Terry wrapped up the morning roll call with a check in on all active cases.
"Diaz, where are we on the bodega robbery?"
"Fits a pattern of recent stickups all over Prospect Heights. Me and Hitchcock are gonna stake out a couple of bodegas, catch the guy in the act." Rosa propped her feet up on the table in front of her, leather jacket squeaking as she tilted back, fingers laced behind her head.
"Hours and hours in a car with Hitchcock? Good luck. No offense, man." Jake leaned back in his chair and folded his arms, feet stretched out in front of him.
"None taken," Hitchcock chimed, fussing with the top button of his shirt.
"Different cars," Rosa clarified curtly. "A block apart."
"Boyle, what about the mugging by Grand Army Plaza?"
"Starting to look like insurance fraud by a Brooklyn College grad student." Charles shook his head sadly. "Gonna pull his financials and see what I can find."
"Good. Scully, you're Charles's second."
"Yes sir," Scully piped up from the back of the room, watching the coffee brew.
"Last, does anyone know what happened to the special high-protein cookies my wife made for me?"
"Those were cookies? I thought they were dog biscuits so I gave them to the K9 unit." Gina faked a sad face for a moment before giving up the ghost. "They were pretty gross." She returned to filing her nails idly while glancing at pages of a glossy magazine blatantly open on the tabletop.
Sgt. Jeffords sighed. "Meeting adjourned. Be careful out there."
"Santiago, Peralta, I need you in my office." Captain Holt nodded almost regally at them before turning to his sergeant.
Santiago and Peralta glanced briefly at one another before looking away quickly. Amy turned away and tidied already perfectly stacked papers before heading into Holt's office. Jake stuffed his hands in his jacket pockets and shuffled after her.
Holt walked in a few moments later, flipping through a file as he walked behind his desk. He glanced up when he noticed how tense the silence in his office was. Snapping the file shut, he sat down and folded his hands on the desk, giving both of his best detectives a long stare.
Jake was half-sprawled in the chair, legs crossed such that his right ankle was propped on his left knee, and his foot fidgeted. He leaned back in the chair, constructed nonchalance, with his fingers laced on his abdomen. By contrast, Santiago sat primly to the left, knees together, feet flat on the floor, hands clasped in her lap.
"I have an assignment for you two," Holt said at last, watching both of them carefully.
Amy looked down at her hands before meeting Holt's gaze with a determined look on her face. Jake looked at her with an inscrutable expression for a split second before looking back at the captain.
Interesting, Holt thought to himself, filing that away for later.
"Command has requested we allow the 27th Precinct in Manhattan borrow the two of you for a sting tomorrow afternoon. They're hoping to capture the team who held up a series of dance parlors in East Harlem, and they would like to borrow you two as an extra pair of eyes to look out."
"Plainclothes mission? Should we dress differently?" Santiago seemed marginally more relaxed, her hands open in her lap.
Holt nodded. "Yes. They hoped you two, as one of the few mixed-gender groups, wouldn't mind posing as if you were on a date."
Santiago's eyed widened, while Peralta's mouth turned down at the corners.
"Since you two have worked together pretty closely in the past, I assured command you'd be happy to pose and that you'd represent the Nine-Nine well." He raised one eyebrow slightly. "Was I wrong?"
"No, sir," both responded, though with nothing like enthusiasm.
Holt raised an eyebrow higher. "Did you both have other plans for tomorrow afternoon?"
"Just the usual: B&Es, a vandalism complaint, maybe get in some evidence locker dancing," Peralta responded dryly.
Santiago rolled her eyes. "Writing the three case reports you still have on your desk?"
Peralta looked at her for a beat. "Nah, those were for the end of shift."
"You always leave them to the last minute."
"Hey, if you put it off until the last five minutes, it only takes five minutes."
"And it looks like you only put five minutes into it." She scoffed and sat back in her chair. "Just don't mix up the evidence again."
"That was one time and--"
"So I'll just tell command you'll report to the 27th at 11AM sharp?" Holt cut in, tilting his head to the side slightly
Both of them froze.
"Uh, right, yes, of course, sir." Santiago stood. "Are we dismissed?" When Holt nodded, she walked the long way around her chair and out of the captain's office, Peralta walking out after her with a long sigh.
Very interesting, Holt thought, steepling his fingers and watching his detectives return to their desks.
There's no reason it should be this nice out, Amy thought, the sun beaming down on Sheep Meadow with a nonthreatening dazzle that would be infectious if Amy weren't having to stay vigilant. Her legs were stretched out in front of her and she slathered sunscreen on the length of them with a diligence that rivaled even her usual attention to detail.
"Do you need sunscreen, really?" Behind his Wayfarer sunglasses, Jake raised an eyebrow.
In spite of herself, Amy felt her expression sour slightly. "Skin cancer kills," she said imperiously, wanting to slap herself as soon as the words left her mouth. Lately it felt like she couldn't make better mouth around Jake, and not for lack of trying.
"Have you ever had a sunburn in your life?"
She paused. "No," she answered slowly, drawing out the syllable. "But I always wore sunscreen. My mom made me."
He gave her a long look behind the glasses, one that she found herself unable to read because the Ray Bans were too dark. "I bet you'd look good with a little bit of a tan," he commented blythely. "Better than the girls with the spray tans."
"High praise," she retorted, rolling her eyes. "I'm not orange, which is already an improvement."
He covered his mouth with a hand, but she caught the grin before he could hide it. She capped the bottle and stretched her arms over her head, rotating her neck and shoulders to alleviate the stiffness.
"Best assignment ever," Jake said, surveying the area, head turned away from her. "We don't have to do anything and we get overtime pay. This is the life."
There was a long silence, the sound of far-off traffic and shrieks of laughter from a group of college kids playing frisbee on the other side of the lawn the only real sounds.
"Are we ever gonna talk about it?" She asked, watching her toes wiggle in her gladiator sandals.
She heard him watching her, the way his breath hitched because he wasn't expecting her to be so direct. To be fair, she hadn't expected it, either. "Yeah, but…" He trailed off. "Rain check."
"Rain check," she echoed, glancing at him and tipping her chin. She idly picked at the blanket until her fingers bumped into the bottle of sunblock. "You should put on sunscreen, too," she suggested, tossing the bottle at him, voice deliberately teasing.
He caught it midair. "Worried about me, Santiago?"
"Hardly. I just don't want to listen to you whine about your sunburn. Or, worse, have to watch you peel." She shuddered and leaned back on her elbows, carefully surveying the park. Her legs were drying, the lotion turning clear.
"I'd look pretty good with a bit of color."
"You'd probably just turn red for three days and then molt, c'mon Peralta."
"Hey, give me some credit. I'm Sephardic, we don't burn that easily."
"What about last year, after your date with the girl at Coney Island?"
"Exposure happens to the best of us. You try being out in full sun for eight hours."
She smirked. "I would have worn sunscreen."
"Yeah, well, you're not wearing sunglasses."
She scrunched her nose. "Ew, no, glasses tan. Those are the worst."
He reached over and placed his arm around her waist, leaning in close. Amy felt her heart start to race. "Visual on our target," he said softly, holding his mouth close to her ear. "Two o'clock, with the dog."
