Retreats and Advances is a Short Story in Volume 14. It was released on July 8, 2013.
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The team heads back to the leadership retreat! Sparks will fly, but will they be sparks of friction... Or of romance?


After the arrest of Kingfisher, the SFPD goes to the Wells Corporate Retreat Complex in Santa Cruz for the annual L.E.A.D.E.R. retreat. Detective Mal Fallon and Special Agent Natara Williams tell Detective Jeremy Redbird about their rivalry with Oakland PD (because it's his first year), and that now that Amy's back, they'll demolish them. Amy Chen distributes everyone's overnight bags, and as she hands Jeremy's to him, their hands graze each other's, which reminds Jeremy of the time they kissed in V14C3. Just then, Detective Blaise Corso emerges from the car after her nap during the ride. In response to her question of why no one woke her up, Mal says, "You looked so peaceful."

Lieutenant Charles Anders joins them and wonders where Kai Kalaba is, to which Amy says he had other obligations, much to Anders' delight.

Natara sees Oscar walk into the lecture hall and wonders why he's there. Mal tells her that the District Attorney's office was invited this year because the police departments are always having to work with them and then asks her if she will be okay. Natara says yes but wonders if Oscar will be okay and if she should talk to him. Mal thinks she shouldn't because Oscar hasn't had enough time to heal after Natara left him at the altar.

As Jeremy brings the last of the bags to the team's cabin, Blaise offers to give him a tour, as it's his first time. Jeremy responds with a venomous "no, thanks," making Blaise say she knows it's still weird. Jeremy agrees, but disagrees that she gets it. She tells him partners need to be able to work together, which Jeremy responds to by suggesting he requests to be reassigned and then walking away from Blaise.

When Jeremy enters the lecture hall, he is stopped by Detective Dick Lugar of the Oakland Police Department, who makes fun of his name. Jeremy retorts and walks away, but Lugar follows him, asking if he's heard of him. When Jeremy says no, Lugar steps in front of the detective and is joined by two other detectives and says they've heard of Jeremy and his shooting skills, but they won't make a difference in winning the trophy. Mal greets Lugar and, after insulting him, Lugar prepares to instigate a fight, but is stopped when a white vapor pours in through various vents in the ceiling. Chaos erupts as everyone thinks they're being attacked, but soon dance music comes on over the speakers. "Commander Chi," who turns out to be Kai in a Christmas elf costume, reveals he is behind the so-called  "attack" (the smoke was simply special effects for his entrance). Anders wonders what he's gotten himself into. Kai tells everyone that he has been tasked with teaching them the value of camaraderie. They'll be working in pairs, and each pair will be assigned a different case set in a sci-fi universe written by Kai, named Epsilon Twelve. The orientation packets, which are under the seats, contain the list of teams and Kai reminds them that every case has the clues they need to solve it. Whichever pair wins will be crowned Best Pairing Ever

Everyone finds their partner and some groups are happier than others. Natara is saddled with Lugar and Mal with Anders, but Blaise is okay being with Oscar, and Jeremy is happy to be with Amy. Amy approaches Jeremy, and they talk about the kiss they shared. Jeremy says she is a great kisser, making Amy blush, but they agree to be 'just friends.'

Later, Blaise complains about Kai's handling of the retreat. Oscar comments that Kai may have developed the perfect justice system. Blaise says that Kai is "like the little brother you always have to watch out for. You love him, but damn is he annoying." Smiling, Oscar tells her that he was that little brother and, in an effort to shut him up, his two older brothers always beat him up. Blaise says that while she only had older siblings as well, she was the one hitting them and they just didn't care about anything and still don't. After their mom got sick, they abandoned her, never calling or offering to help take care of her. She says older siblings are worthless and Oscar agrees, adding that his turned out similar to his deadbeat dad, disappearing on their children, so he does what he can to make sure his nephews are looked after. He says it's tough having to take care of family alone, and Blaise replies that she's beginning to think alone is where she belongs. Oscar says he thinks the same about himself.

