"Thank you for walking me to the door, Officer Lockley."
"Please, I told you to call me Kate."
"Right, Off-, I mean, Kate." Joyce smiled in a weary way and dug through her purse for her keys. Buffy was away at cheerleader camp for the weekend and Hank was out of town on business, yet again. Which meant Joyce was coming home to a house that in light of her attempted mugging, seemed to be darker and more ominous than normal.
"Found them," she said and quickly unlocked the door. Joyce stepped inside and fumbled with the lights. "I'll be sure and lock all the doors and windows, Kate. And keep the lights on."
Kate smiled warmly and looked around. "Those are all good ideas, but are you sure you'll be all right? I mean, it doesn't look like anyone else is home."
Joyce shrugged. "I'm sure I'll be fine."
"Look, my shift's over and I don't mind staying with you until you feel comfortable. You've been through a lot."
Joyce nodded and invited Kate inside. Kate sat and watched from the comfort of the couch while Joyce hurried around the house, turning on lights and making sure windows and doors were locked. When Kate had asked if there was anything she could do to help, Joyce just smiled and told her to relax and get comfortable.
"There we go," Joyce chirped as she settled on the sofa, a couple of cushions away from Kate. "Oh! Where are my manners? I didn't offer you anything to drink!" She got to her feet and hurried to the kitchen. "What would you like?"
Kate turned her head and called in Joyce's direction. "I wouldn't want you to go to any trouble."
"Oh no, no trouble at all," was the reply. Joyce returned to the living room after taking a quick inventory. "Well?"
"Just some water."
"Right, water." Joyce nodded and headed back to the kitchen. She came back with two glasses of water and headed for the couch.
"Love the art collection."
"Hmm? Oh, it's just a hobby of mine."
Kate nodded and held out a hand for the glass of water. Joyce handed it to her, and as it passed from Joyce's hand to Kate's, the glass slipped and fell. It broke as it hit the floor and the water splashed Kate's chest.
"Oh, I'm *so* sorry," Joyce apologized as she set the other waterglass down.
"I'm fine," Kate assured her. She frowned as she watched Joyce pick up the pieces of broken glass. "Be careful. Wouldn't want you cutting yourself."
Joyce gingerly picked up the last of the pieces and got to her feet. "I think I've gotten them all." Joyce noticed that Kate had gotten some of the water on her blouse."Your blouse, it's wet…"
Kate looked down. "Don't worry about it."
Joyce hurried into the kitchen with the broken glass and called out over her shoulder, "Why don't you take that wet thing off? I should have something in my closet that you can wear."
Kate blushed and got to her feet.
"Just down the hall, second door on your left," Joyce told Kate as she dumped the broken glass into the trash.
Kate strolled down the hall and found the bedroom easily enough. She noted the pictures of Joyce with her family along the hallway, and how they started out as a portrait of a very happy family but gradually stopped. Kate paused at the doorway of the bedroom
Joyce walked up behind Kate. "Finding everything okay?"
Kate turned and smiled. "Sure. I was just admiring the pictures of you and your family. You certainly have a beautiful daughter."
"Thanks." Joyce led Kate into the bedroom. "Go ahead and take that wet blouse off and we'll see what fits you." She left Kate in the bedroom and went into the bathroom to get a towel. Joyce returned a moment later, towel in hand.
Kate finished unbuttoning her blouse and shrugged it off to the floor. Joyce blushed as she noticed the voluptuous curves of Kate's breasts.
Kate took the towel from Joyce and quickly patted herself dry. "Thanks," she said as she handed the towel back.
"No problem," Joyce said. She put the towel down on the bed and stepped over to the closet. She opened it up and quickly picked out a few blouses that looked like they might be Kate's size. Joyce spread them out on her bed and looked at Kate. "Well?"
Kate leaned over to look at the blouses, her bare skin brushing against Joyce as she did so. Joyce reddened and moved away. "Excuse me," she murmured.
Kate selected a basic white blouse and pulled it on. She buttoned it up and studied herself in one of the mirror's in the bedroom. Joyce watched and fingered her auburn curls nervously.
"You missed a button," Joyce told her.
"Here," Joyce said as she stood in front of Kate and fixed the buttons on the blouse for her.
"No problem." As Joyce stood there, she gave a shuddering sigh and realized how *lucky* she was. She had survived the attempted mugging with a couple of scrapes and now she was home, safe and sound. It had just been so overwhelming.
Kate embraced Joyce and held her close. "Shhh, it's okay," she whispered. "You're okay now." Kate stroked Joyce's hair and whispered soothing things in her ear.
After a moment, Joyce sniffled and looked at Kate. "I'm so sorry," she apologized.
"Don't apologize. You survived a really stressful event tonight, and it's normal for you to feel the way you do."
Joyce nodded. "I should probably let you go. I mean, you've done so much for me."
"All part of the job." Kate mock-saluted Joyce, which got a smile from her.
There was an awkward silence after that, as neither of them really wanted to see the other go. Kate coughed and picked up her wet blouse from the bed. "I guess I'll be going…"
"Hmm? Oh yes. Thank you so much, Kate."
Joyce saw Kate to the door, and they embraced one more time.
"I'll get this dry cleaned and returned to you soon," Kate promised.
"That old thing? Take your time," Joyce assured her. "But it would be nice if we could get together for lunch, or drinks, or… something. I would love to be able to pay you back."
"You know we're not allowed to accept bribes," Kate winked.
Joyce laughed and playfully swatted Kate. "You know what I mean! Do you have a card or something? That way I can call you and we can set something up."
Kate pulled out her wallet and found one of her business cards. She quickly added her home number on the back and handed it to Joyce, who carefully tucked it away.
"So, lunch? In a couple of days?" Joyce said hopefully.
"That would be great."
"Good night, Joyce."
"Good night, Kate."
Joyce sighed wistfully and closed the door after Kate. For a night that had gotten off to a terrible start, it had certainly ended with the promise of something wonderful.