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Best Laid Plans

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Santiago isn’t being nosy. If when she goes to make copies of a report, she happens to overhear Boyle trying to convince Diaz to take part in “Operation How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” it is because he is speaking way too loud.

If she opens a letter and happens to read a note to Rosa from Gina, detailing a secret rendezvous in Babylon to discuss the “Amy Situation” – this makes her twinge a little inside, but she resolutely ignores it – it is only because it is left, unmarked, on her desk, and she needs to know who it was intended for. She slips the enveloped letter onto Rosa’s desk when the other woman is eating lunch.

And really, if she just happens to be outside Babylon just as Rosa shoves open the door, looking back over her shoulder and growling ‘mind your own business’ at Gina, it is only because she is tired of feeling like a bug in the jar of the bullpen, and is looking for reprieve.

She barely has time to jump out of Rosa’s way as she storms away from the secret bathroom.

“Shit. Amy.” Rosa grunts, reaching out to steady the smaller woman. Her hand stops short of making contact, face briefly contorting in what could be regret. Amy feels the heat and pressure of her hand anyway, sways towards Rosa, trembling for a moment, before pulling herself together.

“Rosa… Hey.” She tries for casual, but even to her own ears the words sound stunted.

“Hey.” Rosa responds in kind, stoic, though Amy has gotten good at reading the taller woman’s expressions, can see the uncertainty in her eyes.

“So…” Amy trails off, words again coming out lame. Her fingers twitch, like she’s typing on an invisible keyboard, and she makes fists in an attempt to still them.

Rosa raises an eyebrow. “How’ve you been?” She asks in that deadpan sort of way that she has, which tries to imply that she couldn’t care less about the answer, but really means she is hanging on every word.

The first time Amy heard that particular was on a DV turned murder they were working together.  A distant part of her is charmed and concerned that it is directed at her.

“Oh, you know…” Amy catches sight of Gina, who is leaning against the door jam, staring at them with the intensity of a mongoose stalking its prey. Which is what she is, in Amy’s opinion, an annoying weasel who should mind her own business.

The thought is unkind and uncalled for, and Amy flushes in shame.

Rosa looks over her shoulder and glowers at Gina, who sighs dramatically and throws her hands in the air.

“Fiiiiine,” she whines, awkwardly rising to Pointe and toe walking, badly, past the other two women. She slap-grabs Rosa’s ass on the way past.

“Hey!” Rosa snaps, but there is no heat to it, only a resigned sort of annoyed acceptance. White hot jealousy flashes through Amy, but she immediately tamps it down, knowing she doesn’t have the right.

“I can tell this is an ‘A’ and ‘B’ convo, so I’m gonna ‘C’ my way out of it. Okay? Okay! Have fun angsting the place up. Be sure to use the febreeze after, dom’t need your bad vibes throwing off my jam. Toodles!”

Gina is gone with a swish.

“Well, that was…”

“Stupid.” Rosa offers, shrugging. “She’s being more of a pain in the ass than usual.”

“Hmmm, yeah… So, what were you guys talking about?” Amy asks, scratching at the back of her neck, trying for nonchalant.

“Why do you care?” Rosa snaps, suddenly agitated.

“I-I don’t.” Amy winces at how weak her reply sounds. Of course she cares; she wouldn’t have asked otherwise.


They stand, Rosa frowning, Amy fidgeting and clearing her throat. After a few moments, Rosa’s expression softens, and she sighs.

“How are you, really?”

Swallowing hard, Amy attempts a casual smile, but from the look on Rosa’s face, she can tell she has failed. She cringes instead, shrugging with one shoulder.

“You know… surviving.” Her smile is sincere this time, but only because it is self-deprecating.

“Not sleeping, huh?” Rosa asks, and Amy flashes back to mugs of warm milk and honey, and Rosa in old Academy sweats sitting next to her on the couch.

“No… not really.”

Rosa nods once, regret flashing over her face for a moment as she runs her fingers through thick curls.

“I know you don’t usually go for being medicated, but you really need to get rest so you can heal. I’m sure the doctor can prescribe you something. Nothing intense, but you know, so you can sleep.”

Rosa has that look on her face, the one she would get right before she would pull Amy into her arms when she was having a panic attack, all soft around the eyes and mouth. It makes Amy feel safe. It’s why she doesn’t think before she responds.