Elsewhere, Natara and Dick Lugar are working on their case, but Lugar isn't contributing very much, instead choosing to hit on her. Natara intimidates him by profiling him until he shuts up. Meanwhile, Mal and Anders are in the room assigned for their exercise, which is covered in slimy green goo. Mal complains about Kai and the green goo and then proceeds to try to get closer with Anders. After trading questions back and forth and finding nothing in common, Anders tells Mal that he has a pet corn snake and asks whether he likes snakes. Anders is shocked that Mal answered without making joke about him being an I.A. snake himself, and Mal says that's a good one. Anders tells him he's supposed to be the funny one and that now he has to do his job for him. Mal says that they're vastly different, because from his perspective, cops protect the city and Internal Affairs looks at the protectors like criminals. Anders says I.A. keeps the protectors honest and that the city should be able to trust them. While Mal says that their only common ground is their desire to keep the city safe, Anders tells him that's more than enough for him. Mal agrees and they shake hands.

Amy and Jeremy sit, their legs nearly touching, at a computer that is used to interrogate Kai's made-up suspects. The fake suspects are hostile, and Amy says Kai has been known to get aggressive on online anime forums if anyone insulted his knowledge of the original manga. Learning this, Jeremy tricks Kai into revealing a crucial piece of info. Jeremy tells Amy that he admires the work and dedication Kai put into this, and admits he thinks it's fun, prompting Amy to ask if it wasn't too dorky for him and remembering a television show that was always on when she was younger. Though she thinks Jeremy wouldn't know it, he reveals he does and admits that 'Lost Galaxy' was his favorite show too. Amy is surprised and they begin singing the theme song together. Jeremy says he'd never talked about it with anyone, and explains he was a lonely kid growing up. Amy lets him know she was the same, as she buried herself in books and had no friends. The detective replies that, instead of stuffed animals, he had piles of books on his bed. She says she could never do that as she has to be able to cuddle in bed, but catches herself and changes the subject by saying it was weird that while they were both bookworms, they ended up doing something macho like law enforcement. The two of them comment on how they wanted to help people without being so alone all the time. Their shared moment is interrupted when Kai, through the computer, questions if they are still there.

That night, Amy travels up to the top of a hill and is surprised when she finds Jeremy there. They stand side-by-side, staring up at the sky. After a while of silence, Jeremy breaks it, telling her seeing the stars are what he misses about the reservation, and Amy says that Oklahoma was the same. After Jeremy tells her he's met a lot of people in San Francisco who are important to him, the two share a kiss under the stars.

The next morning, Jeremy and Amy go around collecting the case files from the disgruntled guests. When Kai thinks no one could solve their case, Amy informs him that she and Jeremy did. Jeremy explains that Kai has told them from the start that every case had the necessary clues to unravel the mystery, so every case on its own was only a piece a piece of the puzzle. It turns out 'Commander Chi' was the mastermind behind it all, and when Kai attempts to escape, he trips and is handcuffed by Mal. Kai tells them that the purpose of the exercise was to have them all work together, and because Amy and Jeremy solved the case, they win the inaugural title of Best Pairing Ever. The winning pair smile at each other as Dick Lugar approaches Natara and tells her it was an honor working with her. As he leaves, Mal asks what Natara did to teach him manners. When she explains, he says it won't last.

Everyone is outside the building preparing to leave when Jeremy runs up to Blaise. She congratulates him on winning the competition before Jeremy says he won't be needing a reassignment, as some things are more important than stupid grudges. He informs her he wants to be partners and friends. They shake hands and he gives her a warm, genuine smile before running ahead to help Amy with her bags. Nearby, Oscar is talking with his local D.A. agents when Natara approaches, causing a hushed silence to fall over the group. She tells him that she misses his friendship and wants to have drinks with him downtown. Oscar agrees then watches her rejoin Mal. Blaise goes up to her retreat partner and asks him if he is okay. Oscar says yes and adds that Natara wants to be friends again, making Blaise say "Isn't that good news?" He tells her that the way Natara said 'friends' indicated she had completely moved on. Blaise advises him to forget about her, adding that the two of them are fine being alone. Oscar replies with, "Maybe. Still... It hurts to know how easily you can be discarded." His words echo through Blaise's mind as she spots Jeremy and Amy laughing together playfully.

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