"How do you want to proceed?" she asked, putting on a smile and running a hand up his arm. She could feel her heart still running, double-time.
He pulled her up and, with a tug, into his lap. She tried very hard not to deliberately overbalance them and pin him to the ground in a half-nelson, the way her brothers (and, later, the academy) had taught her. "He's headed toward the three cops from the 77th. As long as he doesn't change course, we'll just keep an eye on him."
She nodded and bent one leg, subtly bracing a foot against the ground if she needed to quickly stand and take down their mark. Jake saw this and ran a hand up her leg, and Amy felt her body open, one leg relaxing and a sharp intake of breath making her chest rise. Silently berating her traitorous limbs, she focused on keeping an eye on their target, who was continuing to walk down the path with the dog. Occasionally he would pat his jacket, as if checking for something.
"He's got a package," she murmured, running a hand up his chest. She could feel his heart beating through his shirt, as fast as hers. She wondered if it was the adrenaline or her.
"And he'll know we're checking him out if you keep staring at him like that."
"I told you, Peralta, I'm not giving myself the awkward glasses ta--" She cut herself off with a sharp breath, feeling the slight press of his mouth against her neck and his hands moving up her shirt. "Jake," she said sharply, voice soft.
"I've got a better line of sight on him," he replied, and she could feel the vibration of the words against her skin. "You get ready to call it in if we have to."
She felt his hands splay on her back. "What's he doing?"
"The dog is peeing on a fencepost," Jake replied, humor coloring his voice. "The guy is patting himself down again. Geez, doesn't he know he's surrounded by co--" He pushed her out of his lap, and she scrambled into something like a dignified seated position. "He's a decoy," Jake said, rummaging in her bag and grabbing the walkie talkie. "Do you see anyone else?"
She scanned the park quickly, noting a few other couples like them, a trio of college-aged guys throwing a Frisbee back and forth, a group of middle schoolers kicking around a soccer ball, a quartet of young women laying out for a tan, and a number of others looking innocuous, except for--
"Ten o'clock, middle aged guy wearing a heavy coat, newspaper, pageboy cap."
"That's gotta be him. Cover me, I'm gonna call it in." He turned on the walkie talkie and started talking into it. Amy shifted until she was blocking Jake from both targets' line of sight, pretending to reapply her sunscreen.
The guy with the newspaper folded it up and rose, walking leisurely up the path towards a bend.
"Jake," she said sharply.
"The team from the 36th is that way." He slid the radio back into her straw bag and stood. "C'mon. Let's follow him." He picked up her bag and stood, while she capped the bottle and dropped it in the bag. Then, she lifted the blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders, and they made their way down the slope toward the path. The man with the newspaper walked calmly down the path, giving them time to catch up.
Amy bumped her shoulder into Jake's and nodded subtly. Then she burst into bright laughter and ran down the rest of the slope. "Slowpoke!" She called over her shoulder, blanket billowing out around her like a cape.
He caught up to her at the concrete, free arm sliding around her waist, hand slipping into her back pocket. "Nice," he murmured.
She shook her hair out of her eyes and pulled the blanket into a more stable draping. "Let's keep an eye on this guy."
Jake nodded and slid his arm away from her waist, taking her hand instead. In his other hand, the straw bag swung back and forth.
Later, when they were back at their desks, both the decoy and the actual mark being processed by the 27th, Amy looked up to see Jake setting her bag and her neatly folded blanket on the edge of her desk.
"Oh, thanks." She paused. "Did you fold this into a square?"
"Maybe?" He shrugged loosely, the badge on the fan chain around his neck bouncing against his chest. "Anyway, I wanted to ask if you wanted to get dinner or something."
"Oh." Amy fiddled with the hem of her shirt. "I can't, I made plans with Kylie already." His expression faltered slightly. "Next time? As long as we don't go anywhere Charles would recommend."
He laughed. "Deal."
On the pitcher's mound, Amy blew a bubble with her gum, the bright pink sphere obscuring the majority of her face, her flat-brimmed hat shadowing her eyes. She flicked one of her braided pigtails over her shoulder as Rosa, the catcher, signaled what the next pitch should be.
At bat, the Seven-Eight's sergeant tightened her grip on the bat and fell slightly deeper into her batting stance. Positioned between second and third, Jake was on alert, ready to follow the ball depending on her hit, clothes dusty and grass-stained from the last four innings.
It was mid-July, and Prospect Park had never been a less welcome place to be. The sun beat down on the field as the Nine-Nine and the Seven-Eight squared off. The game had come down to this, the bottom of the fifth, bases loaded, and Amy resuming her place on the mound after Terry had pitched an inning and a half.
Amy felt a bead of sweat trickle down her spine, and she had to resist the urge to shake out her arms from the chills.
"No pressure," she muttered to herself.
The Seven-Eight's sergeant was a tall, broad-shouldered woman who had proven her athleticism and strength over the course of the game. Her last hit had gone straight for Charles, assuming he was a weak point in the outfield. Boyle had caught it but, during a team huddle between innings, had removed his glove to show them the bruise forming on his palm.
Rosa signaled for a changeup, a pitch Amy rejected. Beneath her hat, Rosa was clearly ready to be done. She offered a few other options that Amy successively rejected, knowing that they needed an out to end this game.
The first pitch flew right into the box, the torque allowing it to drop in the last yard, and the umpire called, "Strike one!" like he was in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. In the bleachers, Gina catcalled the umpire, a beat cop who coached softball for underprivileged kids in East New York, while Sharon, Cagney, and Lacey whooped and cheered on the Nine-Nine.
The second pitch was a curve ball, arcing wide before hitting Rosa's glove square in the center. The Seven-Eight's sergeant swung low, missing the ball entirely.
It was down to one pitch. The detectives both on and manning the bases were fidgety. Terry covered third and was outright intimidating the player camped out there. Charles, on first, was watching the patrolman on his base like a hawk. In the outfield, Scully and Hitchcock were weaving each other clover necklaces and flower crowns from wildflowers on the edge of the field. Det. Cook manned center field while Det. Kearns was covering second. And Jake was shortstop, a position he had immediately claimed as his when the inter-precinct softball tournament had been mentioned.
Amy willed her shaking hands to still, to ignore that unnerving feeling of a lot of eyes watching her all at once. She reflexively snapped her gun, the sounds carried off by the wind. Her fingers rotated the softball inside her glove, the stitches rough against the pads of her fingers.
"No pressure," she muttered, mitt obscuring her face. Rosa signaled the pitch and Amy nodded in agreement. At bat, the Seven-Eight's Sarge widened her stance and adjusted her grip, helmet shielding most of her expression.
Amy took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Around her, the noise started to mute, growing muffled, and her vision narrowed to the space between her and Rosa's glove. She took another breath.
Amy knew the millisecond the ball was out of reach exactly how it would turn out.
"Strike three, you're out!" The umpire called, waving his hands and continuing to be a caricature.
For Amy, it was like coming out from underwater. There was a rushing sound and suddenly her attention broadened, and the entire situation returned to her. The cheering from the bleachers was deafening. Cagney and Lacey clapped their hands with Sharon half-dancing half-cheering between them, while Gina was whistling and making her way onto the field, pushing past Scully and Hitchcock.
