amy to ask. Walking away without a word was just as incriminating as mentioning the case. Whatever. She really wasn’t in the mood to hear a bunch of lies.

Hearing Gina moving around inside his apartment doesn’t help one bit either. The logical part of her knows it’s just Gina, that she’s checking everything’s okay and that her visit won’t last longer than twenty minutes. But there’s a part of her that automatically jumps to the conclusion that Jake’s back whenever she hears even the slightest hint of a sound coming from the other side of the wall. So far, she has been disappointed every single time.

By the fifth month of Jake’s absence she’s surprised Teddy hasn’t broken up with her. She knows that he knows that whenever she becomes silent and distant she’s thinking of Jake, but he has never said a word about it. She told him Jake went away, was as vague as possible about the reason, and that the suddenness of it all threw her off balance. He seemed to understand. But still, Jake is never brought up in conversation, not even when she is clearly ignoring whatever Teddy is saying about the new home brewing kit he just got and thinking about Jake and his safety and how much time will go by before he comes back. If Jake’s not mentioned, the strain he unwillingly caused in her relationship with Teddy is not there. They’re fine. Everything’s fine.

About a month later, she gets home one night after a particularly long and stressful shift wanting nothing more than to eat the potato pancakes she picked up on the way home and go to bed. There’s movement inside Jake’s apartment, she notices, which is weird. It’s way too late. Gina never comes at this time. She must really need something.

She brings the pancakes to the couch, the best spot to hear what’s going on on the other side of the wall. She needs to know what’s going on there. It’s stupid to get her hopes up, she’s aware of that, but she has a feeling, a little voice in the back of her brain, that tells her that if she wanted to get her hopes up, this was the time to do it.

It’s way too late for it to be Gina, and the sounds aren’t what she’s gotten used to hearing in the past six months. There’s much more movement, and after about half an hour she’s still able to hear someone walking around.

Her heart starts beating faster when she hears the TV being turned on. Gina never turns on the TV.

Could it be…?

Before the rational part of her brain takes over, she’s on her feet and walking out of her apartment, the dirty plate and glass of water forgotten on the coffee table. She knocks on his door - one, two, three soft taps - and waits.


Her heart is pounding, and it’s so loud that it’s preventing her from hearing what’s going on inside. Is he taking his time to come to the door? Did he fall asleep immediately after turning on the TV? Could he tell it’s her and he decided to ignore her? Is it not Jake?

She shakes her head, trying to dismiss the other hundred possibilities, and decides to knock again -maybe he didn't hear her the first time. Her knuckles are less than an inch away from the door when it suddenly swings open.

It’s Jake. He’s back.

He looks slightly thinner, and by the dark circles under his eyes she guesses he hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in a long, long time.

“Hey,” he says, and the comfort of hearing his voice for the first time after so long it’s overwhelming.

“Hey,” she answers automatically. She can’t think. Her mind’s completely blank.

Almost every day for six months she thought about what it would be like when he got back. She had this whole reunion scene perfectly planned in her mind. She’d be home, she’d hear him arriving at his apartment, she’d go over there, they’d hug, and he’d tell her all about the assignment as she helps him unpack. Everything would be exactly like before he left.

She failed to anticipate the complete shock she’d be in and awkwardness of the situation after such a long time.

“I… um…” he breaks the silence after what feels like five hours, “I knocked on your door earlier. You weren’t home.”

“I was at work,” she says.

He nods, fixing his eyes on the floor. “I thought so.”

Again, silence. She hates feeling this awkward around him. It’s Jake . Why can’t she find something to say? Why is he not looking at her?

“Look, Amy, what I said before leaving, I-”

“I’m still with Teddy,” she blurts out, louder than necessary.

She watches as he bites his lower lip, swallows visibly, and nods. “Right. Okay. Forget I said anything.”


“It’s cool, Ames. Don’t worry.”

She wants to tell him everything right then and there. How she wasn’t able to stop thinking about him, how much she’s missed him, how what he said made her reconsider her relationship with Teddy. But as much as she tries, she’s unable to produce a sound.

“I should go to sleep,” he says after a moment, pointing to the inside of his apartment.

“Right, yeah.” She’s frozen on her spot, watching as he nods one last time and walks inside. “Jake, wait,” she says when the door is only inches away from being shut.

He opens it back, frowning more out of puzzlement than anything.

“I’m glad you’re back.”

He smiles slightly at that - so slightly that someone who doesn’t know him wouldn’t be able to tell - and she thinks that maybe everything will go back to normal.

They just need some time.

It’s good to be back.

Being undercover was fun and all, and his assignment was literally one of his dreams, but it’s nice not being surrounded by criminals at all times. And not fearing someone is going to discover his true identity and kill him. And being able to sleep at night. And seeing his friends. Yeah, being undercover was the worst.

He arrives way too early his first day back at work, - so early that not even Captain Holt is there. He doesn’t know what he was expecting - a welcome back party, maybe? - but being greeted by an almost empty precinct and a slight nod from Carl - or is it Dave? - was not it. Gina’s on her desk, talking to Rosa, and if you ask him, he’s slightly offended that neither of them even looked in his direction when he walked into the bullpen.

He places his bag on his desk chair (someone cleaned his desk, he notices; the surface is no longer covered in crumbs) and walks to where Gina and Rosa seem to be deep in conversation.

“Hey, Gina. Hey, Rosa. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m back.”

“Girl, I did notice. You called me a billion times in the past two days.”

“Yeah, I wanted to tell you I was back.”

“We knew that,” Rosa says. “Captain told us.”

“Stupid Captain ruined the surprise,” he complains, making Rosa snort and Gina roll her eyes. “Anyway, there’s something else I wanted to talk to you about,” he says to Gina. “Charles told me that his dad and your mom are getting married. How did that happen? I didn’t know they knew each other.”

Gina groans, too dramatically even for her. “Why would you bring that up?” She sighs, placing her phone on the desk. “It’s your fault really.”


“I asked my mom to go check on your apartment one weekend I was out of town and Charles’s dad was visiting him or something and the elevator broke and they got stuck in it together.”

“Oh, that’s actually kinda cute.”

“Ew, Jake. Ew . You need to move somewhere where stuff doesn’t break all the time.”

“Yeah, the elevator’s the worst. But I like my apartment.”

“Yeah, the reason you want to stay is definitely the apartment. It has absolutely nothing to do with Amy.”

His stomach drops. He’s been trying to avoid talking about her, and thinking about her, and her , since the most awkward conversation he’s ever been a part of.

“Speaking of Amy,” Rosa begins, rejoining the conversation, “why did you tell her about the assignment? No one was supposed to know. It could have ruined everything.”

“What?” he exclaims, his tone too high. “I didn’t tell her anything. Did she tell you I told her?”

“No,” Gina says, “but I ran into her many times and she never asked where you were.”

“Because she knew. Because you told her,” Rosa adds.

“Okay, fine! I told her! But just that I was going undercover. She didn’t know where I was.”

“Why?” Rosa asks, genuinely curious.

Jake sighs, taking a seat on the free chair next to Gina’s desk. “I don’t know. I was packing and I got this feeling that this assignment could be really dangerous and I wanted her to know about it.” He shrugs. “I also told her I’m in love with her.”

“What?” Gina yells, so loud that some officers in the kitchen, on the other side of the bullpen, turn their heads towards them. “You were like ‘Hey, Amy, I’m going undercover, it’s dangerous, I might not come back. Oh, and I’m in love with you’ and left?”

“Okay, first of all, your impression of me is terrible.”

Gina rolls her eyes. “I don’t care. Did you do that?”

He sighs. “Yeah, kinda.” Yeah, he did exactly that. He’s not going to tell Gina that though.

“You’re an idiot,” Rosa says.

“And you didn’t even wait to hear what she had to say about it, did you?”

He hates how well Gina knows him.

“Oh, Jacob, Jacob, Jacob. I didn’t raise you to do stupid stuff like this.”

“You didn’t raise me, Gina.”

She ignores him. “Have you seen her since you got back?”

“Yeah,” he sighs.

“And?” It’s Rosa who asks this. If he weren’t feeling so awful about the whole Amy situation, he’d laugh at how invested she is in this.

“It was awkward. Like, awkward awkward.”

“Details, girl.”

“We just talked in the hallway.” He shrugs. “She’s still with Teddy.”

“No!” Gina yells again, earning more glares their way. “Why is she still with him? He’s awful!”

“You’ve never even met him.” There’s a part of him that wants to agree with her. He has met Teddy, and he doesn’t like him one bit. Maybe, maybe , he got better in the past six months (he doubts it). “And, anyway, I didn’t tell her so she would break up with Teddy and wait for me to come back. I told her because I wanted her to know. She’s free to do whatever she wants.”

In that moment, the elevator dings and Holt walks out of if. The three of them watch him as he walks  with determination across the bullpen and stops next to Gina’s desk.

“Good morning, Gina, Diaz. Peralta, come to my office.” He doesn’t wait for an answer before turning and walking away.

Jake’s getting up, ready to follow Holt, when Gina’s hand on his arm stops him. “We’re going to Shaw’s tonight,” she says, nodding slightly in Rosa’s direction. “You should come with us. The alcohol will do you good.”

“That’s a great idea, but I’m having dinner with Charles tonight. Why don’t you two join us instead?” he says, teasingly. “Gina, you could bond with your soon-to-be brother.”

Gina groans. “Get out of my sight before I punch you.”

“I’m so happy you’re back, Jakey!” Charles hugs him for the fifth time since he arrived at Jake’s apartment half an hour ago. He decided to cook there instead of just bringing the food, since he hasn’t seen Jake in six full months and wants to make up for lost time.

“I’m happy to be back too. I missed this place,” he says as he leans against the kitchen wall, watching as Charles stirs whatever it is that’s cooking in one of the many pots.

He seems to be too focused on that, he even begins humming something Jake can’t quite place. It allows Jake to let his mind wander for a bit. He really did miss this place. He missed his stuff. He missed doing whatever he wants to whenever he wants to. He missed watching Die Hard for the billionth time late at night when he can’t fall asleep (and, being constantly surrounded by criminals, there were many nights when he couldn’t fall asleep).

Charles gasps suddenly, making Jake rush to his side. His first thought is that he burned himself (a stupid thought, really, because Charles is hyper careful when it comes to cooking), but then he notices the huge smile on his face - a smile that, after knowing him for a long time, he’s become scared of.

“Why don’t we ask Amy to join us?” Charles asks, looking away from the pot in front of him. “There’s definitely enough food for three.”

“Yeah, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Why not? I know she’s home. I saw her in the hallway earlier.”

“I think she’s busy. Or she has work in the morning or something. We shouldn’t annoy her.” The truth is, he hasn’t talked to Amy since their awkward encounter. He hasn’t even seen her since then. It’s been two days, yeah, but there was a time when he used too see her every day. He sighs.

“Well, what if she isn’t busy? We should ask her.”

“No, Charles, don’t-”

But he’s already out of the kitchen and stepping into the hallway. When Jake catches up with him, he’s already knocked on her door.

“Hey,” she says softly after opening the door and seeing Charles standing in front of her. Jake’s behind him, all she has to do is move her gaze slightly, but he knows she won’t do it. She won’t even look at him. He sighs again.

“Hey, Amy! We’re having dinner to celebrate Jake’s back. Why don’t you join us?”

“Oh,” Jake hears her say. He fixed his eyes on the floor the second Charles started talking. “I- um… I’m- I was actually gonna stay home tonight. I have to go to work in the morning.”

“Oh, come on, Amy! It’s still early. And you can go back home right when dinner’s over. Please , you have to come. Jake, tell her you want her to come.”

He makes the mistake of looking at her. She has her eyes fixed on him, as if Charles wasn’t right in front of her insisting she should join them for dinner. She clearly doesn’t want to, he knows her well enough to be able to tell that. He doesn’t blame her.

“It’d be nice if you joined us,” he blurts out before thinking his words through. “But, like, you know, it’s totally cool if you don’t want to,” he adds, internally punching himself.

“No, Jake! It’s not. She has-”

“Okay, I’ll go.”

He hates the warmth that spreads inside him at her words.

He wants to be swallowed by the void.

Ever since Amy walked into his apartment Charles has not stopped talking. It’d be cool if most of the things he says weren’t hints about how Jake’s deeply in love with her or about what a great couple they’d make. Amy’s standing as far from him as possible (which is not really far considering they’re all in the same room), and is doing everything in her power to avoid looking at him. (She even asked Charles if he needed any help cooking, resulting in him yelling at her to stay away and that the only time she can get close to his food is when she’s going to eat it.)

It’s awful that they can’t even be in the same room together. If only he had kept his stupid mouth shut. He wouldn’t be in this awkward hell where the person he once was closest to won’t even look at him in the eye.

“Amy, can I talk to you for a second?” Jake asks before he knows what he’s doing.

She turns to him, surprise written on her face, but Jake’s glad she turned away from Charles and is not seeing him wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.

“Um, yeah, sure.”

He walks out of the kitchen and into the living room, Amy following him. He ends up on the couch, patting the empty space next to him so she would sit as well.

“Look, can we just… not be awkward around each other?” Jake asks, but immediately shakes his head, speaking again before she even has the chance to open her mouth. “Can we try to go back to normal? I know what I said-”


“Ames, please, let me finish. I know what I said was something big, and I shouldn’t have said it when I said and and the way I said it. But I needed to get it off my chest. I never, never , expected you to just dump Teddy and come running to me. My feelings are my problem and I’m gonna have to deal with that on my own. The past six months were awful. I missed you. I missed my friend. And now I’m back and we can’t even be in the same room without making it awkward.”

Amy sighs, her eyes fixed on the coffee table in front of her. “I know. I hate it too.”

“So can we just… not be awkward? Go back to normal?”

She nods, the movement so small that it’s almost imperceptible. “Can I ask you something first?”

“Yeah, of course.”

“Did you…” She pauses, sighs, and turns towards him. “Did you really mean what you said? What you said before leaving, I mean.”

“Yes.” He’s never been more sure of an answer in his life.

She nods again, more visibly this time. “And you still feel that way?”

He frowns. “I- I think so?” Yeah, he’s still definitely very much in love with her. “Yes. I do. But like I said, it’s my problem, I’m gonna deal with it. I don’t want our friendship to be ruined because of that. I just want everything to go back to normal.”

“Okay,” she says after a beat. “Let’s go back to normal.”

He extends a hand and she shakes it, laughing uncontrollably the second they let go of each other.

“That was definitely not a weird thing to do,” he chuckles.

Charles calls for them then, making them both turn towards the kitchen. She’s still giggling when they both stand up, and he hates that his heart starts beating faster. He really, really needs to move on.

“Jake wait.” They’re about to walk into the kitchen when she stops, taking his hand in hers. “Thank you for being honest with me. I really appreciate it.”

Her smile literally makes his insides melt.

It’s really good to be back.

Jake knew he missed his friends, but he wasn’t aware of just how much . Dinner with Charles and Amy is the most fun he’s had in such a long time, he wishes it would go on for forever. He doesn’t care about Charles’s not so subtle comments, he doesn’t even care that they won’t let him put Taylor Swift as background music - Amy’s argument was that he has been listening to music non stop for the past two days, it’s too loud, she can hear it, if she hears the same song for the billionth time she’s going to go crazy; Charles just said that if they listened to Taylor Swift, Jake would sing along and forget to eat (he kinda has a point). The only thing he cares about is that he’s spending time with two of his favorite people in the world.

But everything has to end eventually, and the moment they finish eating Amy stands up.

“I’m sorry, guys, but I do have to get up early tomorrow. I’d love to stay for a bit longer but I really should go.”

Charles is about to complain, but Jakes beats him to it. “It’s okay, Ames. Next time you’re gonna have to clean up everything on your own, though,” he teases.

Amy chuckles. “Okay, that’s fair. Charles, everything was delicious. I’ll see you guys around.”

“What was that?” Charles asks, his tone way too high, the second Amy closes the door behind her.

“What was what?”

“Everything! What is going on between you two? You were flirting the entire time! I’m not complaining, it’s literally one of my dreams, but, seriously, what’s going on?”

“Okay, first of all,” Jake says, his voice low, “if you don’t want Amy to hear, which I’m guessing you don’t since you waited until she was gone to say that, you have to keep your voice down. Second, we weren’t flirting . We were just talking.”

“I have eyes , Jakey. I saw the way you were looking at each other. I don’t understand why you won’t ask her out or something.”

Jake shrugs. “She’s not interested.”

“She seems to be.”

“She’s not, okay?” Jake snaps. “Why do we always end up talking about this?”

“How do you know?” Charles asks, ignoring Jake’s comment. “You can’t know unless you ask her. Just tell her how you feel and-”

“I told her. She’s not interested. Period. How's your dog? The one that humps everything?”


“Charles, don’t yell!” Jake whispers.

“You told Amy you’re in love with her?” he repeats, with the same intensity as the first time but significantly quieter.

“Yeah,” Jake sighs.


“Before leaving. And again earlier today. It doesn’t matter, though. She doesn’t like me that way. It’s cool.” He shrugs.

“Oh, Jakey,” Charles says, moving closer to him and pulling him into a hug, “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s fine, really. But I need to move on. And it’s really hard if after every time we all hang out you tell me you can tell she’s in love with me.”

“Right. I’m sorry. I won’t say anything anymore. Though I stand by it.”


“Right, sorry. But, Jakey, the way she looks at you-”


“Okay, okay, I’m never opening my mouth again.”

It’s not a surprise, really, that after the welcome back dinner he barely sees Amy. Everything’s exactly as it was before he left. She’s working like crazy, and, on the rare occasion that she’s not, she’s with Teddy. He hates that he only ever sees her in the hallway, that whenever one of them happens to have a free day the other’s busy, that there’s half a bottle of orange soda in her fridge that no one is ever going to drink (he doubts she still has it - it’s been so long it’s probably undrinkable now - but he likes to think she didn’t throw it away).

But not being constantly around her is also good. If he finds something to do - it could be work, it could be watching Die Hard or one of the shows that Gina recommended him, it could even be cleaning (he tried cleaning once and got bored after ten minutes - it still counts) - he can actually get his mind away from her.

It takes him a few weeks, but he eventually gets to a point when he doesn’t even need a distraction. He still thinks about her, of course. She’s still his friend, he can still hear her moving around her apartment, he still cares about her. But he no longer feels like he’s being stabbed in the stomach every time he sees her with Teddy, or whenever she talks about him, or whenever she tells him she can’t hang out because she’s going out with him.

