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denial isn't just a river in egypt

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i.

The first time it happens, it's definitely not a lie.

It's sometime in the first month of her being assigned Jake's partner and they're sort of undercover at a fancy restaurant trying to bust a prostitution ring boss. He didn't get the memo (or conveniently forgot) that he has to wear a suit and tie, so he comes in the restaurant in dark jeans, dirty Nikes, and a plaid shirt. It sufficiently makes her cower in her chair, because A) she does not want to be seen with this thirty-something manchild and B) he makes her feel a thousand times underdressed in her nice heels and nice dress that Kylie convinced her to buy when she was wallowing over a breakup. 

“What are you wearing?” she violently whispers across the table at Jake. He just looks at her and smiles, all cool and laidback, slouching back in his chair.

“What? This is my nice shirt. There's no holes in it or anything.”

She stares at a gaping hole right by the bend of his elbow. “Really.”

He follows her trail of sight and chuckles. “This is not even the worst of it, Santiago. Trust me, this is the best thing I got.”

It's all she can do not to just bang her head against the table right then and there, because all she can think is why god why.

He looks at her like he knows what she's thinking and grins that dopey grin that she's coming to despise and he flips open the menu, humming a song to himself (she's pretty sure it's that catchy Katy Perry song), and every so often, he glances around at his surroundings before flicking his glance back down. If she wasn't a trained detective, she wouldn't have noticed it. 

And really, that's kind of what pisses her off the most about him in the month that she's known him: he's a good detective. He just has unorthodox ways of going about things, and Amy Santiago doesn't do unorthodox. 

“The Amy Santiago sextape,” his voice annoyingly rings in her head, and she contemplates for a second getting out her gun hid0den underneath the table and just killing herself right then and there for allowing his voice to enter her head.

He reaches across the table to grab her hand, and holds on to it tighter when her instinct tells her to let go. He grins at her, eyes sliding slightly to the left before focusing back on hers.

“Honey, I think I made my decision.”

He taps on the back of her hand once, twice, three times, and it takes her a second to realize he wants her to look to his left three tables over.

She does and she sees the target of their operation dining with a woman, who she knows to be his wife and partner in crime. She perks up then, realizing that this was it and they were just so close to busting this operation and then she can be free of this dress and these heels and this partner, if only for the night. 

“What do you think's best?” she asks, perusing the menu with one eye while trying to keep another on the table. They've got Charles, Rosa, and Terry all around the area, so she's pretty sure there's no escaping for the boss and his wife. It's the ton of undercover bodyguards around him that's the problem.

“I think I'll have the soup, then filet mignon, and probably a brownie or cake for dessert. I'll just go with the flow.”

Follow my lead, he means.

It doesn't stop her from answering, “I don't think they serve brownies and cakes at a five star restaurant.”

“Aren't we a Miss Know-It-All?” he cheekily grins.

She refrains from making the face she wants to make and instead fakes a grin when the waiter shows up.

Jake orders a soup – “Do you have chicken noodle?” - and when the waiter gives him a dumb look and Amy gives him the same, he shrugs and orders the house special.

“It was worth a shot.”

Amy orders a salad, and for a few moments, they sit and wait. The boss isn't moving, and neither are the bodyguards, and Amy's afraid she's actually going to have to finish this “date” with Jake, when something amazing happens. 

The wife gets up, presumably to go to the bathroom, looks around and her gaze stops at Amy.

“Incoming,” she whispers as the wife walks towards her, and she squeezes the hand she forgot she was still holding onto until now.

“Be cool,” he whispers, nudging her under the table with his foot. 

The wife, Janice, if Amy recalls correctly (and she always does), stops at her table and grins at her. 

“You are wearing a lovely dress. Where'd you get it?”

She's momentarily caught off guard, then gathers her composure. “Nordstrom's, actually.”

More like the store five blocks down from Nordstrom’s, but she’ll never tell.

“Well, it looks great,” Janice says, smiling at the two of them. 

She hears Terry's voice in her earpiece, crackling to life. “We're in position. Ready when you are.”

“You two make a lovely couple,” Janice says, and that kind of does it for Amy because hell no is she dating Jake, and before Amy even knows it, she and Jake have their guns out, shouting, “NYPD, you're under arrest!”

Of course, that starts a chain reaction of everyone else busting out their guns, both the bodyguards and the NYPD, and everyone else looks scared and confused, and she feels bad for these poor souls who just wanted a nice dinner out with their loved ones. 

It takes minutes before the bodyguards put their weapons down, and when they finally are able put some handcuffs on these people, Amy takes a little sadistic pleasure in cuffing her.

“And we are not dating,” she says, while Jake chuckles behind her.

