Thirty minutes before Monday morning's briefing, Matt was wiggling in anticipation and watching the elevator in anticipation.
"Why are you doing the pee-pee dance?" asked Dan.
"I'm not," said Matt. "I'm just so excited. Neil's back from leave today."
"You missed him, huh?" said Dan.
"Yeah, he's the greatest," sighed Matt dreamily. "Because of his body, and face, and brain, and body."
"Why did you say body twice?" asked Kevin suspiciously.
"It deserves to be mentioned twice," said Matt defensively.
"That's a little creepy, babe," said Dan. "You're sounding like a stalker."
"Neil is my friend," said Matt looking shifty. "I care about him a normal amount."
Dan looked over to where Andrew was sitting. "Didn't you and Neil come in together?" she asked.
Andrew looked up. "Who?"
"We know you're married, remember?" she said, rolling her eyes. "Don't worry; just because you opened up a little bit doesn't mean that anyone's less afraid of you. We're all still terrified."
"Good," replied Andrew.
"So you don't have to keep pretending that you hate him," said Dan.
"I do hate him," said Andrew. "In fact, when he shows up I'm going to stab him in the face."
"Like a sexy stab in the face?" asked Nicky. "Or an angry stab in the face?"
Everyone stared at him. "What?" he said defensively. "I really don't like to think about my cousin's sex life, vomit face, but he seems like he'd be into edgeplay, doesn't he?"
"Nobody ask Nicky why he knows what that is," said Kevin.
"Why do you?" Matt asked Kevin.
"Why do you?" Dan asked Matt.
Matt shrugged. "Fanfiction."
"Yes, me too," said Kevin hurriedly. "Fanfiction for me, too. Not porn. Or experience."
"Internet porn provided all of my knowledge, winky face," said Nicky. "Although, I did once have a boyfriend who really wanted to use a knife on me during sex," he continued. "...And outside of sex. He wasn't kinky, he just liked knives." He paused in thought. "I don't know why we broke up. I guess we just grew apart when he went to prison for life."
"Thanks to that story, I'll never go near a knife again," said Andrew.
Renee looked amused. "How many knives do you have hidden on your person right now?" she asked.
"Only three," defended Andrew. "Why, do you think it should be more?"
"Three knives is enough," said Dan decisively. "So is zero. In fact, zero would be best since Detective Gordon from the three-nine will be here for the morning briefing to give us an update from the joint drug task force."
"Oh, frowny face," said Nicky.
"Okay, I was trying to ignore it-" started Kevin.
"We all were," said Matt. "You're going to regret asking."
"-but why do you keep talking about faces?"
"The English language can't fully capture the depth and complexity of my thoughts," explained Nicky. "So I'm incorporating emojis into my speech to better express myself. Cartoony thumbs up."
Kevin looked pained, but Allison shushed him.
"Wait, go back," she said. "Dan, you said that Seth is coming here? I have to change my pants." She snapped the top button of her jeans open.
"Whoa, stop undressing in the bullpen," said Dan, looking disappointed. "You should know better. We just had sexual harassment training!"
"Fine," said Allison haughtily, heading to the elevator. "Pretend you don't want to see me pantsless."
"Back on topic," said Matt. "Where's Neil?"
"He's down in HR," said Kevin. "He had to sign a bunch of forms to end his medical leave and finalize his transfer."
"Sometimes I think that you and Neil are the ones who are married," said Dan.
"Why? Just because I have to know where he is and what he's doing at all times?" asked Kevin.
"That's a little worrying," said Dan.
"You would understand if you had been his partner for as long as I have," defended Kevin. "It's bad for my anxiety if I let Neil go be Neil out in the world without any supervision."
"He has a point," said Andrew.
"Still," said Dan. "Maybe we should have a talk about boundaries."
"So what you're saying is: we need to talk about Kevin," said Matt with excitement, eliciting a groan from Dan.
"I don't get it," said Kevin.
"It's the name of a movie," explained Dan.
"I still don't get it," said Kevin. "Why is that funny?"
"It isn't," said Nicky. "We're all just pretending. Smiley with its tongue poking out. Now, be a team player and laugh at Matt's terrible jokes."
"Hey!" said Matt. "I'm funny! I'll tell a joke right now." Everyone waited expectantly. "Well, this is too much pressure," he grumbled.
"Aw," said Nicky. "You really got my hopes up."
"I learned long ago that it's best not to have hopes," said Andrew.
"I have to believe that you know that that's not true," said Renee.
The elevator dinged. Matt looked at it eagerly, but it was just Allison returning, now wearing extremely tight black leather pants. "How do they look?" she asked, gesturing at her crotch.
"They're certainly very tight," said Renee. "I'm impressed that you wriggled into them in less than ten minutes."
"Or at all," added Dan.
Allison twirled around. "They're pretty great, huh? They really show off my ass and my thigh gap."