Moving on feels good.

Until alcohol enters his system.

The squad is celebrating. Terry and Rosa led an operation that took down a huge drug dealing organization. It’s one of the best days ever for the 9-9. Everyone’s happy. He’s pretty sure he saw Rosa and Holt smiling (he should have taken a picture, he’s an idiot).

Well, not everyone. He ’s feeling like shit. He’s sitting on a booth all alone, empty beer bottle on the table in front of him (definitely not the first one of the night). The music’s not loud enough to numb his thoughts, thoughts that constantly remind him that he’s alone. And he’s going to stay alone. And being alone sucks.

He’s going to go home, he decides. What’s the point of staying if he’s going to be miserable? He’s still going to be miserable at home but his bed’s there. And there aren’t happy people everywhere he looks.

“What’s up with you tonight?” Terry asks, sitting next to him, blocking his way out of the booth.

Jake just sighs and shrugs.

“You’re still angry that Holt wouldn’t let you be part of the operation?”

He shakes his head. He had been upset when he was left out, and was still upset when Holt refused to even let him help. He kept insisting - taking down a major drug dealing organization is his dream (being undercover with the FBI was also his dream, being in a Die Hard like situation is also his dream - he has a lot of work related dreams) - but after so many years Holt has learned to deal with him. Holt’s arguments were valid, Jake gives him that - he had quite a few open cases and he had just come back from being undercover, he had to take things easy. But that was months ago. He’s not angry anymore. He’s actually happy for his friends, even if he’s not showing it at the moment.

“Then what is it?” Terry insists.

Jake shrugs again. “I’m gonna die alone.”

“Is this about your neighbor?”

Jake sighs. He doesn’t even bother to ask how Terry knows that. He knows the answer is going to be Gina. “No. I mean, yeah. I mean, kinda. I’m trying to move on. I thought I’d moved on.” He pauses for a second and shakes his head. “I did move on. I’m not upset because I’m not with Amy, I’m upset because I’m definitely gonna die alone. I don’t wanna die alone, Terry.”

“Right, okay. Have you considered dating?”

“Dating sucks,” Jake says almost instantly. “And I haven’t been on a date in ages.”

“What a better place to change that than in a bar, right?”

Terry has a point. And Terry knows about this stuff. And he’d be lying if he says he hasn’t noticed the pretty brunette sitting alone at the bar.

“She’s cute,” Terry says, following Jake’s gaze. “Go talk to her.”

Jake shakes his head. “Nah, I’m good.”

“Jake…” Terry says, standing up so Jake can do that as well.

“Fine, I’ll go.”

The weird feeling that appears in his stomach as he approaches the bar has nothing to do with the beer. He really hasn’t been on a date in forever, and, although he usually has no problem talking to people, he’s incredibly nervous. The woman is much more prettier up close. (Does he need glasses? He probably does. Right now is not the moment to think about that, though.) Should he just turn around and leave now that he has the chance?

No. Because he’s definitely, one hundred percent going to die alone if he does that.

So instead he walks the remaining steps towards the woman.

“Hey, there,” he says as he sits on the stool next to her.

“Hi,” she answers, smiling slightly, which he takes as a good sign.

He starts to think this was not such a terrible idea after all when the bartender places a plate of hot wings in front of her.

“Ooh, hot wings. I like your style.”

She chuckles. “It’s the best way to eat wings!”

“Right? That’s what I keep saying.”

“Do you want some? These are too many anyway.”

A pretty girl is offering him hot wings. Is he dreaming? Did he die and is he in an extremely weird but heaven-like form of the afterlife? No, this is very real. He makes a mental note to thank Terry later.

“Um? Definitely. Can I buy you a drink as a thank you?”

“Sure,” she says, smiling.

“I’m Jake, by the way.”

He extends his hand and she shakes it, chuckling.


“It’s really nice to meet you, Sophia.”

Chapter Text

Jake’s with someone. Again.

Don’t get her wrong, she’s happy that he’s dating, she really is. She just thinks he could choose to make out with his date somewhere other than on his couch. She can hear everything .

Amy closes the book on her lap with more strength than necessary and moves to her bedroom, turning the living room lights off on her way. She’s had to do this most nights than not in the past three weeks. It’s really annoying.

There’s not much she can do about it, though. She could hint at him that the walls are way too thin and that he should take his dates somewhere else (he has a bedroom after all), but she’s scared he might take it the wrong way. He’s finally moving on, and it wouldn’t be nice of her to complain about the noises, even if she has a right to sit on her couch without having to hear that .

She’s not going to lie, she’s a bit curious about this person that he keeps bringing over. Okay, she’s very curious. More than once she’s stayed on the couch listening to barely audible, muffled bits of conversation until it became obvious that they had started making out and that it would escalate with incalculable speed (seriously, Jake, just take them to the bedroom). It’s not eavesdropping if she’s on her own apartment, sitting on her own couch, doing her own things. It’s not her fault that the walls are so thin.

But still, she doesn’t know much. She’s never seen the woman. Considering how often she’s been coming over and staying at Jake’s apartment, Amy thought that eventually they’d run into each other, but it hasn’t happened yet. It’s not like she runs into people often nowadays anyway. She’s too busy with work. She’s left before the sun is up and worked overtime practically every day for the past week. The precinct is the one place she can get away from her horny neighbor and her pilsners-obsessed boyfriend. All she knows is that it’s always been the same woman, and that they’ve had more than one hot wings eating contest (so romantic).

It hurts a bit that he hasn’t told her he’s been seeing someone. True, they’ve barely talked in weeks, but if he had wanted to hang out with her, he would have done something. He used to come over all the time. They used to spend so much time together.

Sometimes she wonders what would have happened if she had broken up with Teddy while Jake was away. Would she and Jake be together now?

Does she wish she and Jake were together now?

She sighs, lying on her bed and pulling the covers up to her nose, relishing in the warmth that surrounds her.

She's fine with Teddy. She really is. She shouldn’t be thinking about Jake like that, especially not after she practically rejected him and he moved on. She did almost break up with Teddy that night after Jake’s welcome back dinner. She called him the second the door closed behind her when she returned to her apartment, but hung up almost immediately. She couldn’t break up with him over the phone. Teddy didn’t deserve that. So she started planning the perfect break up, speech and all. The only problem was that the more she planned, the more breaking up seemed like a mistake. What was going to happen after she did that? Would she come knocking on Jake’s door, tell him that she broke up with Teddy and that there was a possibility that she might have feelings for him? And after that? Would they start dating, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after? It all seemed so unlikely.

It made no sense to risk her perfectly good relationship with Teddy and her friendship with Jake. She was not about to do something that stupid.

So she chose to do nothing, and now Jake’s moved on.

She has yet to get used to her stomach dropping every time she hears the woman laugh through the wall. She has no right to feel this way. She has to be happy for Jake, support him - just like he did when she started dating Teddy. Teddy, her current boyfriend, the person she just gave a lame excuse to in order to not go out with him (she can only go to that small brewery he loves so much some many times before going insane).

Love and relationships are so complicated.

She should just break up with Teddy and be done with it all, focus on work instead and the sergeant's exam that, according to her life calendar, she’s going to take in just over a year.  If she feels lonely, she can always adopt a cat.

There aren’t many times when she runs into someone she’s never seen before in her building. Sure, she doesn’t know all the people that live there by name, but she is used to being able to recognize her neighbors’ faces. That’s why the stranger waiting for the elevator puzzles her to no end.

She’s completely sure she hasn’t seen this woman before, and the casualness of it all - the way they exchange polite hellos, the way the woman walks into the elevator and presses a button without the need to look at it - baffles her. She’s most definitely been on the building before, probably more than once, yet Amy has never met her. Who is she? Did her brain somehow erase one of her neighbors from her memory?

Amy shrugs, blaming her forgetfulness on the long day of work she’s had (someone mislabeled evidence, her Captain got angry, the perp almost walked free, it was her job to fix the mistake). She might just be someone’s daughter, or sister, or friend, who is simply coming to pay a visit.

She’s about to ask her, start a conversation in which she subtly asks the woman who she’s here to see, when there’s a ding followed by the elevator door opening on Amy’s floor.

Before she can even take a step, the woman’s walking out of the elevator and turning right. Amy frowns. There’s only two apartments down the hall to the right.

“Excuse me,” Amy says, stepping out of the elevator and joining the woman, who stopped and turned when she heard Amy’s voice. “Are you sure you’re on the right floor?”

The woman raises her eyebrows, surprised. “This is the fourth floor, right?”

“Yeah,” Amy answers automatically. She frowns in confusion. She knows that voice from somewhere, somewhere she can’t quite place right now. “I’m sorry, I just- I live there,” she gestures towards her door, “and I don’t think I’ve seen you before.”

A wave of realization washes over the woman’s face. “You’re Amy.”

“Yeah. Wait, what? How do you know that?”

“Jake told me. I’m Sophia, Jake’s girlfriend. It’s  so nice to finally meet you.”


Jake’s girlfriend.


She’s never seen her before but she did hear her through the wall.

It all makes sense now.

She pushes the thought that Jake told his girlfriend about her right back where it came from, trying not to think of why he did it or what he said exactly, and focuses on the woman in front of her. Sophia. Her name’s Sophia.

“It’s really nice to meet you too.” Amy’s lips curve slightly, and she resumes her way down the hall, Sophia by her side.

It’s only when the door closes behind her and she’s safely inside her apartment that Amy lets her smile disappear. She’s mostly angry at herself, to be honest. She’s angry because she wanted to hate Sophia, she wanted her to be an awful person, someone Jake would stop seeing in a matter of days. It’s probably the most selfish thought she’s ever had in her life.

But, thankfully, Sophia’s not what Amy wanted her to be. At least that’s what it seemed from the brief conversation they just had. She’s nice, and pretty, and her eyes lit up when she mentioned Jake.

She’s the kind of girlfriend he deserves.

“Ames, hey!”

She’s in the process of locking her door when Jake steps out of the elevator. It’s been… maybe about a month since he last saw her? He can’t be sure. He used to keep track of the days. Not anymore. He’s been too distracted lately.

“Hey,” she answers, turning in his direction, a hint of a smile on her face.

“How are you? We haven’t talked in forever. If I wasn’t able to hear you through the wall, I’d think you were dead or something.” He stops once he’s in front of her, ignoring the fact that his door, the place he was heading to initially, is still a couple of feet down the hall.

“I’m fine, I’ve just been busy with-”

“Work,” he finishes for her.


He watches as she smiles at him - a sweet, little smile that he’s never seen until now - before suddenly moving her gaze away and fixing it on the wall behind him. He frowns, trying not to think about the knot that just formed in his stomach.

“So, um…” Jake starts after way too many seconds of awkward silence, “Sophia told me you guys met the other day.”

“Yeah,” she sighs. “You didn’t tell me you were dating someone. I mean, I knew about it because I can hear you too, but... you didn’t tell me.”

She sounds hurt, and she has a right to be. He’s the one who insisted on everything going back to normal, and, on a time before he dropped the love bomb on her, he would have come running to tell her, his closest friend, about his new girlfriend.

“I know, I’m sorry. I just- I didn’t have the chance.” It’s not a lie. She’s never home - only really late at night when he’s usually hanging out with Sophia. It’s been the perfect excuse. If he didn’t see Amy, he didn’t have to tell her about his new girlfriend.

She nods almost imperceptibly, eyes still fixed on the wall. “She seems nice.”

“She is. I mean, for a defense attorney she-”

“She’s a defense attorney?”

He can’t stop a smile from appearing on his face at Amy’s expression of pure shock. She’s frowning, lips slightly parted, begging for some kind of explanation about this outrageous fact he just shared. She’s adorable.

“Yeah,” Jake answers.

“But she seems so… not evil.” Her frown deepens, and he has to stifle a chuckle.

“Right? I didn’t find out about it until, like, out third date, and I was too into it by then to actually care.”

Amy’s face softens, literally softens, and her lips curl into the tiniest smile. “Well, I’m happy for you, even though you’re literally sleeping with the enemy.”

He laughs. “Well, I’ve never met her in court so technically she’s not my enemy.”

Yet ,” Amy points out.

He presses a hand to his chest in mock offence. “Thanks for believing in my relationship.”

“I’m not- I didn’t- that’s not what I meant.”

“Ames,” he says, placing his hands on her shoulders, “I know. I was just joking.”

“Right,” she sighs.

For a split of a second her eyes find his, but she quickly looks away, choosing to fix her gaze on a spot to his left. Still, the warmth in his stomach stays there, and doesn’t go away even when she steps back so that they’re no longer touching.

He does everything in his power to ignore that feeling, push it to the very back of his mind until he completely forgets about it. Amy’s his friend and that’s all she’s ever going to be. He hates, hates , that simply looking at her can bring back to surface all the thoughts he worked so hard to make disappear. And it’s so unfair to Sophia too.

“I’m gonna- I was leaving,” Amy says, pointing to the elevator down the hall. “Teddy’s probably waiting for me.”

“Oh, yeah, right.” He steps back, putting more space between them. “Maybe we can hang out soon? Like, actually hang out? It’s been a while.”

“Yeah, I’d like that.”

“Oh! We could double date! You, Teddy, Sophia, and I.” He only realizes the stupid thing he said when it’s already out of his mouth.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Amy says, holding back a smile.

“Yeah, my bad.”

“Three cops and a defense attorney…”

“Plus Teddy hates me.”

“He doesn’t hate you.”

“He just doesn’t like having me around. It’s cool. I can live with that.”

He watches as she sighs, locks eyes with him for a millisecond - again - and turns slightly. “I really have to go.”

“Right, sorry. I’ll see you soon then?”

She nods, her lips curving into a smile.

He’s not able to move until she’s inside the elevator and completely out of his sight.

Every single person who’s ever met Jake will agree that he’s not exactly tidy . He doesn’t live in the midst of garbage - there’s a certain line he hasn’t crossed yet (or did cross at some point in his life but crossed back when Holt became his captain) - but sometimes leaving a pair of sneakers somewhere around the living room seems like a better (easier) option than picking up said pair and take it all the way to his bedroom and put it where it’s supposed to be.

The thing is, he has clothes lying around everywhere . It shouldn’t be a problem, he’s used to it to the point of not noticing the items anymore unless he’s specifically looking for them, but he’d rather have a nice, tidy apartment when Sophia comes over. He’s not seeing her for another two days, but he has to take advantage of his day off (he’s not about to clean up after work, he’s not crazy).

It takes him more time than he’s willing to admit to find the match of all the footwear he has lying around - how a single sneaker ended up inside the bathtub is beyond him - but the main problem comes when he has to fold stuff. There is absolutely nothing worse than folding clothes, mainly because he’s never learned how to do it properly, so, no matter how hard he tries, he always ends up with a non symmetric blob.

He’s tried everything . He even looked up tutorial videos and did exactly as they say (or the best he could) but, in the rare occasion that he actually managed to fold something half-decently, the second he picked it up and attempted to move it, it opened out and ended up on the floor (after he threw it there in frustration).

It’s a soft knock on his door what makes him look up from the shirt, currently spread on the floor, that he failed to fold for the third time. He was also about to give up and shove everything into his closet, hoping that Sophia wouldn’t need to look inside.

“Hey,” he says the second he opens the door and sees Amy standing on the hallway, her brows knitted together. “Is everything okay?”

“I actually came to ask you the same question. I heard you groaning and swearing, and I thought you were hurt or something.”

Stupid walls. “Oh, no, I’m fine. I just…” Why is it that when he’s near her his ability to come up with explanations and excuses disappears altogether? He sighs. “I wanted clean up but it turns out I suck at it. I’ve been trying to fold a shirt for thirty minutes. Thirty minutes , Ames.”

Her eyes light up. “Why didn’t you call me, you idiot ?” she asks as she walks past him and into his apartment. “You could have been finished by now with my help.”

“I don’t- I thought you were busy,” he shrugs, closing the door behind him.

He’s not technically lying , but he can’t say that he’s being completely honest either. He knew she was home. Being home meant no work and no Teddy (he hasn’t been around in a really long time, something that puzzles Jake to no end but not enough to make him actually ask her about it). She wasn’t moving around much, definitely not enough for it to be “organization day” (the first time he witnessed it he was terrified, now he finds it amusing and kind of cute), so she probably was using her day off to actually relax (or what Amy understands as relaxing) and was not busy at all. But then again maybe she was busy. Maybe she had secretly taken a file home and was working a case (he has never done that, what are you talking about?), or maybe she was too focused making a binder for something that wouldn’t normally require a binder.

He knew she was probably not busy, but his brain was holding on to the possibility that she might. It felt wrong asking her to help him clean up, especially when he was doing it to impress his girlfriend. (He’s not sure why it felt wrong since Amy made it very clear that she has no romantic feelings for him and that she’s not interested in being anything other than his friend.)

But now she’s here, in his apartment, and she’s already folded three of his shirts perfectly , and maybe he should have asked her to teach him instead of trying to learn from unreliable internet tutorials.

“You’re right, I should have called you earlier,” he says, moving to her side in order to observe her folding technique up-close. “You’re great at this.” She also seems to be really enjoying it, something he can’t comprehend but doesn’t surprise him one bit.

“It’s really not that hard,” she says, handing him a shirt. “Here, I’ll show you.”

It takes him longer than he would have liked, but - after several attempts and thanks to Amy’s guidance - he eventually manages to fold a shirt decently. It’s not perfect , like the shirts on Amy’s pile, but it’s more than good enough for him.

“Why do you suddenly care so much about order?” Amy asks, organizing the shirts by color. She’s doing it in autopilot, not even thinking about it, as if it were an essential part of the folding process. He can’t stop his lips from curling into a smile.

He shrugs. “I don’t want the apartment to be a mess when Sophia comes over.”

Amy nods slowly, not moving her eyes from the neat pile in front of her. “Well,” she says after a moment of silence in which he watched as she handled the shirts, “I could give you some tips for keeping the apartment organized. It would save you a lot of time.”

Despite his best efforts to hold it back, a chuckle escapes him. She really is adorable. “I don’t know, leaving stuff lying around and only cleaning up when it’s completely necessary seems like the better option to me.”

She frowns, as if what he just said was the most outrageous statement she has ever heard, but, after a moment, rolls her eyes.

“And,” Jake continues, “I can always call you if I need help.” She opens her mouth, but he beats her to it. “And don’t say you won’t help me. I know how much you enjoy doing this.”