“What doctor?”

“Dr. Lipchitz…” The taller woman blinks slowly, her expression hardening. Amy gulps. “The staff psychologist who is supposed to be handling your trauma counseling now that you’re back at work. The one you are supposed to be seeing twice a week.”

Amy wishes that there was some way that the ground could open up and swallow her whole. She closes her eyes for a second and holds her breath, but after a few seconds when she is still standing there, she opens her eyes again and settles for avoiding Rosa’s eyes.

“Oh. Yeah. Him.”

“You haven’t gone. At all. Have you?”


Santiago thinks hard about lying, really considers it, but knows it is futile. She is the world’s worst fibber, and Diaz can smell lies a mile away, like some sort of genetically altered hound that detects bullshit instead of blood. Or a polygraph, maybe that would be more accurate. A polygraph with amazing hair and a scary glower.

“No. No I haven’t. I just don’t see the point.”

“You don’t see the point?” Rosa repeats, eyes narrowing as if she is trying to decipher some sort of advanced code. It makes her nose crinkle, the effect both endearing and a little frightening.


“Is that a question or answer?”

“Yes?” Amy tries again.

Rosa takes a long, deep breath, body tight with barely restrained anger. As the air leaves her in a loud rush though, the fight seems to go out of her, and she is left looking defeated.

“Whatever,” she says, and it is like a punch to Amy’s gut. “You’re a grown woman who can make your own decisions. It’s too bad you’re making a stupid one.”

“Hey! That’s not fair!”

Amy doesn’t think she has ever had such a fierce look directed at her in her life.

“Life isn’t fair! The Detective Santiago I know understands that. She fought hard for everything she has.”

“Rosa…” Amy whispers, a mixture of sadness, fear, and shame mixing in her chest. She is trying – she really is. Why can’t her friend see that?

“No. The Detective Santiago I know would make sure that she takes care of business – wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of her being the best. She would not hesitate.”

“I was shot! God, Rosa, I almost died.”

“You think I don’t know that?! I was there, Amy. More than you were. I had to see it. I had to see you lying there, knowing you took bullets for me – that you were bleeding out because I was too slow.”


Rosa holds up a hand and shakes her head, but Amy ignores it.

“I’m, I’m sorry you had to go through that. But, it’s… I… You don’t understand.”

“If anyone does, it’s me. But what you aren’t getting is that this is not something that is just going to go away.  It will get worse, until you can’t work. Until you can’t sleep, or eat – until you can’t function.”

Now Amy was annoyed – not quite angry, but on her way.

“And what? You’re telling me you just skipped off to see a shrink? You never let anyone help you with anything. When you broke you arm three years ago, you threatened to kill the doctor unless he let you set your own bone!”

Rosa shrugs.

“He was a quack.”

“He was the Chief of Orthopedics!”

“Whatever. Not the point.”

“What is the point?”

“The point is, mental health is different. That woman I told you about – the one that got mugged in that alley because I was too much of a wuss to patrol it properly?”


“She came to see me at the station – to thank me for helping her.” Rosa looked disgusted with herself. “I didn’t deserve that. I let her get mugged – that was my fault. And there she was, thanking me.” Her glare turns towards Amy, full force. “Is that what you want?”

“It’s… That’s not the same…”

“You’re right, it’s more important. We’re detectives. We put away really bad people. Rapists. Murders. People that ruin people’s lives on a massive scale.” Pausing, Rosa, looks at Amy’s chest. It is the least sexual look Amy has ever gotten. “People like that guy that shot you.”

Santiago swallows hard, ignoring the urge to hyper ventilate, mind idly noting that this may the most talking she has ever heard the other woman do before.

“That guy – turns out he cleaned over a dozen people’s life savings out. Two of ‘em… They lost hope.” Rosa pauses, reaching out and taking both of Amy’s shoulder’s in her hands, holding firmly. “I know I gave you shit, Santiago, but you saved my life.”


“You did. Plain and simple.” Rosa lets her hands drop, running one through her hair restlessly. “I’m not asking you to do that again. What I am asking is that you save yourself. You’re drowning. I know because I was there. It seems fine now, but it gets unbearable really quick.”

Diaz doesn’t give her enough credit – she may be shaky, but she is holding it together. She wants to say as much, but the look on the taller woman’s face is subtly pleading, and she can’t bring herself to be contrary.