The two teams lined up and high-fived, congratulating each other on the game, before splitting up to join their cheering sections. Gina was practically bouncing in her sparkly high-tops, hair pulled back in a ponytail and sporting a mesh-backed NYPD hat. Terry's wife and kids immediately ambushed him, Cagney and Lacey proceeding to treat his legs like a jungle gym while Sharon and Terry shared a quick kiss to celebrate the victory.
Holt's husband, who looked remarkably casual in his polo shirt, khakis, and a wide-brimmed hat that was both dashing and flattering, came up and kissed Holt on the cheek, murmuring his congratulations. Amy had to stop herself from making dopey faces at them -- a compunction Charles did not share, given the hand pressed against his chest.
Jake was reenacting the most lively moments of the game with exaggerated effect for Cagney and Lacey when Holt's voice sounded over the group. "First round's on me," he called, and though his expression was as neutral as ever, Amy could tell he was proud of them.
"Should we invite the Seven-Eight?" Kearns asked, pulling his backpack onto one shoulder. The group turned to look at them, surrounded by family and civilian administrators alike.
"Nah," the other detectives chimed. They decamped to Shaw's, clustering in groups. Holt, Terry, Sharon, and the twins brought up the rear. Gina, Jake, and Boyle led the way, already discussing game highlights, with Kearns and Cook chatting amiably about their spouses and caseloads. In the middle, Amy and Rosa walked mostly in companionable silence, Amy glowing from how well she'd pitched. Her not-so-inner competitive streak was showing, but she couldn't care less.
At Shaw's, they ordered a round and toasted their win, the whole crew raising their glasses. Cagney and Lacey, with their sippy cups of juice, waved theirs around too in imitation of their parents.
"And to Amy!" Sarge called. The entire group turned to look at her, and she felt herself turning pink.
"Hear, hear," the others called, raising their pint glasses and bottles. Amy tipped hers in thanks and took a long pull of her drink.
"You were really good," Rosa said. "I didn't know you could play softball."
"I played until middle school," she admitted. "After that it was too hard to do that and all my homework."
"Too many AP classes?" Jake asked, joining their huddle.
"Basically," she admitted with a laugh. "I played pickup and intramural games in college, though." She shrugged loosely. "I was the relief pitcher, anyway. Sometimes I played outfield. I was okay."
Boyle came over, his summer saison in hand. "Amy, you were great," he said genuinely. "I don't think even our Sarge could have gotten out theirs."
Gina appeared at Rosa's elbow, seemingly out of nowhere. "Anyone else feel like they were looking at some kind of weird alternate universe version of us? That team was like a gender-reversed Nine-Nine."
The group paused to consider that.
"Their shortstop was a Jewish girl with big, curly hair," Jake said slowly.
"And their Sarge was almost as big as ours," Charles pointed out.
"But the girl pitching was definitely not Cuban," Amy pointed out. "Or male."
"Yeah, but after the game she said she brought canapés, so I think she was supposed to be me," Charles pointed out.
"What about that tall, skinny guy in the outfield?" Rosa took a drink. "Think he was me?"
"Probably," Gina said. "And there was this very upset guy who was just screaming through the game. I think he was me?" She almost sounded upset.
"But their captain--"
Terry cut Amy off. "Lt. Sawyers is a longtime member of Captain Holt's organization. She's been out about her partner since 2006."
"Oh," said the group, in varying tones.
"Then who was me?" Amy asked, looking around.
"Catcher," Rosa supplied. "Young kid, looked like your brother Julio."
"Dammit," Amy muttered.
On her right, Jake reached out and gently tugged on one of her braids. "C'mon, Santiago. It's not so bad." He grinned. Charles shot Jake a look over Amy's shoulder, and Rosa thumped Boyle on the arm. Amy felt every nerve ending spark to life. Gina gave her a look that Amy pointedly ignored.
Amy drained glass and set it on the table, moving out of Jake's reach. "Next round's on me," she said and moved to the bar.
"I'll help," Gina offered, finishing her drink as well. Amy resisted the urge to wince.
At the bar, Amy attempted to wave down the bartender, but the effort was futile.
"So," Gina started, voice sing-song. Amy could feel her muscles tense. "What was that with you and Jake?"
"It was nothing," Amy said flatly, waving her hand in vain.
"Really? Because it looked like something to me."
Amy rolled her eyes. "Whatever," she said, leaning further onto the bar.
She could hear Gina's mind whirring. "He's one hell of a kisser, isn't he?"
"You're gonna have to try harder than that," Amy replied tartly. "I have seven brothers, it's been done." She dared to turn around and glare at Gina.
For her part, Gina was beaming. "Attagirl. You two will suit just fine."
"Oh my god," Amy muttered, and turned around.
"Let a pro handle this," Gina said, pulling Amy back. She pressed up against the bar and the bartender was with her in a flash. Amy turned her eyes to the ceiling and mouthed, "Why," shaking her head. Dutifully, she handed over her credit card when Gina impatiently wiggled her fingers.
Amy signed the receipt against Gina's shoulder blade and carried half the round back to their table, Gina close behind with the rest of the order.
"Amy, wait," Gina called.
Amy stopped and turned, trying to keep from dropping the drinks. She gave Gina an impatient look, one that Gina wholly ignored.
"If you two were to get together, it wouldn't be the worst." Gina's gaze was serious and Amy felt like Gina could see all of her secrets.
Amy fidgeted. "Thanks?"
Gina beamed. "That's as close of a blessing as you're gonna get from me. If you break his heart, I'll kill you. Not joking." She pushed past Amy and cheered as she set the drinks down on the table, Amy dazed and right behind her.
Three hours into karaoke and Amy was pleasantly buzzed, sandwiched between Charles and Rosa, and multiple beers in. Terry was at the mic doing a moving rendition of 'La Vie en Rose' and Jake and Gina were flipping through the song book and queuing up songs for the rest of them to sing.
Amy and Terry had done 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart' together while Gina had given Amy a significant glance -- one Amy had steadfastly ignored and then drank to forget about.
Charles had picked that song from The Jungle Book and managed voices and all, and it had been terrible and endearing. Surprising no one, Rosa had done one song at the start of the night -- 'War, huh, what is good for,' she half-spoke flatly, zero inflection in her voice -- and the others had ended up chiming in over her anyway. Now she was pressed against Amy's right side, taking a long pull of her beer and half-smiling as Terry finished out his song.
Scully and Hitchcock had done a weirdly touching yet simultaneously creepy cover of 'I Got You Babe,' and everyone had chugged their drink after that in an effort to forget that had happened. The two of them were snoring in the far corner of the private room, leaning against one another.
Terry finished, the room applauding, and passed the mic onto Jake. This would be Jake's fifth song, and he'd picked hip hop and rap songs all night, and was clearly expecting another when Taylor Swift's 'Love Story' showed.
"Nope," he announced, trying to walk away from the screen and pass off the mic.
"Come on, Jake, you know the house rules." Gina grinned wickedly. "No backing out unless you don't know the song."
"And I know you know the song," Terry said, eyebrows raised and head tilted slightly.
"This is my nightmare," Jake muttered. Amy tamped down a laugh, reading his lips.