She sighs, rolling her eyes again, but he can see the tiniest hint of a smile forming on her face.

She’s about to pick up the pile of shirts and, he supposes, take them to his bedroom, but a sudden bang on the front door, followed by a series of raps just as loud, makes her jump. He would have laughed at her if he hadn’t been just as startled.

“Jacob Peralta, open the door now !”

It’s Gina (who else would come banging on his door like that?), and she sounds angry . He could pretend not to be home, tiptoe to his bedroom and spend the rest of the day there playing games on his phone until she gives up and decides to leave, and he would have done that if Amy hadn’t been in his apartment with him. He could ask her to keep quiet, but he knows Gina doesn’t give up easily and would probably spend the entire day waiting for him if she had to. He can’t force Amy to stay here all day.

So, with a sigh, he reluctantly moves towards the door and opens it slowly.

“What is this ?” Gina asks, holding a piece of paper in front of his face.

It’s way too close and he can’t make out the words written on it, but he can tell by the fancy writing and decoration that it’s not just a random paper. He carefully grabs Gina’s wrist with one hand, and, with the other, takes the paper, holding it at a distance where he can actually read what it says.

“My RSVP card for your mom’s wedding?” He frowns. Why is Gina so angry about it? Did he mess it up somehow? Did he send it to the wrong address? No, that’s no it. Gina wouldn’t have the card if he had done that. “What’s wrong with it?”

“What’s wrong with it?” Gina snorts. “You wrote you’re bringing someone.” She takes the card from him and points to where he wrote the number one on it.

“Yeah.” He knows he did. It hasn’t been that long since he filled in the card. “I don’t see what the problem is.”

Gina laughs humorlessly. “You’re not bringing anyone, girl.”

“I have a girlfriend, Gina.”

“Yeah, a girlfriend who’s a defense attorney. You’re gonna break up before the wedding, and you’re gonna go alone, and who’s gonna pay for your inexistent guest? Are you gonna pay, Jake?”

He crosses his arms in front of him. “I’ll have you know that my relationship with Sophia is going great.”

Gina shrugs. “So?”

“We’re not gonna break up before the wedding.”

“Yeah, you are.”

“No, we’re not.”

“Yeah, you are .”

“No, we’re not !”

“You know what? Fine . You can have your guest. But you’re coming to the wedding with a girlfriend or you’re not coming at all, do you understand?”

He frowns. “Huh?”

Gina sighs, rolling her eyes. “I’ll let you have a guest, but that guest has to be your girlfriend or I won’t let you in.”

“Then you’ll have two non attending guests,” he points out.

“Yeah, this isn’t about that anymore.”

“Okay,” he says slowly, still a bit confused.

“So you’ll keep your guest and risk not attending the wedding?”

“Yeah, ‘cause Sophia and I are not breaking up.”

“Whatever you say, girl. I’m gonna start practising saying ‘I told you so’ later today.”

Jake rolls his eyes. It hurts a bit how little Gina believes in his relationship with Sophia. Yeah, she’s a defense attorney and that automatically makes their jobs incompatible, but they have a no work talk rule and so far it’s worked perfectly. Also, he really, really, really likes her and doesn’t want to break up with her any time soon. It’s been a really long time since he last had a relationship this good.

“Oh, Amy, you’ve been here the whole time? Didn’t see you there.”

Gina’s voice brings him back to reality. He turns around sharply, needing to see for himself that Amy is, in fact, still in the room (it’s stupid, he knows, where else would she be?) and that she just witnessed his argument with Gina. She’s frozen on her spot, eyes jumping from Gina to Jake, an unreadable expression on her face.

“Yeah, um… hi?” she blurts out, and Jake can see her face turning a soft pink.

“Anyway,” Gina says after a moment, “I did what I came to do, I’m leaving now.” She turns towards the door but not a second later she turns back, facing Jake again. “Rosa and I are going to Shaw’s tonight, she told me to tell you to come, she wants to talk to you about something, can’t remember what exactly. And, Amy, since you’re here, you can come too.”

“I’d love to!” Amy answers, way too enthusiastically. “I mean, I’d much rather go out with you guys than go to Teddy’s place and watch him brew pilsners.”

“Okay…” Gina says slowly, looking at Jake, puzzled. He just shrugs, equally confused. He really has no idea what’s going on between Amy and Teddy, and he can’t really ask, can he? “I’ll see you tonight, then.”

It’s been ages since Amy’s had so much fun. It’s mostly her fault, she knows that. She let work take over her life and she didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. She hasn’t gone out - actually gone out and not just spent the night at Teddy’s - in months. She’d forgotten how much she enjoys this.

It feels weird hanging out with Jake somewhere other than one of their apartments. In all the years she has known him, they’ve seen each other on the outside only once, and it was in a work environment - so much different from the bar they’re currently half-drunk in.

He’s talking to Rosa at the moment. From her spot on the bar Amy can see them in a booth discussing something intently. She wonders what it is. It can’t be something as serious as they’re making it seem. They did shots of something earlier, right after Amy beat him at darts, and she could tell they were both slightly dizzy afterwards.

“So, Amy.”

Gina’s voice makes her turn. She didn’t see her coming. She definitely wasn’t next to her a minute ago. Amy smiles at her, trying to pretend the one drink she’s had isn’t affecting her.

“Staring at Jake much?”

“What? No! What? I wasn’t staring at him.” She wasn’t. She just happened to be looking in his direction. It’s not her fault that he looks so good when he’s serious and focused on something.

“My bad, you definitely weren’t.” Gina moves a bit on the stool, making herself more comfortable, before placing a beer bottle in front of Amy. “It’s not a pilsner, don’t worry.”

Amy snorts, reaching for the bottle and taking a sip. She doesn’t want to get too drunk, she wants to stay sober enough to remember what happened in the morning. A second drink can hurt her though, right?

“What’s going on with you and your boyfriend?”

“Hm? What do you mean?”

“You literally said that you wanted to come here because you didn’t want to see him.”

“I didn’t say that! I said I didn’t want to watch him brewing pilsners. That’s a different thing.”

“Isn’t that all he does though?”

“Yeah,” Amy sighs. “He’s obsessed with it.” She takes another sip, and another. “I just… Can I tell you something in confidence?” She doesn’t know where the sudden need to talk to someone about Teddy is coming from, but she’s been trying to deal with her thoughts for a really long time and she’s only managed to confuse herself even more. Maybe a second opinion will help her see things more clearly.

“Please, share all your secrets.” Gina rests her elbow on the bar and leans her head against her hand, her gaze fixed on Amy, ready to listen to whatever she has to say.

“Okay, well… lately I’ve been thinking, I don’t think my relationship with Teddy is heading somewhere at all. It’s not bad , and he’s a great guy, I just…” She brings the bottle to her lips, frowning when she realizes there’s barely any beer left. She puts it back down on the bar with a sigh. “I don’t see myself spending the rest of my life with him.”

“Why don’t you just break up with him then?”

Amy sighs again, taking her time letting the air out. “That’s the thing. Everything’s great between us. I don’t have an actual reason to break up with him. Except maybe that he’s so boring, but I can’t tell him that, can I?” She’s aware that she’s talking louder now, almost yelling, but she can’t help it. Keeping her voice down seems impossible at the moment.

“You could. Then he’d get angry and dump you. There, problem solved.”

Amy shakes her head. “That’s not what I- I can’t do that! I don’t want to hurt him, he’s a really good guy.”

Gina rolls her eyes, turning around and standing up. “Why did you ask for my advice if you’re going to dismiss it without even considering it?”

“I didn’t ask-” but before she can finish, Gina’s out of earshot and pushing Jake out of the booth so she can sit there with Rosa.

Amy turns back to the bar, considering ordering a third drink, but in the end deciding against it. She’s had enough.

She yawns. She wants to go home.

She jumps when she feels a hand on her shoulder, turning around sharply on her seat to see who’s touching her.

“Ames! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you.” It’s Jake, and although his lips are curled in a stupid, teasing grin, she can tell that he means it.

“You didn’t, I was just surprised.”

“Right.” He nods once. “Anyways, I just wanted to tell you I’m gonna go home. Wanna share a cab? You know, since we live in the same building and all.”

“Sure,” she shouts, getting up from the stool and stumbling when her feet touch the floor. She manages not to fall by holding onto Jake’s arm.

He chuckles. “I didn’t know you were that drunk.”

“I’m not drunk . I just- that stool’s way too tall.”

“It looks like a normal stool to me,” he teases, earning himself an eyeroll.

“Whatever, let’s go.” She grabs him by the arm and drags him out of the bar.

“Did you have fun?” Jake asks two minutes into the cab ride. He’s trying not to look at her, not to look at the way her hair shines with the night lights of the city, not to look at her sleepy face and shining eyes. His eyes are fixed on the backrest of the seat in front of him, but he’s forced to look her way when she yells her answer.

“Yeah! It’s been a long time since I went out. It was great.”

“Ames,” he chuckles, “keep your voice down.”


“You’re screaming,” he points out.

“No, I’m not. This is how I talk,” she screams, making him laugh out loud.

“Right,” he says, smiling. “You’re not. My bad.”

“Gina got weird by the end, though.”

In a beat, a frown replaces the smile on Jake’s face. “Weird how?” He knows Gina, knows what she’s capable of doing when she wants to get information. And lately, she’s been weirdly interested in Amy’s love life.

“She asked me about Teddy. Told me to break up with him and got angry when I said I didn’t have a good reason to do it.”

His frown deepens. “She told you to break up with him?”

“Yeah, but only after I told her our relationship is heading nowhere.”

“Wait, what?” None of this makes any sense to him. He suspected something was up between Amy and Teddy,  but he never thought it was something this serious. “What happened?”

Amy shrugs, turning her head slightly so that she’s looking out the window. “I got bored of him, I guess. But like I told Gina, I can’t just tell him that. It’s too harsh.”

“You don’t really need a reason, you know? If you don’t wanna be with him, you don’t have to be with him.”

“I know.” She nods, smiling slightly in his direction. “I just don’t wanna hurt him. He doesn’t deserve it.”

Jake has to put all his willpower into fighting the urge to roll his eyes. He’s not a big fan of Teddy, hasn’t been since the disaster dinner all those months ago, maybe even since their first meeting. But, and he has to give him this, he makes Amy happy (or made Amy happy), so he understands where she’s coming from. “Well, I’m sure you’ll figure out what to do.”

She smiles at him again, and maybe it’s the alcohol still in his body, maybe is the exhaustion of the crazy day he’s had settling in his bones, maybe it’s the distorted sense of reality created by the combination of the night’s darkness and the glow of the streetlights passing them by, but he’s certain that she’s never looked more beautiful than in that moment.

He doesn’t realize he’s been staring at her until she turns her head again to look out the window. He has no idea how long they stayed like that, eyes fixed on each other, completely oblivious to their surroundings, but it most definitely wasn’t just a few seconds. They’re close to their building now.

His face is burning, and now that the spell is broken, he can’t bring himself to even glance in her direction. Guilt washes over him like a bucket of ice cold water. He has a girlfriend. An amazing girlfriend who he really cares about. He’s tried so hard to stop thinking about Amy in a romantic way - sometimes even achieving it. But then something like this happens - one of them says something, or she smiles at him that smile that makes his insides melt - and he goes back to square one. It makes him feel like the worst person in the whole world.

Neither of them speaks again until they find themselves in the hallway of their building, each standing in front of their respective door. He wasn’t expecting to hear her voice, and the soft whisper would have gone unnoticed if there had been another sound.

“I really did have a good time tonight.”

He curls his lips slightly and nods, unable to produce a sound. His heart is pounding in his chest and the sound is deafening.

She whispers something else, something he can’t quite hear, and then opens her door and disappears behind it. He doesn’t know how long he stays there, staring dumbstruck at her closed door, but after what seems like forever he turns around, opens his door, and walks into his apartment.

Sometimes Jake hates his job. Not his job, really, but the major crimes unit, the Vulture in particular. He hates that he spent months working on a case, lost sleep over a case, only for the Vulture to strut into the precinct and steal said case.

He doesn’t feel like going to the bar with the rest of the squad, and he called Sophia but she has to get ready for a trial the following day, so he finds himself alone in his apartment, plate of pizza pockets on his lap, Die Hard playing on the TV. If something’s going to lift his mood, this is it. And it does. His day goes from the worst day ever to just another bad day. That is, until he hears Amy’s voice on the other side of the wall.

Normally, he’d be happy to hear her voice. One time, before he started dating Sophia, even before he went undercover, when he knew she was home, he texted her a funny picture (he doesn’t even remember what it was) and the laughter that reached his ears a few seconds later still remains as one of the best sounds he’s ever heard. But right now she’s not laughing, and she’s not just talking either. She’s arguing with someone, and she sounds incredibly upset. Not two seconds later he hears Teddy’s voice - every word loaded with anger - and suddenly everything makes sense.

He pauses the movie and places the plate on the table, deciding to move to his bedroom to give them some privacy, but the mention of his name stops him. Now he’s curious. He fixes his position on the couch, lying against the backrest so he’s closer to the wall. He thought Amy was breaking up with Teddy. Why bring him up?

“Jake has nothing to do with this.” Amy’s voice is sharp, and he can imagine her crossing her arms in front of her.

Teddy laughs humorlessly. “Come on, Amy, at least be honest.”

“I am being honest.”

“Really? Because it seems to me that he’s not just your friend like you claim he is.”

“Oh my god, Teddy, not this again. I told you a million times-”

“That there’s nothing going on between you two, yeah, you did. But that doesn’t seem like the truth. Do you think I didn’t notice you moping around during the entire time he was away doing who knows what? I saw you looking at pictures of you two on your phone!”

“What?” Her voice is just above a whisper, and if he hadn’t been so close to the wall (and he thinks she is too) it would have gone unnoticed.

“Yeah, I did. And I also noticed how distant you got. Why can’t you just tell me the truth?”

“Jake and I are just friends, that’s the truth.” Her voice is still low, but more confident. “I don’t know what else you want me to say,” she adds after a beat of silence. “I’m not breaking up with you so I can be with him if that’s what bothering you so much.”

“What’s bothering me is that you won’t admit that you have feelings for him when you clearly do and literally everyone can see it.”

“You know what? Fine! I did get… confused when he went away and even considered breaking up with you. But I didn’t, because everything was great between us and I wanted to be with you. It’s not like that now, and I just- I don’t wanna be with you anymore.”


Teddy mumbles something, so low that only a few indistinct sounds go through the wall, then more silence, then a door slams closed.

Jake doesn’t realize he’s frowning until that moment. What the hell just happened? Did Amy really just say she once thought she might have feelings for him? Because that’s what “confused” means in this scenario, right? Right. That’s not the most important thing right now. She just broke up with Teddy and it went horribly, horribly wrong. He should not have listened. He should have gone to his bedroom like he first intended to and find out about the break up the following day or whenever Amy decided to tell him.

She’s crying, he can tell by the sniffles reaching his ears. He hates, hates when she cries. He knows he’s probably the last person she wants to talk to right now, knows he should give her space and let her process everything that just happened on her own, but she’s crying and he has to do something about it.

So he taps gently on the wall. “Ames?” His voice is soft, but loud enough for her to hear.

“Jake?” Her voice is filled with confusion.

“Are you okay?” A stupid question, he knows, but it’s the only thing he can think about.

“Yeah,” she answers automatically. “Why- why do you ask?”

He sighs. “I heard what happened.”


“You don’t- you don’t have to talk to me if you don’t want to, I just wanted to make sure you were alright.”

She says something, but it’s so low that he can’t make out the exact words.

“What was that? The wall’s not that thin, you know.”

He smiles when he hears her chuckle. “I’m fine. I’m actually glad I got it over with.”

“You’re crying though,” he points out.

A moment passes before she speaks again. “Yeah.”

“Can I come over?” he asks without really thinking. “We can watch something and I have this whole plate of pizza pockets I can bring.” When she doesn’t answer he adds, “You don’t have to say yes, I understand if you want to be alone.”

“No, you can come,” she says, sniffling. “It’ll be more comfortable than talking through the wall.” Her words have a glint of humor in them, and he smiles, getting to his feet.

Less than a minute later he’s sitting on her couch.

She’s not crying anymore, but her eyes are red and puffy. It breaks his heart seeing her like this.

“How much did you hear?” she asks, wiping her eyes, not looking at him. She grabs a pizza pocket from the plate he placed on the coffee table, stares at it for a couple of seconds, and decides to put it back down.

Her question takes him by surprise. “Um… I really didn’t mean to, I was just sitting on my couch and then-”

“Jake, it’s okay.” She reaches for his arm and squeezes it reassuringly. “I just want to know what you heard.”

“Not much, really. The ending, I think?” He sighs. He has to tell her the truth. “I wasn’t paying attention until I heard my name.”

“Okay,” she says slowly, eyes fixed on the table in front of them.

“I told you Teddy hated me.”

“It’s not that, he’s just jealous.”

“Right,” he says, unable to think of anything else. He stops himself right on time from making a teasing comment about her alleged feelings for him - it’s not the right moment. He’s still curious though, and he wants to know. “You were… confused?”

“Yeah,” she sighs. “You dropped the whole ‘I’m in love with you’ thing on me and then just… left.” She shrugs. “And that added to knowing you were undercover and in danger… it just-  I had a hard time sorting out my feelings while you were gone.”

“But… we’re cool now, right? I mean, no feelings or anything. Just friends.”

“Yeah.” She nods, turning towards him and giving him that smile that makes his insides melt. “Just friends.”

Chapter Text

It’s been a long time since Amy’s felt so… free. She hadn’t realized how much she wanted to break up with Teddy, for how long she’d wanted it, until one night when she found herself alone in her apartment and took in that she could do whatever she wanted. No need for silly excuses to tell a boyfriend she didn’t want to spend time with, and not feeling guilty for lying to him. She’d changed so many parts of her day to avoid him - working crazy hours being the main alteration her routine suffered - and just now it’s finally returning to what it was months ago. She’s still working, obviously , but not from the break of dawn till practically midnight anymore.

She has so much free time, she has no idea what to do with all of it. It’s been only a week but her to-be-read pile has grown significantly smaller (although it’s nowhere near disappearing), and she knitted two adorable, tiny sweaters for her brother’s ten-month old baby. She even asked Charles to teach her to cook, but it didn’t go well at all. Nothing she did was good enough for him, and he ended up yelling at her and kicking her out of her own apartment (he stormed off when he realized it was Amy’s kitchen they were in). He apologized a few hours later with a huge bowl of mac and cheese, said something along the lines of accidentally channeling his inner Nana Boyle. No need to mention she didn’t ask him again.