“Yeah, she'd be lucky to have me,” he shouts at Amy's back as Amy leads Janice away.

She pretends not to hear him.

 

ii.

“You think the relief team's coming anytime soon?” Jake asks through a mouthful of gummy bears. It's a five pound bag that was part of a care package from his mother (so he says), and it's been three hours and he's gone through half the bag. She's simultaneously impressed and nauseous.

Amy checks her watch for the thirtieth time in the past five minutes. “Holt said they're coming at 9. It's 8:54. You do the math.”

She feels the toss of a wet gummy bear landing on her cheek and falling into her lap. She looks at him at disgust and flings the gummy bear out the window.

“Dork, you could have said 6 minutes. And did you really have to throw Mary away? She wanted to be friends.”

She looks at him to see if he seriously just named a gummy bear, and since it's Jake, he's as serious as he can get. 

“Did you really have to name a gummy bear? Gummy bears don't need names. They're candy.”

Jake scoffs and shakes the bag. “Tell that to Tom, Jason, Freddy, Chuckie, Angelica, Tommy, Phil, Lil and all of the other gummy bears who have lost their friends due to sacrifices.”

Amy sighs and gives him a look. “Aren't you an '80s child? What are you doing naming them after '90s cartoons? Weren't you, like, a teenager in the '90s?”

“Nobody can escape the charms of walking, talking babies, Amy. No one.”

Amy looks out the window and sees a familiar squad car rolling up and giving them both a nod. “I think that's our relief team.”

“Sweet.” He grabs one last handful and shoves it in his mouth, Angelica or Tommy falling into his lap instead. It's the idea that she actually went along with the naming of the gummy bears that makes her nauseous, so she lets out a small groan.

“What's up?” he asks, looking over at her, ready to start the car.

She waves him off and puts her seatbelt back on, looking straight ahead. 

“Let's just go back to the station,” she says, just as her stomach lets out a growl. Turns out, eating gummy bears and five sticks of gum for the past three hours is not enough to satiate her.

“What's that?” Jake asks, leaning over the console to put an ear to her stomach, and she immediately flicks his ear with her fingers to get him away from her personal space.

“Your stomach's telling me you need to eat, and I have the perfect place!”

“No, let's just go back to the station –”

“Uh, uh, uh.” He even does the finger shaking and he pulls off the sidewalk into traffic. 

“I never turn down a lady in need.” He pauses. “Well, I will if I'm not quite drunk enough.” He makes a convincing rim shot noise with his mouth and she's not sure if she should laugh or be disgusted, so she settles with the latter.

“Where are we going?” she asks, even as he nearly cuts off an angry cab driver. She clutches the oh shit handle and waves an apology to the driver who's giving her a friendly wave.

“You should have signaled.”

“You are not backseat driving me, Santiago. In order to make it as a driver in N-Y-C, you gotta Be! Aggressive! Be! Be! Aggressive!”

His hands actually leave the steering wheel at some point to do the arm movements and she closes her eyes and waits for the crash that is going to come. She's going to die hungry and with Jake Peralta, and that is not how she pictured going out.

The car does stop, though not with a sickening crash and she opens her eyes to find themselves parked in a small lot off the corner of a street.

“It's a... bar.”

“Correction, it's a bar that serves the best sliders in town. They're tiny, but they melt in your mouth, and they're just... they're amazing. You have to try them, Santiago. I'm not taking no for an answer!”

He practically runs around the side of the car, and almost drags her out, Jake practically buzzing with excitement.

“We were just sitting in a car for three hours, how are you full of energy?” she asks as she brushes dirt off her pants and stretches her arms and legs. She can't fight off a yawn as she does, and opens her eyes to see Jake looking at her with a silly little grin on his face.

“What?”

“Sometimes I forget you're 80 years old. But don't worry, Santiago, that will all be solved in the next few minutes. These burgers will wake you up.”

They walk into the bar, and it's not at all what Amy expected. She imagined a dive bar with rickety chairs and grimy countertops. Maybe two or three pool tables with big, burly men manning them. 

She doesn't expect a banner hung above the bar screaming, “Singles Night!” with Lady Gaga songs playing in the background.

She sneaks a look at Jake, who's looking appropriately terrified, and she takes pleasure in it, if just for a moment.

“I can see why you like this place, Peralta. You must really like contemporary pop and themed nights.”

He opens and closes his mouth like a gaping fish for about five seconds before he responds. “I don't understand,” he whispers as if this bar was placed on sacred ground. 

He heads towards the bar and the only thing that tips her off to the idea that Jake is actually distraught is his complete disregard for two scantily clad blondes he pushes past. She decides to stick around for Jake's fallout, and if there's a cute, single guy that catches her attention there, so be it.

