It’s past lunchtime at One Police Plaza, so of course Charles is talking about food and Jake is talking about women.
“God, I wish Le Bernardin was closer; when Vivian took me there, their warm octopus carpaccio with Peruvian Anticucho Sauce was to die for.”
“Sounds more like one of those places where paychecks go to die. Ley Burn-yard-in?”
“It’s the best French Seafood restaurant in New York, Jake!”
“Just saying it’s fitting that money-wise you had Vivian: She was a good catch.” Jake swivels around in his chair to face Amy, Rosa, and Charles in turn. “Got it? Seafood? Catch?”
Amy looks at Rosa. Rosa rolls her eyes. Amy nods solemnly at her because female solidarity is the most important.
“But seriously, guys, I’m not one to turn down people taking me on expensive dates. Was that your most expensive date, Charles?”
Boyle looks affronted. “It’s not about the money; it’s about the palate-tickling sensory and culinary experience! And I’ll have you know that I once took out my ex-wife to Masa. I paid over a thousand, before tax and tips!”
“Well.” Jake looks…he looks whatever passes for thoughtful with Jake. “I think my top spending at a restaurant for a rendezvous with a lady came to a whopping sixty-five dollars. Classy, though. The drive-through window had real rhinestones in the frame. Anyway — Rosa, your most expensive date?”
Rosa doesn’t look impressed with this line of questioning. “Can’t remember.”
It’s true that Rosa is a private person. But it’s also true that Amy really, really wants to know more. “Now that sounds unlikely. This morning when we brought him in again you could remember the full booking number of Jiffy Joe Brown from his arrest for selling stolen antique model ships two years ago.”
That gets her the Rosa Glower usually reserved for the boys. “That’s only because I have a head for numbers.”
Amy tries to keep her triumphant smile down, but. “Checks in restaurants have numbers on them.”
Rosa eventually fails to incinerate Amy with her gaze and relents. “Couple years ago my girlfriend Joan ambushed me to take me to Benjamin Steakhouse. Getting me handcuffed and into the van was hard at first. But then our dry-aged prime beef for two hundred and twenty was great.”
And for the first time in — ever, Amy’s mind goes blank.
Before it starts having quite the opposite problem.
So here’s the thing: Amy Santiago has always thought of herself as straight. Ish. When and if she thinks of women, it is in a platonic or sisterly fashion, for the most part. She tends to value other women’s competence and capabilities and camaraderie, and only occasionally how their brown eyes light up when they crack one of their rare smiles, or how soft those often-scowly lips probably are, and how, once naked, their slim but police combat-trained bodies would feel under —
“Santiago has a cruu-huush.” The voice stage-whispering into her ear is gleeful and annoying and of course belongs to Jake. Who suddenly stands next to her chair and has the most shit-eating grin on his face (which, knowing Jake, is saying something).
“Shut up,” Amy hisses, complete with shushing gestures to signal him to keep his voice down. “You don’t know that!”
Boyle’s head pops up on Amy’s other side, and God, she hates how short he is and how he can duck his head and shuffle up behind the file cabinet. “Right. Because we’re not police detectives. We never figure out what’s been going on. We have not heard of such a thing as collecting evidence and drawing logical conclusions.” His face is even more smug than Jake’s.
Amy looks around, makes sure that Rosa is still with Holt in his office, and then gets to her feet. She crosses her arms and tries to face Jake and Boyle, which is hard, given they flank her on two sides. “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“Santiago.” Jake does drop his voice, and jerks his head at Boyle. “When Diaz mentioned her girlfriend, before she was called to Holt’s office with the Sergeant for that Brown arrest, we saw how you went first pale, then beet-red, and then continued to dreamily gaze at Diaz through the office window for twenty-three minutes.”
Boyle taps the watch on his wrist. “I timed it. Also, can I just say — great taste?”
Amy uncrosses her arms because she is losing feeling in them. “Fine. Maybe I have more feelings for Rosa than a good policewoman would have for another good policewoman. Is that so surprising? I mean, look at her! Really, who would not want to date Rosa?"
Jake and Boyle exchange a glance that Amy feels is ridiculously long. Silence isn’t Jake’s strong suit, of course: “So how are you going to go for Diaz? Can I make suggestions? Please? Pretty please?”
