It was nine o'clock on a cold but sunny March day. Holt had spent a full three minutes deciding whether to wear a heavy coat or a light one that morning. He was in his office, talking on the phone when Díaz knocked on his door. He gestured to her to come in.
“Yes,” Holt said into his phone. “Yes, that will be adequate. Goodbye.” He hung up.
Díaz nodded her head toward the phone. “Was that Kevin?”
Holt sat back on his chair. “Your observation skills are up to par. How could you tell?”
Díaz jerked her shoulders in a shrug. “The warmth in your voice.”
Holt nodded thoughtfully. “I'm afraid the proximity of my holiday might be making me, as Peralta would say, 'sappy'.” Two weeks ago, Holt had walked into the debriefing room and informed the squad that he would be going away on a five-day holiday to “Facilitate relaxation and ensure I will continue doing my job with optimum productivity”, and that Rosa Díaz would become Terry's second in command while he was gone. Today was the day his vacation would start. “Kevin was informing me that he has signed us up for a couple's pottery class.”
“Don't care.” She dropped some documents on his desk. “These need to be signed before you leave.”
Holt took them and read through the first page. “Thank you. Anything else?” Díaz shook her head. “You are dismissed.”
Díaz left the room and Holt busied himself with finishing the paperwork.
At ten o'clock, an impromptu game of The Floor Is Lava broke out in the precinct. Holt tolerated it for twenty-three minutes, as previous experiences showed the team's productivity peaked when they were allowed that length of time to “goof off”.
When he finally left his office to intervene, Hitchcock was lying flat on the ground while a shirtless Scully looked at him forlornly from his position perched on top of a desk. Boyle was giving Peralta a piggy back ride while yelling something about sacrificing himself, and Peralta himself was wearing a bin as a helmet and waving his baton as a sword. Meanwhile, Santiago was primly sitting behind her desk filing a report - while keeping her heeled feet lifted away from the ground, Holt noticed.
“That will be enough,” Holt said.
“Captain, no, you're touching the floor!” Hitchcock bemoaned.
“Enough,” Holt repeated more loudly. Terry sheepishly jumped off the cabinet he had been sitting on while Santiago lowered her feet to the ground. “This is a police precinct, not a playground. Everyone go back to work.”
He turned around, arms crossed behind his back, and headed for his office.
“Captain Holt,” Díaz stopped him on his way there. Her jaw was particularly tense. “We have a situation.”
“Come into my office,” Holt said, and she followed him into the room. He sat down behind his desk. “What is it?”
“We've found signs that there might be a new source of Giggle Pig in the city.” She threw a folder on his table. “We should act now.”
Holt put his reading glasses on. “What's the situation?”
“Two dealers have been arrested, and we don't know who the supplier might be,” Díaz said.
“Mmh. I see.” Holt turned the pages on the folder. “Ms Díaz, this should be your top priority while I'm gone.”
Díaz scowled harder. “But sir, you can't leave. This could become an emergency.”
“I have utter confidence that you will handle this with the professionalism it requires.” He gave her back the folder. His phone rang and he lifted a finger to signal at her to wait while he took the call. “Yes? I see. Correct.” He pressed the phone against his chest. “Kevin has informed me he has booked a bird watching tour.”
“Ew,” Díaz deadpanned, standing up. “I'm leaving.”
She walked briskly out of the office and Holt made a mental note to check on her.
At midday Kevin came into his office. He was carrying with him a container of vegetable soup for himself and a peanut butter sandwich for Holt.
“You know it's inappropriate to be visited by your spouse at work,” Holt said as Kevin settled down on the chair across his desk.
“It's the day before our romantic getaway. Perhaps rules can be loosened a little for a day,” Kevin said as he placed two mineral water bottles on the desk.
“Perhaps,” Holt agreed and Kevin smiled warmly at him. He had nearly finished his sandwich when Díaz pushed the door of his office open.
“We've found a lead on who might be the dealers' supplier,” she announced without bothering to greet either of them.
“Good.” Holt wiped his hands with a paper napkin. “How will you proceed?”
Díaz rolled her eyes. “I'm organizing an undercover operation to catch him. Jake will pretend to be a potential buyer while Boyle and Santiago cover him.”
“You seem to have everything under control.” Holt threw the napkin into his bin. “Anything else?”
She hesitated at the door. Kevin turned in his chair to look at her. They locked eyes, and then she turned on her heels and slammed the door behind herself.
Interesting, Holt thought.
“That was peculiar.” Holt picked up his sandwich once again. “I have entrusted Díaz with responsibilities like these in the past and she never seemed overly anxious. Perhaps leaving her in charge for five days is too big a challenge for her at this stage of her career?”
“I think there might be a different reason for her anxiety.” Kevin left the now empty container of soup on his desk. Holt tilted his head to show he was listening. “I was doing Marcus' laundry this morning and I found a box with an engagement ring in one of his jeans' pockets.”
“Ah.” Holt leaned forward in his seat and made a bridge with his hands. “You think Díaz might have managed to discern that he's about to propose.”
“It's as you always say,” Kevin folded his hands over his lap, “Rosa is a brilliant detective.”
“And you believe that the reason she has been visiting my office numerous times during the course of the morning is that she is building up the courage to ask for my help?” Kevin nodded. Holt tapped his chin with his finger. “But why would she come to me?”
“She respects your opinion,” Kevin said. “Your whole squad does. And I believe she might have found similarities between your approach to romance and hers. She might have seen what we've built together, and thought that you could provide her with some insight into how to build a lasting relationship.”
Holt went silent, eyes unfocused. Kevin simply waited as he worked through it.
