Amy should be nervous – Old Amy would be nervous – but watching Rosa as the taller woman fumbles with her keys allows her to feel a small amount of control. It’s a nice feeling, one that has been sorely lacking since she was hurt. Though it’s unfortunate that it comes at Rosa’s expense, even that has its own sort of appeal.
Rosa wipes her palms on her pants, and Amy hides a smile.
They settle in the living room, which is tastefully – if minimally – decorated. Some trophies and awards clutter a shelf opposite the television, and a few old movie posters hang, professionally framed, on bare wall space. There is a decent sized bookshelf near the entrance to a hallway that Amy assumes leads to the bathroom and bedroom.
Rosa moves to the kitchen and gets them drinks, lingering for a second in front of Amy as she hands it over, before sitting down on the coffee table in front of her.
“So,” Rosa says, sipping her whiskey.
Amy blinks rapidly, tensing against the shivers that dance up her nerves. She knows, somewhere, that this might be partially related to her scattered state of mind, but right now all she wants to do it lean in and breathe in Rosa’s scent. She remembers it being warm and soothing, something that makes her feel safe. Instead, Amy takes a gulp of her apple juice – Rosa knows she hasn’t had a drop of anything stronger since she was hurt – and coughs a bit.
“So…” she replies, and it is like her conversation with Jake, except that she wishes Rosa would do all the talking instead of none.
Amy bites the inside of her cheek to keep from grinning. She appreciates the effort Rosa is going through, and finds her adorable as much as a stoic badass who can stop criminals in their tracks with a stare can be adorable.
Rosa rolls her eyes.
“Come on, you know I don’t do the sappy, huggy conversation crap.”
Amy nods, taking another sip of her juice before putting down near Rosa’s thigh. It takes all her willpower not to reach out and run her fingers along the dark slacks. She is becoming fixated on Rosa the way that a drowning man becomes fixated on the wavering, hazy light coming from the surface of the water. She knows it is crazy, but a part of her believes that she will finally be able to breathe easy and free if she just… touches Rosa.
“I know. And I appreciate it,” Amy says, pulling her hands back to her own personal space and forcing them into her lap. “I just… I don’t know what to say.”
This is a bald-faced lie. Amy knows what to say. There are thousands of words that are building up inside her, crowding at her throat, clawing to get out, to be set loose. But she feels, with a certainty that is absolute, that if she starts speaking she will not stop – she will continue on until she is an empty shell, a husk, until there is nothing left of who she was, and all that there is, is the person she has become since the shooting.
Amy shrugs helplessly, grimacing an apology. Rosa huffs and crosses her arms over her chest.
“This was a lot easier before you came back to work.” Rosa has always been curt and brutally honest, but there is something gentle and almost wistful about her words.
Amy misses their effortless interactions too, but not as much as she fears her own words cracking her like an egg and leaving her spilled all over the floor. So she deflects again.
“Yeah, um, I never thanked you… for that.”
Rosa looks uncomfortable and shrugs it off.
Now Amy raises an eyebrow.
“Uh, yeah there is. You basically lived with me for over a month.”
“No, not whatever. You never even let me pay for groceries, or laundry either. You were over so much, your boyfriend must have thought you were undercover!”
The last is said as casually as possible. Amy has noticed a distinct lack of any pictures of men – of anyone really. There is an absence of anything that would indicate any sort of regular visitor, though Amy hasn’t had a chance to see the bathroom yet.
Her attraction to Rosa undeniable, especially after how she practically attacked the other woman in Babylon, and Amy would be lying to herself if she didn’t feel guilty at the prospect of being a home wrecker. Not that she thought Rosa would cheat… Just that she wished the other woman would, and that made her feel dirty and like she should leave.
Rosa looks at her like she can see right through her. Her expression is a mix of mild amusement and reassurance, all conveyed through the eyes.
“We broke up.”
“Oh?” Amy asks, putting on her best air of indifference.
Rosa is not fooled.
Something breaks loose in Amy’s chest, and she takes a deep breath. Silence fills the room for a bit, and in it Amy looks at Rosa like she has wanted to since she woke up in that hospital bed, like she is allowed to want to now. A familiar tension takes hold of them, like all those times during the early part of Amy’s recovery, except now Amy doesn’t have to turn away; she is free to act on her desire. Amy stares at Rosa’s lips.
“We’re supposed to be talking,” Rosa reminds her, not impressed with the way Amy is distracted.
A surge of annoyance flashes through the shorter woman. She matches Rosa’s pose, arms crossed over her chest; she is not nearly as intimidating, regardless of her pique.
“Is this the part where I’m supposed to have a big meltdown, so that you can swoop in and be the hero?”
It is entirely unfair, and Amy regrets it as soon as it comes out of her mouth. Still, she can’t bring herself to apologize.
