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Paperwork can save your life

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Captain Holt clears his throat and tells Amy his opening joke: "You know what the worst part about being a wolf-deaf black police officer is? The discrimination." He pauses. "I believe that's what you call observational comedy."

There's nothing to say to that but, "Yeah, sir." Amy doesn't mention that being Latina and having a wolfbrother isn't a walk in the park either.

Amy's been studying Captain Holt super carefully since the first second she met him, not only because he has a legitimately amazing record, but because she's been afraid of being wolfless since she first started at the academy. She doesn't understand him yet, but she's amazed every day that he manages to come in and do excellent work without a wolf to support him.

The worst thing about starting the academy was that she had to get desensitized to wolf dander through a series of shots. The second worst thing was trying to find a wolf who would accept her. She had to meet five litters, three and a half above the average, before she found Zeno, who's calm enough that he doesn't mind the way she has to plan for every contingency and doesn't take it to heart that she's afraid he'll die someday.

Zeno knows he will because all wolves die, but he lives in the moment and sometimes he can get Amy to pay attention to it, too.

Like on the days when Jake's sister Esther stops curling up with Charles's sister Virginia--honestly, Charles has never made a funny joke in his life but that one has to be the worst--and instead falls asleep on Gina's feet. Or worse, starts flirting with Rosa's brother Cat.

If Amy could change one thing about the Nine-Nine she would teach people the importance of naming wolves in accordance with their dignity as sapient creatures who regularly save lives. Who names their wolf after their grandmother? Okay, she's heard from Jake and Gina that Jake's Nana didn't take anything from anybody, but still.

"Cat" is the world's weirdest nickname for a wolf in an Anglo mouth. Really it's short for "Catorce de julio," which was a Dominican freedom movement and fits Rosa and Cat perfectly. Besides, Amy's not going to argue with anything Rosa does. Rosa thinks like a wolf: all about the here and now, all the time.

Amy can't do that no matter how hard she tries.

But she can't fix herself, and she can't fix everyone else's stupid names. Besides, Esther is touching noses with Cat again.

Zeno's awake and watching this, paying attention to all the scents in the precinct that Amy can't smell. He's leaning on her and reminding her that they're okay right now. They haven't had to chase down anyone in two weeks and no one's shot at them in almost a month.

Statistically that means they're about due, and it's not like she'd let Zeno out into the field without his bulletproof vest any more than she'd go out without her own, but it helps to be reminded that they're due.

Zeno laughs a wolf laugh and reminds her that's not how statistics work and that he hates the feel of Kevlar.

Amy scratches his ears with one hand while she's filling out a report with the other and promises him that when she retires from active duty in the field, he'll never have to wear it again until she runs for president.

That makes him sigh and sniff at Esther again.

Amy realizes she's been working on the same form for half an hour when it normally takes her twelve minutes max. She kicks her toes against the front of her desk to get Jake's attention. He's been staring at a file for--she has no idea how long. Absolutely none. That isn't a good sign. "Jake."

He shakes his head just like Esther does when she goes swimming and looks up at her. He looks like he's been drinking, but he's been at work for the last four hours. "Yeah?"

"When was Esther's last heat?"

Jake's idea of keeping track of important things is writing them on Post-Its and putting them down somewhere. Fortunately for him, while he's looking, Amy's checking her Google calendar. Nothing. But it's on week mode, and when she pages ahead and sees the bright red on Sunday, she says, "Hijo de la puta madre chingada."

Of all the days for Terry to be out sick with something he picked up from his daughters. He could carry Jake to the heat room without breaking a sweat, while the rest of them are going to have to get him there either by a group effort or under his own power.

Across the bullpen, Rosa looks up sharply. Rosa says, "Jake."

"Yeah?" he says again, and turns to look at her like he doesn't know any curses in Spanish. Impossible. He lives in Brooklyn, after all.

"Is Esther still off her meds?" Rosa asks, her voice calm in a way that Amy totally can't be right now.

"Yeah," Jake says. "They were, you know. She was. It wasn't. We had--stuff."

"Ginny, you're staying here," Charles says firmly. Virginia's sniffing the air like Zeno and Cat, and her fur's starting to rise on her neck. "Go sit with Gina. Now."

Virginia slopes off toward Gina's desk. All the tests say Gina's as wolf-deaf as Captain Holt, but she keeps six kinds of jerky in her drawers and if there's anything that can stop Virginia from getting in Charles's way while they're trying to help Jake, it's Gina. "Hey, baby girl," Gina says. "Buffalo or ostrich for your first course?"

Virginia sniffs and Gina says, "Yeah, I've got venison too, no problem," like she's part of the packsense. "Why don't we split some free-range Bambi and take a walk?"