Begrudgingly, Jake held up the mic and practically crooned, not even looking at the screen. Sarge had been right; not only did Jake know the song, but he also had extra flourishes that he added in during the bridge.
By the first chorus, the rest of the room was singing along, loud and boisterous. Amy felt herself smiling, alcohol making her skin feel warm, the room crowded and dark and the music thrumming in her bones.
Gina stood up and sang with Jake into the mic, and he took her hand and led her through a simple two-step, turning her as the verse ended and the room joined into the chorus. When the lyrics, "Don't be afraid, we'll make it out of this mess," came up, Jake looked right at Amy. She'd taken a long drink of her beer in the wake of that look.
Sarge shushed everyone when the background music faded out and let Jake sing solo. Emboldened by either beer or the group's acceptance of the song and situation, he belted out the next verse, falling to both knees when Romeo did. That seemed to be a signal, and the background music came back with a rush, as did the group singing along.
"We were both young when I first saw you…" the room sang, as the song faded out and the end card came up. The room applauded, Gina whistling loudly, while Jake sarcastically took a bow.
"If you make do that again, I'll trash your place," he told GIna sweetly.
"Love you too, boo," she replied, voice as sweet as his.
The next song came on -- Dean Martin's That's Amore -- and Boyle stood up to grab the mic from Jake, who took over Charles's place on the bench.
"Good job, Pineapples."
He groaned and tipped his head back, rubbing his face with a hand. "That's the worst thing I've ever done."
She didn't even say anything, just raised her eyebrow at him.
"I can hear your skeptical expression, and it won't work. I stand by my statement." He pulled his hand away from his face and casually placed it on her thigh. She felt it, warm and heavy, through her jeans, and hoped the room was dark enough to hide her blush. Charles was off-key singing, "When you dance down the street with a cloud at your feet, you're in love," and Amy felt like she was suddenly aware of every inch of her skin that Jake was touching.
Jake had kept talking and was now saying something about his image being shattered. Amy felt Rosa roll her eyes.
"You're a big nerd, we've all been knowing this."
"Hurtful," Jake said, leaning forward and grinning at Rosa. Amy used the lip of the bottle of her beer to trace his arm. It made his fingers tighten on her leg.
"Get a room, you two," Rosa said, grinning, and Amy knew Rosa was drunk.
Jake laughed. "You're so drunk," he said, shaking his head.
"And you two have been weird." Rosa pointedly looked at both of them. "Weirder than usual. You should kiss and get it out of the way. Works for me."
"Oh my god," Amy muttered, finishing the rest of her beer.
Charles finished his song and half the room applauded. The next song's title card came up and Rosa bodily lifted her and pushed her forward, Jake's hand sliding off and away. Charles tossed her the mic and the opening bars of 'Yeah' by Usher started to play, Gina whooping. At her stricken expression, Terry leaped up and started dancing, which led to Gina, Jake, and Charles cheering. Shrugging, Amy started to sing along -- it wasn't like she didn't know the words.
When the song went into the rap section, the entire room started shouting: "Watch out, my outfit's ridiculous, in the club lookin' so conspicuous," and Amy held the mic away from her while she laughed and sang along with the rest of the room.
She was sweating in her bulletproof vest already. Beside her, the TAC team had the battering ram ready and were waiting on her signal. Behind her, Jake was similarly geared up, pistol in hand.
On the other side were two agents from Narcotics, trussed up in vests and goggles. All four of them had an earpiece in and weapons drawn. Further back, securing the perimeter, was the DEA, wearing windbreakers with their letters emblazoned on the back. One of them stood behind an open car door and held a megaphone.
"Han Seok Choi, we have you surrounded," the megaphone blared. "You're under arrest. Come out with your hands up."
They waited three minutes exactly, then the crackle came over the radio. "Go in!"
The battering ram made quick work of the doors and they were in, the TAC team moving first and clearing the rooms as they went through. Behind them went the four detectives, pistols drawn, moving precisely, looking for evidence and those who were named in the warrant.
Jake was leading down a hallway, Amy a few feet behind him, when there was a muffled explosion. The two of them stopped and looked at each other.
"What was that?"
"Nothing good," he replied grimly.
There was a whooshing sound, almost like thunder, and Amy grabbed Jake and pulled him into a cleared room just as a fireball blazed past, scorching everything its path.
"Shit," she heard him mutter and tamped down an hysterical giggle.
"All units, abort and evacuate. Chemical fire in the northwest zone, spreading fast,” came the radio.
"Where are we?" he asked her immediately, holstering his weapon.
She closed her eyes and pictured the map. "North-central."
"We need to move." He pulled up his wrist and reported their location to dispatch, jogging after Amy who led them east, then south down makeshift hallways.
There was a sudden, loud boom and Amy felt herself get thrown to the side, slamming into the metal fencing that served as walls in the warehouse. Her ears rang and her vision swam. Distantly, she could hear someone shouting her name.
Sound came back to her in a rush, and she sat up, gasping and coughing. Jake was kneeling by her and shouting her name over the dull roar of the fire burning. "Amy! Amy!" He swore and pulled up his wrist. "Officer down!" He radioed in their rough location, giving their badge numbers and landmarks around them..
"What the hell happened?" she asked, head throbbing. She pressed her forehead against her knees and took deep breaths.
"Secondary laboratory exploded, probably from the heat. You got caught in the blowback and slammed against the wall." With a surprisingly gentle touch, she felt him check her for injuries, his fingers sliding up her legs, then her arms, patting down her torso and running over her back. He tipped her face up and checked her neck and face. "You're gonna have one hell of a bruise," he said, pressing one finger against the goose egg on her temple. She hissed and he pulled back. "Dispatch says there's firefighters coming."
She shook her head, then grabbed his shoulder to stop the world from spinning. She pulled herself to her feet and holstered her pistol. "We should move. There's an exit 200 feet from here."
"We should stay put, the fire department is on their way," he insisted, grabbing onto her arm.
"Those doofuses?" She coughed and leaned into him. "Fires can double in size every seventeen seconds. We have to move or we'll run out of air." She steadied herself and looked at him, the glow of the chemical fires casting his face in deep shadow.
"Okay," he said after a heartbeat. "But we stick together."
"Duh, Peralta," she said, voice wry. They took off down the hallway, moving past metal fences that glowed dully red with heat, shifting to a commando-style crawl when the smoke thickened.
"How much further?" he asked, voice carrying through the noise.
She shook her head and kept moving until they both bumped an arm against the cinderblock wall that marked the warehouse perimeter. They rose to their knees and felt for the pushbar for the door, ducking to keep their heads under the smoke and haze.
Jake found it first. He grabbed her and pushed out into the dark, stumbling after her. EMTs were already on-site and the fire department's third engine rolled up. Both of them were coughing and their fronts were sooty, faces blackened with ash. Jake pushed her at the EMTs first. "She got slammed into a wall and was out for a minute," he said, mouth pressed into a flat line. They gave both of them oxygen masks and pulled off her vest, checking her over for injuries. One gave her a cold compress for the bump on her head while the other radioed in Jake and Amy's status to dispatch. They were sternly told to take deep breaths from the oxygen masks and given shiny foil blankets before the EMTs went to treat others.
