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July already feels so far away.

Jake has been gone for three months and four days now and part of Amy is terrified that he’s never coming back. She, of course, knows, with her logical brain, that this isn’t true. But it’s hard, in the face of adversity, to keep her bravado up. For herself, for the squad-- it just isn’t looking like they’re any closer to getting a hold of goddamn Jimmy Figgis.

She misses Holt.

She misses Jake more.

She’s not quite sure what it is, exactly, that she misses most about him. She knows she loves him, loves him more than she’s ever loved anybody else in the entire world, more than she loved earning her place at the adult’s table at Thanksgiving against her older brothers when she was little (and that’s a lot). She thinks she misses him just being there-- Jake Peralta, a constant; annoying her, kissing her cheek. Bumping her with his elbow in the elevator, sliding his paperwork over her desk for her to proofread. Jake Peralta, strong enough when everyone else couldn’t be; for himself. For Karen Peralta. For the squad. For Holt. For her.

For her. For her. For her.

In New York, it’s October 13th and it’s chilly. It rained earlier and the pavement is proof of it. Her car is damp and the shoulders of her jacket are lightly water-stained and for once she doesn’t care that much.

Amy Santiago finds herself inside of Jake’s shoebox apartment and she misses him more than she ever thought she was capable of.

It’s an overwhelmingly physical reaction. She’s been avoiding coming into his apartment since she found out he was gone.

“Gone leavin’,” Gina’s voice cuts, and she can see through all the blue in her eyes that she’s trying, trying, trying not to cry, because her best friend, her childhood companion is gone, she can’t help, and she has no idea what to do with herself.

Here, in Jake’s apartment, she mourns him. Amy mourns him in a way that she hadn’t yet let herself this entire time. The studio space smells like him-- the incense he’d grown fond of since his mom gave it to him as a niche birthday gift, his cologne, vaguely of vanilla from her perfume being sprayed within the space so many times. Home, it smells like home, it smells like Jake, and Jake is home.

He’s gone. The lights are all off, his bed is unmade from the morning he left last, his shoes are a mess on the rack next to the door, his laundry is undone. The lights strung against the brick behind his frameless bed have burnt out, the batteries in the pack that power them on having died months ago.

Nothing has changed since Amy walked into the apartment, but here, in his shoebox, Jake feels more gone than he has in months.

She lays on his bed and lets the lumps in his mattress envelope her in ways that could never rival his arms. His pillows smell like his shampoo and she can tell which one he favors from the wear in the stuffing inside-- it’s the one on the right. She makes a note to, when he gets back (and there’s a small part of her that screams if just then) to take him shopping for new pillows.

Charles is crushed. “I didn’t get a goodbye,” he says, and his voice is so sad that Amy takes more pity on him than she does herself in that moment. Jake is Charles’ best friend, he looks at him like he actually hung the stars (she thinks he might’ve). “Me either,” she says, and the look on his face is what breaks her heart for the third time that day.

Voicemails.

Amy had been actively avoiding going through hers to the point where she shut her box down. She didn’t want to get any more and lose the ones from Jake she was saving. Saving for something like this, she thinks to herself, and then her mind goes back to the six months where he went undercover and she was with Teddy Wells, wishing his voice was Jake’s voice and his I love you’s were Jake’s I love you’s, unable to pull her mind from anything but her detective partner’s confession outside the precinct while they were already forbidden to speak to one another.

She clicks play. The message is from July 1st. Jake was out drinking with Terry and Charles, celebrating an impossible solve.

“Hey,” his voice is gritty through her phone speakers but it’s his voice, and it’s so comforting right then, here in his bed without him, surrounded by Jake without Jake being here.

He is fucking hammered. Terry had told him repeatedly to stay off of his phone, he’s gonna say something stupid, he’s gonna send a text he regrets, he’s going to take pictures that’ll get him fired.

“I won’t!” is his proclamation, and he doesn’t.

He is way too wrapped up in the miracle that is Amy Santiago that his enebriated brain won’t shift focus to anything else. If Bruce Willis walked into Shaw’s right then, he wouldn’t care, because he was in love.

(He might care a little.)

Leant against the cool brick outside the bar, it’s quieter here. Amy doesn’t pick up her phone-- which makes sense, because it’s 2am and she sleeps like a normal human being with an early job. “Hey,” he says, and he can hear his own smile despite not being able to see it, “I know you’re sleepin’, and that’s fine. But I’m very drunk. Like, Amy, I’m super drunk right now, and all I can even think about is you.

I kinda wish you were here? I know it’s guys night. Whatever. You should be here. You helped s-so much with this case, even if the collar isn’t yours. Should be. You’re so smart. Y’know? You’re so smart. And I love you. Not even just ‘cuz you’re super hot, but your brain is super hot. Not your actual brain-- those are kinda gross, dude. But you know what I mean. I wish you were here, though. It’s not the same without you. This is so gross, you’re just asleep. I’ll see you in the morning. I love you so much.”

He hangs up.

In the morning, he doesn’t remember sending the voicemail, and Amy doesn’t bring it up. She keeps it to herself, a quiet secret for her to keep.

“I love you so much,” voicemail Jake says, and it fills the apartment up to the ceiling. It doesn’t fill her chest up as much, but it pokes the fire in her heart enough to will her to keep burning on another day. If not for herself, for him.

It’s suddenly solely her responsibility to bring him home.

In Florida, it’s October 13th, it’s far too miserably hot for it to be autumn, and Jake Peralta is awake in his too-big bed. Next door, Captain Holt sleeps.

In the morning, he’ll miss Amy again, a little more than he did yesterday.