Beatrice hurried through the Lower Level Three hallway to Interrogation Room Two, a file in her paw and a purpose in her stride. It was three days too long before her fellow officers finally located Nora Tulki, also known as Spice. She expected her co-workers to be inspired to find the working girl, yet was disappointed that none of them put forward more effort. The wolf kept her head down and her shoulders forward, ignoring everything but her destination.
Precinct Six didn't get friendlier over the passing days, and on more than one occasion Beatrice felt like she was walking into a trap that never sprung. The she-wolf didn't get a reprieve at the Howlington compound, as everyday another crisis seem to appeared. The lupine was burning at both ends, and she needed a break.
It finally arrived.
Beatrice was almost running, when Lennart Olsson blocked her path. He stuck out his arm to the lupine's head height. The large reindeer loomed over the smaller wolf with a sadistic grin.
"Time's up Howlington," he jeered, "You're finally going down!"
"Not today," muttered Beatrice, ducking under the larger mammal's arm. She stepped over Olsson's hoof, only for it to rise and trip her. The she-wolf stumbled forward, but kept her balance. She didn't bother to even glare over her shoulder at the reindeer. Her mission was too important.
"Run little wolf, run!" shouted Olsson after her, "Nowhere to hide now!"
Beatrice didn't need to hide, but she did need to pick up the pace. Her almost running turned into a full sprint, unwilling to have another interruption. Her destination came in view, and the hallway was luckily deserted. The she-wolf stopped in front of the interrogation room door, panting from the effort and her nerves. She cleared her throat, and smoothed her disheveled uniformed. The officer opened the door.
Interrogation Room Two was just like its counterparts, three grey concrete walls and a one way mirror on the back wall. In the center of the room was a metal table, bolted to the floor, and two chairs. The only light source was from a white fluorescent bulb above. A camera in the back right corner of the room, facing the entrance, blinked red to show that it was working. In one of the chairs was a red fox. She wore a long black dress, and a thick, white shawl. At first glance, the clothing looked in good condition, but that was not the case. The bottom hem of the dress was faded, street salt discoloring the fabric over time. The shawl, possibly wool, was no longer its original white but tinted yellow. The smell of old smoke hung in the air, just above the vixen's own uncleaned scent. Tired, brown eyes watched the officer suspiciously.
Beatrice suppressed the urge to gag, instead clearing throat again and forcing a smile. "Hello Miss Tulki, my name is Officer Howlington." The she-wolf walked over to the table, and pulled out the other chair. The furniture was meant for larger officers, so the wolf had to stretch up to sit in the seat. She sighed and placed the folder on the table. "I have some questions about-"
"Where's the other guy?" interrupted the vixen, her hoarse voice mixed with the smell of stale cigarettes revealed the fox's heavy smoking habit. A small rectangular bulge underneath her shaw, and on her right shoulder, showed where the working girl kept her pack.
Beatrice smiled politely, "Officer Clairmont will be with you momentarily."
The she-wolf hoped that wasn't the case. Deputy Chief Janus Eland, the former Assistant Chief promoted after her grandfather's "retirement," had called a meeting with all available ranked officers to discuss what to do with the fox's information. The old bull moose was under the impression that the vixen was brought in with information about Beatrice, not realizing that this was the same vulpine who Grizzoli supposedly assaulted. Arnold said he'd stall the meeting as long as he could, but he couldn't make any promises.
"Anyway," the officer continued, opening the folder and tilting it away from the fox, "I was hoping you'd be willing to answer some questions about-"
"I don't know no Beatingly," growled Tulki, "So you can just shove your questions where the sun don't shine and let me go!"
Beatrice looked up from the folder, brow furrowed as she suppressed the rising need to growl at the smaller mammal. "It's about a complaint made against one Officer Grizzoli," started the she-wolf tersely, "that he supposedly assaulted you."
The vixen's scowl faltered, and her ears twitched. She looked away from the lupine and folded her arms. "I don't wanna talk about it."
"Miss Tulki, there are some...discrepancies… that need to be discussed." The wolf focused back on the folder. "For instance, we were told that it occured ten days ago. The problem with this is that Officer Grizzoli-"
Tulki slammed her paws on the table, standing on her chair with a snarl. Stained yellow teeth gnashed at the wolf. "Honey, I don't wanna talk!?" A coughing fit overcame the vixen, doubling her over till she was almost lying on the table. She slowly lowered herself back into her chair, wiping her muzzle with the back of her paw. When the fox finally settled, she glared at the wolf. "Go away."
"Miss Tulki," began Beatrice deliberately, "If the Z.P.D. is to investigate and prosecute Officer Grizzoli, we need more information. Do you want him back on the streets?" The officer's attention was trained completely on the vixen. There was reluctance, which the lupine had faced before, but there was something else as well. When the fox sighed and muttered under her breath, the wolf caught the working girl's words.