Amy took a few long, slow breaths, closing her eyes and feeling her racing heart calm down. In front of her, the warehouse burned, flashes of it bursts of green as some chemical caught. She could see the shadows of others in the TAC team make it out, and the DEA crew were holding the perimeter.
She heard him move before she felt him, their legs pressed together from hip to ankle, shoulders bumping. He laid his brow on her shoulder and breathed deeply. She tilted her head, felt the soft edges of his hair against her cheek.
She closed her eyes and saw the fire blaze and listened to the commotion. She slowly blocked it out until all she heard was the slow, steady rhythm of his breathing.
"I'm glad you're okay," he said after a long moment. He laughed and she felt her entire body shake when he did so. "I'm also glad you got us out of there. Dying in a fire would have been the worst."
"Getting rescued by the fire department would have been even worse." She felt him smile against her shoulder even through the long sleeves of her blouse.
She could feel him gearing up to say something, the way he took a long, deep breath as if he were steadying his nerves, and she knew what was coming. “Don’t,” she said, cutting him off before he could say anything, a slight rising note to the end of the word. “Rain check,” she added, and she sounded tired even to herself, exhausted in the wake of her adrenaline rush.
He was still for a long moment before she felt him nod against her shoulder. She reached out and took his hand. In turn, he laced their fingers. They sat like that, in silence, until the two detectives from Narcotics and the DEA agent leading the raid came over for a debriefing.
They pulled apart, and she felt alone.
She was about to step out of the car when she felt his hand close around her forearm. The three-quarter length sleeve of her suit jacket rode up, and the wedding band on her left hand felt heavy and foreign.
"The second we get out of this car, we have to be in character," Jake said, eyes searching her face.
"I know," she replied, and ran over their story. Michael and Angela Dorman were a young couple married for five years and who had been having trouble conceiving for two. They'd been to every fertility doctor in the city. "Doctor" Janssen was their last hope. Sarge had coached them through their entire fictional history: how they'd met, when they started trying to conceive, even the current status of their sex life. At the last one, Amy had turned red, and Jake had made crude jokes until Sarge had glared at Jake. He'd sobered up and parroted back the correct answer in a suitably chagrined voice.
Sitting in the rental car outside the Prospect Heights office, however, Amy wondered if maybe their usual roles were reversed. He was looking at her seriously, and she took in his appearance: hair neatly parted and combed, both of them in good, formal clothes, and that wedding band on his left hand, large and gold even in the shadow of their car.
"This is super weird," she blurted out.
He grinned. "Yeah, I know, but do you really think anyone would believe Rosa and Boyle are a couple?"
She laughed at that. "But their fertility woes would have an obvious reason," she retorted, voice wry.
He laughed aloud, a slightly startled sound, and she took in the effect it had on his face. "C'mon," he said after a minute, letting her arm go. "Stay relaxed. You know the story, we rehearsed this a million times. And don't forget to call me Michael."
"Yeah, yeah," she said, and stepped out of the car, straightening her clothes once she'd slammed the passenger-side door shut, making sure the wire she was wearing didn't show. She was dressed sensibly in a pantsuit and low heels, with a chiffon blouse and a string of pearls around her neck. She had pulled her hair up and back in a chignon, with a few locks loose to frame her face.
Jake came around to the front of the car and without thinking, she reached forward and straightened his tie. What she didn't expect was for him to tuck a lock of her hair behind her ear and to set her necklace to be centered.
"Perfect," he said quietly.
"Thanks," she murmured back, smoothing down the lapels of his blazer.
He smiled faintly and pulled open the door of the clinic. "After you, darling," he said, and they stepped inside one after the other.
"Karl Janssen, mid-50s, runs a fertility clinic on 15th Street," Terry had outlined, pointing to photographs and a map.
"But?" Jake prompted, slumped in the chair.
"We're pretty sure he's a con artist. No medical license is on file for him in the state of New York, and we can't find any documentation for anyone by that name in natural medicine from before three years ago. He preys on yuppie couples who have trouble having kids. Treatments run ten to thirty grand, and have few successes." Terry's hands clenched. "He's preying on people who are desperate."
Amy had nodded. "What's the plan?"
"We're sending you two in as a married couple, to suss out exactly what he promises and what kinds of offers he makes these people." Terry pushed a plush box at them, the sight of which made Amy's stomach twist in a strange way.
"Mazel tov," Jake said flatly, opening the box to reveal the wedding bands.
"Try them on, if you need different sizes we can get them for you."
"How many of these does the department have?" Jake muttered, taking the smaller of the two and turning to her expectantly.
Surprised, Amy held out her left hand, and he slipped the ring onto her finger. It was a size too large.
"Looks like you need a size six," Terry said, and made a note on his pad of paper.
"My turn," Jake said and pushed the box at her. She lifted the larger ring and tested the weight of it in her hand for a moment before sliding it onto his waiting hand. He flexed his hand and brandished it at Terry. "Does it make my fingers look fat?" he asked sarcastically.
Terry ignored him. "Looks like yours is fine."
"When do we go in?" Amy asked, idly turning the ring on her finger.
"Next week. I'll be prepping you for the sting, and you'll both be wearing wires."
Forty minutes after they came in, they were seated across from the "doctor," having spent their time in the waiting room filling out the medical history forms together. From time to time, "Angela" had corrected what her husband was writing. For his part, "Michael" was filling everything out carefully in capital letters, using a blue pen to contrast with the black and white of the form. The waiting room itself had been utterly nondescript.
"It looks like a hotel lobby," Amy had whispered, right hand wrapped around Jake's right bicep. His writing hand stilled. "There's even tile."
"It's probably to make their wealthy clients feel comfortable," he murmured back. He tilted his head slightly and their foreheads touched, and she hummed, a sound low in her throat.
Now, seated across from the fake doctor (who looked unnervingly like Donald Sutherland in real life, Amy noted silently) they held hands and waited expectantly while he went through their questionnaire and forms.
“Thank you for meeting us, Doctor,” Amy had greeted.
“Just Karl, please,” he had replied. “We don’t stand on ceremony here.”
Feigning nerves, she looked around the office. There were no medical certificates, but there were photographs of nature scenes and a chakra diagram. On a banquette to the side was a glass jar full of flat, round volcanic stones, as well as a sizable zen garden.
Jake -- Michael, Amy reminded herself -- pressed a kiss to the back of her hand, keeping their fingers laced, drawing her attention back. She felt her skin prickle. Out of the corner of her eye, she noted that the quack-doctor watched them over the rim of his glasses.
"Mr. and Mrs. Dorman, you said you've been married for five years?"
"Yes," Amy replied. "But we dated for three years before that."
"And how did you two meet?"
Jake answered this one. "We met at a party. I was brought along by a friend of the host, and she went to college with the host's girlfriend." He looked at her. "I saw her messing with the stereo and knew I had to talk to her." She squeezed his hand, both in assurance as well as to tell him not to play it too brown. A teasing light entered his eyes.
"How long have you been trying to have children?"
She felt herself sober at that, and turned away from "Michael" to answer. "Three years," she said softly.
"We've been to the best clinics, but still nothing," he added, a bitter note creeping into his voice.