“Rob, what's going on?” she overhears as she makes her way next to Jake. Jake's pleading to the bartender, an older man, probably mid-40s, if she had to make a guess. 

“Singles night, buddy,” Rob responds with an apologetic shrug. “Boss man wanted it. Said it brings in lots of cash. I don't say no to cash.”

He notices Amy then and eyes her warily. “You lost?”

Amy remembers that she's wearing a pantsuit and she probably should have ditched her jacket in Jake's car a long time ago if she wanted to fit in here, because well, she doesn't. Not in a sea of short, glittery dresses and sky-high heels.

“She's with me,” Jake says, dismissively. He sinks into the bar stool, head propped up on his crossed arms. “Get me two orders of sliders, Rob. And two sodas.” As Rob walks away, Jake yells at his back. “These better be free!”

Amy perches on the edge of the barstool next to him, grimacing when she feels her pant leg catch on something sticky. Gross, gross, gross.

“It can't be that bad, Jake. I'm actually surprised you're not embracing the whole Singles Night idea yourself. I'm sure there's women with low enough standards you can take home tonight.”

Jake grunts, still clearly distraught and Amy sighs. “It's probably just one night, Jake. It's not a big deal. It's not like it'll magically turn into a hotspot for twentysomethings.”

“You haven't tried the food. It's going to end up on instagram, then Yelp, then Charles will get a hold of it...” he shudders. “This is my sacred bar. Why are they doing this to me?”

His melodramatic attitude was wearing her patience thin, as if it wasn't thin enough to handle Jake Peralta already, so she looks around, eyeing the prospects at this bar. Whenever Kylie drags her to these Single Night outings at various bars, she notices a pattern. For every decent looking and nice guy at a bar, there are ten douchebags. And for every decent woman genuinely looking for someone to date, such as herself, she will never run into that decent guy and will always end up trying to shake off the douchebag. 

This bar was pretty much same old, same old, so when Rob sets down the sliders and the drinks, it smells so heavenly she stops any active looking she was doing. 

“This actually looks pretty good,” she admits to Jake, as she admires the three tiny little burgers. 

“It tastes even better,” and as she grabs a burger to take a bite, she watches him... sit there. 

“Aren't you going to eat yours?”

“I want to see your reaction when you realize that Jake Peralta recommended the best sliders in the world to you.”

She rolls her eyes, but opens her mouth to take a bite.

And it's heavenly.

The meat is tender and melts in her mouth, the tomatoes are ripe and juicy, and there's a little extra seasoning that just tops the whole thing off. When she looks at Jake, he's got that proud smirk he gets and she inwardly sighs.

“They're pretty good, Peralta.”

Jake gasps in fake horror, clutching his chest. “Pretty good? No, I saw that look on your face. It's amazing. Just admit that it's amazing, Santiago. It won't hurt.”

“No,” she says, even as she hurries to swallow and take another bite.

He takes a bite of his slider and wipes his mouth with his sleeve, looking at her contemplatively. “I'll up the stakes.”

“What?”

“I'll up the stakes. I'll give you a free case to give you a point in our bet if you go on record saying Jake Peralta is the best slider recommender in the whole wide world.”

She was prepared to say no, then she thought about it. A freebie to give her a point ahead in their bet? She had great faith in her detective skills, of course, but she would pretty much do anything to make sure she didn't go on a date with Jake Peralta. 

She takes another bite of her sliders, pretending to think about it. “Okay.”

Jake straightens his back and grins. “Sweeeeet. One second."

He jams his hands in his pockets, searching for his iPhone. He trains it on her and smiles at her from behind the camera. “Okay, go.” 

She gives his camera a look, and intones, “Jake Peralta recommended a great slider.” 

“Nuh uh. Jake Peralta is the best slider recommender in the whole wide world. And he's always right.” 

She ignores the last half. “Jake Peralta is the best slider recommender in the whole wide world.” 

He taps his screen to end the video and grins, popping a whole slider in his mouth. Sometimes it frightens her just how much food he can stuff into that big mouth of his. One of these days, he's going to choke.

And she's just going to let him. 

Okay, no, she wouldn't, but she would contemplate it.

The loud noises of Jake's chewing (ew) brings her back to the present and she polishes off the rest of her sliders, head bopping to the beat of an old school Britney Spears song. 

Rob comes back around when their plates are licked clean, figuratively for her, literally for him (she watched in disgust and partial amazement), and grunts.

“Food okay?”

“The best sliders I've ever had!” Amy enthusiastically replies, always eager to please, and she hears Jake chuckle next to her.