Now that she can, she’d like to spend some time with Jake, hang out like they used to do. But he’s a busy guy with a girlfriend, so it’s not like she can just knock on his door whenever she pleases. She did talk to him, though, one time he ran into him in the elevator, and he agreed to come over for dinner and maybe watch something.

That’s why he is currently sprawled on her couch, bowl of popcorn on his lap even though they just had dinner and he ate nearly an entire pizza by himself.

“What are we watching?” he asks, grabbing a handful of popcorn and trying to fit it all into his mouth. He fails - most of it falls on his chest and on the couch. He doesn’t seem to mind, but she has to fight the urge to clean it up.

“I don’t know.” She shrugs. “You can choose.”

He frowns, turning to look at her. She has to do all in her power to stifle a chuckle. He seems worried, but his cheeks are puffed by the popcorn and he looks adorably hilarious.

“What?” she asks when he doesn’t say anything, just stares at her.

“I just-” He swallows. “You never just let me choose whatever I want. Are you okay?” The pure concern in his voice makes her insides melt.

“Yeah,” is all she manages to say. She can’t have these feelings - not right now, not for him.

“Are you sure?” He leans forward and places the popcorn bowl on the coffee table, turning his whole body to face her as much as the couch will allow him. “Is this because of… your breakup with Teddy? You can talk to me about that if you want.”

“Jake, I’m fine, I promise. I’m actually feeling kinda relieved.”

He frowns. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. Relationships are… complicated, and it took Teddy for me to realize that I’m not in the right place to date at the moment. Or more like, this past week I had for myself made me realize that. I’m fine on my own. I’m done with relationships.”

“Like… forever?”

He looks away the second he finishes talking, and she watches as his cheeks turn into a light shade of pink. She frowns, puzzled by his reaction.

“Not forever , just… not right now, or anytime soon. I want some time for myself.”

He’s still for a moment, then nods slowly, his eyes never leaving the bowl of popcorn. “I get what you mean.” His voice is so low and so unlike him that if she hadn’t been looking at him she never would have guessed he was the one to speak.

“I- I thought you and Sophia were fine.”

“We are , it’s just- her boss has been acting weird since we started dating and she says it’s because I’m a cop, and I’m terrified of her ever being the lawyer of one of the perps I arrest.” He sighs. “I really like her, but apparently our jobs really are incompatible and the no work talk rule is not being of any help.”

Her heart breaks for him. It’s the one good, stable relationship he’s had in so long, with someone who is perfect for him, and it’s so unfair that their jobs should ruin it. She can’t say she’s surprised to hear it, though. She’s known from the moment he told her his girlfriend was a defense attorney that they would not work out, but somewhere deep inside her she hoped she was wrong. He deserves to be happy.

“I- I’m sorry, Jake. I’m sure you’ll work it out.”

“I hope so.” He sighs. “I should have listened to the ten different people who told me dating Sophia was a bad idea.”

“Don’t say that.” She moves closer to him, placing a hand on his shoulder and squeezing for reassurance. “Don’t you like being with her?”

“Yeah,” he answers, his voice just above a whisper.

“And do you love her?” She’s not sure what made her ask that, all she knows is that she regrets her words the second they leave her mouth.

Jake stiffens, she can feel his muscles hard against her hand. “I- I don’t- I think so? Maybe?” He shakes his head. “I don’t know.”

She nods once, trying to swallow the lump that has formed in her throat. It doesn’t work, and when she speaks, her voice is hoarse, as if she hadn’t drunk a drop of water in years. “Why don’t you tell her how you feel?” She pauses to clear her throat. “And maybe try to figure out what you’d do if you’re against her in court. That way, if it happens, you’ll know how to deal with it.”

“Yeah, I just- I’ve been avoiding even thinking about all this.” He brings a hand to his face and rubs his eyes, taking a deep breath a moment later and letting himself fall back until his back hits the backrest of the couch. “I’m sorry for dumping all this on you,” he says, turning his face to look at her and giving her a small, sad smile. She hates seeing him like this.

“Jake, it’s okay.” She moves closer to him until their arms touch. She wants to rest her head on his shoulder, or wrap her arms around his middle and hugh him as tightly as possible, but she decides against it. “You can talk to me about anything. I want to help you feel better.”

“Thanks, Ames,” he breathes, taking her hand in his and giving it a little squeeze. A moment passes before he speaks again, and when he does his voice is different, much more like himself. “I’m glad you’re letting me choose what we’re watching.” His words are tinted with a glint of teasing, and she rolls her eyes in anticipation to his choice. She knows him, she knows what he’s going to choose, and she knows he’s choosing it not only because it’s his all time favorite movie but also because he enjoys annoying her by forcing her to watch a movie she’s seen hundreds of times before. “I’m really feeling like watching Die Hard right now,” he adds, a genuine, teasing smile on his face.

“You know I’m not going to let you choose again, right?”

He shrugs, his smile turning into a grin as he leans forward and grabs the remote from its spot on the coffee table. Amy rolls her eyes, and, despite her best efforts, her lips curve into a smile.

Jake hates his job.

Well, not really; his job’s pretty awesome, but he hates waking up early, hates having to rush every morning because he presses the snooze button too many times, hates not being able to think before he’s drunk a cup of coffee, and he wouldn’t have to do all that if it wasn’t for his job.

Another thing he hates: morning briefings. Some of them are actually interesting - when there’s a murder case, or when he is the one who updates everyone on one of his cases - but having to listen to Holt talking non stop about paperwork or crime statistics or any other boring thing he doesn’t care about makes Jake wonder why he hasn’t just stayed home.

He’s been trying to keep his eyes open for way too long - and failing by the way Gina nudges him on the ribs every thirty seconds - when something that Holt says catches his attention.

“Captain, did you just say something about the 8-2?”

“Yes, Peralta. Perhaps if you hadn’t been napping you would have heard me.”

“I wasn’t napping !”

“Let it go, kiddo,” he hears Gina whisper from his left.

“But I wasn't!”

“As I was saying,” Holt continues, silencing Jake’s protest, “a group of armed men robbed a number of bodegas in the 82nd precinct, and by their descriptions we believe it is the same group that has been targeting bodegas in our precinct; therefore, this will be a joint investigation. A detective from the 8-2 will be joining Diaz on her case.”

Jake’s eyebrows jot up, and he sits up straighter, not one trace of sleep left in his body. “Who’s the detective?”

“Why are you so interested, Peralta? This is not your case.”

“I know, Captain. I’m just curious. Please tell me?”

Holt sighs but his gaze moves to the papers he’s holding. Jake watches as Holt’s eyes scan the words written, his heart racing in anticipation. For a split second Jake believes he’s doing it on purpose, he’s willingly taking his time to find the name just to mess with him, but a moment later Holt looks up, directing his words to Rosa - which is fair, since it’s her case after all and she’s the one who will be working with this person.

“Detective Amy Santiago.”

Oh my god !” Jake gasps, his voice ten tones higher than usual, which earns him strange looks from every single person in the room, including Holt. “Captain, can I please work with case with Rosa? Please , I’m begging you. Please .”

“Why? Do you know the detective?”

“She’s Jake’s neighbor,” Gina comments before he has a chance to open his mouth.

“She’s also my friend,” Jake adds, glaring at Gina. “And I think that’d be useful to the case. You know, since we know each other pretty well and all.”

Gina snorts, and he’s sure Rosa rolled her eyes, although he can’t see her face as she’s sitting right in front of him.

“Peralta, you have plenty of open cases already,” Holt says after a moment of consideration. “I am not putting you in this case unless Diaz needs additional assistance.”

“I don’t,” Rosa says automatically. “One other person’s already enough.”

“Rosa!” Jake protests, making her turn around to face him. “Come on, please .”

“No. The last thing I need is you and Amy making eyes at each other while I try to work.”

“I have a girlfriend, Rosa,” he points out, but she just shrugs. “I just wanna work with Amy, please.”

No .” Her voice is sharp. He knows better than to keep annoying Rosa, so he just sighs and falls back in his chair. “When is Santiago coming?” Rosa asks a moment later, her words directed to Holt.

He takes a quick look at his watch before saying, “She should be here any minute now.”

He’s sitting at his desk when he hears the ding of the elevator, followed by its door sliding open and Amy, dressed in one of her classic work pantsuits, stepping out of it. Her hair is pulled back in a tight bun, and her eyes are fixed on the open file she’s carrying. She looks incredibly professional, and he can’t stop a wide grin from appearing on his face.

She’s not sure where she’s supposed to go, he notices, and he’s about to stand up when her eyes find him. He waves, and when he watches her lips curve into a small smile he gestures for her to come closer and sit on the chair next to his desk.

“I’m supposed to find Rosa,” she says the second she sits down. She doesn’t look at him; instead, she’s scanning the bullpen.

“She’s in the toilet downstairs,” he tells her. “The one here’s broken.”


“She’s gonna be back soon.”

“Right.” Amy nods, turning her full attention to Jake. “I feel super weird.”

Jake tilts his head, puzzled. “Is this the first time you’re working with detectives from another precinct?”

“No.” She shakes her head. “But I know you all from outside work, and it’s just… it’s strange getting to work with you.”

“Just with Rosa,” he points out. “I’m not allowed to help. Apparently I have ‘plenty of open cases.’”

He swears he sees a wave of disappointment washing over Amy’s face, but it’s quickly replaced by a frown after she notices the messy pile of files on his right.

“You do,” she says, nodding towards it. “You should clean up your desk,” she adds a second later, “it’s a mess.”

“Hey! It’s not-”

He’s interrupted by Holt, who walks out of his office and calls Jake’s name. He stops mid sentence when he notices Amy, and moves towards where they’re sitting.

Jake has to press his lips together and bite his tongue to keep himself from bursting into laughter by the way Amy’s eyes widen. She jumps out of the chair, turning to face Holt, a hand extended towards him.

“Captain Holt, I’m Detective Amy Santiago from the 8-2,” Amy blurts out, trying and failing to seem calm. Her voice is too high, she’s practically yelling, and it earns her a few looks from some of the offices in the bullpen.

Holt nods once, hesitatingly, and shakes her hand.

“I’m a huge fan,” she adds.

To someone who doesn’t know him, Holt’s face might appear completely expressionless, but, after having worked with the man for years, Jake’s now able to tell exactly what he’s feeling. Right now Holt’s taken aback, and also a bit amused. It makes Jake unable to hold back his laughter.

“Peralta, where is Diaz?” Holt asks, glaring his way, which does nothing to make him stop giggling.

“Here.” Rosa’s voice comes from behind them, he has no idea how or when she got there, but his laughter dies down.

“Perfect,” Holts says. “Detective Santiago, I believe you and Detective Diaz have already met.”

“Yes,” Amy says quickly, no longer making eye contact with Holt. There’s a pink tinge on Amy’s cheeks, Jake notices, probably related to her first exchange with him.

“I will be in my office if you need anything.” Holt waits until Any and Rosa nod before turning and walking away, only to stop after only a couple of steps and turning back towards them. “Have any of you seen Gina?” Rosa shakes her head and Jake shrugs. Holt lets out a long sigh, rolling his eyes, and a moment later he’s in his office with the door closed behind him.

“‘I’m a huge fan?’” Jake says between giggles, earning himself a glare from Amy. “That was the most awkward thing I’ve ever witnessed. Thank you, Ames.”

Amy sighs, plopping down on the chair next to Jake’s desk. “That wasn’t a good first impression, was it?”

“Not at all,” he chuckles.

Amy groans, burying her face in her hands.

“Santiago, did you come here to help me solve the case or to flirt with Peralta?”

Rosa’s voice makes her look up. He had forgotten why Amy came here in the first place, he had been so excited to see her since the moment Holt mentioned she’d be coming. He’d been waiting since the moment he met her - actually, since the moment he found out she was a cop all those months later - to see her at work, and, even if she won’t be working directly with him, he’s going to have a chance to observe. He knows she’s an amazing detective and that she loves her job - getting to see that is going to be a whole new experience.

“My desk’s over there,” Rosa says the moment Amy jumps up from the chair, walking away in the direction she’s pointed at.

“Ames, wait,” he says after Amy turns but before she takes the first step towards Rosa’s desk. She faces him, a puzzled expression on her face. “Don’t worry too much about Holt. You’ll impress him by solving the case.”

“What if I don’t?” It’s clear to him that she’s been overthinking this - how to impress Holt. Their first meeting did not go like she imagined it, and it’s only made her doubt herself. “What if this case is never solved and the bodega robbers are never caught and Captain Holt is disappointed in me and I never make it past Detective?”

Ames ,” he says, moving his chair closer to her and taking one of her hands in his. “That’s not gonna happen. You’re an amazing detective. And so is Rosa. I’m sure you’ll find these perps in a matter of hours.” He watches as she takes a deep breath and nods.

“Santiago!” Rosa yells from the other side of the bullpen, clearly annoyed.

“You better go,” Jake tells her, his lips spreading into a grin. “You don’t wanna piss off Rosa.”

He hasn’t seen Amy in five full days. Well, he has seen her, at work, but she and Rosa are always completely absorbed in the case, and he’s scared that trying to talk to either of them will have an aggressive answer as a response (one time, during the second day, he was going to ask them if they wanted coffee or anything to eat, they hadn’t left the precinct or stopped working all day, but the way Rosa glared at him as he was approaching was enough to make him turn back and not even glance in their direction for the rest of the day). Also, during the past days, he’s heard Amy coming home almost at midnight, and she’s already working when he gets to the precinct in the morning. He’s a bit worried about her.

He jumps from the couch when he hears movement in the hallway. It’s past midnight, so he’s sure it’s her. He knows she’s probably dead tired and that all she wants is to go to sleep, but he knows Amy, and he knows how she can get when she’s stressed.

“Hey, Ames,” he says when he steps out of his apartment and sees her standing in front of him, trying to unlock her door. Her hair’s messy, the perfect ponytail from this morning is now a messy bun, her suit jacket it off and draped over one arm, and he notices that she barely has the strength to carry her purse.

“Hey,” she says in a low voice, turning to face him. Her lips curve into a small smile that doesn’t reach her eyes. “Look, Jake, I don’t feel like-”

“I know, I know,” he interrupts. “I just wanted to check on you. Did you eat anything?”

She sighs. “I’ve been working all day and-”

“You still need to eat,” he points out, making her roll her eyes. “Charles came over earlier and I have enough food to last me for a week, I’ll bring you some.”

“I’m fine, you don’t have to-”

He disappears into his apartment before she has the chance to finish her sentence, and when, less than five minutes later, he returns to the hallway, a bowl of mac and cheese in his hands, he finds her door ajar, so he walks in.

The room’s dark, the only light is the glow of the city lights coming in from the window. “Ames?” he asks, as he moves tentatively and places the bowl of food on the table.

“I’m getting changed,” he hears her voice coming from her room. “Give me a minute.”

He uses the time to go into the kitchen and serve some of the mac and cheese on a bowl, fill a glass with water, and bring everything back to the coffee table, sitting down on the couch and waiting for her.

Amy reappears a moment later, wearing sweatpants and a tank top, her hair now down. She walks directly towards him, stifling a yawn on her way there, and plopping down on the couch next to him.

“You don’t have to stay,” she tells him when he hands her the bowl. She sounds exhausted.

“I wanna make sure you eat something,” he shrugs. “But if you want to be alone, I’ll leave,” he adds.

“No, it’s okay. But I’m probably going straight to bed after finishing this.” She grabs the fork he had previously stuck on the mac and cheese and starts eating. Jake watches as she closes her eyes the second she beings munching on the food and lets out a long sigh.

“When was the last time you ate?” he asks, his voice dripping with concern.

She pauses what she’s doing for a moment, trying to remember, and eventually shrugs.

“Amy, you can’t just not eat!”

“I’ve been too busy with work.”

“I get that, but still.” He watches as she rolls her eyes, her attention going back to the bowl on her lap. “You’re having a hard time with the case?” His voice is low, soft, and it’s not so much a question because he knows that is exactly what is happening.

“Yeah,” she sighs. “All the leads have been useless so we keep going back to the beginning, meaning we have nothing. It’s… very frustrating.”

He nods, unable to think of what to say. He knows how important solving this case is to her, even though he doesn’t understand why she cares so much about impressing Holt. This is her one chance, and she’s determined to make most of it, but the pressure she’s putting on herself is going to, if everything continues as it is, end up being bad for her health. He wants to help, but he doesn’t know how.

“Maybe you need to step back from it for a while,” he says eventually, after she’s finished eating and placed the bowl on the table. “Clear your mind,” he adds when she eyes him with a frown.

“Not working on it is not going to help me solve it.”

“I know, but leaving it for a while and coming back fresh can help. Or, you know… new ideas from other people could help too.”

Her left eyebrow jots up. “What do you mean?”

He knows she knows exactly what he means, but she’s still making him say it, and he will gladly oblige. “Let me work the case with you, please .”

“So you can jump in with your ‘fresh mind’ and take all the credit for solving it?”

Her teasing tone makes him chuckle. “That’s all I want, really. How do you think I’ve made it this far?”

She laughs, a tired laugh that leads to a yawn, and she closes her eyes a second later, resting her head on the backrest of the couch. “I’d love to work with you.” She opens her eyes and turns her head slightly, enough to lock eyes with him. “But you know I don’t have a say on that.”

“You could talk to Rosa, tell her how you’re dying to work with me.”

“She already thinks we flirt every time we talk, that’d only make it worse.”

He nods. “We wouldn’t want that,” he says, trying to swallow the lump that, for a reason unknown to him, has formed in his throat.

Amy yawns again, bringing both of her hands up to rub her eyes. “I’m gonna go to sleep,” she announces after a moment, standing up and picking up the dirty bowl and the empty glass from the coffee table.

Jake jumps up a second later, moving hastily until he’s in front of her, blocking her way to the kitchen. “That’s not your room,” he says, pointing to the door behind his back.

“I know,” she says, frowning with confusion. “I’m just gonna clean this up first.”

“I’ll do it for you.” Before she has the chance to do anything, he grabs everything she’s holding and, with his elbow, gives her a little push in the direction of the hallway that leads to her bedroom. “You need all the sleep you can get.”