Janssen nodded. "And how old are you?"
"Thirty-four," Jake replied. "Angela is thirty-one in two months. It's how old my parents were when I was born."
"Are you taking any medications? Vitamins?"
They both shook their heads. "Not since we started trying," she added. "I was taking a supplement, but I stopped over a year ago."
"Hmm," Janssen said, resting his elbows on the desktop and folding his hands. "I suspect your natural energies are out of sync. Mrs. Dorman, do you orgasm each time you have intercourse?"
Amy felt herself redden. This hadn't been one of the questions they'd covered. "N-no," she stammered. "It's hard," she continued, flustered. "We have to time our lovemaking with my ovulation schedule."
"Kind of takes the romance out it," Jake added, voice caustic with sarcasm.
Janssen nodded solemnly. "It's a common complaint amongst my patients." He stood. "Please, follow me to the somnience lab."
Jake and Amy stood, and Jake let go of her hand, sliding him arm around her waist. She felt his lips at her ear. "You say when, primary."
She felt a rush at knowing he was letting her lead up this case. She met his eyes and tipped her chin slightly. "You too," she mouthed, and he nodded the slightest fraction. The doctor stopped in front of a plain door labeled, "Somnience" and turned to them. "Here at the Janssen Clinic, our methods are a little unorthodox. However, our clients find that the techniques are extremely rewarding. I ask you to approach our methods with an open mind."
"We'll try anything," Amy replied, the slightest note of desperation creeping into her voice.
Janssen smiled. "That's what I like to hear," he said, and pushed the door open. Inside, the room was done like a standard bedroom, a king bed in the center and typical bedroom furniture arranged around the perimeter.
"Um," they both said, situation entirely unexpected.
Janssen chuckled. "I assure you, it's not what you think. We're going to check your energies by having you show us your usual sleeping positions."
"Not as reassuring as you think it is," Jake retorted.
"You'll be clothed," Janssen said, placatingly. "It's purely for me to read your chakras and energy flows. We want to ensure that you two are in perfect harmony. I won't even be in the room."
"Still not reassuring," Amy muttered.
Janssen turned to her, his expression benevolent, but his gaze arresting. "Mrs. Dorman, you've had multiple physicals, taken innumerable drugs, tracked your ovulation cycle down to the minute, and been asked a battery of invasive questions. All I'm asking is for you two to take a nap together."
Amy blinked. "A nap?"
Janssen nodded. "Just a nap. Surely with all the stress you've both been under, a nap sounds refreshing?"
"He's got us there," Jake said. Amy turned to him and searched his face. He shrugged slightly. "A nap. A monitored nap. It'll be like kindergarten."
She grinned at that. "We stay clothed?"
"Please do," Janssen nodded. "Though feel free to divest yourselves of shoes and jackets." He stepped back through the doorway. "I'll be back in an hour. A chime will alert you ten minutes before I knock." He smiled again and pulled the door shut.
They looked at each other for a second.
"Take off your jacket," he said seductively, on the edge of laughter.
"You first, big boy," she retorted, kicking off her shoes. She had barely slept all week, obsessing over this assignment.
He laughed but obliged, shrugging off the blazer and pulling off his tie. He laid both across the back of a chair, then stepped behind her, slipping his hands into the collar of her jacket and pulling it off her shoulders and down her arms. It left her in the tangerine chiffon blouse and gray slacks, the Mandarin collar split to reveal the string of pearls she wore -- a good set of fakes she had bought in Koreatown years ago.
He folded her jacket in half and laid it on the seat of the chair, then sat at the edge of the king size bed, testing it. "Springy," he said, a wry note to his voice, and toed off his shoes.
"MIchael," she chided and sat on the other side, her stockinged feet sliding against the coverlet. Before she could react, he reached over, hand behind her far knee, and pulled her fully onto the bed. She was curled on her side, and he was flat on his back, head turned towards her.
"Forty minutes," he said quietly. She watched his chest rise and fall. "That's not that bad."
"We're in overtime anyway," she replied, flushing slightly with pride over the double entendre. She was sure the Sarge was rolling his eyes out in the surveillance van.
His hand reached out and the backs of his fingers traced the line of her cheek and down her neck, thumb tracing her collarbone through the material of her shirt.
"I'm the big spoon," she declared, covering up her reaction to his touch with courage she didn't quite feel. He raised an eyebrow at her but turned over nonetheless. She scooted closer and pressed her cheek into his back, one arm going around his waist and the other under her head. Listening to the steady sound of his breathing, she felt herself nod off.
When the tones sounded -- like a wind chime and a beaded curtain moving together -- she opened her eyes and saw the smooth ceiling of the fake bedroom. She inhaled and felt a weight on her chest, the edges of her vision dark and fuzzy.
It struck her that it was hair, and the image resolved: Jake half on top of her, head on her chest, one arm around her waist and one leg between hers. One of her arms was under the pillow while the other was splayed on his back, and her blouse was coming untucked. Groaning softly, she shifted and shoved at his shoulder.
"We have to get up," she said, voice lower than usual. "Come on. Ja-- Michael." She was grateful to have caught herself, more so when she felt his weight shift off of her. She sat up, feeling the mattress shift, and blinked blearily around the brightening room.
His hair was in disarray, and his shirt was wrinkled, but even rumpled he looked like Michael Dorman, and she had to grin at that. He caught her expression and grinned back. "Good morning, darling," he greeted, voice rough and pitched low. It made her nerves spark to life. "Did you sleep well?" he asked, voice droll.
"Not as well as you," she retorted. "I think I heard you snore."
"Lies and slander," he said, but he undercut himself by yawning in the middle of 'slander'.
Emboldened, she reached out and tidied his hair, smoothing it down. He closed his eyes and leaned into her touch, making a soft sound when her nails raked against his scalp. "Come on, he'll be here any second," she reminded him, and pulled her legs up, one foot braced on the ground to stand.
He mirrored her actions, and they stood facing each other at the foot of the bed, half-laughing as they helped each other get dressed. She re-tied his tie, and he repinned her hair, and Amy wondered how much of it was them and how much was the act.
He was holding her jacket for her, gallant to the end, when the knock at the door came. “Come in,” Amy called, shrugging it on and sliding her feet into her shoes.
Janssen came in, all smiles. "You've done wonderfully."
"How do our energies look?" Jake asked, a touch of cynicism in his voice.
Janssen ignored his tone. "I'll need some time to look over the readings. Have my assistant set up your next appointment." He led them out of the false bedroom, a young woman in a smock and carrying linens slipping in after them.
It became part of their routine: work their cases, change clothes, pretend to be married. Janssen had them do various strange, utterly domestic activities. Aside from nap time, they put together a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle, watched a movie, and even made a grocery list.
The fifth visit, as they pulled into the parking lot, Amy grabbed Jake's forearm. "We don't have a lot of time left on this case," she said. That stupid wedding band looked foreign on her hand, still. "I think we should get sneaky."
"How?" He frowned, and Amy felt like the world was upside down. "They give us tasks and monitor us for an hour or more. If we try to leave or look around, they'll know." He drummed his hands on the steering wheel.