“Don’t let that happen. If you did, if you lost everything you’ve worked so hard for over me…”

Rosa closes her eyes, clearly pained, and Amy can’t help but reach out and cup her cheek. Rosa flinches but doesn’t pull away, leaning into the contact briefly instead. Amy swears she feels the other woman’s lips brush over her palm, but she can’t be sure.

“Please. At least talk to the doctor once. If you can’t do it for you, do it for me.”

Then, Rosa is moving, kissing her soft and sweet, before pulling away and disappearing back into the prescient.

Dazed, Amy can only blink hard a few times and lean against the wall for support.



Jake Peralta has never seen Rosa Diaz so emotionally effected before. Which is saying something, because they have been friends – as much as it is possible to be friends with someone as enigmatic and evasive as Rosa Diaz aka the Latina Loch Ness Monster – since the Academy.

He has seen her all manner of mess. Drunk and bleeding after a bar fight (you should have seen the other guy). Pissed after a breakup (also should have seen the other guy). He’s seen her after three days of no sleep.

He was the first person she called after her one and only car accident (three broken ribs, a busted collarbone, and a shiner that took up half her face). He was there the first time she caught a case that involved the death of a child (a DV case that turned murder; the perp was conveniently left in a room alone with Diaz and no camera), and the first time she fired her weapon at a perp.

They had seen each other through a lot of crap, but through it all, Rosa had a steel sort of reserve about her. She wasn’t a machine – if you knew where to look there was emotion – but she was stoic as a statue.

Which is why watching Rosa now, as she stands in the center of the boxing ring (it was nice having a gym attached to the prescient), her skin sweat slick, face red from exertion and the few hits she’s taken, Jake is a little worried. It’s all in the eyes with Diaz, and right now they are wild and way too bright, like his were after the first time he saw the extended cut of Apocalypse Now and couldn’t stop shaking and couldn’t talk for a whole day. She the look of someone who had see things she shouldn’t, and was fighting to try and forget.

“Rosa,” he calls, coming up to the ring and waving her over. She ignores him.

There is a long line of men waiting to jump in and take her on. He looks at them with concern, but then spots the cluster of men she has already defeated. He goes a little starry-eyed with pride, impressed. She is such a bad ass.

 “ROSA!” He tries again, at a loud stage whisper.

“What?” she barks, pacing the length of the enclosed space. He gestures for her to come to him wildly, and she huffs in annoyance, but comes towards him.

“Whatcha dooooin’?”he asks, at a loss for words now that he has her attention.

He wants to ask her about what’s wrong, wants to find out what is up with Amy, since Rosa is the only one she seems to talk to these days. Except that something major happened between them, and now Santiago isn’t talking to anyone. All the crap that is going on is a recipe for disaster, and Peralta is nothing if not a problem solver, and wants nothing more than to help his friends.

Especially Amy, who he totally doesn’t like, but feels all weird and stupid around, which clearly means there is something wrong with her and he has to help fix it.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” Rosa sneers at him as if he is an idiot.

“Okay, fair enough…” he trails off again.

Talking to Rosa about emotional or personal stuff is like juggling chainsaws. Blindfolded. You’re likely to lose a hand, and it is probably a much better idea in your head than in practice. Still, they are bros, and she clearly needs him… It’s a dirty job, but if he won’t meddle for Rosa’s own good, no one will. Which is just sad, because everybody should have a fried that meddles.

“So… ya busy?” he asks, giving her his best ain’t I adorable smile.

“Jake.” Rosa deadpans, impatient. She starts to move away.

“D-ah, hey, what’s up with you and Amy? She’s acting weird – weirder than she has been, lately. Since Gina said the two of you had, and I quote, ‘a conversation that bypassed the Uhaul and the turkey baster, and skipped right to deciding who gets the cats,’ end quote. What the what?”

He winces at his own outburst, but it stops Rosa from moving, so maybe it is for the best.

Or, maybe it isn’t, because Rosa isn’t moving – not even to breathe.

After a solid minute of nothing, during which Jake squirms uncomfortably, Rosa blinks, as if coming out of a daze.

“We are not talking about this,” she informs him, cold and hard like stone, turning away. Jake finds her tone both terrifying and oddly sexy. He files that reaction away, into the vault, to be examined never.