“I know,” Rob says, and she tries not to shrink underneath his stare. 

Jake reaches in his pocket for his wallet and Rob waves him off. “It's on the house.”

“You know, Rob, I was kidding,” Jake insists, still taking out his wallet anyway.

“Bring your girlfriend around more,” Rob says, his voice low and gravelly, his eyes still trained on her. “I like her. She eats a lot.”

She feels like she should be offended on so many different levels, but the one thing that sticks out to her is she is not Jake's girlfriend.

“I'm not his-"

Jake slings his arm around her, pulling her towards him. “You're right, pumpkin. You're not mine. You are not property, you are a person.” He gives her a loud kiss on the cheek, murmuring in her ear. “You do not turn down free sliders. Ever." 

“Thanks, Rob!” He says, as he leads her back through the crowd and out the door. In the cool of the night, she shrugs off his arm and wipes her cheek.

“We are not dating.”

“Duh, Amy, you think I could handle your OCD and your work ethic and all your rule following?” he gestures at all of her. “But when Rob offers food on the house, you do whatever it takes to get that delicious food for free. Except prostitution, I guess. And murder.”

“As long as you have boundaries,” Amy mutters, about to get into the passenger seat of the car.

“Hey wait!” She hears then, and Amy turns around to see a petite blonde running up to them, teetering on heels. 

“You forgot your phone,” she says to Jake, barely out of breath and fluttering her eyelashes. Jake smiles politely and takes it from her.

“Thanks, I'd be in so much trouble if I lost this. NYPD frowns on just handing out phones.”

He turns as if to head back into the car with no further acknowledgment and Amy sees the blonde pout. “Maybe I can get your number?”

Jake looks at her and sighs, just a little before giving an apologetic smile. “I'm actually with my girlfriend,” he says, gesturing towards Amy. She tries to not look startled, but it's hard when she has no idea what Jake is doing. Jake, turning down a chance to give out his number?

“Oh.” The blonde replies, before giving a shrug and a toss of her hair. “Okay.” And with that, she walks back to the bar.

Jake gets in the car, turns the engine and looks at her, and frowns just a little. “Why are you looking at me like that?” He asks, even as he's backing out of the lot.

“Why did you lie? You could've gotten her number.”

He shrugs, his eyes on the road. “I don't like blondes.”

It's a lie because she's seen him with plenty of blondes before, but she just gives a mmhmm as a response as he drives them back to the precinct. 

The next morning, she finds a case file on her desk, and when she flips through it, it is an easy, slam dunk case that takes her about two hours to close. She waits until he's there to move the tally up one in front of him, but all he does is grin.

“I'll still win the bet, Santiago."

“In your dreams, Peralta.”

 

iii. 

Amy Santiago would like to state, for the record, that she did not wake up this morning and decide she was going to get drinks with Jake Peralta tonight. Like with all things having to do with Jake Peralta, it just... happens.

It happens like this:

4:15 PM, 99th Precinct

Ding ding.

From: Teddy

Hey, I won't be able to make our date tonight. Stuff came up. Rain check? 

Despite knowing this was always going to happen with the two of them, whether it be him or her, she still finds herself frowning. She hasn't seen him for more than ten minutes in two weeks, and even though they text constantly, it's starting to take a toll on her. It's almost like she doesn't  have a boyfriend, and that's not a feeling she wants when she  does (proudly) have a boyfriend.

“Teddy cancel again?” Jake asks from his seat across from her, body fully leaned back in the chair, legs propped up in the desk, tossing a mini hacky sack up in the air and catching it with his other hand. 

“No,” she says immediately, even as she's locking her screen. She can still feel Jake's eyes on her and she has that need to explain herself that she can't keep inside her. “Canceling means he doesn't want to be there at all. He's postponing it until a later date.”

“O-kay.” She recognizes his tone as the one he uses on suspects when he clearly doesn't believe them, but lets them tell the lie anyway to see how they dig themselves out of it. Before she can even respond to it (and oh, how she wants to respond to it), he's sitting upright in his chair. “Hey, you should come out with us for drinks. You can't say no because I know you don't have any plans.”

“I'll think about it.”

“Sweet, that's a yes!” He turns and tosses the hacky sack at the back of Charles' head. “Amy's coming out with us tonight! We're gonna get her drunk!”

“Peralta!” Holt's voice booms across the bullpen. “We do not talk about inebriation or the process of inebriation while at work. Get back to work.”

Jake gives him a mock salute and slouches over his desk, pretending to do paperwork. She knows he's pretending because she gets a text from him two seconds later.

From: Jake Peralta

All of it is a bunch of alcohol emojis and a party hat and a sleeping face.

