Amy turned around, and nearly dropped the files she had just pulled. Rosa leaned against the doorframe, arms folded across her chest, her expression as impassive and vaguely scary as ever. “Didn’t mean to startle you. I need your help.”
Amy grinned, and then, seeing Rosa’s expression, quickly rearranged her expression into a more neutral one. “What’s going on?”
“I just picked up a coke addict who’s more than willing to snitch on his dealer. He doesn’t seem to know much, but I got a first name, a description, and a lead on where I might find her.”
“Nice,” said Amy. “Why do you need me?”
Rosa rolled her eyes. “Suspect answers to the name of Helena and is a regular at the V Street Bar. Also she hates coffee. I need back-up and you’re it.”
Amy’s eyes widened. “Isn’t that a—”
“Yeah, Santiago, it’s a lesbian bar. That’s why I’m telling you in here and not out there.”
Amy nodded. “Right. Jake would never shut up.”
“Right. So, you in? We go to V Street, get eyes on this Helena and get her to accidentally reveal her high status in the criminal underworld.”
“Oh, I’m in,” said Amy, doing her best to sound enthusiastic. “You and me, undercover as lesbians. Going out to a lesbian bar with my girlfriend. Gonna get down with my bitches and maybe catch a coke lord. Er, coke lady. Er—”
Rosa cut her off, shaking her head. “Okay, that got weird really fast. You sure you’re cool with this?”
“Of course I’m cool,” Amy babbled. “I’m always cool. You all think I’m so tightly wound, but actually I’m the queen of laid-back. That’s what they say about me down at the bars. That Santiago, she’s laid-back as—”
“Amy,” said Rosa sternly, “you cannot be like that. Nervous is fine, good even. But if you’re gonna overcompensate, then I’ll have to take Boyle. He can be my sad friend.”
Amy swallowed. “Okay. Sorry. I can do this.”
Rosa nodded. “I know you can. Meet you at V Street at eight.”
“Two beers,” said Rosa lazily to the bartender, who quite obviously appreciated her biker look. She nodded, favoring her with a flirtatious smile.
“And I’ll have two beers too,” said Amy, and the bartender raised an eyebrow.
“New meat,” said Rosa hastily, and the bartender nodded and served their beers, still looking quizzically at Amy. Thinking fast, Amy handed her a five-dollar tip, at which she grinned hugely, winked, and moved to serve other patrons.
Rosa elbowed Amy in the side. “Okay, what is going on with you? We’re here to work, not get drunk.”
“I know,” said Amy. “I just never thought I’d be at one of these places.”
Rosa raised an eyebrow. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Amy shrugged. “In college I was too busy focusing on, you know, academics. I didn’t have time to even go to straight bars most of the time. And then people stopped inviting me because I kept bringing my astronomy homework. Apparently that wasn't part of having a good time.”
Rosa leaned back, discreetly scanning the other women at the bar as she did so. “So you’re not uncomfortable with lesbian stuff, you’re uncomfortable with not having done lesbian stuff.”
Amy nodded. “Yeah. I mean, who hasn’t had, you know, thoughts? But now I’m with Jake, and I’m happy, and that’s great. But this whole case does kind of feel like a road not taken.”
Rosa shrugged. “I’m sure Jake wouldn’t mind watching you make out with a girl.”
Amy laughed. “No, but I’m given to understand that real lesbians are so not cool with that kind of thing. And I get why.”
Rosa nodded. Then she sat up straight. “Look over there. That woman being all pushy with the bartender like she owns the place.” She and Amy both leaned forward to listen.
“Look, Helena, I’m sorry your life is mess right now,” the bartender was saying, “but I cannot ban your ex-girlfriend just because you asked me to. She hasn’t done anything to anyone here.”
“But I’m your best customer!” said Helena angrily. “And she…she smells like coffee! All the time! There’s your reason! She works at that corporate cesspool and she brings the stench of it here!”
“She doesn’t, though,” the bartender pointed out. “She’s never once come in here reeking of coffee. You just think that because you hang out at her workplace.”
“I don’t!” Helena whined. “They’ve banned me! Something about harassment. As if! She’s harassment! Her existence is harassment to the world!”
“Go home, Helena, you’re drunk,” the bartender advised her.
“At eight-thirty?” Amy whispered. “Her life must be so sad.”
“Well, I did arrest one of her richest customers,” said Rosa. “That on top of getting dumped? Ouch. Shall we be gracious and walk her to the subway?”
Amy grinned. “Sounds like a plan.”
“That was way too easy,” Amy complained, once Helena was locked up.
“We’re not done, though,” Rosa reminded her. “We can’t question her while she’s drunk. That wouldn’t be admissible.”
“She was raving about how she got into cocaine to cut into the market share of that lesser drug, caffeine,” Amy pointed out. “She’s a broken shell of a person. I’d feel sorry for her if she hadn’t been so rude to that bartender.”
Rosa blinked. “You want to go back there, don’t you. And actually get drunk this time.”
Amy quickly shook her head. “No, I don’t.”
Rosa nodded. “Sure you do, and that’s okay. You’re not required to be a lesbian or bisexual or whatever just to go to a lesbian bar. It’s about community. Tell you what, I’ll go with you.”
Amy smiled. “You’d do that?”
“Sure. It’d give me a whole new arsenal of stuff to make fun of you for.”
Amy made a face. “Thanks. But what do I tell Jake?”
“The truth. He’ll be super-annoying, but ultimately cool with it.”
Amy grinned. “I think you’re right.”
Rosa nodded. “I’m always right.”
“Don’t push it.”