"Ah, yes, my favourite part of a woman," said Nicky dreamily. "There's nothing more intoxicating than the clear absence of a penis."
"Seth's going to be so sorry that he was ever a jerk to me," said Allison. "I'm going to get him all hot and bothered and then staple him right between the eyes."
"Maybe you could just imagine doing that," suggested Dan. "It'd be probably just as fun as actually doing it, right?"
"No," said Allison.
"I hate to agree with Allison, but she's right," said Kevin. "Imagination is never the solution."
"Maybe I'll just strangle him with my thighs," mused Allison.
"Yup, that's worse," said Dan.
"Or!" said Allison, pointing at Dan, "I'll seduce him, but then tell him that I've become a born-again Christian so I'm no longer engaging in premarital sex so he'll have to propose and then I'll make him help me plan a wedding and leave him at the altar and embarrass him in front of all his friends and family!"
"Yeah, no, that's bad in a different way," said Dan.
"It also won't work," piped up Renee. "Seth once said that marriage was for women and gays."
"Yeah," said Allison wistfully. "He really is the worst, isn't he?"
"Who is?" asked Neil from where he'd been able to enter the bullpen almost completely unnoticed.
"Neil!" shrieked Matt happily, rushing forward to hug him. "You're back! How was your vacation?"
"It wasn't a vacation," scoffed Kevin. "It was a medically mandated leave-of-absence."
"I only take one vacation a year," said Neil. "Andrew and I take an annual fall driving tour of upstate New York."
Matt paused. "You and Andrew take a yearly romantic trip together?"
"I can't really picture Andrew being romantic," said Dan doubtfully.
"I guess I can understand the sex part of your relationship, but romance? No way," added Allison, shaking her head.
"No, it's great," defended Neil. "The two of us drive in silence and look at the barren trees."
"And we get pie," Andrew added.
"Like homemade pie made with actual real fruit?" asked Kevin, sounding impressed. "That's better than all the chemicals masquerading as food you usually put in your body." He pointedly eyed Andrew's bag of pre-meeting Cheetos.
Andrew shrugged. "Everything's made of chemicals, if you really think about it. Plants are full of them."
"Water's a chemical," said Neil helpfully.
"And I don't know why you're always complaining about me not eating vegetables," continued Andrew. "I eat vegetables all the time."
"Name one," said Kevin haughtily.
Kevin sputtered. "Chocolate is not a vegetable."
"A vegetable is just something that comes from a plant," said Andrew. "Ergo, chocolate is a vegetable."
"That's… that's not…" said Kevin at a loss.
"Quick everyone, what's your favourite vegetable?" asked Allison. "Mine's sugar." Kevin gave a low moan.
"Cinnamon," offered Dan.
"Coffee," said Renee.
"Rubber!" cried Nicky.
"So then is cyanide a vegetable?" asked Matt.
"Yup," said Neil. "Just like nicotine, which is why smoking is good for you."
"No, no, NO!" shouted Kevin. "STOP! I'm super glad everyone feels comfortable joking about this," he continued, sounding slightly hysterical, "but you have to stop now. And reassure me that all of you actually know what a vegetable is."
"You can't think that asking that question will go well for you," said Dan.
"Why are none of you chuckleheads ready for the morning briefing?" asked Wymack, sticking his head out from his office. "Do any of you actually do your jobs?"
"We do good work!" protested Dan. "Our arrest records are excellent."
"And yet crime continues," replied Wymack. "Get in the briefing room before I decide that this precinct has too many detectives since you clearly don't have enough work based on the amount of socializing you do."
"Calm down, there's no need to point fingers," said Allison. "At us. It's clearly Kevin's fault. He was distracting the rest of us."
"Hey!" said Kevin. "You were talking, too!"
"Don't be ridiculous," said Wymack, "not everything can be Kevin's fault.
"Thanks, Da-" said Kevin, before awkwardly continuing, "-aptain. Daptain. It's the cool new way of saying Captain." He grimaced. "It's from the world of hip-hop. Love you," he finished as he disappeared into the meeting room.
Wymack pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. "Nobody say anything," he growled.
"Zippered lips face," whispered Nicky.
"You're fired," said Wymack.
Seth strolled into the morning briefing seventeen minutes late. "Hey, losers," he said.
"Well if it isn't Detective Bad-At-His-Job," said Neil, glaring and crossing his arms petulantly. He was still annoyed about the time that Seth had arrested him for impersonating a cop.
"Here's a little advice," said Seth, returning the glare. "I don't like you."
"Words to live by," said Andrew.
"But not, technically, advice," said Kevin.
"Who asked you, Poindexter?" sneered Seth.
"Hey!" said Allison. "Kevin may be an annoying know-it-all with a stick up his ass, but he's our annoying know-it-all. You shut your jerk face."
Kevin looked oddly touched.
"Don't get any ideas," said Allison, pointing at him. "You're still the worst and nobody likes you."