"Well, right now we're not getting anywhere -- either in the case or with the treatments. He hasn't promised us that we'll have a kid, hasn't prescribed us any medication, hasn't given us anything to eat or drink that was suspicious." She let his hand go and toyed with her ring, rotating it around her finger. "If we were actually the Dormans, we'd be pretty frustrated by now."
"He hasn't charged us, either," Jake pointed out. "All we've done is--"
"Go on dates," Amy interrupted, realization dawning in her voice. "We're dating."
He shot her a look. "Michael and Angela are dating. Again."
She stared unseeingly at the dashboard of the car, mouth turning down at the corners. "Why would he have a prospective target date before he fleeced them of cash?" She kept toying with her ring, thumb rubbing along the smooth band. "None of this makes sense."
"We're also late, darling." He raised an eyebrow at her and pulled on the latch for the door, opening it before she could say anything.
"It's porn," Jake said flatly.
"They're making porn," Amy clarified.
At the rendezvous point, Terry and the two other officers he brought with him gaped at them. Amy was certain it was as much at their words as it was at their appearance. Amy knew she was disheveled, her hair tousled and her makeup smudged. Her blouse hung loose, and her face was flushed. She could feel her heart still racing, artificially stimulated. Beside her, Jake was in an equally bad state, shirttails untucked and the lower half of his shirt buttoned sloppily. One button was missing entirely. His tie laid flat and undone around his neck, his hair was in disarray, and his countenance was pale. It made his eyes and mouth look darker.
Amy looked back at Sarge and tried very hard not to think of Jake's mouth.
"It's a holistic medicine fertility clinic!" Terry said, his voice coming back to him. "How could they be making porn?"
"With a camera?" one of the other officers offered, headphones sliding off his head slightly. The three detectives glared at him, and he quickly turned back to the equipment, pretending to fiddle with some settings. The other officer shook her head.
"The fifth stage of the 'treatment' is a return to the 'nap room' from the first visit." Jake sarcastically made air quotes with his fingers.
"The fifth date," Amy corrected, shaking her head. The emerald satin blouse had a boat neck and was fitted like any other blouse she owned. It was on the edge of too much sensation for her, given how it slid against her skin. The world was in hyper-sharp focus; Sarge had inhaled seventeen times. "Janssen gave us a bottle and told us it was a room spray, to relax us."
"Spoiler alert: it's not," Jake cut in. He rubbed the back of his head and paced away, returning in three long strides. "It's some kind of--of--"
"Pheromone spray," Amy finished, already red and past the point of caring. "Something."
"Janssen told us to use five or six pumps on the room."
"We used two."
"We shouldn't have used it at all."
She pressed a hand to her forehead. She felt warm. "But we were being watched."
"How do you know?" Sarge was watching them like a tennis match. They were practically finishing each others' sentences, and Amy knew he was worried; it wasn't like them to lose their cool like this.
"Janssen showed up photos from the first session," Amy explained. "There's some camera that he said only took one frame every minute."
"So we knew we were on tape." Jake blew out a frustrated breath.
"We're lucky we didn't use as much of it as we were told to. It--" Amy swallowed. "It felt like I was in someone else's body."
"Angela Dorman's," Jake answered bitterly. "By the time we managed to get control of ourselves, at least ten minutes had passed. We got out of there as fast as we could."
"They're luring people in by promising an alternative fertility treatment. Once these couples are in, they get set up to have sex and are taped."
"If the 'treatment' works, it's because whatever was in that bottle is nearly irresistible." Jake clenched his fists at his sides. "If we'd used any more..." he trailed off.
Amy shivered. "But it's married couples, ones who probably haven't had sex except to procreate in over a year." Her frankness made Terry's eyebrows rise. "The couples probably get charged for their sessions after they have sex, while they're too blissed-out to argue."
"Or it's extortion," Jake added.
"Whatever," she said, folding her arms. "The point is, we didn't stick around for the bill."
"If their 'fertility' treatments are working, it's pure, dumb luck," Jake added, attempting to rebutton his shirt correctly.
"In the mean time, they're making sex tapes and cornering the market on married couples." She paused. "Or something," Amy finished lamely.
Sarge stood, his size suddenly imposing. "We need to take you two to a hospital right now."
"We're okay, really--" Jake started, trying to be placating.
"You got sprayed with a mysterious substance that left you insensate for ten minutes or more, and you think you're okay?" He glowered at both of them.
"Yes, sir," they both mumbled, knowing they didn't have a choice.
The hospital had been an exercise in patience.
Her intensity of focus meant she noticed everything around her. Jake was worse off, his gaze flitting from person to person and taking in details. Fortunately, their symptoms had been diagnosed quickly: amphetamines and testosterone. The nurses and doctors had explained that the overstimulated feeling was to be expected with amphetamines, including the sensitivity to touch and sound. The testosterone explained the aggression and rush of lust. After a dose of Nembutal, they were allowed to leave, with orders to rest -- an order Sarge had backed up.
She lingered outside the precinct, purse on her arm and feeling unsettled, when Jake appeared, bag slung over his shoulder. "Oh," she said, and they looked at each other for a long moment.
He rocked on his heels for a moment. "It's weird to be out of work before it's dark," he blurted out. "Like, what am I, a banker?"
She laughed, the sound brittle. "Yeah, right." She smiled, a little chagrined. "Sorry I popped the button off your shirt."
He shook his head. "Having pins pulled from your hair like that had to hurt." He looked sheepish.
"Not really, it was so fast, I didn't even feel it." She remembered the way she had pulled his shirt up, fingers itching to get against his skin, to feel him touch her, how scary it had felt to not be in control of herself.
"Hey," he interrupted, as if he could hear her thoughts. "It wasn't you." He touched her arm, then pulled back. "It was Angela."
"And Michael?" She raised an eyebrow. "You know they're not real, right?"
In the fading light outside the precinct, the yellow exterior floodlights just turning on, he looked terribly serious. "Maybe they were, for a little bit."
She searched his face for a long moment before nodding in understanding, and took the out he was offering. "Yeah. Maybe you're right."
It had been a long day, with more calls than usual, and Amy fell into her desk chair with a sigh, tilting her head back and closing her eyes. Her moment's rest was interrupted by Jake swearing under his breath, then him shuffling files.
Tamping down a groan, cracked one eye open. Across from her, Jake was gathering his stuff, which included one of the department's DSLRs and a field notebook. She sat up and leaned forward. "What are you doing?"
He paused, then looked around the precinct. The room was largely empty, and Holt had departed for the day. He came around his desk and sat in the chair that perps and citizens usually occupied as she took their statements. "I've been working on a case in my free time," he said, voice soft, as if he didn't want to be overheard.
"When?" she asked, genuinely confused.The Janssen clinic bust had been in addition to her usual workload, and Amy had felt overextended.
"Nights, weekends, between cases," he said shrugging, and flipped through the notebook. "This has to stay between us, ok?"
He turned the field notebook towards her, it open to a page of notes in his messy handwriting. "I think Lucas Wint is using the Brooklyn Community Center to launder money."
It was Gina who had told her what to do.
Fumbling, Amy had responded, sitting up on her couch and hitting pause on her Matlock marathon.
You're sure? The agent said it could be another day.