 

When she looks up at him, he's grinning and giving her a thumbs up.

--

“6 seasons! Sex and the City had 6 seasons!” Charles yells out excitedly, raising his hands up in the air and doing a happy dance when the MC for the evening nods his head in amazement.

“He’s right. Again.” Amy notes, as she takes a sip of her beer, watching as Charles chats up a couple of women, presumably about his abundance of knowledge about mid-2000s television shows. He had also answered questions about Dawson’s Creek (“Joey ended up with Pacey, duh”), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (“David Boreanaz’s portrayal of a tortured vampire is just… there are no words”), and Gilmore Girls (“I could only dream of having a relationship like Rory and Lorelai’s”).

“Well, considering it’s a category called Useless Knowledge, I feel like we shouldn’t take too much pleasure in it.”

She wasn’t expecting Charles and Jake to drag her to a place where they hosted a trivia night, of all the themed nights, and she wasn’t expecting Jake to willingly participate. But, the prize for the team with the most correct answers got free beer for the rest of the night, and in Jake’s words: “Where there’s free beer, there’s a Jake Peralta. I will make that more catchy.”

The categories that came up were: Food, Places, Movies, TV, and Love Songs, and Charles pretty much claimed all of the winnings from that so far, and they were sufficiently in the lead.    

“Next category is: Cop Movies!” The MC announces, and Amy swears on her mother’s grave that all three of them perk the fuck up, eyes and ears trained on the MC like the good detectives they are.

“Jake Gyllenhaal –”

“End of Watch!” The three of them shout together, letting out a whoop when their answer is confirmed.

“Will Smith and Martin Lawrence team up –”

“Bad Boys!”

“Bruce Willis –”

“Die Hard!” Jake, and here’s the funny thing, another female voice that is most definitely not Amy’s answers.

Amy whirls around to try and find the face to the voice, ignoring the look of awe on Jake’s face.

“Bernice!”

“Jake! Hey Charles!”

And soon enough, Amy’s scooted over on the table, all of a sudden a third wheel. Amy looks at the tall blonde carefully. She didn’t seem Jake’s usual type – tall, ditzy, blonde, and Charles seems just as enamored with her as Jake is.

“I was hoping I’d run into you again,” Bernice tells Jake, sipping her margarita.

“Have you guys dated before?” Amy interjects, enjoying that small look of surprise on Bernice’s face when she finally notices Amy.

“Hi, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you before. I’m Bernice. Jake and I went on a date once, ended a little abruptly though.”

Jake and Charles share this guilty look, and Amy knows there’s a story there that she’s not quite sure she wants to know the whole of just yet.

“Bernice loves the Nets, Die Hard, in grad school and well that’s all I know about her so far.” Jake grins before finally seeming to remember that Amy was there. “This is Amy, by the way. We work together.”

“It’s so nice to meet you!” Bernice says enthusiastically, offering her hand to shake. “You are very pretty. I love your shoes.”

“Thanks,” Amy says, looking down at her fairly new sandals.

“Wanna join our team?” Jake asks, nodding at the pitcher of beer in front of them. “We’re winning by a lot.”

“Sure!”

Jake and Bernice close out the category, with Amy just watching in slight amazement. If anyone could concoct the perfect woman for Jake, she was pretty sure Bernice was it.

When their table is officially declared as winners, Jake and Charles excuse themselves to the bar to get more free beer, both slightly stumbling along the way.

“So, Amy. I hate to be abrupt, but are you dating Jake? You two seem close, and I don’t want to overstep any boundaries, or anything.”

“No, we’re. No. Not dating. We’re not dating.”

Bernice smiles, looking at Jake from across the bar. “Oh, good. I might ask him out. Do you think he’ll say yes?”

She thinks about Jake and all the other women he’s dated, and how ditzy and stupid most of the other ones were, and hey, if this smart woman wants to date Jake, who was she to stop her?

“Yeah. He’ll definitely say yes.”

“Good.” She smiles, satisfied. “I’m going to go help them out real quick. I’ll be right back.”

Amy sips her beer and watches as Charles makes his way back to the table, holding a pitcher of beer. Bernice corners Jake at the bar, and from all the way across the room, Amy’s pretty sure Bernice is asking Jake out right about… now.

She’s about right because Jake looks a little surprised and takes a split second to look at Amy (it was quick, but they made eye contact, she’s sure of it), before he nods a definitive yes.

Amy has the urge to finish the rest of her beer in one gulp and does so, much to Charles’ amusement.

 

iv. 

It’s inevitable when Teddy breaks up with her.