“Goddamn it Rosa, will you tell me what is going on?” he demands firmly, in his ‘spy voice.’ “You and Amy are avoiding each other like the plague, and Gina has been nice to her, and I’ve caught Amy pacing outside the Captain’s door three times in the last two days, mumbling something about shrunken heads…”

Diaz stops, looking at him over her shoulder, eyes troubled. Peralta can tell she is trying to keep her game face on, and it makes him worry more.

“Leave it alone Jake. Please,” she asks, voice soft – quiet.

He frowns, steeling himself before stepping into the ring.

“No. You’re both my friends, and I will help you if I can. Please let me help you!”

He grabs her shoulder and spins her to face him, flinching away as if expecting her to strike.

“What the heck, Peralta?”

Gulping, he winces as he straightens back up. In for the penny, in for the dollar.

“Since you won’t play ball, I have a proposition for ya…”

“Jake…” The warning is clear. He ignores it with the skill of a kid hyped up on sugar avoiding bedtime.

“We fight. I win, you have to help me with Operation HSGHGB. I lose, you talk to Amy and straighten out whatever happened between you two.”

“Absolutely not.” The response is immediate and vehement.

"All right, fine. To sweeten the deal, if you win, I promise to leave you alone about this, and any other schemes I come up with for a month.”

At that, Diaz looks intrigued, and Peralta can’t help but feel a little hurt. His plans and schemes are brilliant, and he is underappreciated. Still, whatever works.

Before he really knows what is going on, Jake is being outfitted with boxing gloves – a friendly beat cop named Rivera rolling up the sleeves of his shirt for him and taking his tie. The line of hopeful contenders boos him and he hops around, getting a feel for the unsteady mat.

“Kick his ass, Diaz!” someone shouts from the crowd.

“Okay, ouch, uncalled for,” Jake protests, glaring into the assembled crowd.

“What do you expect when you skip the line?” Rosa asks oh-so-reasonably.

“Whatever. Why are there so many guys lining up to get flattened by you, anyway?”

Rosa shrugs, smacking her gloves together a few times, the sound as appealing as it is threatening.

“They are either hoping to take me down and prove women don’t belong in the ring or on the Force, or, they’re hoping I take them down because they are too poor or too cheap to pay for rough treatment."

“Rosa!” Jake gasps, covering his mouth with his hand as if he is scandalized. The smirk she gives him makes him think he might be making progress.

A trainer steps between them, cutting off their banter.

“All right kids, remember – no hitting below the belt, no going for the throat.” He looks meaningfully at Rosa when he says this, and Jake gives her a look. She shrugs, rolling her eyes. “We don’t want a repeat of last month, Diaz. Wallace is still talking funny.”

“Yeah Diaz – wait, what?” Jake turns questioning eyes on the trainer.

“He shouldn’t have called me that. If you can’t say something nice, I’ll make sure you can’t say anything at all.”

“Okay, that is both terrifying and hot.” Rosa shakes her head, annoyed, and Jake does it with her. “No? Okay, right.”

The detectives touch gloves, and the trainer steps out of the ring.

And then, Jake is on his back, looking blurrily up at the lights on the ceiling. His left cheek stings something awful.

“Stay down, Peralta,” Rosa says, intruding into his line of vision.

“No way,” he exclaims, trying to jump up to his feet. He manages the move with the grace of a pregnant yak.

They touch gloves again.

“Jake, what are you doing?”

He bobbed and weaved, looking for an opening, movements making him appear as if he were a drunk man.

“Fighting to make you come to your senses.”

He takes a swing, which she blocks almost as an afterthought.

“I’m not gonna join Operation Smooth Moves, or whatever.”

Throwing another ineffective punch, Jake shakes his head in mild disappointment at his partner.

“Okay, first of all, Operation Smooth Moves sounds like a dance competition for people with IBS.”


“Exactly. Second, It’s Operation HSGHGB. Short for –”

“I know what it’s short for.”

“Oh. Well, okay, why did you say it wrong? My code names are flawless and top notch, you know th–hurk!”

She punches him in the stomach just to shut him up. He doesn’t fall again, but loses his train of thought.

“Uuuugh, Rooooosa!”

“You wanna dance, cookie dough boy?”

He shushes her, looking around nervously, admonishing her in a harsh whisper.

“We swore we would never speak of that again!”

“I said no such thing,” she says, shrugging, but she is smirking in a way that he thinks means she is teasing.