“It’ll only take me a minute I can-”

Amy , go to sleep.” His voice is surprisingly firm, and, by the way she nods automatically, he knows it had the intended effect. “I’ll clean everything up, I promise.”

“Yeah, okay,” she says, nodding again. “Just- just make sure all the lights are off and that the door’s locked when you leave and-”

He moves closer to her, putting the bowl and glass on the table on his left so he can place his hands on her shoulders. “Ames-”

He’s interrupted by a deep sigh. “I know, I know .” She pauses, closes her eyes, breathes in and out a couple of times, and looks at him again. “I’m gonna go to sleep.”

“Okay,” he chuckles and takes a step back, allowing her to turn around.

“Thank you. For the food and for doing this.” The way she says that, her voice low and sleepy, mixed with the way she’s looking at him, dark eyes fixed on his, sets off something inside him, something that he, on instinct, automatically pushes back down where it came from.

“No problem.” His lips curve into a small smile, the corners of his mouth moving up only slightly. “Now go to sleep.”

Coming back from a successful stakeout usually has Jake bragging non stop, claiming he’s the best detective in the world, and telling imaginary perps to watch out. He’s glad that for the first time he’s waited until he’s out of the elevator and in the bullpen to start yelling, because he’s almost certain that he would have earned himself a punch from Rosa if the words had actually left his mouth.

She and Amy are sitting at her desk, Amy focused on the file she’s carefully reading, Rosa leaning back in her chair, two seconds away from throwing the pile of papers on her desk to the floor (or give them to Gina for her to shred).

He moves directly towards them, not bothering to drop his bag on his desk on the way there. “Are you guys alright?” he asks once he’s within earshot. It’s a stupid question, he knows, they’re both very clearly stressed and tired, but he doesn’t know what else to say.

“One more step and I’ll stab you,” Rosa says, without even looking in his direction.

“That’s a no, I guess.” He’s trying to put on a playful tone, but even so, he’s terrified of getting near them - Rosa’s threats are not to be taken lightly.

She turns in her chair and glares at him. “What do you want?”

“To help.”

Amy looks up then, the first time since he’s arrived, and the bags under her eyes are enough for him to know that they’ve been working on this non-stop the entire day. It’s past 10 p.m. now, he knows because Terry wouldn’t stop complaining about how long the stakeout has been and how he’s missed yet another date night with his wife. Jake felt terrible about it so he told him to go home, he could handle the paperwork by himself. And he intended to do just that until a minute ago.

“Don’t you have something else to do?” Rosa asks, crossing her arms in front of her.

“Yeah, but I can do that later,” he shrugs. “Holt said I could work the case with you if you needed extra help, and you very clearly do.”

Rosa rolls her eyes, focusing her attention back on her computer screen. “It’s my case and I say no.”

“Why? Why won’t you let me help? I don’t want credit, if that’s what you’re so concerned about.”

“Jake, go work on your own cases. You don’t-”

“What if Jake helps us-” Amy’s words are interrupted by Rosa groaning and Jake fist-pumping, “ after he’s finished with whatever it is he has to do?”

“Ames, I thought you were on my side!”

“I’m not on anyone’s side. I’m trying to find a solution to this so I can go on working.”

“Okay,” Jake sighs dramatically. “Rosa, what do you say? Will you let me help you if I finish all my paperwork?”

Amy frowns. “That’s not what I meant when I said-”

“Yeah, fine,” Rosa says, not bothering to look away from the screen. “If that’s gonna make you go away for now.”

“Yup!” Jake exclaims, already moving towards his desk. “I’m gonna finish all my paperwork in record time,” he yells so Amy and Rosa would hear when he reaches his desk and sits down, silently cursing past him for letting a pile of considerable size accumulate on his desk.

It’s going to take more time than he would like, but getting to solve a case alongside Amy is just what he needs to drive him to work.

Five hours and four cups of coffee later Jake starts to think getting involved in the case is not one of the best ideas he’s had. Neither Rosa nor Amy wanted to stop working and go home and he couldn’t be the one to suggest they do that, not after he’s insisted so much to be allowed to help.

He wasn’t expecting to jump into the case and solve it on the spot, he didn’t doubt Rosa and Amy’s abilities for a second, but he wasn’t expecting they would have nothing . These perps were good at covering their tracks.

He yawns, leaning back in his chair and stretching his arms over his head, bringing them down a moment later in order to rub the sleep off his eyes. Rosa’s reading something on the file, probably for the billionth time, and Amy’s leaning forward, head resting on the desk, her arms acting as a pillow.

The precinct is quiet during the night. There still are people coming in and officers walking around, chatting happily as if it was noon, but it’s nothing compared to the buzz of the day. Even the perps in the holding cell are quieter. The relative stillness does nothing to help him stay awake.

He’s about to lose the fight with his eyelids when, all of a sudden, Amy looks up, no traces of sleep on her face. Her eyes are wide open, eyebrows raised, lips slightly parted.

“Oh my god, oh my god ,” she whispers before she snatches the file from Rosa’s hands and hastily goes through all the papers inside it until she finds the one she’s looking for. “I know who our guys are,” she announces after a moment, adding a detailed explanation of the idea that crossed her mind and how she’s completely sure these have to be the criminals they’re looking for. It makes perfect sense, and there’s no other explanation.

While Amy talks, Rosa’s leaning back in her chair, the corner of her lips curved into the tiniest of smiles, clearly impressed by the turn of events. Jake, on his part, can’t take his eyes off Amy.

She’s talking way too fast and his sleep deprived brain can’t make much sense of all the words that leave her mouth, but he understands that she just cracked the case, all on her own, connecting events that, at first sight, were not related at all but, now that the connection between them has been pointed out to him, it is clear for him to see that she’s absolutely right.

His lips spread into a wide smile. He has no idea how she’s done it, how her half asleep brain has worked to solve this; all he knows is that she’s the most amazing person he has ever met. She’s incredibly smart (and probably the best detective in the entire NYPD), and she’s also a huge nerd (which he finds adorable), and funny, and kind - there is no one like her.

She jumps up, followed by Rosa, and he has to yell after them to make them stop on their way to the elevator, ready to go arrest the perps. (They were almost inside the elevator when he yelled, he was too distracted thinking about Amy to actually realize she was no longer sitting in front of him.)

“We need to think of how to proceed first,” he tells them once he stands up and joins them. “You can’t just go.”

“Right,” Amy says, and Rosa rolls her eyes.

They follow Jake back to the desk, where they spend the following hours coming up with a plan. The sun is up by the time they leave the precinct, and, before noon, one member of the band is in the holding cell. They need to interrogate him in order to find the other men, but they can’t do that until his lawyer arrives.

Rosa’s nowhere to be seen - she’s probably taking a nap in the secret bathroom she and Gina refuse to tell him the location of - and Amy’s sitting at Rosa’s desk, finishing the arrest paperwork. He could go home, he’s aware of that - he’s not officially part of the investigation so there’s nothing for him to sign and he can’t be in the interrogation room with them - but he’s staying for moral support.

After a while Amy finishes typing, and turns the chair so she’s facing him. If she looked tired when he got to the precinct the previous night, she looks as if she hasn’t slept in years now. Her hair is in a messy bun, loose locks falling out of it and framing her face, and she has her giant glasses on because her contacts dried out hours earlier.

“I’m gonna sleep for an entire year when I get home,” she says, stifling a yawn.

“Samesies,” he sighs. “Why the hell is the lawyer taking so long?” Amy shrugs, rubbing her eyes, his lips curving slightly because of how adorable she looks. “You got what you wanted, though.”


“Holt loves you.”

She rolls her eyes, but he watches as the corners of her mouth move upwards. “He doesn’t love me.”

“He told you, and I quote, ‘It was a pleasure for the Nine-Nine to have such a capable detective working alongside us,’” Jake says, imitating Holt’s voice, a talent he has mastered over the years. “It means he loves you. Trust me, I know him.”

His smile widens and, a moment later, nods. “If you say so.”

“Why do I have the feeling that you’re only agreeing with me because you’re too tired to argue?”

She chuckles, bringing her hands to her mouth to stifle yet another yawn. “Oh, definitely. If I had slept at some point in the past 36 hours, I wouldn’t give in so easily.”

“So you don’t think Holt loves you,” he points out.

“He can’t love me. He barely knows me.”

“Okay, okay,” he sighs, moving his chair closer to the side of the desk so he can rest his arm there and prop his head with his hand. “He doesn’t love you. But you did impress him. He doesn’t say that to anyone.”

Her eyes, which she’s struggling to keep open, find his, and the intensity of her gaze is so strong that, even though he has an urge to look away, he can’t bring himself to.

“You really think that?” she asks, her voice suddenly low, almost a whisper.

“Yeah,” he answers honestly. “How could he not be impressed by you?”

His words make her look away, eyes fixing on the computer screen on the desk, and he watches as her cheeks turn rosy and then bright red just a few seconds later.

He’s not sure how long he stays like that, his eyes on her, unable to look away, but suddenly Rosa is standing by the desk, an angry frown on her face.

“What’s up?” Jake asks, puzzled.

“The lawyer’s here.”

“That’s good, isn’t it? That means we’ll get to go home soon.”

But his positivity does nothing to change Rosa’s expression - if anything, it deepens her frown. He’s about to speak again when, from his right, he hears a whispered ‘oh, no,’ coming from Amy. Now a frown forms on his own face. He turns to look at her, trying to find out what she means, and notices that her gaze is fixed on something on the other side of the bullpen, something behind him.

His blood runs cold when he turns around, and suddenly Rosa’s frown makes sense. Sophia, his girlfriend , is standing some feet away, in full work attire, deep in conversation with the guy they brought in earlier.

“Oh, no,” Jake echoes.

Chapter Text

Jake dives face first into the couch after slamming the door closed behind him. He’s probably going to stay like this the rest of his life. Well, maybe not the rest of his life - he’s going to have to go to the bathroom at some point, and he needs food to survive - but he’s not moving in the near future. Or in the medium future. He needs to turn his brain off, at least for a couple of minutes or he’s going to go insane.

It wasn’t part of his plan to break up with Sophia, he just wanted to talk to her about what happened. He knew it was stupid of him to ignore her during the three days that followed her showing up at the precinct, but he was angry and not reading her texts and letting her calls go to voicemail seemed like the best option to postpone dealing with the situation. Eventually, however, he decided to act like the adult he is and called her. He told her he wanted to see her, talk to her, and she agreed to meet up for lunch.

It started out alright. She smiled at him when she walked into the restaurant and saw him, not a full beam, but her lips curved enough for him to notice from the spot where he was sitting; he talked a bit about some random things in his mind, consciously avoiding the topic they had met up to discuss and she nodded, sometimes even making  small comments. From the outside they looked like any other couple out on a lunch date.

It was when the waiter placed the food they had ordered in front of them that it all went to hell. Something on Sophia changed then, he wasn’t exactly sure of what it was, but in that moment he knew what was coming and that it would not end well. She asked why he had been ignoring her, although she knew why - he was sure she knew. So he told her the truth, that he was upset, that he and Rosa and Amy had worked so hard, barely sleeping for days, to solve a case and find a criminal (that they were completely, absolutely certain was guilty) who ended up walking free thanks to her. Sophia’s answer was that she was just doing her job, that Jake knew that was her job, and that he should have known something like this would happen at some point, or at least that the possibility existed, and that if he cared as much as he said he did, he should have thought of what to do in the situation they’re now in.

That’s what really got him. He had thought about it, it had been haunting him since the moment he found out she was a defense attorney, and he had spent endless hours trying to come up with a solution to what they would do. He had only pushed the thought to the back of his mind when he struggled to come up with a potential solution - or a solution other than breaking up. The way she put it, the way she said it made it seem like he didn’t care one bit about their relationship.

It turned into a fight, a public fight that earned them glares from the people sitting at nearby tables, and which culminated in him breaking up with her. Or her breaking up with him - he’s not sure who dumped who. The point is, he and Sophia broke up.

He buries his face deeper in the cushion in an attempt to block the sunshine entering his apartment through the window. But the darkness is not doing much to help him push away the recent memories of the awful lunch he’s just had, so he rolls over, wipes away the couple of tears that have rolled down his cheeks, and sits up, stretching his arms on top of his head (his couch really is the worst - ten minutes lying down and his back is already killing him). Luckily, past him was smart enough to call Sophia on his day off and now he can sulk in peace instead of going back to the precinct and having to deal with people reminding him constantly that they told him so. Because they did tell him so, every single one of his friends did - he just was an idiot who chose not to listen.

He’s halfway through his third Die Hard rewatch of the day when a soft knock on the door takes his attention away from the movie for the first time since he first pressed the play button on the remote all those hours ago. He really doesn’t want to see anyone at the moment, but he stands up anyway, only because he knows who is knocking, and knows he can’t pretend he isn’t home when she can clearly hear his television blasting through the wall.

When he pulls the door open, he watches as the expression of annoyance on her face is quickly replaced by one of worry the instant she sees him.

“Is everything okay?” Amy asks immediately, her eyebrows knitting together.

“What makes you think something‘s not okay?”

“You look… not great.” Her frown softens when she speaks, making the concern in her eyes clearer for him to see. She’s probably right - he’s been lying down all day, not been able to fight back tears from time to time, and there’s also that habit of his of running his hands through his hair when he’s upset. “And it’s the third time you’re watching that movie today,” she adds. “What happened?”

He sighs, fixing his eyes on a spot on the wall behind her, just above her right shoulder. “Sophia and I broke up.” There’s no point in hiding the truth from her, and, the sooner he tells her, the sooner he will be left alone and able to return to the movie that he hasn’t bothered to pause.

Her mouth opens but quickly closes, as if she’d decided at the very last moment that what she was about to say was not what he needed to hear right then. After a few seconds of silence, broken only by the faint gunshots coming from his TV, she opens her mouth again and sighs. “I’m so sorry, Jake.”

The softness of her voice makes his eyes fill with tears, and he does his best to swallow the lump in his throat before speaking. “It’s okay. We weren’t going to last anyway,” he shrugs.

“Do you want to talk about it? I can come ov-”

“Actually, I kinda wanna be alone right now,” he interrupts, bringing a hand to his face and rubbing his eyes in an attempt to keep the tears from falling. “It literally just happened and I just- I need to process it on my own first, I guess.”

Amy nods slowly, but by the way she’s biting her lower lip he knows she’s not a fan of the idea of leaving him alone. “Okay,” she says after a moment, her voice just above a whisper. “Call me if you need anything, yeah?”

“Yeah,” he whispers back at her, forcing his lips to curve into a small smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes.

“I’m serious.” Her voice is louder, firmer. “Even if you just want me to come over and silently watch Die Hard with you for the billionth time.”

He chuckles, an honest laugh that for some reason makes his chest warm up and his eyes fill with tears again. “If that’s what you wanted all along you could’ve just said so.”

She rolls her eyes, her lips curved into a playful smile. “Yeah, I’ve definitely not watched that movie too many times already.”

He chuckles again, softer this time, but just as honest as before. The effect she has on him is impressive. It’s not even been five minutes since he opened the door and he’s already feeling a lot better, like whenever she’s with him a huge weight is lifted from his chest. Maybe asking her to come over for a while isn’t such a terrible idea. But his stomach drops when his eyes meet hers, and he’s not sure why. It might be the concern that has returned to her eyes, mixed with the feelings he’s been pushing to the back of his mind for way too long now slowly breaking whatever it is that is attempting to hold them there. As much as he loves her company, Amy’s the last person he should be with if what he wants is to sort out his thoughts and be able to think clearly.

“I’ll leave you alone now, then,” she says, and he’s not sure how much time has gone by since she last spoke - one of her hands is squeezing his arm lightly and his stupid brain doesn’t seem to be able to focus on anything else. “But, seriously, I’m right here for anything you need.”

He nods, unable to form words until she’s taken a step back. His mouth is dry for a reason he can’t figure out, but he still manages to whisper a “Thank you, Ames,” which she responds with the softest of smiles, and it is then that he fully registers the crack his feelings for her are filtering through. It’s not a big crack, but it is there, and if he doesn’t do something to fix it soon, the dam will break, and who knows what will happen then. If he’s completely honest, he’s a bit curious about it.

He’s fine for a couple of days.

It might have been because of how bad he looked when he showed up at the precinct the following day (he managed to sleep a total of thirty-seven minutes that night), but no one at work mentioned Sophia again after he told them what had happened, with the exception of Rosa who offered to take revenge, although he thinks it had more to do with the perp walking free and not so much with his broken heart. He was expecting Gina of all people to bring it up constantly, but she remained surprisingly silent, which, if you ask him, was odd, but he was not going to complain about it.

Everyone in the squad tried to cheer him up, and maybe that was Gina’s way of doing it, although she did spend two whole days trying to convince him to go out with one of her friends - according to her, having sex with a stranger is how you forget your ex. Rosa basically dragged him to the bar one night and payed for all his drinks, and Terry even offered him his favorite full fat Greek yogurt which Jake kindly declined because yogurt is gross. But what actually got him to go back to his normal self and not think about Sophia was the murder case Captain Holt assigned him.

That is, until the murderer showed up at the precinct to turn himself in and Holt gave him the following day off.

With nothing to do, it’s easier for his mind to wander, and it keeps coming back to Sophia no matter how hard he tries to focus on literally anything else. On instinct he calls Charles, but while he’s waiting for his friend to pick up he remembers that he’s away on a Boyle family trip somewhere in the midwest, and he ends the call, not bothering to leave a voicemail (although he knows Charles is probably the one person in the world who actually listens to voicemails and not leaving one means getting a billion texts later asking what happened and assuming Jake’s dead). So around noon he decides he’s going to clean his apartment - really clean it - to keep himself busy, and put on music loud enough that he can’t hear his own thoughts. He’s going to have to turn it off when Amy comes back from work, something he doesn’t mind because then she will be here to distract him and he won’t need Taylor Swift anymore.

He turns the music off willingly when the sunlight that’s filled his apartment during the day is replaced by the soft glow of the streetlamps below. Amy’s not back yet, but it’s fine because he hasn’t thought about Sophia in hours. But thinking about not thinking about her still is thinking about her and suddenly there’s a lump in his throat and he’s holding back tears. The feelings that settle on his chest are as intense as they were that very first day when he returned from the restaurant, the only difference is that he really doesn’t want to be alone right now.

After he calls Rosa and it goes straight to voicemail he tries calling Gina, who does pick up but is clearly drunk and not really listening to him. He doesn’t realize how late it actually is until he hangs up and checks the time. He’s skipping dinner, he decides. He’s not hungry enough for the effort that cooking something requires.