Well, that’s what Rosa had said when she had heard, arms crossed, boots propped up on her table in the break room. Gina’s filing her nails on the couch, unable to pass up office gossip.

“Inevitable?!” Amy had screeched, and Rosa barely flinched, instead choosing to narrow her eyes at Amy.

“Yes, inevitable. He’s a loser. Boring. Predictable. Like you. Except you’re not a loser.”

Amy doesn’t hear any of that last sentence, and crossed her arms and looked at Rosa. “What do you mean he’s like me?”

Rosa stared at her, not blinking before looking at Gina slowly, then back to Amy. “Do you need to get your hearing checked?”

“She said he’s bo-ring, and predictable,” Gina enunciates slowly, using her fingers to punctuate the syllables. “And thus, so are you.”

“I-we- I am not boring.” Amy’s strongly aware that the stutter doesn’t help her case, at all, but she’s not boring.

She’s not.

And, okay, maybe her nights away from Teddy are really just filled with her on her couch, watching bad reality shows, eating takeout from the same place around the corner.

That doesn’t make her boring, she just has a nice routine that she likes and makes her happy.

And… that makes her predictable, huh?

She makes eye contact with Gina seconds after she makes this revelation, and she doesn’t like the look in Gina’s eyes. There’s a mischievous glint that’s always there, really, but it’s the slight hint of wisdom and knowledge lurking behind them that scares her, just the tiniest bit.

“You need someone to balance you out, you know. Ying and yang, and all that feng shui bullshit.”

"Feng shui doesn’t –”

“Ah, ah, ah. You need someone that’s not like you and doesn’t let you be boring for too long. Someone crazy. Someone fun. Someone like – Jake!”

Amy whirls around to find Jake in the doorway, only looking slightly confused at the happenings going on.

“’Sup ladies.” He plops down on the couch next to Gina, legs stretched out. “What are we talking about? The latest Real Housewives? Scandal? The Bachelor? That Juan Pablo guy is a piece of work, let me tell you.”

Gina gives Amy this sly look before shifting her focus back to Jake. “Teddy broke up with Amy.” She stares at Jake for a few good seconds before getting back up, eyes already back on her iPhone.

“Come on Rosa, we’ve got detectiving stuff to do.”

“You’re not a detective,” Amy tells Gina and Rosa’s back, immediately fretting about being alone with Jake… for whatever reason.

“I’m sorry he broke up with you,” comes his voice after a few moment’s silence.

She doesn’t know how to respond because she’s pretty sure that’s the most sincere she’s heard his voice in a long time, but she manages to come up with, “Thanks. I’m sorry too.”

“He’s an idiot, you know. You’re a great girl. Anyone would be lucky to have you.”

His warm eyes hold onto hers for a few moments and she swears she feels the air change around them, like something clicks. It’s the same kind of something that fills her stomach with butterflies whenever she thinks about the words “It sucks a lot less when I get to do it with you”, and “It still goes on the good date list” and the strangely sweet recommendation letter she snatched from his desk one morning when he wasn’t there.

“And you know. If you want to, maybe-”

“Jake!” Charles comes rushing in, panting at the doorway. “I got a lead on that case, let’s go!”

Jake sighs and shakes his head, as almost to say of course this would happen to me, and she has no time to dwell on what “this” is before duty beckons her, as well.

It’s later that night when it happens.

And by it, she doesn’t mean anything monumental like a first kiss, a first time, or a first date.

But that night, when she’s comfortably in her pajamas, eating homemade pasta, welcoming her predictability, she welcomes the unpredictable when the doorbell rings.

She makes up her mind right then and there: if it’s Kylie looking to drag her out against her will, she’s going to pretend there’s a work emergency and go far, far away.

But, there’s no Kylie in the peephole, instead there’s a Jake Peralta grinning at the peephole as if he could see her.

“Santiaaaaaaaaago!”

She sighs and unlocks the deadbolt, trying to envision all the quips he’s going to make about her pajamas and messy hair so she’s prepared with witty comebacks.

“What’s up, Peralta?” she manages to get out before she’s being bulldozed over by him. He toes off his shoes and heads to the couch, arms filled with brown grocery bags.

Sighing, she locks the door and heads to her couch, only slightly eager to see what he brought over, never mind the uninvited guest part.

He starts unloading them, one by one, gesturing with his hand as if he was Vanna White.

“For the broken-hearted, we have Ben & Jerry’s. We have nachos. We have assorted chocolate snacks, among them M&Ms, Twix, Milky Way, and for whatever reason, 100 Grand. I don’t even know they still made them. And if you’re still hungry, I got Chinese takeout from the place around the corner that you like even though the last time you had it, you came into work still looking green.”