“Who has already made a list of the Top Ten New York Restaurants For A First Date Between Two Women Who Used To Be Just Colleagues? This fine gentleman here has.” Boyle points both of his index fingers at his chest.
Time for Amy to put a stop to this. “Look, there is no need for any of that. I am a planner. I have already made a plan.”
“Oh?” Jake looks nonplussed. “When did you have the time?”
Not at all, Amy thinks. What she says is, “Twenty-three minutes, Jake. That’s time for twenty-three plans.”
The word “plans” still hangs in the air when the door to Holt’s office swings open, and both Terry and Rosa wander out. Rosa swaggers over to her desk without a care in the world, but Terry makes a beeline for Jake and Boyle. Within one minute detectives Boyle and Peralta have been assigned a follow-up in the Brown case, and within three Jake and Boyle are out of the door. Not without Jake giving her a thumbs-up and Boyle giving her two thumbs-ups. If Boyle didn’t wear shoes he would have given her a toes-up too, Amy is certain of it.
Amy holds her breath until the precinct door swings shut, only Jake’s voice booms through the station before it quite does: “GO GET HER!”
Everybody in the Nine-Nine including Rosa looks up; because it’s Jake they look down as quickly. It’s just Amy’s luck that Terry is still standing next to her with a clear view of her face. “Santiago?”
“Sergeant!” Amy forces a smile onto her face. “Oh, a case. You know that Jake. Always up for a dare.”
Terry’s forehead wrinkles impressively. “For a dare against you, you mean. But that sounded like he wants you to succeed.” His voice drops, and that low rumble never fails to put Amy at ease. “I’m happy to help. Terry is good at teamwork.”
“Yes, but this is not something you can help with, Sergeant.” Amy bites her lip immediately. Estùpida. “I mean, it’s out of your area of expertise.”
He looks doubtful, and with good reason. “Few things are out of Terry’s expertise.”
“Dating Rosa is!” Amy has managed to lower her voice, but that seems moot now, because at her words Terry’s eyes widen so far that Amy worries they’ll pop out and roll across the floor, until they knock into Rosa’s sexy boots. “You can’t help me.”
To her surprise, he nods gravely. “Maybe I can’t. But I know who can. What isn’t in Terry’s expertise is in somebody else’s!”
And this is how Amy finds herself gently shooed into Holt’s office. Which is a terrifying and exhilarating experience at the best of times. This is not the best of times. It’s close to the other end of that spectrum. A propos, ends of spectrums.
“Detective Santiago. Sergeant Jeffords. How can I help you?” Holt tilts his head in perfect attentiveness. Time and time again Amy is impressed by the utter focus he displays as to signal to his subordinates how he both supports and challenges them.
Terry next to her does a little shuffle. “Sir, Detective Santiago has a personal, err, goal. It involves, well, matters of the heart.”
That is one organ involved, Amy supposes. She nods at Holt in a way she hopes is far more suave than she feels.
Holt leans back in his chair and steeples his fingers. “Does it by any chance involve Detective Diaz?”
Amy wonders if it’s outdated to faint. People used to do it all the time; how outré can it be?
“Hmm.” Holt tilts his head and lets out an almost inaudible sigh. “Santiago, please stop wishing the ground would swallow you. I assure you it won’t. I also assure you I’m fine with the idea. In fact, while fraternization may pose problems, in your and Detective Diaz’ case I imagine you would balance each other’s flaws rather nicely.”
Wow, that’s great; that’s — what? ‘Flaws’? Rudely shaken out of her reverie, Amy notices movement out of the corner of her eyes: Out in the main office, Gina has caught wind of the closed-door proceedings and is stalking closer to Holt's door. Seeing as Gina is wearing leopard-print tights, it's a little scarier than usual. Scariest of all, queer dating advice from Gina Linetti. Amy doesn't even have to think: She hastily yet surreptitiously picks up a stack of paper and a stapler, before turning her head to wave the stapler at the stack. Predictably, Gina's eyes widen, and she turns on her heels.
Thankfully, work is not a thing Gina does.
In the meantime, Terry is beaming as if Cagney and Lacey had just announced their 2040 run for Presidential Twins. “That’s what I thought, sir. I also thought you might have some good advice for the Detective.”
“Of course.” Holt’s face is very… Holt. “Well. First, you will not want to ask her out should she already have a belle or beau.”