“Look, let’s be honest, clearly my plan is brilliant and deserving of a Nobel Prize.”

“They don’t give out Nobel’s to dumbasses for half-cocked meddling.”

“Hey. There is no half about Little Jake!”

“Really? Little Jake?”

“Jake the Snake?”

She doesn’t grace that with a verbal answer, choosing instead to gut punch him again. He gasps and doubles over, holding up one hand weakly as a shield.

“Okay… I get it… not a fan… of the plan.” He glances up at her as she readies her fists again, and he cringes but forces himself upright again."Maybe you disagree with me about Operation HSGHGB.”

“Definitely disagree.”

“But, I know you and Amy got close during her recovery.”

“Jake…” She sounds tired all of a sudden.

“No, you did. Which is totally cool, that you went all Ya-Ya Sisterhood of the Traveling Bra, or whatever.”

“It’s Pants, not Bra. And those are two different movies.”

“Okay, well, it’s a little weird that you know that, but we can get into that later. The point is, Santiago trusts you. Maybe she would talk to you about stuff, except something happened between you two, and now everything is all discombobulated.”

“Hey! Are you two gonna fight or sit around drinking tea?” One of the men waiting barks, thumbing his nose – Jake cannot believe there is someone who literally thumbs their nose – at them.

“Shut up, De Santos,” Rosa growls.

“Just sayin’…” De Santos mutters, but wisely moves away from the edge of the ring when Diaz takes a step in his direction, flipping Jake off as he backs up.

“Real mature, De Santos." Jake turns back to Rosa, rolling his eyes and indicating De Santos in a 'this guy' gesture of his chin. "As I was saying, before I was RUDELY INTERRUPTED, you guys were totally bosom buddies before this weirdness. Maybe you should apologize and see if she, you know… needs help?”

“What makes you think this is my fault?” Diaz has an incredible talent for making her voice dangerous and gravelly – Peralta would give up his third turn table for that ability.

“Nothing. At all. As far as I have seen, you have been awesome. But, does it really matter whose fault a fight is, when one person is as low as Amy is?” He has her, he can tell. “You haven’t spoken for over a week. Who else do you think she is talking to?”

She sigh-groans and jabs him lightly in the nose.

Tears spring up in Peralta’s eyes, but really, it doesn’t hurt that bad at all. And he is too much of a manly bad ass for crying anyway. “It’s either you talk, or my plan talks… you know what I mean.” His voice is nasally and muffled, and he catches her in a small grin.

 Instead of answering, Diaz raises her guard. He does too, mostly because his body still functions enough for automatic self-preservation. He has exactly enough skill to block her first punch.

“Hey! I totally bl-”

But not the next one. Or the one after that.

Within a minute, he is on the floor again, with a great view of the ceiling. Rosa looms over him, offering a hand up. The lights frame her head like a halo, and for a moment she appears to him like some sort of vision of an avenging angel. He gulps.

“Fine. I’ll talk to her,” she accedes, helping him up, and he can’t help but be a little smitten.

He watches her hop out of the ring and walk towards the women’s locker room, to a chorus of annoyed groans and complaints.

“Hey!” De Santos gripes, glaring at Jake, who is still in the ring. “I was next!”

“Duty called, fellas, and our dear detective Diaz answered.”

“That’s bullshit, Peralta! I had next!”

“Yeah? Well, in the words of my 7 year old cousin, ‘too bad, so sad,’ and also na, na na na, n-hey!”

De Santos grabs the front of Jake’s shirt, cutting him off.

“Oh no, buddy. If she’s gone, you’re taking her place.”


“The only ‘but’ is the one I am gonna kick, Peralta.”

“God, you’re so laaaaame….” Jake attempts to mock, but trails off into a squeaky hiss as De Santos vaults into the ring and rips off his shirt, revealing a perfectly sculpted boxer’s body.

“I think my Golden Gloves would be to differ.”

“Golden… gloves…uh…” De Santos raises his hands. Jake gulps again. “Mommy?”


Rosa corners Amy in the locker room the next morning, mindful of the minuscule privacy, but needing to be done with this talk. This was why she doesn’t do feelings, and why she didn’t mix work with personal life. She hates when things get awkward.

Rosa approaches as Amy is putting her jacket in her locker.

“Hey.” She leaves enough room for Amy to escape if she really wants to.