He’s about to press the play button and watch Die Hard for the fiftieth time that week when his phone lights up with incoming texts from Charles. He stays frozen in his spot on the couch, in a sort of hypnotic state, watching as a new text appears on the screen every three seconds for over five minutes. Only when the screen stays off for a solid minute does he reach for his phone and start reading everything. It’s mostly emojis - emojis that together don’t make any sense for that matter - but they’re entertaining, and they help him stop thinking about what he doesn’t want to think about, so he texts Charles back, with the intention of keeping this going until he can no longer keep his eyes open.

He’s still wide awake and reading Boyle’s detailed description of every single meal he’s had so far during his trip when noises coming from the hallway make him look up from his phone in what’s probably been hours. It’s Amy, he’s sure about it. He still wants to hang out with her, maybe even talk to her about his break up (if he's going to talk to someone, it’s her), but it’s late, and she’s probably tired, and he can wait.

It’s when the noises persist - noises of keys being dropped and picked up, dropped and picked up again - that he stands up with a frown and swings his door open.

“Ames, is everything okay?” The words leave his mouth before he has a chance to see her, but his worried expression is soon replaced by one of amusement when he notices her glassy eyes and blushed cheeks. She isn’t coming back late from work, she’s been out and she’s clearly drunk. So drunk that she can’t even open her door. How did she make it to the building? “Do you want help with that?” he offers after a short pause.

He’s been friends with her for some time now, and he knows her go-to answer whenever he offers her some kind of help. That is why he’s surprised when he hears her say “Yes, please,” in the softest voice he’s ever heard.

He stares at her for a beat before picking the keys from where they’re lying on the floor and swiftly opening her door.

“There you go.” He places the keys on her hands and takes a step back, so as not to block her way. “You should go to bed.”

“Stay for a bit.” It’s not so much an order but a request, her dark eyes fixed on him as if we were the only thing in existence. A moment later she’s taken his hand in hers, squeezing it lightly. “ Please .”

He sighs, trying and failing to move his gaze away from her. He should say no and go home, he doesn’t think he’s seen her this drunk before - her words are slurred and he’s almost certain that she’s using her hold on him to keep her balance. But he can’t say no to her, not when she’s literally begging him to stay (which he thinks is related to the inebriated state she’s in), and if he accepts her invitation he could make sure she actually goes to bed and doesn’t fall asleep on the first available surface she comes across.

“Okay,” he says after a moment, “but only for a short bit. You really do need some sleep.”

Her lips curve slightly in a sweet smile and the next thing he knows she’s hugging him, her arms wrapped tightly around his middle, dropping the keys again, the metallic noise echoing on the empty hallway. He hears a whispered “thank you” coming from where she has her head buried on his chest.

He’s not sure how to proceed, Amy’s clearly in a very vulnerable state right now, and he doesn’t want to do anything that could upset her. He places his hands on her shoulders and, hesitatingly, pushes her slightly away. “Let’s go in,” he says immediately after noticing the pout that’s appeared on her face due to the lack of contact with him..

She nods and steps back, waiting for him to pick the keys up before stepping into her apartment. She turns around every two seconds, as if to make sure that he’s still there, that he hasn’t changed his mind and walked away.

“Go get changed,” he tells her, nudging her in the direction of her bedroom. “I’ll get you some water.”

She stares at him for a bit but eventually nods and walks away, looking back one more time to check on him before disappearing into her bedroom.

It takes him a whole minute to move again. He has no idea she could get like this - he has definitely never seen it before, and he has seen how she can get after about five drinks (he remembers the time she was so drunk that she told Rosa she could beat her in a motorcycle race). He needs to be careful, he decides, and don’t let her do anything she wouldn’t do while sober, or something she would regret in the morning, especially regarding him. He doubts she would hug her the way she did if there wasn’t any alcohol in her system.

“Ames?” he asks a moment later, tapping on her bedroom door with the hand that isn’t holding the glass he’s filled with water. “Are you dressed?”

“Yeah,” she answers, her voice muffled by what he assumes is a pillow.

He fails to hold back a chuckle when he opens the door and walks into the bedroom. The upper half of her body is sprawled on the bed, her head buried in the flowered comforter, while her butt’s in the air and her feet are on the floor. She’s managed to change into sweatpants, but she’s still wearing the shirt she had on when she arrived.

“What are you laughing about?” She asks without lifting her head, her words barely comprehensible.

“The very comfortable position you’re in,” he answers, moving towards the nightstand to place the glass there.

She attempts to roll over, but the lack of support in her butt sends her to the floor, her back to the side of the bed. She lets out and adorable grunt but stays where she is, not even bothering to try and get up.

He doesn’t laugh this time, although he has a hard time holding it back, and makes his way to her side, offering her a hand to help her get up.

“I’m fine here,” she says, leaning to the side and rolling over so that she’s lying face up on the floor. “The floor’s my friend.”

“I bet the bed’s your friend too.” He needs to press his lips together the second he finished talking because if he doesn’t he’s going to burst into laughter. “And much more comfortable,” he adds, kneeling next to her.

She grunts again, louder this time. “Don’t wanna move,” she protests. “I’m a sasquatch.”

He chuckles softly, puzzlement washing over him. “What?”

“That’s what Gina said.”

He frowns, confused. “Gina?”

“Mhmm. She was with me at the bar.”

“You went to the bar with Gina?” He’s trying not to sound too surprised, but then he realizes that she’s probably not going to remember any of this when she wakes up. Also, she really should get into bed or she’s going to fall asleep right here on the floor, and it will be impossible for him to move her to the bed. “Come on, Ames, let me help you get up.”

She sighs but rolls on her side. “I didn’t go with Gina, I went with Rosa. But Gina was there too.” After about a minute, and with more effort on his part than on hers, she’s sitting on the bed, supporting herself with her hands so she won’t fall back. “It was fun.”

“That’s good,” he says casually as he moves to where he left the glass of water and brings it to her. “Drink this,” he tells her, and this time she does it without protest. “Are you gonna change your top or are you just gonna sleep in that?”

“I’m cold,” she sighs in response, giving him back the now empty glass, which he puts back on the nightstand.

He chuckles. “That wasn’t an answer to my question but okay.” It takes him almost no time to find an old NYPD hoodie in her carefully arranged wardrobe, and he hands it to her a second later. He watches as she puts it on inside out (he’s not sure how she got it inside out as it was the right way when he gave it to her) and almost starts to cry when she can’t zip it up. “Let me help you,” he offers before tears have a chance to start rolling down her cheeks.

She stays still as he takes the hoodie off of her, her eyes fixed on him, sitting on the bed next to her, carefully watching his every movement. It’s strange, he thinks, how awake she seems to be now when less than five minutes ago she was refusing to get up from the floor.

“There you go.” He gives the hoodie back to her, making sure she’s putting it on the right way this time, and helping her with the zipper.

“Thank you.” It’s the same ‘thank you’ as before, her voice low, just above a whisper, and loaded with honest gratitude, as if he has done something that requires an immense effort or a great amount of time. This time, however, she’s looking at him, and her eyes burning on his make his stomach jump, and, weirdly, not in a bad way.

“Okay,” he says a second later - or many seconds later, he’s not sure how long they’ve stayed there, just staring at each other - and instantly breaking whatever spell they were in. “You should get into bed.”

He stands up and pulls the covers down to where her current position will let him, which is not much, but enough for her to crawl into. She sighs with pleasure the moment she’s under the covers, pulling them tightly around her, relishing in the warmth they provide.

“Alright, Ames. Goodnight.”

“Wait, no.” He was about to reach for the bedside lamp to turn it off but the urgency in her voice makes him freeze on his spot. “I don’t wanna sleep yet.”


“For real. I’m not tired,” she says, rolling on her side so that she’s facing him.

“Right,” he sighs. “You don’t have to sleep if you don’t want to, but it’s late, and I should go. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

“No, don’t go, Jake. Please.” She’s pouting now, and as much as he hates it, it is actually working on him. “Stay? You can sleep here, the bed’s big enough.”

He sighs again, moving his gaze away from her so that he can think more clearly. “Look, Ames, I don’t-”

Please .”

“Okay, fine,” he says, defeated. He’s going to stay until she falls asleep, he decides, and return to his apartment then. She won’t mind being alone when she wakes up, she won’t remember that she’s asked him to stay.

He walks to the other side of the bed and sits down, taking his sneakers off before putting his feet up on the comforter. Not a second later Amy’s moving closer to him and wrapping an arm around his middle.

“You’re warm,” she says, burying her face on his side.

“Look, Ames…” he begins, but pauses when he realizes he doesn’t know what to say next. She might start to cry if he straight up tells her to move or pushes her away, and that’s the last thing he wants. He needs to do it smoothly, or better, distract her and move her away without her realizing it. “You said you went to the bar with Rosa earlier, are you friends with her now?”

“Yeah,” she answers, moving slightly to the side to look at him. “I think so. She was nice to me. She bought me drinks.”

“She did?”

“Yeah, and so did Gina. I don’t know why Gina was there, or when she arrived. She just showed up. I don’t-” She pauses to yawn, bringing both of her hands to cover her face and he uses this moment to move closer to the edge of the bed. “I don’t remember too well.”

“And you said it was fun?”

“Yeah.” Her lips curve into a smile when she says that. Her eyes are on the ceiling now, and it seems to him that she’s watching the events of the night happening before her eyes. “Gina counted the number of drinks I had and gave it names.” She yawns again, this time not bothering to open her eyes after. “Six drink Amy is a sasquatch.”

No wonder she’s this drunk. Gina and especially Rosa are particularly fond of strong drinks and he’s almost sure than, when buying Amy drinks, they were the ones choosing them. “And the other Amys?” he asks, more out of curiosity than anything else.

“I don’t know.” She rolls over, her back now to him. “I don’t remember.” The last part is more like a mumbling than like actual words, and he can only guess that’s what she was trying to say.

He stays silent for some time, waiting and wondering if she’s fallen asleep. He can’t see her face, so he’s not completely sure, but her breathing is slow and regular, and she doesn’t even flinch when he gets up, causing movement in the mattress when doing so.

Tiptoeing, he makes his way to the other side of the bed to turn off the light. He can see her face from here, or he could if her hair wasn’t covering most of it. Objectively speaking, she looks extremely cute. And she’s going to be terribly hungover in the morning. He turns off the light and walks out of her room, closing the door behind him slowly, so as to make as little noise as possible.

That’s when he realizes that he can’t leave her apartment. If he does, he’s going to have to leave her door unlocked and this is New York City they’re in. And she’s drunk-sleeping. If a criminal were to break into her apartment in the middle of the night she wouldn’t be able to defend herself. He’s going to have to sleep here.

He picks up the keys from the table where he left them when he walked in and locks the door (suck it, criminals). He knows the couch turns into a bed, he’s slept on said bed before, but he has no idea how , not even after a thorough inspection of it. He shrugs. It’s not the first time he’s going to sleep on a couch, and, anyway, hers is definitely much more comfortable than his.


He moans, rolling to his right and burying his face in something soft, so as to block the light, wherever it is coming from.


There’s a hand on his shoulder now, and he’s being shaken lightly. What does the universe have against him and a good sleep? “What?” he groans, not moving from his spot.

“Why are you here?”

“Huh?” That’s when he opens his eyes and realizes he’s not on his bed. He’s on a couch. Amy’s couch. The events from the previous night slowly make their way to the surface of his mind. “Morning, Ames,” he says, yawning. “How’re you feeling?”

“Every single one of my brain cells is on pain, so, you know, fine.”

He chuckles lightly and sits up, his back not hurting as much as he thought it would when he lay down on the couch the previous night. That’s a win.

“What are you doing here?” she repeats. She’s not angry or upset, just plain confused.

“You asked me to stay,” he answers simply.

She frowns. “I did?”

“Yup. Although you wanted me to sleep on the bed with you.”

“You’re messing with me.”

“I’m not. You even wanted to cuddle with me.” He says that teasingly, but he can see her tensing up almost instantly, an expression of panic slowly settling on her face. “Chill, Ames, it’s cool. You were crazy drunk.”

“Yeah. I’m never drinking again,” she relaxes somewhat when she speaks, but he can still see a glint of awkwardness on her. “Wait. Why were you here in the first place?”

“You asked me to come in.”

“Why did I- You know what, why don’t you just tell me what happened last night?” she asks, sitting down next to him. She’s still in the sweatpants and hoodie from the night before, but the shirt was replaced by a gray tank top.

“Long version or short version?”


“Right. Okay, so, I was busy in my apartment, like the busy man I am-”

She raises one eyebrow. “What were you doing?”

“Texting Charles.” She chuckles, and his stomach jumps at the sound. “I actually left my phone at my place, how much do you wanna bet that Charles thinks I’m dead?”

“Oh, he definitely does,” she agrees. “I’m surprised he hasn’t cut his vacation short to come check up on you.”

“You don’t know that. Maybe he’s on his way from the airport as we speak.”

“In that case, hurry up and tell me what happened before he arrives.”

“Right, so, I was in my apartment and I heard you struggling to open the door so, like the amazing friend I am-”

Jake .”

“Like the amazing friend I am I offered to help you. You let me. You asked me to come in. I struggled to make you go to bed because you were being a sasquatch-”

She frowns, confusion washing over her. “What?”

“That’s literally what you said. ‘Six drink Amy’s a sasquatch.’”

“Six drink Amy?”

“You weren’t able to tell me much about that. You should ask Gina, you said she was the one who gave each number of drinks a name.”

“I will. Then what?”

“Then, when your were finally in bed, you asked me to stay the night, I said no, you begged-”


“I’m only relating facts here!” That earns him a punch on his shoulder. “Hey!”

“You deserved that.” She crosses her arms in front of her, a frown on her face. “Go on.”

“You didn’t beg me to stay,” he says slowly, teasingly, even though he’s aware that he’s gonna get punched again. The sudden pain in his shoulder is proof that he was right. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry. You fell asleep, I didn’t want to go and leave your door unlocked in case you got murdered in your sleep, because then it’d be my fault and I’d feel super guilty, so I stayed. I didn’t think you’d mind.”

“I don’t, really,” she says, no longer frowning. “I was just… surprised to find you here.”

“Yeah, makes sense.” He gets up then, lifting his arms over his head so as to stretch his back. “Did you have breakfast yet?”

“I literally just woke up,” Amy answers, leaning to the side and lying down on the couch now that she has enough space to do so. “And I think I’m gonna nap for the rest of the day.”

“I’m gonna make you some coffee,” he says simply, making his way to the kitchen. He’s been here enough times to know where everything is, and he knows Amy well enough to know exactly how she likes her coffee.

She’s in the exact same position she was in when he left, and for a moment he thinks she’s asleep, but she lifts her head when she hears him approaching, her lips curved slightly.

“Thank you,” she says, sitting up, when he places a mug on the coffee table in front of her.

He sits next to her, the sides of their arms touching, and takes a sip of his coffee. He doesn’t want to talk, he knows her head’s hurting and the last thing he wants is to cause her pain, but he’s not known for being quiet. “You’re friends with Rosa now?” he asks, genuinely curious. He’s asked her the same question on the previous night, but he’s not sure how reliable drunk Amy is.

“I wouldn’t say we’re friends . She came by my precinct to sign some things and told me to join her at the bar later if I wanted to.” She shrugs, bringing her mug to her lips. “We kind of… bonded, I guess you could say, when we worked together.” She leans forward and places her mug on the table. “I know she’s scary and all but she’s really nice.”

“Yeah, she is. Don’t let her hear you say that, though.”

“Noted. She also cares a lot about you, and so does Gina. They were trying to come up with something to take revenge on Sophia, and not for ruining the case. It got nowhere, though, so don’t worry.”

He stopped listening the moment Sophia’s name left Amy’s lips. He’s surprised when he realizes he hasn’t thought about her since he started texting Charles the night before, and that now that he is, it doesn’t hurt as much.

“How are you doing?” she asks him a moment later, turning to face him. “About the whole Sophia thing I mean.”

“Better, I think,” he says simply. “I was pretty down yesterday, to be honest, but now I’m alright.” He shrugs. “I just need time, I guess.”

“Time does help,” Amy agrees, “and single life has many perks too. I don’t know why I ever thought I should go back to dating.”

“Like what?” he asks with a chuckle. “Enlighten me.”

“You can do whatever you want whenever you want,” she explains. “In my case I mean I can read all night if I want to, in yours, you can eat snacks at 3 a. m. while watching Die Hard and no one will mind.”

“I’m interested, go on,”

She rolls her eyes but continues talking anyway. “Kinda related to that, you don’t have to arrange your schedule around someone else. If you wanna work late every night, you can work late every night and no one is going to complain about it.”

“Being able to work late every night is a perk of single life?”

“It is to me,” she says with a shrug.

“Okay, now what about the perks of relationships?” She raises an eyebrow, puzzled. “Number one, sexy timez.”

She rolls her eyes, but he can see the hint of a smile on her lips. “You don’t necessarily have to be in a relationship for that.”

He raises an eyebrow and gives her a suggestive smile. She simply rolls her eyes at him. “You do have a point there,” he tells her, to which she nods.

A moment of silence passes before she speaks again. “That’s all?”

“I can think of a couple more, but I know I won’t change your mind.”

“It’s just- breakups are too messy. What’s the point of being in a relationship if it’s going to end?”

“What if it doesn’t?” he asks automatically, his eyes burning into hers. “What if your next relationship is with the love of your life and you never go through another breakup again?”

“I don’t- I doubt that,” she says, looking away and fixing her eyes on the coffee table.

“Look, Ames, I’m not saying you should start dating the first person you come across, or that your shouldn’t spend all the time you want on your own, but if you close yourself off definitely because it’s the easy thing, there’s a chance you’ll miss on a lot of happiness.”

He watches as she takes a deep breath, letting the air out slowly with a sigh. “You’re right, you know,” she says after a moment. “But I’m just- I’m not ready for a relationship just yet.”

“It’s fine,” he says, placing a hand on her shoulder and squeezing it lightly. “No one’s rushing you.”

“My mom is. Or will be, when she finds out Teddy and I broke up.”

“You still haven’t told her?” he asks in disbelief.

“You know her, you know how she’s going to get. She’s gonna start setting me up with random guys, and that’s literally the last thing I need right now.”

“You can always tell her you’re dating me,” he teases, earning a soft chuckle from her.