Rosa raises her eyebrow sharply, but her voice is gentle as Amy has ever heard it, infinitely patient.
“This is the part where you say whatever you need to say.”
Amy leans forward, hand sliding up Rosa’s thigh with a false confidence no one would believe.
“And if I don’t have anything to say?"
Rosa puts a hand over Amy's, stopping its progress but not pushing her away.
“Then don’t. But I bet you do. No judgment, you can just say whatever.”
Rosa’s eyes are kind but strong, and so inviting. Amy’s chest is suddenly a vice, and her ribs creak and ache. She pulls back, practically collapsing into herself.
“And what if what I have to say is... stupid, or crazy?”
“Did I stutter? I said, no judgment.”
The shaking that starts is so fine, Amy barely notices at first. But quickly, the world is quivering and quaking, like the ground is going to come apart under her. She gasps. Rosa starts to move forward, but Amy waves her off. She needs to do this.
“I… I’m afraid…” She admits. It feels like the hardest thing she has ever had to do. Rosa nods once, taking a deep, shuddering breath of her own. Amy continues. “I’m numb most of the time, and when I’m not, I am terrified. It’s like a shitty rollercoaster I can’t get off of.” There are no tears, only words that squeeze out of a closed throat. “But, what scares me the most is that the… numbness… that it won’t go away…”
Rosa rests a hand on her knee, and she grabs it, uses it like an anchor, because the words are coming now, like a torrent or a monsoon. And through it Rosa sits, face impassive, which lets Amy really let go, though when it is over, there are tears in the corners of the other woman's eyes. Amy’s face remains dry. She feels like a raw, exposed nerve, which is better than she has felt in like forever.
Rosa walks Amy home. They stand outside her apartment door for exactly one minute before Amy invites her in, and Rosa declines.
“Look, we both know we want to bone.” Rosa says, when Amy’s face falls. “That isn’t the issue.”
“You’ve… been through a lot in the last few months. It wouldn’t be right.”
“What, so I am too crazy? I thought no judgment!”
“You’re not crazy, you’re traumatized. No shame in that.” Amy gapes, insulted; Rosa shrugs. “I am not going to take advantage of you just to scratch an itch.”
“There are so many things wrong with what you said, I can’t even…”
“Take advantage? Scratch an itch? That is the most insulting bullcrap I have ever heard.”
“Look, I helped you when you were feeling low. We’re partners, I would do it again, but-"
“Oh please! First of all, I am a grown ass woman, and if I wanna bang someone, I am totally capable of making that decision!”
Rosa can't help herself. “Really? Bang?”
“Whatever, you say bone!”
Rosa’s eyebrow is less intimidating now, and much more annoying. Amy takes a long, deep breath.
“You aren’t better than me.”
“I never said-”
Amy holds up a finger.
“No. But you are acting like it. Like you have all the answers, and poor little Amy needs you to show her the way. Well, that is just… ridiculously condescending. I am adult. I may have suffered trauma, but I more than that.”
Rosa cocks her head to the side, frowning deeply. She seems to realize her verbal frugalness has led her down a dangerous path.
“I know. I was there once. Your impulse control is gonna be all over the place. It can lead to some… really bad mistakes.”
“I seem to be resisting the impulse to shake you pretty well. Mostly because I know you could twist me into a pretzel without breaking a sweat, but, whatever. And, second, maybe those are my mistakes to make! I get to make that call, not you.”
Rosa is silent, hardly breathing, like she is afraid to make the wrong move. It makes Amy angrier, makes her feel like the other woman thinks she is a wild animal on the verge of going ballistic. She knows that she is being unreasonable, that Rosa doesn’t think of her as less than, but she can’t help herself. In the absence of a tangible target, Rosa has become the face of Amy’s fears, where she was once a touchstone of security.
"Amy..." Rosa whispers, hand out as if to placate a feral animal. "You know it's not like that. I just don't want you to wake up tomorrow and regret it.
“You know what, that is fine. You’re right. We would have been a mistake. Thanks for saving me the trouble.”
Amy turns, fully intent on throwing open the door and storming in. Except that the door is locked, and she ends up pancaked against it. She has it open in another five seconds, but the sting of embarrassment is still sharp.
When she turns, Rosa is standing there looking at her like she wants to say something but can’t bring herself to. There is no amusement in her expression, only a weird sort of sadness, and that is almost worse.
Amy closes the door in her face, slowly, like she is giving the other woman a chance to stop her. She doesn’t.
Back against the door, Amy’s breath leaves her in a whoosh, and she slides down until she is sitting on the ground. She can’t decide whether she wants to cry or scream, so she settles for laughing.
On the other side of the door, Rosa raises her hand to knock, but lets it fall back to her side.