Seth gave Allison a blatant once-over. "You're looking fine," he said.
"You did always like it when I was mean," said Allison, examining her nails.
"You're so good at it," said Seth.
"I'm good at everything," said Allison. "Except modesty. I'm great at modesty."
Seth chuckled and leered. "Miss me, Princess?"
"Yeah," said Allison sweetly, "like I miss a rock in my shoe."
"Is she flirting with him or insulting him?" asked Neil. "I can't tell."
"Of course you can't," scoffed Nicky. "You're married to someone who thinks those two things are interchangeable."
"Wow, Shortbus, you convinced some dumb chick to marry you?" asked Seth.
Neil blinked. "Yes," he said slowly. "She's a strong, female woman with heavy breasts." Matt choked on a laugh while Andrew looked distinctly unimpressed.
"Noice," said Seth and offered his fist for a fist-bump.
Neil looked at him blankly. "I'm not willingly touching you."
"That's probably a good choice," said Dan. "Can we get back on topic before the Captain has an aneurysm?"
"How can we get back on topic if we were never on topic to begin with?" wondered Renee.
"No, please," said Wymack. "Continue to waste my time by discussing your personal lives."
"Ooookay," said Nicky doubtfully. "Last weekend I-"
"I could not have been more clearly being sarcastic," interrupted Wymack. "Gordon, tell us why the hell you're here."
"Listen up, nerds," said Seth. "The drug task force has noticed a marked increase of a new party drug called Giggle Pig recently."
"Terrible name," said Matt.
"Who came up with that?" asked Dan.
Seth gave her a lewd wink. "We've narrowed the origin of Giggle Pig down three clubs in this precinct. Some of you will have to go undercover to identify the dealers so that we can lean on them to find their suppliers."
"Oooo, I can do it!" said Nicky.
"No you-" started Dan, but Nicky cut her off with a shriek.
"Drugs?!" he cried. He grasped Matt's shirt in his fists and shook. "Drugs? Does anyone have any drugs?" He got up and rushed to Kevin. "Please, I need them! Please, please, please. I need drugs." He turned to Allison. "You! Give me drugs! NOW!" He collapsed on the floor and seized. "...drugs…" he whimpered, before falling still.
Everyone stared at Nicky's prone body. He sat up and grinned. "Wow," he said, "that felt amazing. I really disappeared into it." He paused thoughtfully. "Should I become an actor?"
"Absolutely not," said Andrew.
"Also," said Dan, "you cannot go undercover because you're not a cop."
"How am I not a cop?" asked Nicky angrily. "Is it because I don't have a badge?"
"Yes," said Wymack.
"I don't need a badge," argued Nicky. "Being a cop is a state of mind."
"It's definitely not," said Dan.
There was a beat. "Aaaanyway," said Allison. "Why don't we send Neil, a known heterosexual? I'm sure he can flirt the information out of the party girls."
"No," said Andrew, then, "Neil's epically bad at flirting."
"Joke's on you, I flirted well enough to get married and now my spouse is stuck with me," said Neil.
"Lucky," muttered Matt.
"Andrew, are doubting Neil's female wife's taste in men?" asked Nicky.
Allison smiled smugly. "It seems that Neil's other half doesn't approve," she said.
Seth glanced between Neil and Allison in confusion, then his face cleared in understanding. "Ah, you're saddled with a clingy, possessive type?"
Neil opened his mouth to speak but then closed it and looked thoughtful. "Yes, actually," he said. Andrew looked nonplussed while Neil continued, "Although I would use the word 'protective'."
"I've dated girls like that," Seth said sagely.
"I sincerely doubt that," said Neil.
Seth waited for an explanation; when none came he spoke up. "Well, I've had enough of all of you wankstains, so I'm gonna make like a turd and get out of this shithole." He pointed finger guns at Allison. "Unless you wanna hook up real quick?"
"Charming," said Dan dryly. "How did you ever let him go?"
"Allison, we really have to find you someone better," declared Matt.
"Won't be hard," said Nicky.
After work everyone headed to the bar to celebrate Neil's official transfer. Nicky spent the first twenty minutes too emotional to speak because Aaron showed up and took a seat on Andrew's right while Andrew had his left arm casually draped around Neil.
"Alright, everyone shut up," said Wymack, standing. "I have something to say." He awkwardly cleared his throat. "I want to officially welcome Neil, who filled a place in our precinct that we didn't even notice was empty until he joined us. You're an aggravating bunch of distracting, awkward, childish weirdos and I wouldn't want to work with anyone else."
"Even me, Captain?" asked Nicky.
"Even Kevin?" asked Allison with disbelief.
Wymack sighed deeply. "Everyone here has unique assets that make the nine-nine such an interesting place to work." He raised his glass. "To the nine-nine!"
"Nine-nine!" toasted the rest of them.
"Happy crying face," added Nicky.