She takes the 100 Grand, still not sitting down. She eyes him, still not making eye contact with her, instead he’s rubbing his palms on his jeans, as if they were sweaty. Hm.

“What’s all this?” She asks, even though she’s pretty sure she knows the answer. She knows she’s not going to hear the answer she wants, because it’s Jake, but she wants to see what kind of half-assed lie is going to come out of his mouth.

“Just wanted to make sure you’re not, you know. Starving.” He makes no move to get up though and instead grabs a handful of M&Ms and leans back against her couch cushion.

“That’s very kind of you.” She perches on the end of the couch. “It’s Friday night. You don’t have any big plans?”

“I’ll have you know, I had plenty of offers for dates, but you know. I’ve got laundry to do, so.”

“Mmhm,” she murmurs as she rummages through the grocery bag to see if there’s anything left he didn’t show her. (And to steal some chow mein.)

What she does find is a rectangular piece of plastic, and she frowns and brings it out of the bag.

“Training Day?”

He looks sheepish, and tries to brush it off with a shrug. “I figured, you know, if you wanted to watch and had no other plans…”

She’s already up and popping it in the DVD player, ignoring the special edition she knows she has on the DVD shelf.

“This is great, Jake.” She says as she takes another bite out of her candy bar.

“You know there’s an extra ten seconds of the film that’s supposed to change everything.”

“Well, I guess we’ll find out.”

She looks over and grins at him, and he’s wearing that soft smile she’s starting to grow accustomed to before the opening scene rolls and she shifts her attention back to the screen.

He talks his way through the movie because of course he does, but instead of asking him to shut up like she normally would, she enjoys his comments. He’s funny and witty, and she finds herself listening to him talking more than the movie.

When she sees the credits roll, she’s surprised that the two hours went by pretty fast, and she wouldn’t admit it anytime soon, but she’s kind of sad that he has to leave so soon. She almost forgot what good company felt like.

She walks him to the door, looking at him with his bright eyes and messed up hair.

“Thanks, Jake. This was really nice.”

“Anytime. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Even the 100 Grand.” He cringes as if it was the worst thing ever.

“How’d you know I liked them, by the way?”

He pauses for just a few seconds, contemplating his answer. “Because when your last boyfriend broke up with you, it was like all you ate. Think you bought out the whole box at the local liquor store.”

She nods in understanding, even though the last time she even had someone she could call a boyfriend was such a long time ago.

“Night, Amy.”

“Night, Jake.”

And on an impulse (but one she’s been thinking about since he showed up at her door), she calls him back.

“Wait.”

He turns around, expectantly.

“We should do this again. Sometime. Whenever. Just, again.”

He smiles, a big Jake Peralta grin that’s his specialty. “Yeah. That’d be nice.”

“Night,” she says as she closes the door, and she’s pretty sure she can hear him whistling down the hall.

The next morning, she jogs to the local convenience store, hoping to get a cup of coffee to start her morning.

“Hi, Lily,” she says as she pays for it at the counter.

“Morning, Amy,” the older lady says with a twinkle in her eyes. “Your boyfriend was very sweet last night, trying to find the 100 Grands.”

Amy feels confused for a second before mentally shaking herself. “Oh, he’s not my boyfriend. We’re not… we’re not dating.”

Lily looks surprised before giving her another smile. “Well, you could’ve fooled me. You should snatch him up. Very cute.”

“I’ll, uh. Keep that in mind.”

She does keep it in mind all day, even when Jake shows up at her door later that night, bearing a six pack of beer and a box of pizza.

“It’s time for again.”

 

v.

They're not dating. 

They're not.

They just like hanging out on Friday nights.

And some Saturday nights.

Most Saturday nights.

She tries to explain that to Kylie over brunch, and Kylie just looks over at her above her morning sangria.

“So, you’re in a relationship.”

“No,” Amy refutes, sticking a forkful of French toast in her mouth. “We’re not dating. We’re not dating. We’re just hanging out. It’s nice.”

“Amy, listen to me. You are in a relationship. And don’t try explaining that bullshit to me again, I understand what you’re saying. But all of that just means you’re in a relationship.”

“I mean, that depends on your definition of a relationship. We’re friends, we’re coworkers. We have that kind of a relationship.”

Kylie looks at her and rolls her eyes, and Amy knows she’s about ten seconds away from Kylie slapping her upside the head.

“And you hang out on Friday and Saturday nights. Normal people call that dating and being in a relationship.”

She gives it a rest for now, because Kylie could go on for hours, so Amy takes a break and lets Kylie fill her in on what’s been happening in her life and at her job.

She does her best to listen even as the words “we’re not dating” appear in a loop in her ear.