The very thought dries out Amy’s throat. She swallows with some effort. “That is extremely correct, sir.”
“Second, you will want to be frank and honest with her about your intentions.”
Terry coughs. It makes the walls shake only a little this time around.
Holt continues smoothly, “In the right setting, that is. Second, you will want to put Detective Diaz at ease, and approach her in an environment where she is calm before suggesting a more personal rendezvous. She can be a little…”
“Violent?” Terry winces at his own word.
“Defensive, Sergeant Jeffords.”
Holt’s plan for Amy is a great plan. Amy can absolutely find out whether Rosa is dating anybody, man or woman or fluid. Amy can create a comfortable atmosphere that doesn’t let Rosa fall into one of her defensive postures. Then, she can make her patented Amy Move.
When Amy walks out of the office, she thinks Ohmygod but also no time like the present. So she presses her lips together and ignores the sweat in her armpits. Feeling Holt’s and Terry’s eyes like needles in her back (and not in the good acupuncture way) she sidles over to Rosa on her way to her desk.
“Heyyy.” Amy smiles her most winning smile.
Rosa tilts her head and frowns. “Santiago?”
“I just wanted to ask what I wanted to ask, which is —“ breathe, Amy, breathe, “whether we could switch shifts tomorrow night, say, at 8?”
Rosa settles into her chair and swings her booted, long, lean, long legs onto her desk.
Great. Rosa having no date night for Friday night must mean she is not seeing anybody. But, Amy needs to verify this. “And you know, I wanted to bring you that file on the Wall Street robbery — how about I drop it by your place this Saturday at 7pm? Are you home then?”
“Fine. As long as you do not come in.”
Oh. Well. But Amy moves on; third time’s the charm: “Also, I suddently remember that Tía Camila needs me to prep her birthday party next Friday! Can you take that shift too, for me?”
Rosa’s eyes narrow. “I can. But —“
“Excellent, great; thank you!” Amy scribbles R. FREE (NOT ON DATE) into her filofax for the three dates and underlines the NOT, twice. She purposefully doesn’t meet Rosa’s beautiful but also very suspicious eyes. “Now I need to see a man about a horse. Central Park. Carriage permit. You know how it gallops. Goes, I mean.”
Outside by the dumpsters, Amy bums a cigarette off Kang, who gives her a pitying look and asks whether Amy’s dealing with a tough case. Amy confirms she is, which is totally not a lie. The nicotine gives her just the epiphany she needed: Rosa is happiest when she is either kicking ass or shooting things. Amy cannot easily round up a perp to push in front of Rosa, the way six-year-old Amy fed a bug to her Venus flytrap houseplant for Biology. But Rosa goes to the shooting range at 8pm on Thursdays; gotta keep up with the accolades from her firearms proficiency breast bar…which brings to mind a nice image (even though Amy is still faintly jealous, of said accolades, not assets).
She holds out at the Nine-Nine until 8:20pm, because she wants Rosa to feel safe in her haze of gunpowder, and also because five of Amy’s case files needed additional analysis anyway; she wraps up three of them, which is sadly below standard. Making her way over to the shooting range, she can’t help but swiftly scan the booths: If Jake or Boyle have made it here, or even Holt or Terry, she needs to regroup. For once it's a good thing that Scully and Hitchcock haven’t been seen practicing their marksmanship since 1989.
Rosa, of course, can be seen easily, a silhouette of black in the grey-and-white of the facility, and her shots ring through the range like clockwork. Amy takes a deep breath and steps closer. Rosa’s shoulders are relaxed, and wow, her hip-width distance between each foot is totally textbook. She even makes the yellow safety goggles look good. Rosa’s chest tilts only slightly forward, and when Amy wants to blink Rosa shifts her weight to counteract the kick of the gun. Bang.
Dead-center in the target, so that’s exactly what Amy yells out too Rosa.
Rosa’s stance stiffens for one, two heartbeats. Then she rolls her shoulders, pops out her earplugs, and turns toward Amy. “Thanks for letting me know.”
They both look back at the paper outline with the clean, clear holes in its middle, but eventually Rosa fixes her gaze back on Amy. “You here for shooting, or commentary?”
“Um.” Amy happens to be a not-terrible shot herself, but it’s hard to have the talk she wants to have through two sets of earplugs and past two guns firing. “Maybe commentary. In the form of a little chat? Like, a woman-to-woman conversation?”