The response was almost immediate and was several emoji faces expressing degrees of disgust -- whether at Amy's questioning or use of grammar and punctuation was anyone's guess.
Gina's follow-up response, however, was all text.
he's definitely done. i dropped him off at home myself.
Amy paused for a moment, considering her response.
Think he's hungry?
Her phone chimed almost immediately. starving!!! Then there was an animated gif of an anime character shoveling rice into their mouth.
An hour later, she found herself standing outside his apartment door holding a bag full of breakfast foods, the setting sun be damned, and hand raised to knock.
She could feel the adrenaline running in her veins, and her hand shook slightly. She took a long, steadying breath, and rapped on the door, inadvertently using her police knock.
There was a muffled thump followed by some cursing, then the sound of footsteps. "Dammit, Gina," she heard him call through the door. "I thought you said you had dance class ton--" He paused when he saw her, clearly startled. He'd answered the door barefoot, wearing a gray shirt and green-and-blue plaid boxers. His slightly-too-long hair was a messy mop of curls. "Uh, hey," he greeted, trying so hard for casualness that she couldn't help but smile.
"Gina texted and said you were done getting deposed by the US Attorney, so...I brought you breakfast." Her smile took on a slightly nervous edge when he didn't respond, expression unreadable. "It's your favorite," she added, finding herself moving into babbling territory. "Pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, rye toast, that fancy jam you like--"
"What are you doing here?" he asked, interrupting her. He leaned against the frame of the door, arms crossed.
She closed her mouth, the panicked feeling slowly receding. "I….you're my partner, Jake. That means something." She swallowed hard.
He shook his head. "I want more."
She tamped down the fluttery, panicky feeling in her chest. "Still?"
"Yes, yes, I do." His mouth tilted up slightly. "I'm cashing in those rain checks. We kissed, stuff's happened, and I can't stop thinking that we'd be great together. I mean, we could be amazing. I….I thought about it a lot when I was on assignment." He ran a hand through his hair.
"We already are, you know. Great, we're already great," she said, shifting her weight nervously, a smile skittering across her features.
"Yeah, but, you know, romantic styles." He shook his head and pushed off the frame, standing straight. "Go home, Amy. I'll see you at work in a couple of days." He moved to shut the door.
Amy reached out and pushed the door back, not letting it close. Her mind was filled with static as she counted heartbeats and took a long, slow breath. "Jake. Let me in."
He pulled the door back and stepped forward slightly. "If you come in," he said, eyes bright and burning, hands braced against the doorjamb, "You aren't leaving. You know that, right?"
She looked at him for a long moment. His expression was hopeful but largely resigned, as though he were certain she would call his bluff and leave. She opened her mouth, then shut it again and swallowed past her nerves. Carefully, she took one step forward, then another, until she was past the threshold of his doorway. Jake had stepped back, letting the door go, and Amy shifted so it could slam shut behind her. There was a long beat of silence.
She set the bag down and faced him, hands worrying the hem of her blouse.
"Take off your shirt," he blurted out, slapping a hand over his mouth the second the words were out.
She tilted her head and raised her eyebrow at him slightly but complied, undoing one button at a time until it could slip off her shoulders to the floor. She was thankful she'd splurged on the cherry blossom print bra when she heard him let out a long, slow breath. She took a step forward.
"Now the shorts?" His voice was hesitant, and he took another step back, keeping space between them.
She reached down and undid her fly, the cutoffs pooling at her ankles. She kicked them aside and took another step forward.
"Hair tie," he said, voice firmer. This time, when he stepped back, he was on the second and third steps to the loft, and she stood at the base of the ladder.
She grinned in spite of herself. Reaching back, she pulled her hair out from the ponytail and shook it out. It fell in a curtain across her neck and shoulders.
She took a step forward, one foot braced on the bottom of the ladder. "T-shirt," she demanded, pointing at it. He backed up a stair and swallowed. Amy watched the Adam's apple move in his throat and had to stop herself from licking her lips. He reached back and, with a few tugs, pulled the shirt off and threw it over the railing to the side. Amy let herself stare, the dusting of short, curly dark hairs on his chest giving way to the planes of his abdomen, standing in shadow in the slanting light. He inhaled and Amy watched his chest expand, saw his hands clench, and felt her own heart race.
He backed up several more steps, until he was just a couple away from the landing, and she followed, standing within one step of him, close enough to feel the heat radiating off of him. "Bra," he said, this time his voice pitched low.
Without hesitation, she reached back and undid the clasp, sliding the straps off one at a time. She lifted her hands and let it fall, stepping forward even as he backpedaled, keeping an ever-closing gap between them until the backs of his calves hit the bed. He held out a hand and she took it, and he pulled her toward him even as he tipped back, other hand catching himself as fell.
She crawled over him as he clambered back, until his entire body was on the mattress and she loomed over him, knees straddling his hips and hair brushing his chest. He reached up with one hand and pushed the dark fall of her hair back, fingers tangling in it. "I can't believe you--"
"Yeah," she said, grinning. "Me either?"
He laughed, and she felt the way his abdomen tightened when he did, felt her hands vibrate with the sound of it. He tugged her closer and kissed her, mouth insistent and tongue pressing into her mouth. She made a soft sound in the back of her throat and ran her hands up his chest. For his part, she felt his fingers trace up her spine, and she shivered in spite of herself.
He broke the kiss. "Are you cold? My building hasn't turned on the heat yet and--"
She barely resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Stop." She reached out and encircled his forearm with her hand, sliding up until their hands were clasped. "It's us. It's gonna be okay."
He squeezed her hand back. "Yeah?"
"Yeah," she repeated firmly, then tipped over so that he was on top of her, bending one leg at the knee to bring him closer. She felt as much as she heard him inhale sharply. "And, you're plenty warm for both of us."
"Santiago, did you just call me hot?" His wide mouth smiled and she allowed herself to anticipate its uses.
"Shut up and kiss me, Peralta." She slid her hands over his shoulders and toyed with the short hairs at the nape of his neck as he kissed her, and the weight of him pressed her into the mattress.
bonus: deep sea trench
When he woke up, he reached for her blindly and found himself alone.
He sat up, confused, and ran a hand through his hair. He remembered falling asleep half on top of Amy, his cheek pressed into the space between her shoulder blades.
He pulled on the cast-off boxers and made his way down from his loft, rubbing at his eyes with the back of his hand. In the kitchen, Amy was standing in front of the stove, his cast-iron skillet on the burner, nudging an omelette with a spatula. She wore his gray t-shirt and the panties he'd pulled off of her last night, and her hair was messily braided over one shoulder.
She glanced up at him and smiled. "Hey." She gestured at the skillet with the spatula, then at the open take-out containers scattered across his counter. "I'm reheating the dinner I brought." She laughed lightly. "I guess I brought you breakfast after all."
He came up behind her and wrapped both arms around her waist and pressed a kiss to her shoulder before tucking his chin over it. "I thought you'd left."
Her free hand covered one of his. "Nah," she said, and flipped one of the omelettes over. The underside was slightly browned. "I'm stuck with you." She squeezed his hand.
He pressed another kiss against the side of her neck. Her head tilted to the side and her eyes closed. "I'll make the coffee this time."