“I’ve learned the lesson. I’m never going to pretend to be dating someone again. And my mom won’t believe me again if I told her I’m dating you of all people.”

“I still kinda can’t believe you messed up so badly that you had to ask me to pretend to be your boyfriend. You still owe me big time, by the way.”

“It was the most stupid thing I’ve ever done, thank you for reminding me of it.”

“No problem,” he teases, earning himself another punch on the shoulder.

Chapter Text

Jake loves almost every part of his job. He really, really does (the exception is, of course, doing paperwork, the winner for absolute dullest task). Interrogating suspects is already one of his favorites, but managing to get a confession from a murderer after hours of asking questions makes him feel like he can do anything - even when he hasn’t slept in over a day. The sun is already up when he steps out of the precinct - probably has been for quite some time - and the air is warm, even for a mid spring day. He doesn’t have his car - Gina gave him a ride the day before as he couldn’t find his car keys and he would have been late if he had spent the entire morning looking for them - but the feeling of triumph combined with the warmth of the sun on his face make him decide against taking the bus and walking home instead.

Only when he walks by a coffee shop does he realize he’s starving - he hasn’t had anything to eat in over twelve hours, and just the thought of an everything bagel makes his stomach growl. But the shop is so full - as every New York coffee shop is in the early hours of the morning when most people are going to work - that he guesses he’s going to save time by going straight home and eating whatever it is he has there (if he remembers correctly, there’s some leftover pie he picked up on his way home from work a couple of nights before - not as good as an everything bagel but it will have to do).

Inside his building, he notices the moment he steps into the hall, it is slightly colder than out in the street. The difference is subtle yet perceptible - he’s used to it by now, it tells him he’s home. He moves towards the elevator and sighs when he notices the floor it is currently in - he hates waiting hours for it to come down (actually, it doesn’t take it longer than a minute, but to him it feels like ages, especially when he’s hungry and tired). He could take the stairs and don’t feel like he’s wasting the entire morning in the hall watching the tiny red numbers above the elevator change - and that’s exactly what he would do in any other occasion - but his muscles have started to feel the lack of sleep, and the thought of climbing all those flights of stairs make him let out a long sigh. He’s waiting, it’s decided.

A good decision, really, he tells himself when a few seconds later he hears the main door opening and sees Amy walking in. She’s wearing a hoodie despite the heat, her hair up in a tight ponytail, and she has a coffee cup in one hand and a paper bag in the other.

Her lips curve slightly the moment she sees him, quickening her pace towards him. “Hey!” she says when she’s standing by his side, her smile now taking most of her face. “Are you only just coming back from work?”

“Yeah,” he answers, stifling a yawn. “Criminals are the worst.” He wants to tell her about the interrogation, how he got the man to confess, but his brain is not really working at the moment, and the smell of cinnamon coming from the bag she’s holding is not helping at all. “What about you?” he asks after she chuckles lightly. “Why were you out at this insanely early time? Is that coffee really worth it?”

“First of all it’s not that early; second, the coffee’s from that new shop on the next block and from what I heard it’s excellent .” The elevator dings and a moment later the door opens. “And third,” she continues as she walks inside and presses the correct button, Jake following close behind, “I didn’t go out just to get coffee, I went for a run.”

“I don’t know how you manage to wake up early when you don’t have to go to work and go for a run . I don’t understand.”

“It’s about getting used to it, I guess,” she says with a shrug. “And working out in the morning actually gives you more-”

A soft clang interrupts her, a sound he’s used to hearing whenever the elevator comes to a stop - what he is not used to is hearing that sound after such a short time. He’s taken this elevator almost every single day since he’s moved into this building, he knows how long it takes to get to his floor.

“We’ve stopped,” he hears Amy gasp. “Why have we stopped?”

“I don’t know,” he answers with a sigh. He presses a button but nothing happens. None of the buttons are working, he realizes after trying every single one of them. “I think we’re stuck.”

“What?” The terror in her voice makes him turn to face her. She’s gone pale and her eyes are filled with tears that will roll down her cheeks any second now. Her hold on the bag has tightened so much that the paper has torn, almost causing whatever is inside it to fall onto the floor.

“Ames, are you okay?”

She shakes her head immediately, closing her eyes and slowly taking a deep breath. “I’m- I’m very claustrophobic,” she manages to say while attempting to keep her breathing at a regular rate.

Oh . How did he not know about this? He has no idea what to do, and, honestly, the way she’s taking shallow breaths one right after the other is freaking him out a bit. But he needs to stay calm, he tells himself - he won’t be able to help her otherwise.

Coming out of his frozen state, he places his bag on the floor, in the furthest corner from where they’re standing (not far at all since the elevator is not particularly big), takes the coffee cup and bag from her hands, and puts them there too, the paper bag over his bag so it is not in contact with the floor. When he’s standing in front of her again he takes her hands in his, squeezing them tightly.

“Amy, listen to me,” he says in the softest voice he can manage. “You need to breathe, okay? Focus on that.”

She nods, a slight movement that he wouldn’t have noticed if she hadn’t been the sole focus of his attention. But she’s crying now, and even though she’s trying to remain calm - he can see she is - she manages to take a total of two deep breaths before bursting into sobs.

He instinctively pulls her into a hug, only realizing a second later that she probably shouldn’t have her face buried in his neck if she’s having trouble breathing, but when he tries to push her away so that she can have more air she refuses to move. Her hands are grasping his shirt tightly, her body shaking uncontrollably.

“Ames, it’s okay,” he says - the only thing he can think of saying. One of his hands starts moving up and down her back, the other tracing random patterns on her shoulder blade. “We’ll be out of here in no time, everything’s gonna be okay. Breathe.” He feels her head moving in what he assumes is a nod, but the sobs, muffled by his shirt, show no sign of stopping. “Try to match your breathing with mine.” His voice is soft yet firm. “Do you think you can do that?” She nods again, a small movement that he only perceives thanks to the non-existent distance between them.

It takes her a while - he doesn’t know how long, and it’s not like that matters to him anyway - but eventually she manages to do it. She doesn’t stop crying, but she’s not shaking anymore, and her hold on him has loosened significantly. His hands move from her back to her arms, keeping their up and down motion.

After a quick glance at their surroundings his hands find their way to hers and, with a squeeze, he takes a step back and guides her to the floor. They sit down next to each other, their sides touching, and a second later her head is on his shoulder and one of his arms around her back.  

“Are you feeling better?” he asks after she brings a hand up to her eyes so as to wipe away the tears that are still rolling down her cheeks.

She nods, sniffling loudly. “I’m sorry,” she whispers, her voice hoarse.

He frowns, moving his head so he can look at her, but all he’s able to see is the top of her head. “What for?”

She sniffles again and shrugs, lifting her head and resting its back against the metal wall of the elevator, eyes closed.

“There’s nothing to be sorry about, you know that, right?” He says, frowning faintly. Her face is bright red, he observes, eyes and lips puffy, and she looks like she’s going to fall asleep any second now.

With a massive effort she opens her eyes and forces her lips to curve into a tiny smile. He returns the smile, in an attempt to reassure her, but the hand she’s using to wipe her eyes blocks the view.

He slowly frees his arm from its position between her back and the wall, not wanting to disturb her, and reaches for the cup of coffee in the corner closest to his feet. “Do you want some of this?” he asks, offering her the cup. “I know water would be better but, you know…” He gestures to the walls surrounding them with his free hand. “It’s probably cold and gross and-” He’s silenced by her hand taking the cup from him and bringing it to her lips.

She takes a dubious sip, unsure of what the state of the coffee is, but he supposes it’s not as bad as he thought as the next thing she does is down half the contents of the cup in one gulp. Her head returns to its position against the wall, eyes fixed on a spot in front of her, and she places the now half empty cup on the floor next to her, her hand still holding it.

“How long do you think we’ll be here?”

He’s been watching her every movement, trying to figure out what to do, how to help her, and yet the sound of her voice takes him by surprise.

“I don’t know,” he answers honestly. He doesn’t want to say something that’ll get her hopes up and turn out to be a lie. “The alarm isn't working so I don’t think people know we’re in here. But ,” he quickly adds after she takes a sharp breath, “I can call Charles and tell him we’re here.” She visibly relaxs at that, and he gives his brain a mental pat for coming up with something - an actual good idea - on the spot. “You know he’s not going to stop until he gets us out of here. He’d do it himself if he could,” he continues so as to give her further reassurance.

His lips curve into a small smile when he hears the softest of chuckles coming from her.

“Yeah, do that,” she says, turning her head to face him and giving him a smile that this time does reach her eyes. He’s not sure how she manages to do it but, despite everything that’s happened, she looks adorable (to be honest, she always looks adorable, especially when she smiles). “I kinda need to pee,” she adds, her head returning to its previous position on his shoulder.

It’s his turn to chuckle as he fishes his phone out of his pocket. He has twenty-six unread texts from Charles - he wants to have Jake over for dinner that night because there’s “something important” they need to discuss (Jake has no idea what it could possibly be) - which means that Charles is already panicking about the reason why Jake’s not answering. They’re going to be out of here soon.

The conversation is short - surprisingly Charles hangs up almost right after hearing about Jake and Amy’s situation in order to help them. Before hanging up, though, he yells about how getting stuck in an elevator with the person you’re in love with is the dream - making Jake fear for a second that he is going to make them stay there for longer on purpose - so Jake answers that he hasn’t slept in over a day and that Amy needs to pee and that they really, really need to get out.

“We’ll be out of here in no time,” he tells her when he puts his phone back in his pocket.

“You haven’t slept in over a day?” she asks with a frown, bringing a hand up to wipe the stray tears that are skill making their way down her cheeks.

He shrugs. “I spent the night at work.”

His stomach chooses that exact moment to growl loudly enough to be heard in the entire building, causing Amy’s frown to deepen. A moment later and without a sound she leans forward and reaches for the paper bag still safely placed on his work bag.

“And you haven’t eaten in over a day either, have you?” she says, dropping the paper bag on his lap.

“Actually,” he begins, his voice filled with mock pride, “I had a bagel last night.” He takes the roll out of the bag, the strong scent of cinnamon immediately flooding the elevator. He carefully tears a small piece and brings it to his mouth, offering Amy the rest. It might be because of how hungry he is, but he’s certain that this is the best cinnamon roll he’s ever eaten in his life. “Where did you say you got this?” he asks, tearing another piece, bigger this time, after Amy refuses to have any with a shake of her head. “It’s excellent.”

“The new shop on the other block. I saw it on my way to work about two weeks ago but only got the time to actually go today.”

“Wait. You haven’t tried this?” he asks in shock, rising the hand that is holding the cinnamon roll. “Ames, you have to. It’s really, really good. Even Charles would approve of it.”

“It’s okay,” she chuckles softly. “You need it more that I do. I’ll buy another one when we get out of here,” she shrugs.

I will buy you another one when we get out of here. I’ll buy you ten. But can’t you just try it? Just a small piece. You have no idea what you’re missing out on.”

She rolls her eyes but moves closer to him, taking the roll from him and tearing a piece of the smallest size she can manage before giving it back. He watches her carefully, waiting for her reaction, and smiles to himself when she nods in approval.

“Okay, I’m holding you to what you said about buying me ten of these,” she says, making him laugh. “And the coffee’s really good too,” she adds. “I took only one sip while it was hot, but it tastes good even when it’s cold. There’s some left if you want,” she offers, grabbing the cup from her side.

“No, I’m good. Are you sure you don’t want another bit?”

“Yes, I’m sure. You can have it.”

They fall into a comfortable silence, Jake eating what’s left of the cinnamon roll, Amy closing her eyes and resting her head against the wall once more. He knows she’s trying not to think about their current situation, and he’d distract her talking about literally anything if he weren’t so exhausted. For the past ten minutes or so he’s had to fight his eyelids for his eyes to stay open, and using all what’s left of his energy on that doesn’t leave enough for his brain to come up with something.

When he finishes eating, he cleans his sticky fingers on his jeans and copies Amy’s position. He’s never thought that being able to close his eyes could feel this good.

He’s not sure how long he stays in that position, but he has a feeling he’s fallen asleep for some time because the next thing he knows, his head is resting on her shoulder and she’s shaking him lightly.

“What?” he asks, opening his eyes immediately and lifting his head with a sharp movement. “Are you okay? Did something happen?”

“I’m fine,” she says in reassurance, and he notices the corners of her mouth curving slightly. It’s a minuscule movement, almost imperceptible, but it makes his stomach jump in a funny way. “We’re moving.”

That’s when he notices it. There’s a low humming sound that definitely wasn’t there before and he’s not sure if they’re going up or down, but he can feel they are moving and that’s what really matters. They are going to be out of here in just a moment, and Amy’s going to feel okay again - he knows her, knows when she’s pretending, and the fact that her breathing is regular and that she has stopped crying do not necessarily mean she’s feeling fine -, and he’s going to reunite with his bed after an eternity apart, and everything will be fine .

A couple of seconds later they come to a stop, and the door opens to reveal an empty hallway - the hallway of their floor. Amy steps outside before he has a chance to stand up. It takes him a moment - he’s too old to be sitting on the floor for who knows how long and his back is killing him - but he manages to get up, pick up his bag, and walk out of the elevator, where Amy’s waiting for him and watching his every movement.

“I should probably tell Charles we’re out. It looks more like the elevator doing what it wants rather than someone fixing it,” he says when the doors close behind him and he hears the elevator going up. He hopes whoever gets in next doesn’t have the same luck as them.

“I’m taking the stairs from now on.”

Part of him wants to chuckle at her words and make a silly joke about how she won’t need to go for a run anymore, but a bigger part knows she’s serious about it. He can’t even imagine how it must have felt for her, and he hates that he couldn’t do much more than barely help her get her breathing back to a regular rate.

The walk to their respective doors is silent, Amy in front, Jake following close behind her, their steps echoing in the hallway. She has her keys out, so he’s surprised when she doesn’t open her door the second they arrive and instead watches him rummage in his bag for his keys.

“Jake?” she says when he finds them and lifts an arm in triumph. Her voice is low and her tone serious, and he frowns in confusion before fixing his eyes on her.


“Thank you. For helping me back there.” He wants to tell her that it’s fine, that he wishes he could have done more, but there’s something else she wants to say, he can tell by the way she’s biting her lower lip, and she’s debating whether she should say it or not - so he waits. “I’m sorry you got stuck in the elevator and couldn’t go to bed sooner,” she adds a couple of seconds later, “but I’m glad I wasn’t alone in there, and that you were the one with me. It- it really did help.”

He’s at a complete loss of words, and all he can do is stare at her, her lips slightly curved in a shy smile, her cheeks rosy. He almost blurts out that he’d rather be with her - especially if she needs help and he can apparently provide it - than sleep, even when it’s been over a day since he last woke up, but he stops himself at the very last second.

“Also,” she continues before the silence between them becomes awkward, a playful tone in her voice now. “Don’t forget you owe me ten cinnamon rolls.”

“I shouldn’t have said that,” he says in mock regret. “Now you won’t stop bugging me about it.”

“No, not until you give them to me.”

He sighs dramatically. “I’ve created a monster.”

She laughs, a sweet laugh that makes his stomach jump, and tucks her hair, most of which has come loose from her ponytail, behind both ears at the same time. She’s smiling now, only faint traces of her previous crying still visible on her face.

She opens her mouth to say something but a yawn that he can’t hold back despite his best efforts interrupts her.

“Go to bed,” she says instead, taking the keys from his hands and unlocking the door for him.

“Thank you.” He turns to smile at her, but, halfway through, his smile morphs into another yawn, causing a giggle to escape from her mouth. “It would have taken me at least five tries.”

“It’s okay. Now go to bed before you pass out right here.”

He’s awakened by the alarm he had specifically set not to miss dinner with Charles. He’s tempted to just dismiss it and continue sleeping - he loves his bed, lumps and all, and the five hours of sleep he’s managed to get were definitely not enough -, but he has promised Charles he would go. Also, he’s starving - passing on dinner cooked by Charles would be really stupid of him, especially since he has barely anything in his own fridge. So, despite his body’s resistance, he manages to get up.

He showers and dresses up in record time, which leaves him with some minutes to spare before he has to go up to Charles’s apartment (he will take the stairs, obviously), so he plops himself down on the couch, phone in his hand. He’s on the third video of cats doing cat things when there’s a knock on the door. He frowns when the rapping doesn’t stop after a couple of seconds, instead becoming louder and more insistent. When he flings the door open he’s surprised to find Gina standing in the hallway.

“I thought you were sleeping,” she says, walking past him and into his apartment. She doesn’t take her jacket off nor puts her purse down - she doesn’t plan to stay for long.

“Hello to you too. I’m going to have dinner with Charles,” he informs her. “He wants to talk to me about something.”

“Probably his best man speech.”

“Best man speech?”

“Um… yeah? The wedding’s next weekend.”

“What wedding?” he asks with a frown.

“I shouldn’t be surprised you forgot, Jacob,” Gina says, rolling her eyes. “Charles’s dad - ew - is marrying my mom. Next weekend.”

“Oh, shit .” It all starts to make sense now. He was surprised when Holt told him he had the entire weekend off - he never has both Saturday and Sunday off -, and he hasn’t seen Charles for almost two weeks, but his texts were more enthusiastic than usual and- oh , this is why he had asked Jake for his opinion on suits. “I don’t have anything to wear,” he says, trying not to let the panic get to his voice. “Would it be too bad if I showed up wearing jeans?”

“Doesn’t matter. You're not coming.”

“What? Why?”

“Really, Jake?”

He doesn’t need to answer, the puzzled expression he gives her is enough to let her know that he has completely forgotten whatever she’s talking about - he does have a goldfish brain after all, she should know this by now.

“Remember when you insisted on bringing a guest? And I said you could come only if said guest was your girlfriend?” She pauses to fish her phone out of her pocket. “Last thing I heard” she continues, eyes now fixed on the screen, “you and Sophia broke up.”

“Come on, Gina, you can’t be serious.” He can’t point out the exact reason why he wants to go to the wedding so badly; there are so many - he’d get to spend the night at the hotel upstate, there’s going to be so much food (that thought reminds him that he’s starving and his stomach growls loud enough for Gina to notice - she doesn’t even flinch, though), and he knows - because this is one thing he remembers - that there’s going to be an open bar.

“I told you so, girl.”

“Wait, hold on,” he says after a moment, having come up with something, a desperate idea, but it will do - there’s no way he’s missing this wedding. “I have to bring my girlfriend , right? We didn’t say it had to be Sophia.”