Rosa lowers her Glock and removes the round in it. “Whatcha wanna talk about?”
“Just, fun — entertainment!” Rosa doesn’t seem the type, but you never know with Rosa. After all Amy is pretty firm in a variety of fields; she can totally shine by discussing New York City current events. “Like the upcoming mayoral election?”
“NYC elections aren’t exactly Disney movies.”
“Overly white and extremely commercialized?”
Rosa gives this some consideration. “Point.” She neatly packs her ammo and re-holsters her gun. Finished, she turns sharply on her heel and crosses her arms to look fully at Amy. “Speaking of, what is it really — your point?”
Amy takes a deep breath, then coughs a little. She blames it on first smoking and then inhaling the spicy-sharp scent of gunpowder. Absolutely not the conversation at hand. “What, does a girl need a point to have a chat with another girl?”
“Don’t know if a girl does. Just know that you tend to.”
“I only wanted to…” The air is still going out of her lungs, and Amy doesn’t know how to say it: go out with you. Or, stay in with you. Really, do anything as long as it’s with you, and also not illegal. “Excuse me.”
She makes her second hasty exit of the day to the shooting range women’s bathroom they added to the building. In the mirror, her face stares back at her: resolute, if the dictionary definition of the word were wide-eyed and scared. Focus, Amy. The first item of her plan did go well, it totally did. The second one technically went well, too. But Amy had underestimated that it might not be enough to have Rosa comfortable. Turns out it might also be a great idea to be relaxed herself. So clearly Amy has to make a plan within a plan: to get herself in The Zone. Amy has five different colors of markers and a spreadsheet, and she is not afraid to use them.
The bathroom door opens with a creak. Speaking of sinks, Amy's heart sinks, because she knows from the sound of those footsteps who this is.
“Amy?” Rosa looks quizzical. She comes closer, leather and the soft whiff of a crisp unisex shampoo. “You're scaring me. What's going on? Don't fucking dodge me again.”
Amy thinks atmosphere, and making a careful move.
What Amy does in fact is close the distance between them, reach out to Rosa’s wrist to tug at her. And when Rosa comes without hesitation and still looks at her with curiosity, Amy cups her face and leans in to kiss her.
Rosa’s apartment door falls shut behind them, and wow, wow; they’re really here, they’re really doing it, in Rosa’s apartment, and Amy would be super-interested in looking at the decor, if only she weren’t currently so busy looking at Rosa in between kissing her. Amy pulls back a little to see her even better but gets in a brief kiss to the corner of Rosa’s mouth.
Rosa’s cheeks are flushed, her hair’s in even more artful disarray than usual, and her dark eyes are falling shut…except Rosa’s not sleepy at all, clearly, because she’s breathing fast and shallow. Her lips are glistening. And now they’re parting, “Stop thinking, Santiago.”
Amy likes to think that’s what she does best, so why stop, unless it’s because your girl asking you, of course, so — “Okay,” Amy says, not quite sure why the word comes out so high and thin, as if even far from a back-alley and a gun range there were not enough air in the room. Either way, thinking and doing are different things, it’s true, and Rosa is indicating she’d like Amy to do some doing.
Her hands haven’t really left their place on Rosa’s shoulder, her leather jacket, so Amy grips the lapels of Rosa’s jacket and pushes her backward, against the wardrobe in the hallway. It gives a loud thunk, and Rosa’s eyes widen. Rosa is shockingly light, probably because swagger weighs nothing and because she lets Amy do it. There’s a glint in Rosa's eye and the flash of a smirk at the corner of her mouth. “Nice, Santiago.” She doesn’t say I didn’t think you had it in you, but Amy can feel it and so she leans in for another kiss that’s not soft and not sweet and not head girl (well, not in that way).
Leaning in, her body pushes against Rosa’s, hard, and that’s right, there’s a startled little moan coming out of Rosa’s mouth that makes Amy’s pants feel funny, but also, also the wardrobe is shaken yet again, and now the sound is more like crash boom bang.
Its door tumbles open, and out falls —
“Is this an axe?”
Rosa lifts first her eyebrows and then her shoulders, and Amy decides to leave the axe stuck in the floorboards at forty-five degrees and yes, fine, gets back to Rosa.
All according to plan.