When she goes home later that day, she sits down and tries to make a list.

Reasons why we’re not dating:

1)      We’ve never been on a date

2)       

3)       

It’s a little disconcerting that that’s the only thing she can come up with off the top of her head, and even that’s a lie.

Because with other boyfriends, she’s pretty sure dinner and a movie at either of their houses made it a date. So was taking a nice walk and eating hot dogs.

Was she really dating Jake Peralta and not noticing this whole time?

It’s so unlike her she might as well turn in her badge and gun.

Later that night, as an old episode of Cheers plays through the credits, she thinks it again: we’re not dating.

But it's him sleeping next to her on the couch and her not wanting to kick him off that makes her realize she's lying.

She lets that thought fester as she chooses to stay on the couch instead of moving to her own room.

When he wakes up the next morning to find her staring at him, he blinks a few times and mumbles, “Sorry for falling asleep.”

“What is this?” she asks before she loses any courage, her voice raspy with sleep.

“Huh?” And okay, maybe asking him a question at 6:00 am was a questionable choice.

“This,” she gestures between the two of them, suddenly hyper aware of her morning breath. “What is this?”

“Right now?” he mutters, even as he’s getting up, stretching his long arms. He blinks a few more times and looks at her like maybe he’s trying not to scare her.

“I don’t know,” he says slowly, even though she feels he has an idea of what he wants it to be. “But I like where this is going.”

She nods, accepting it. Right now? They don’t have a definition, really, and that’s good enough for her.

When they’re ready to call it what it is, they’ll know.

 

vi.

They’re dating.

It happens after their tenth Friday night, their eighth Saturday night, and about fifty meals together (including the times he brings her food to work).

She’s on the phone with her mom when his usual four knocks come at the door, right at 7:30. She opens it, nods at him before turning around to go back into the kitchen.

“Yes, mom.” She says, rubbing her forehead.

He holds up the takeout he brought and she smiles at him before turning back to her conversation.

“You never come to visit anymore.”

“I know, Mom. I’ve just been really busy.”

“All you do is work, ija. Do you ever have fun?”

“I have tons of fun, Mom.”

She ignores the snort coming from Jake and takes chopsticks out of one her drawers, tossing it at him, pointing towards the couch.

He mouths tons of fun? At her before he moves, and she rolls her eyes at his back.

She follows him there once she brings water bottles out of the fridge and plops down next to him on her couch.

“Are you sure? Should I call Kylie to make sure you’re having fun?”

“Mom! I’m having plenty of fun.” She takes the pair of chopsticks and shoves orange chicken in her mouth, frowning at the television when Jake stops at something she doesn’t want to watch.

Do you go on dates? Do you have a boyfriend?”

If Amy was paying attention, and not silently arguing with Jake because she did not want to watch 100 Grossest Things People Eat, she wouldn’t have said the following words.

“Yes, Mom, I have a boyfriend.”

As soon as it comes out of her mouth, she winces and looks at Jake, who’s looking just as surprised as she feels.

“Gotta go, Mom, talk to you later, love you,” she says over her mother’s delighted screams, hanging up.

“So…” she says, suddenly nervous and fighting the urge to fidget with her grandmother’s quilt.

“Look at you, defining the relationship,” he says, grinning at her, his hand coming up to play with the ends of her hair.

She lets out a breath and gives him a shaky smile. “So you’re good with that?”

Jake rolls his eyes and gives her a duh expression. “I’ve been waiting for you to be good with that. I’ve always been good with that.”

“Good. So we’re…”

“We’re dating, Amy.”

They share a silly grin before he dives right back into the takeout, his feet going back up on the coffee table.

"How do you think we should tell our coworkers?” she asks, changing the channel to something less gross because he changed it back to 100 Grossest Things People Eat when she wasn’t looking.

Jake snorts, taking the remote from her hands. “They already know.”

“What?!” she exclaims, whirling around to face him.

“They’re detectives, Amy. They detect.”

“But we kept it a secret!” She knows she’s pouting, but she can’t help it. She thought she was doing so well, too.

“Didn’t stop them from having an office pool about when we’d get together.”

“Why are you so cool about this?”

Jake shrugs, eyes still focused on the television.

“Oh my God, you put money on when we’d get together, huh?”

Jake just grins slyly at her, and Amy throws her head back in exasperation.

“Did you at least win?” Amy asks after a few minutes when her pride isn’t so ruined.

“Yep, by a mile.”

“Can we split the pot, at least? I’m half of why you’re winning, anyway.”

“I don’t know, do I get a kiss? I’d feel cheated if I didn’t get a kiss.”

“If I have to.”