This makes Gina look up from her phone. “You have a girlfriend?”

“I do, actually.”

“I can tell you’re lying, you know that, right?”

“I know you can tell and that is why I’m not lying right now.”

Gina nods, staring at him suspiciously. “And who is this girlfriend of yours?”


“Amy?” Gina repeats, and in that moment he’s completely certain she’s not buying it. He’s going to miss the wedding because past Jake was an idiot.

“Amy, my neighbor.”

“Yeah, I know who Amy is.” Her eyes find their way back to her phone. “If I go ask her right now, she’ll tell me you two are dating?”

“Probably not,” he shrugs and Gina looks up again, frowning with disbelief. “We agreed we wouldn’t tell people for the time being. You know how Charles will get. But don’t worry, I’ll talk to her about the wedding and we’ll be there.”

There’s a moment of silence in which he stands still, arms crossed in front of him and eyes fixed on Gina. If he looks away she’ll know he’s lying. She’s trying to decide whether she believes him or not, and he can’t show a sign of weakness right now. She sighs after what seems like forever and looks at her phone once more.

“Okay, fine,” she says casually. “And no, you can’t wear jeans to the wedding. I’ll find a suit for you.”

He’s frozen for a split second, unable to process what just happened. Did Gina actually buy his lie? Knowing her, she wouldn’t pretend to believe him just because he really wanted to go. She must have bought it. He’s probably the very first person in the world who has successfully lied to Gina Linetti - he deserves an award or something. “Great, thank you. Now, I’d love if you could stay but Charles is probably waiting for me.”

“Good luck with that,” she says, moving towards the door. How does she manage to walk with her eyes fixed on her phone and not bump into anything? “I’ve read the drafts and had to ban four of them.”

“They’re that bad?”

Gina nods and he groans - he has a long night ahead.

“Wait,” he calls after her once he’s locked his door and she’s walking away towards the elevator. “Don’t tell anyone about me and Amy, especially Charles. I wanna do it myself.”


“Okay?” Is she really not going to ask anything in return? Why is she acting so weird?

“Yeah, okay . I’ll see you on Saturday. Be there early, you’re gonna have to try on clothes.”

“Will do,” he nods, already making mental notes of everything he will have to do before the weekend, number one being convincing Amy to go with him. “You might wanna take the stairs,” he tells her after she presses the elevator button. “Got stuck in there this morning, would not recommend.”

He wakes up insanely early the following morning - he needs to set the plan ‘get Amy to agree to go to the wedding with me and pretend to be my girlfriend’ (he needs to find a shorter name for it) into motion. He came up with it while having dinner with Charles - Jake’s opinion on the multiple versions of his best man speech was not all he wanted, he also needed Jake to help him choose the perfect button down and proceeded to try on hundreds of them, all of them white and without significant differences. While Charles changed, he worked out the plan.

He gets dressed and is out of the building in record time, and starts walking in the direction of the new coffee shop, hoping it’s open this early (his entire plan depends on it - there’s no way he’ll convince her otherwise). The sun’s already up, and people rushing to work walk past him, some of them bumping into him and turning to glare at him without stopping (lovely New York). He lets out a sigh of relief when he finds the shop and sees the ‘open’ sign on the door. It’s a small shop, a shop most people would walk by without a second glance (he probably would have never found out about it if it wasn’t for Amy), and yet it holds the best cinnamon rolls in the world.

Ten minutes later he’s knocking on Amy’s door. She’s surprised to see him, he notices by the way she frowns, but, with a ‘good morning’ which he echoes, lets him in anyway. There’s still time before she (and he as well) has to leave for work, something he learns by the fact that she’s still in her sleeping clothes - a tank top, a hoodie, and sweatpants. Everything’s going exactly as planned.

“Why are you up so early?” she asks, closing the door, and he can’t hold back a chuckle at her tone of pure surprise.

“I thought maybe we could have breakfast together,” he says with a shrug. “I owe you this.” He places the paper bag he’s been holding on the table in front of her. When she opens it to look inside, the smell of cinnamon fills the air. “I know it’s only one, but I guessed you wouldn’t eat ten at once.”

“Oh my god, I thought you were joking about the cinnamon rolls. I definitely wasn’t expecting you to buy me ten. You didn’t even have to buy me one.”

“I ate yours.”

“I gave it to you.”

“And I want to kindly give it back. Just accept it, Ames. I also brought you coffee,” he adds, carefully placing the cup with her coffee next to the paper bag.

For some reason this is what gives him away - she narrows her eyes and crosses her arms in front of her. “What’s going on?”

“Can’t I just bring coffee to my close friend on a fine morning like-”

What’s going on ?”

“I need your help.”

“What did you do?” she sighs. “You know what,” she adds before he has a chance to open his mouth, “I’m gonna get changed first and then we’ll talk. I don’t wanna be late for work.”

“You don’t have to be at work for like two hours,” he yells after her, the door leading to her bedroom closing softly behind her. “Also, what makes you think I did something?”

“Your track record.” Despite being in another room, he can still hear her clearly, her voice only barely muffled.

“That’s hurtful,” he says in mock offense.

“You wouldn’t be knocking on my door at this time with coffee and a cinnamon roll if you hadn’t done something stupid and really needed my help.”

“Fair enough,” he chuckles. “I would have waited till tonight, but there’s so much to do and so little time.”

“Do I wanna know what this is about?”

“Probably not, but you’re already involved in it so…” He sits at the table and takes a sip from his cup. He has to push away the bag containing the cinnamon roll in order to fight the temptation to steal a bit of it - it smells so damn good. “And, while the thing I did was stupid, I know for a fact that you would have done - have actually done - the exact same thing in a similar situation.”

“What are you talking about?” she asks, coming out of her room, now wearing dress pants and a floral shirt, boots on her hand.

“You might wanna sit down, and your coffee’s getting cold, and-”

Jake .”

“Right. So… um… do you think you can get next weekend off?”

Her eyes narrow and she slowly sits on the empty chair next to him. “Why?”

“Everything else depends on your answer to that.”

“I have Sunday off,” she says, pausing to take a sip of her coffee. “And I suppose I could convince my Captain to give me Saturday off as well if I tell him I’ll work for the next two weeks. Why?”

“I kinda told Gina we’re dating so she’d let me attend her mom and Charles’s dad’s wedding.”

What ?”

“Listen, I can explain. I was dating Sophia when I sent in the RSVP card and-”

“I know what happened, I was with you when Gina told you that you’d have to bring someone.” She tears the cinnamon roll in two, placing one half back into the paper bag and pushing it in his direction. “When you insisted you’d have a girlfriend to bring.”

“You were? For some reason I can barely remember that conversation. You can have it”, he says, pushing the bag back towards her. “Anyways, I’d completely forgotten the wedding’s this weekend, and Gina came over yesterday, and I really don’t wanna miss it.”

“I don’t want it,” she says, pushing the half cinnamon roll in his direction once more. “You have to eat something.” He looks at her for further confirmation before grabbing it and taking a bite - it’s just as good as the one he ate the day before. He doesn’t even like cinnamon rolls that much, but he’d eat a hundred of these anytime. “And you thought telling her we’re dating was a good idea.” It’s a statement, not a question, but she doesn’t sound nearly as angry as he had expected she would.

“Yeah,” he says with a shrug. “You get to go too, it’ll be fun.”

She sighs, leaning down to start putting on her boots. “Jake, lying to my mom’s one thing, but pretending to be dating at a wedding of all places is something completely different. Plus, your squad’s gonna be there and we’re gonna have to do more than hold hands if we want them to buy it.”

“You won’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”

“And what about Charles?” she continues without hearing him. “‘Cause I know he’s wanted us to date from the moment I met him. He won’t leave us alone. And what are we going to do after the wedding? Tell him we conveniently broke up? Then Gina will know it was all a lie. I thought we had agreed that lying - especially in a case like this - is just plain stupid.”

“Is that all?” he asks, slightly amused. After she nods and grabs her cup he says, “You said it yourself, Charles won’t leave us alone, which means we won’t have to be all over each other. And whatever happens after the wedding, it’s after the wedding. It all fits perfectly. I’ll deal with Gina and with everyone we would have to lie to.”

“I don’t know, Jake.” She’s subconsciously tearing the paper bag into small pieces which she then rolls into tiny balls. “This can go so much worse than with my mom. We would be lying to a lot of people, and I have a feeling this will blow up in our faces. You know I’m always down to help you, but I really do think this is a terrible idea.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” he sighs. He should have known he wouldn’t be able to convince her, that not even coffee and cinnamon rolls would do the job. “I should have thought about it before lying to Gina. I’ll talk to her - tell her the truth.” Maybe he can talk to Charles - he would certainly let him in with or without a date - but Gina would kick him out the second she saw him there, and there’s absolutely no way Charles - or anyone for that matter - can change Gina’s mind. It’s his fault, really; he shouldn’t have insisted so much on bringing Sophia, he should have (and he will never admit it out loud) listened to Gina. “I guess I’ll be working this weekend,” he says with a hollow laugh.

“You really want to go, don’t you?”

He nods once, his eyes fixed on the neat row of tiny paper balls on the table.

They both stay silent for a couple of seconds until she sighs in defeat. “Okay, fine.”

He turn to look at her with a sharp movement, almost losing his balance and falling off the chair. “You’re gonna do it?”

“I owe you, for when you helped me with my mom. But let it be clear that I think it’s a bad idea. Whatever happens will be one hundred percent your fault.”

“Deal,” he says without second thought, extending his hand for her to shake. She does and, for a split second, something takes over him, something that doesn’t want to let her hand go. He quickly pushes that to the back of his mind and brings his hand to the table, hoping she didn’t notice or didn’t mind the extra microsecond of the handshake.

She checks her watch before downing what’s left of her coffee, and, by her reaction, he assumes they still have some time to talk before she will needlessly want to rush out of the door. “What exactly did you tell Gina, by the way?” she asks, standing up.

“Not much, just that we’re dating. And that we didn’t want to tell people just yet, in case she decided to ask you about it before I got the chance to tell you what happened. Where are you going?”

“I have to do my hair and makeup,” she answers, now standing up next to the chair. “You can stay if you want to, we can talk things through.”

“What do you want to talk through?” he asks, standing up and following her.

“Really, Jake?” She enters the bathroom, leaving the door wide open, and moves until she’s standing in front of the mirror. “I literally just found out I’m attending a wedding this weekend - I don’t even know where it is, just that it’s not in the city because Charles won’t stop talking about it - and that I’m gonna have to act, something I’m not prepared to do in any shape or-”

“Okay, okay, I got you. We have stuff to talk though.” He decides to stay in the doorway, not wanting to intrude into her morning routine more than he already has. He watches as she gets her makeup bag, rummages in it and takes out what he guesses is what she will use, lining the small tubes on the counter. “What’s the first thing?”

“How are we gonna get there and when are we leaving?”

“I’m driving and I don’t have an exact time yet but Saturday morning. The wedding’s in the afternoon but we’re getting a room at the hotel and I wanna make the most of it.”

“Okay,” she says, applying something on her face and grabbing something else (even after spending his teenage years watching and helping Gina experiment with different styles of makeup he remains clueless to what things are and what they are for - except for concealer, that thing’s like magic). “What’s the dress code?”

“Um… I don’t know?”

She sighs, rolling her eyes. “What are you wearing?”

“Fun fact: I don’t know that either. Gina’s taking care of it. Just wear a dress and you’ll be fine,” he says with a shrug.

“I can’t ‘just wear a dress,’ I need to know what kind of dress. I’m just gonna ask Charles.”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, unless you want to explain to him why you’re going to the wedding.”

“Okay, then you ask Charles and you tell him why I’m going.”

“I’ll ask Gina.”

She puts down the eyelash thing she has just started to apply and turns to face him. “You’re gonna have to tell him eventually.”

“Yeah, when we get there and he sees you. I need to mentally prepare for his reaction.”

She turns back to face the mirror with a sigh. “Are you sure you want to do this? You’ll be lying to many of your friends. My mom still makes not-so-subtle comments about it, and that happened ages ago.”

He shrugs as she gives her make up some last touches and proceeds to place all the tubes back in the bag. “They’ll be fine. I don’t think they’ll be angry if they find out the truth, and, if we pull it off, I’m gonna tell them, in, like, two weeks or something, that we decided to go back to being just friends because the whole relationship thing wasn’t working out.”

The brush she had just grabbed slips from her fingers, the noise it makes when it hits the tile floor echoing in the small room and becoming twice as loud. Before she can react to what’s happened, he’s standing next to her, brush in his hand.

“Thank you,” she murmurs, facing away from him the second he gives it to her. A moment passes - Amy brushing her hair, Jake watching her - before she speaks again. “I don’t think we’re gonna have to come up with a backstory for our ‘relationship’ but we do have to agree on some details.”

“Like what?” he asks, looking at her in the mirror. “When exactly we got together and all that?”

“Yeah, things we could be asked. I have to leave soon, though,” she says, placing the brush next to the sink. “Maybe we could have dinner together or something sometime before Saturday and sort that out.”

“Sure. You know you can come over to my place whenever.”

She nods, checking her reflection one last time before turning away from the mirror. He takes that as a cue to leave the bathroom.

“There’s something else,” she says when he finds himself in the doorway, and he turns to face her, eyebrows raised in a puzzled expression. “We have to agree on how far we’re willing to go to make the relationship believable.”

“I told you, Ames, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. We don’t even have to touch. You know how there are couples who barely touch in public and-”

“I don’t mind the touching,” she says, shaking her head. “I should have put it in a different way. Is there something off limits? Something that would make you uncomfortable? And I mean something appropriate to do in public,” she adds quickly, not giving his mind enough time to take a sharp turn straight into the gutter. “I know we discussed all this when we first did this, but, you know, a lot has changed since then, and we won’t be pretending just for a couple of hours like we did with my mom, it’s gonna be an entire weekend.” For some reason that he can’t point out, she’s not looking at him, her eyes fixed on a spot on the floor instead.

“No, I don’t think there is,” he answers although a part of his brain is still going through all the possibilities. “What about you?”

He watches as her cheeks turn a light shade of pink, her eyes still away from him. “I don’t think there is, either.”

“Cool. Cool, cool, cool. Okay. But, like, this isn’t something definitive, right? If you think of something you don’t want to do you can tell me - even when we’re there, if I go too far, you tell me and I promise I won’t do it again.”

“I know,” she says, her eyes meeting his and her lips curving into a smile that makes his insides flutter. It’s not that he forgets how beautiful she is (it’d be impossible to do that), but there are moments - like now, with the orange glow of the morning sun that’s coming in from the tiny window shining on her hair and her still somewhat sleepy smile - that it hits him like a punch in the face, taking him completely by surprise and bringing back everything he’s been pushing to the very back of his mind regarding her. It takes him a full minute but he comes out of it, all the thoughts back in the place where they came from. He can’t let them out for too long. He won’t be able to push them back if he does, and all that would result in is him getting hurt. Amy’s very clearly stated that she’s not interested in dating at the moment - it would be incredibly stupid of him to let his feelings for her loose. Feelings? What feelings? He doesn’t have feelings for her, not anymore. She’s his friend and that’s all she’s ever going to be. He’s cool with that - she’s the most amazing person he knows and he’s lucky that he gets to call her his friend.

An alarm going off is what eventually allows him to tear his gaze away from her. For a split second he thinks it’s her phone - the fifth alarm of the morning for whatever she still has to do - but then realizes that the sound is coming from his pocket and that his jeans are vibrating.

“It’s my wake up alarm,” he explains after dismissing it, a puzzled expression on Amy’s face. “I forgot to cancel it when I set the one for today.”

Your wake up alarm is my ‘leave for work or you’ll be late’ alarm,” she says, taking a step forward which he understands as a sign to exit the bathroom. “I don’t want to kick you out but I have to go.”

“It’s okay, Ames, don’t worry about it.” He moves straight to the table, the two empty coffee cups and the paper bag still on it. He picks everything up and throws it in the trash as she packs her puse and checks three times that everything’s there. “You’re gonna be like thirty minutes early, though, you know that, right?”

She answers with a shrug before checking her phone one last time and dropping it into her purse. “It’s better than being late. You should try it for once, considering that you’re already up and ready. Thank you for cleaning up, you didn’t have to do that.”

“It’s okay, and now that you mention it, I think I can squeeze in a short nap before leaving.”

Her eyebrows jump up in alarm. “Please don’t do that.”

He lets out a chortle at the seriousness of her tone, causing her to roll her eyes. “I’m not gonna take a nap so early in the morning,” he says, still chuckling, his tone teasing. “I’m not out of my mind.”

“Shut up.”

“I’ll go get ready so I can get to work early enough to have a little chat with the people from the night shift.”

“That’s actually a lot more productive than arriving late every day.”

“We’ve been through this a million times ,” he says with fake annoyance, his mouth curved into an impossibly wide grin. “I get there right on time. I’ve only been late like twenty times in the last year.”

“Twenty times is a lot,” she points out but he just shrugs. “I’ve never been late in the last year and I’d like to keep it that way.”

“Maybe you’ll get a world record or something for less late arrivals at work. Do they give you money if you get a world record? Should I try to set a world record?”

Jake , come on.” She’s unlocked her door and is holding it wide open, waiting for him to walk into the hallway so she can close it behind her. “Ask Charles, or Gina, or whoever about the dress code and get back to me as soon as possible, okay?”

“Yup,” he answers after she’s closed the door, the sound, originally soft, amplified by the emptiness of the hallway. It’s funny, he thinks, how he’s used to hearing that same sound almost every day at about this time from the inside of his apartment. He’s usually drinking coffee when he hears it, cursing the alarm that awakened him and his job for requiring him to be there so early and not allowing him to sleep for as long as he would like.

“And we’ll go over everything else when we have dinner together.”

“Yup,” he repeats. “Whenever we’re both home.”

“Before Friday, if possible.”

“Right,” he chuckles. “Don’t wanna leave everything for the last second.”

She rolls her eyes before turning around to lock her door.

“No, but seriously, Ames, thank you for agreeing to do this. You’re the best. The bestest of the best. And, you know, there’s no one else I’d rather pretend to date.”

“More like there’s no one else who would go along with it.”

“Yeah, that too,” he says with a smile. “But I do mean what I said. Next weekend’s gonna be awesome.”

“Yeah, as long as it doesn’t blow up in your face.”