“Hey,” the shorter woman replies, eyes downcast, but peaking through her lashes.

Rosa sighs; time to bite the bullet. Rosa hates apologizing. “Look, I’m sorry for how I acted the other day. I had no right to go off on you like that.”

“No, I’m sorry. I, you were right. About the Dr. Lipchitz. I-”

“Amy,” Diaz interrupts, gently, like she is reminding Amy of something important.


“You went through something heavy. I… I was lucky enough that you trusted me to help.” The taller woman runs a hand through her hair, blowing out a breath. “Everyone handles things at their own pace. I’m sorry I got impatient with you. That was not cool. I won’t do it again.”

The words are robotic, and Rosa frowns when she says them, but the sentiment shines through her eyes, and Amy can’t help but smile.

“Did you memorize that speech?”

“What? No way. Memorizing speeches is for losers.”

“What? I practice speeches all the time! When I was seven, I worked on my turtle's eulogy for two days in front of the mirror. We had to put her in the freezer so she wouldn’t… you know.”

Amy can practically hear Rosa blink, and cringes a bit at her admission.

“I am choosing not to comment.”

“Thank you.”

Shaking her head to clear away any retort that lingers, Rosa clears her throat. “I know I don’t have any right to say this, but, I’m here if you want to talk, or whatever.”

“Or whatever?” Amy asks, raising an eyebrow, and it sets the taller woman’s teeth on edge.

When she isn’t on her guard, Rosa remembers how soft Amy’s mouth is, and the little noises she makes if you kiss her just so. These are thoughts in no way conducive to the shorter woman’s recovery, and they fill Rosa half with shame and half with longing. Now is not the time to go down that path. Amy doesn’t really know what she wants. Rosa was there when she was completely vulnerable, and the gratitude can turn to all sorts of other things.

“You know what I mean, Santiago,” Diaz says, flat but not unkind.

“Oh… Okay.” Amy looks a little crest fallen, and it tugs at the edges of what could be Rosa’s heart, though she would deny it to the death.

“This is me being responsible, Santiago. You know it’s the right move.”

“Yeah,” Amy mutters, but it sounds like it is spelled ‘no.’

They walk out into the bullpen together, close but not quite touching.

“Can I ask a favor?”

Rosa squints, cautious. “Sure.”

“Would you mind, uh, coming over this weekend?” Rosa raises an eyebrow, but Amy waves her hand in the air quickly, like she is trying to dispel bad air. “As a friend. Totally friendly. It’s just, I have this new cookie recipe Boyle gave me that I want to try. I was thinking of making a batch for the Captain, as a thank you, but the recipe makes like 3 dozen, so…” She trails off, blushing a little.

 Rosa can’t help the small smile that touches the corner of her mouth.

“Please tell me it doesn’t involve jalapeños or weird cheese.”

Amy scrunches up her face at the thought.

“Cinnamon vanilla ginger oatmeal cookies, with cranberries and apple chunks.”

They are standing at Amy’s desk now. Rosa nods, impressed. They will either be the tastiest cookies ever, or immediately make someone hurl. Either way, it is totally worth it.

“Sure. But there will be beer. Which I am buying because you have the worst taste in alcohol.”

“What’s wrong with Blue Moon? All the girls that hang out on the stoop love it!”

Rosa makes a face. “Okay grandma.”

Before Amy can respond, the door to the bullpen bursts open, and two men storm in. They wear black track suits and black ski masks. They also hold big, black guns.

“FREEZE! EVERYONE GET DOWN!” The taller one shouts, waving his gun around.

Diaz rolls her eyes and starts to move forward, fully intent on kicking Peralta’s ass – he is lucky the Captain isn’t here to see this nonsense – but Amy grabs her arm and yanks her back.

“Relax the Kung-fu Grip, Santiago. It’s just Peralta and Boyle being stupid.”

Rosa tries to move again, but Amy’s grip gets tighter, and she shakes her head, pointing to the break room with her free hand.

“No. It isn’t.”

Diaz looks, stomach lurching as she sees Peralta and Boyle staring at the masked gunmen from over gourmet pizzas from the rickety table. A half chewed chunk of food slides thickly out of Jake’s mouth, landing on the table with a muted splat. Charles looks pale, eyes shiny and showing too much white.

Amy blinks hard and gulps.