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no place for the old

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Amy’s standing in her kitchen, filling mugs with milk for hot chocolate, when Jake kisses her cheek and drapes a blanket over her shoulders. This in itself isn’t unusual, because, as she’s learned, he has the habit of wearing them around like capes. It’s oddly endearing, which probably isn’t saying much, because she finds most things about him endearing, nowadays.

Then, interrupting her train of thought, he brings a second blanket. Then a third.

When Amy hears him pulling another throw off of her sofa, she hits start on the microwave and stops him in his tracks.

“Why are you dismantling my living room?”

“Just the couch,” Jake says innocently. “You have too many knit blankets, by the way. Come sit?” He pats the arm of the couch invitingly with the hand not covered in a blanket.

Amy gestures toward the kitchen, where the microwave is still whirring. “Hot cocoa’s not done.”

“I’ll get it.” He moves to leave, but Amy blocks his path, nodding toward the sofa.

“You,” she says firmly, “are going to sit down and rest before you collapse of exhaustion. And I have more blankets, if you need them. And advil.”

Jake frowns, looking confused. “What are you doing?”

Amy rolls her eyes. “I’m taking care of you, dummy.”

“What?” Jake looks honestly startled. “No, no, no, I’m taking care of you.”

A pause, then Amy barks out a laugh. “Excuse me?”

“You were in ice-cold water on the coldest night of the year.” He says it like it’s obvious.

Amy crosses her arms, making a valiant effort to look intimidating in polka dot flannel pajamas. “You got beat up and knocked unconscious by armed robbers!”  

Jake, who, in a too-big hoodie, couldn’t look intimidating if he tried, just tilts his head to the side. “You’re still shivering, Ames.”

“You’re still concussed.”

In response, Jake tosses another blanket at her. She does the logical thing and brains him with a throw pillow.

“Hey!” Jake complains, petulant. “What happened to my concussion?”

Only because she knows the paramedics cleared him, Amy tosses another pillow. Jake dodges it with ease. “Sit down and let me bring you hot chocolate, already.”

Jake purses his lips with an exaggerated look of disapproval. “There’s no room for your antiquated gender roles in this relationship, Santiago.”

She has a biting retort on the tip of her tongue, something she’s sure will be devastatingly witty, once she’s thought of it.

Then the microwave beeps.

All thoughts of diplomacy abandoned, they both sprint for the kitchen. Amy has the head start, until Jake lunges forward and catches her around the waist, lifting her enough off the ground that she squeals.

“Let. Me. Take. Care. Of. You!” He peppers his sentence with kisses to the back of her neck, and Amy squirms in his grasp, laughing so hard she can barely move.

“You first!” She shoves him, knocking him off balance and – she probably should have thought this out better – sending them both crashing onto the carpet. She can feel him laughing under her, reaching up to steady her, brushing her hair out of his face.

Amy lifts herself up on her elbows so she’s looking down at him from above. His eyes are still crinkled at the edges, chest rising and falling with laughter. And she means to keep joking, she really does, but somewhere between returning his smile and feeling the thrum of his pulse against hers, she remembers how close she was to losing him, which short circuits her brain so that, instead, what comes out is:

“Promise never to do that again.” He raises an eyebrow, still not quite serious, so she clarifies. “Almost dying. Actually dying. Both.”

There’s something softer in his eyes, now, something like realization. The apartment is quiet without the sound of his laugh. “Sure,” Jake says. “But, I mean, we’re back at work in two days, and almost dying is sort of in the job description, so-”

“Fine,” Amy says, then, after a moment’s thought, “promise not to almost die without me there to have your back.”

“Amy,” he says, like he’s saying something else entirely; their eyes meet, and she thinks it’s the closest she could come to reading someone’s mind.

She wonders what he was thinking, when the man had a gun to his head.

“Promise,” she says again, and Jake echoes her, an agreement instead of a request.

“Promise,” he says. “’course.”

She nods, because she believes him, and, flat on the ground, he gives her a wry smile.

“You realize, of course, that the real winner here is me.”

“As if,” Amy scoffs, competitive before realizing that she doesn’t know what they’re competing over. “How?”

Jake shrugs, rolling over so they’re both on their sides, facing each other. He gives a self-satisfied smile, but his voice is still quiet. “Now you have to have my back forever.”

Amy matches his tone. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah,” Jake says decisively. “Possibly longer.”

 Amy leans on her arm, meeting his eyes with what she’s sure is a hopelessly fond smile. “Joke’s on you, though, ‘cause I was sort of planning that anyways.”

Jake gives a sigh of feigned annoyance. “Foiled again.”

“Yippee ki yay,” Amy quotes, and a bright smile splits Jake’s face.

“You said it right. You’re the best. Have I ever told you I think you’re the best?”

“You love me,” she agrees, and she’s teasing, really, but there’s something in the silent apartment that gives the words weight.

Jake, looking uncommonly pensive, just reaches out, touching his thumb to her bottom lip. It’s a strangely intimate gesture, one that feels, for all its relative insignificance, entirely too important for the living room floor at one o’clock in the morning. 

I love you, Amy thinks, a sudden, swelling feeling in her chest. And again, I love you, just to hear the words, even just in her head. And it’s Christmas morning, and she ran head-on into a freezing cold river, and two hours ago Jake was almost dead; altogether, she decides that there’s been more than enough excitement for one day. So she doesn’t say it, contenting herself with putting a hand on either side of Jake’s head and pulling him close enough to kiss.

Besides, she thinks. There’s always new years.