Virginia's response to that is a low, unhappy whine, but she follows Gina out the door, accepting her first chunk of jerky on the way. She's going to get fat if she keeps spending so much time with Gina.

Amy's glad Zeno doesn't pay much attention to Gina, on the whole. She's too much like a butterfly for him, he says, and Amy's a hummingbird. The first time he said that she was kind of offended, and then she did some research on hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds are badasses and they don't back down about anything, ever. Maybe they account for the note of sweetness in Amy's scentname, floating on top of the mixture of cilantro, pen ink, and anxiety sweat.

The next thing Amy knows, Rosa's at her desk. "I emailed Holt," she says. "Are you even listening to Zeno? He's been trying to get your attention for the last three minutes."

"Sorry," Amy says on autopilot. She puts her hand down to where Zeno was last and finds air.

He's by Esther, washing her ear. Esther doesn't sit still for that sort of thing on a normal day, but if she's having a heat and it's coming early then maybe that's why the bullpen smells like freshly mown grass and asphalt with an edge of exhaust fumes. That's Esther's scentname. Her bloodline goes back generations in the NYPD's wolf unit. Amy could recite her lineage as easily as Zeno's, since they've had pups together once and it's the kind of thing she needs to know about the pups, but right now she can't remember the name of Esther's sire. Probably something like "Guardian" if the wolf's partner had any sense at all.

"Okay," Rosa says, her voice as calm as Zeno's usually is. "Stand up, Santiago."

"What?" Amy asks. She's still trying to remember Esther's lineage. Everything smells like grass and running trails. They're too many floors up for anything to smell like grass. Amy's head is spinning.

"Cagney's out of it and Glock is too old for this crap," Rosa says, glancing over at Hitchcock and Scully's wolves, who are asleep in the sun, tangled together. "Sarge and Fortitude are stuck at home, and Esther rejected Cat. Boyle's got Jake. Do I have to sling you over my shoulder?"

"I'm okay," Amy says. Her voice shakes like crazy and she wants to put her hand in Zeno's ruff. She says it again, trying to keep her voice level. "I'm really okay."

"Then get up," Captain Holt orders her.

Something in his voice grabs her hindbrain harder than Zeno's thoughts about Esther and she's on her feet in a second. "Thanks, sir," Rosa says, and grabs Amy's arm. "Come on, Santiago. Let's get you to the elevator."

"Thank you, Díaz," Captain Holt says.

Amy doesn't know where Zeno is and as soon as the elevator door closes without him there, her breathing goes as bad as it did before she got the allergy shots. If they're wearing off she's going to cry in front of Rosa of all people. "I can't," Amy says. "I really can't."

"Can't what?" Rosa asks.

"Where's Zeno?" Amy asks, looking around like he might've jumped into the elevator without her seeing.

"With Esther, Jake, and Boyle in the scentproof elevator." Rosa's flat voice is weirdly reassuring. She's the opposite of panicking, but not like medication. She's the opposite of panicking like the floor under Amy's feet, which has stopped falling slowly and is solid and still again. "Reach out to him."

Amy does and her knees go weak with the way he and Esther are playing, courting, dancing around each other. She ends up leaning heavily on Rosa. "Sorry."

"Don't freak out on me now." Rosa punches her shoulder and Amy barely registers the touch. "You want the isolation chamber, or are you and Jake good?"

Amy's nose is full of green and hot pavement and female wolf. "Don't know," she says, and "Sorry," again, in case that will help.

"God, you get wolf-stupid as fast as Jake does. At least if anybody's got their files in order, it's you," Rosa says, and pulls out her phone. She has a conversation where Amy hears her name and her badge number, then Jake's and his. It's probably important, but it's not as important as nipping at Esther's tail, which is what Zeno's doing down the hall.

"Congratulations, you're too organized for your own good," Rosa says as she starts pulling Amy down the hallway again. "When were you guys going to tell us you got your act together? Filing paperwork doesn't count, Santiago."

"Sorry," Amy says. She knows Charles knows because Jake can't keep secrets from him. Gina knows for exactly the same reason. But sometimes Charles manages to be quiet about things that matter and Gina's not actually in the packsense.

"I'll beat you down for it later." Rosa enters a code into the pad by the door and Jake catches Amy when her knees go weak at the smell of wolves. "Have fun," Rosa says, and tosses a handful of condoms at them.

Amy knows the heat room is fully stocked and besides she's on the most bulletproof contraception there is, and so's Jake. They have to be while Esther's having heats and detoxing from the suppressants. Not that it matters because Jake's kissing her and pulling her shirt up, and Amy's kissing him back, and Zeno and Esther are together and for a little while, Amy can stop worrying.