“Despite the fact that we were one of the first gay couples in the state to get married,” Holt finally said, “I've never thought of myself as a romantic role model.”
Kevin, who knew him better than anyone in the world, smiled softly and reached across the table to rest a hand on his.
“I don't see why you wouldn't be one,” he said gently. “After all, during the years we've been together, you have made me very happy.”
Holt looked at him. Kevin meet his gaze with that same barely there smile on his lips.
“Have I?” Holt asked.
Not one of the detectives at the other side of the office's door would have been able to detect a trace of emotion in his voice.
But Kevin did.
“Yes, Ray. You've made me very happy,” he said softly.
Holt’s expression softened. Then he sat back, pulling his hand away from Kevin's touch, but his husband had been expecting that and took it in his stride.
“Public displays of affection are not appropriate for the workplace,” he said as he stood up and fixed his tie.
“Indeed.” Kevin stood up too. “I'll see you later this evening.” He gathered his things and got ready to leave. Holt walked him to the door of his office. “Oh, I forgot to mention, I have signed us up for a drawing class, too.”
Holt paused with his hand on the doorknob. “It will be very educational.”
Holt opened the door for him, and with one last private smile, Kevin left.
“Technically, agents are only supposed to access this part of the building when they're working on an investigation,” Holt said when he found Rosa.
They were in the evidence room, a room full of rows of shelves with benches between them. Díaz was standing between two of the shelves, facing away from the door. There was a small fact about good police officers: after a while, they developed a habit of never turning their back to an entrance. Díaz was a very good police officer. She had to be very distressed, to lose her instincts like that. Holt should have been paying more attention to her. Her well-being and that of the rest of his team was his responsibility, after all.
“Then what are you doing here?” Díaz shot back.
“As the precinct's commander officer, I'm allowed to make certain executive decisions.” He put his hands in his pockets. “I thought you could benefit from a talk.”
Díaz turned around, arms still crossed and chin out, like a child preparing for a fight. Her eyeliner, at least, showed no signs of being smudged. Holt was grateful for that.
“What do you want?” she practically spat.
“I know about the ring,” he said.
She frowned. “You do?”
“Kevin told me. He also suggested that you might be feeling somewhat conflicted about the situation. He's,” Holt paused, not being the sort of person who felt comfortable admitting to weakness, “more observant than I am, in certain matters.”
She snorted and leaned back against the painted brick wall. “So what, are you here to tell me that I should marry him because marriage is amazing?”
“No, I'm not.” His words seemed to startle her. “No one but you is qualified for deciding whether you should marry him. I'm merely here to... offer my assistance, as someone more experienced in marital matters.”
She grimaced. “Please never say the phrase 'marital matters' again.”
“I am regretting my choice of words, yes,” Holt agreed. He sat on one the bench between the shelves. “May I ask why you're having doubts?”
Díaz didn't sit next to him, but she did push herself away from the wall and took a step closer to him. She didn't say anything, at first, but like Kevin had done for him earlier that day, he waited.
“How do you do it?” she finally said.
Holt arched his eyebrows. “You'll have to be more specific.”
“Be with Kevin. You're...” she made a sharp gesture with her arm. “Like me, and yet you've been all lovey dovey with him all morning. How can you do it?”
Holt shifted on the bench. “I confess it doesn't come naturally to me.”
The crease between Díaz’s brows deepened. “It doesn't?”
Holt shook his head. “No.”
“But it's different with the right person. Isn't that what people always say?” She sat down heavily on the bench, arms crossed.
“I have heard that said, yes,” Holt confirmed. “However, in my experience meeting the right person doesn't fundamentally change your nature. It just... Inspires you to do better.” He watched Díaz. “Does Marcus inspire that in you?”
Díaz glared at the floor with an expression Holt had seen her successfully use to make grown men cry.
“Maybe,” she said after a while.
“Mmh. I am not by any means an expert, but that seems like a good sign,” Holt pointed out.
She stopped staring down at the ground to finally look at him. “What if it's not enough. What if he needs more than my best.” Her voice sounded flat and emotionless, but Holt knew better.
Holt thought about patient Kevin, who knew how to read a 'I love you' into what everyone else would interpret as acts of pure pragmatism. Who never demanded more than Holt could give him.
Kevin, who was happy with him.
He rested his hands on his knees. “Perhaps the right person to be with is someone for whom your very best is enough.”
Rosa lowered her head, seemingly lost in thought. Holt pushed himself up to his feet.
“I believe I've given you a lot to think about. If you ever want someone to talk with, my door is always open” He stood in front of her and, after some hesitation, he squeezed her shoulder.
Díaz didn't attempt to break his wrist for it.
Holt put his hands back in his pockets and left the room.
Three days later, in the middle of the couples live drawing class organized by the B&B they were staying in, he got a phone call.
“Yes. I see. Your mother will be pleased to hear the news. Yes. Goodbye.” He hung up. Kevin looked at him expectantly. “Marcus called,” he informed him. “He and Díaz are now engaged.”
“That's is great news.” Kevin returned his attention to the sketchbook in his easel. “I'll make sure to send them an engagement gift.”
“That will be appropriate.” Holt agreed.
“How are you enjoying the class, by the way?” Kevin asked, glancing at him “I know it's very different from your usual oil paintings of your rock...”
“I'm finding drawing those fruits enjoyable,” Holt reassured him. Kevin smiled, pleased. “How about you? Is this romantic getaway meeting your expectations?”
Kevin thought about the question for a while. “If I'm honest, it's surpassing them.”
“I'm glad to hear that,” Holt said.
Every other couple in the room was focused on their own sketches. Ray discreetly reached for Kevin's hand and squeezed it. Kevin squeezed back.