"This wasn't part of the deal…"
"What deal?" questioned Beatrice, startling the fox and rising from her seat, "What deal are you talking about?"
"I ain't saying no-"
"What deal!?" shouted the wolf, hackles rising and fists planted firmly on the table. She pointed a threatening claw at the vulpine. "You're hiding something, and I'm going to find out!? Even if I have to personally track down every one of your clients and-"
"This wasn't part of the deal!?" Tulki screeched, "I ain't supposed to be answering questions!" The fox panted, desperately gulping deeply to try and catch her breath.
The officer stood quietly, waiting for the vixen's breathing to level out. Once it did, she asked an important question.
"What deal?" Tulki opened her muzzle to deny, but the wolf raised a digit for silence. "You admitted on camera," the officer pointed to the still blinking red camera, "to making a deal about your testimony. Now...What. Was. It?"
Tulki snarled, then sighed in defeat with a shake of her head. "Whatever...He didn't keep his part anyway." She fixed her shawl, which had slipped from her lithe shoulders, and pulled the fabric tighter around her. "I was supposed to get five hundred for telling someone at that trap they call Helping Paws. Say that a polar bear named Grizzoli attacked me. Two fifty up front, two fifty after." The fox scoffed and waved a flippant paw. "Never paid me the last part…" She leaned closer to the table with a wicked grin, and whispered, "...so I guess he didn't get my silence."
"Do you know who it was?" questioned Beatrice.
The vixen shook her head, "Nah doll, just some ram."
The wolf nodded, pulling out a pen and flipping over a paper from the file. "Can you give me a description of this ram?"
"Little bit, never saw his face fully...but he looked like a big timer."
The officer glanced up from her notes with a frown, "Why's that?"
Tulki huffed, "He just did alright. Wore a black overcoat with a broad hat, kept it down to hide his eyes and all. Expensive suit underneath, like gangsters do in movies. He was missing a horn though, and I could see some scars on his snout." The fox snapped and pointed at the lupine, "Oh yeah! He had a cane and a limp. Looked like he really needed it, ya know?"
Beatrice continued to write down the description, while trying to go through all known felons in the district. There were so many, but searching for a scarred ram may make it easier. She sighed contentedly, smirking at the new information. This proved Grizzoli was innocent, and the recorded confession sealed it. Maybe Cherry would even admit she was wrong, and the two could work together to figure out who was causing problems for the Z.P.D. and Helping Paws. When she closed the folder, elated by the turn of events, the vulpine spoke up.
"Hey, since I helped you, you think you can help me?" asked Tulki sincerely, she shook her head, "I never even met this beatsly officer!"
Beatrice smirk grew, "That may be difficult." She glanced at the vixen before turning to the door. "I am that officer!"
The officer left the working girl in stunned silence.
Beatrice sat uncomfortably on the couch at Frostbite Way. She just finished telling Cherry everything about Tulki's confession. The officer mentioned a description of the ram, but the vixen didn't react. The wolf's own search came up empty. She wasn't sure what was worse, that there was a new player or someone had slipped past the Z.P.D.'s watch.
"I can't believe she did that…" murmured the fox, sitting tensely on the other end of the couch with her arms crossed. Her tail laid in her lap as her ears were pinned completely flat. The fox had let her in reluctantly, and didn't look at the lupine as the officer relayed the information.
The lupine shrugged awkwardly, "I mean she needed the money...and from what I've heard, that can make mammals desperate."
Cherry sighed, glancing at the she-wolf before looking down at the floor, "I guess you're right...I just…" She sighed again, and ran a paw over the top of her head, "I just didn't expect girls to do that. We're trying to give them all a better life!"
"Maybe," started Beatrice hesitantly, "maybe she doesn't want to change."
The fox let out a hollow laugh, "Yes because mammals love selling their bodies! You're so right Bee!"
The officer scowled, "That's not what I'm saying."
"Then honey, what are you saying?"
The lupine's ears pinned back, as clasped her paws in front of her and shrugged. Beatrice felt out of her element with this combative version of Cherry. "Maybe she's afraid of changing? Didn't you say that's probably why Candy left?"
"It was more than that..." answered the vixen, quietly. She focused silently on the living room floor, apparently lost in thought. Cherry blinked, then shook her head, "But I get what you're saying. Some mammals you just can't change..." The fox turned to finally face the lupine, lips pursed as her sapphire blue gaze held an icy chill to it. "I suppose you want me to apologize?"
Beatrice shook her head, "Not unless you mean it." She smiled stiffly, "It was a possibility that she got the dates mixed up."
"You never thought that though," countered the vixen.
The lupine rubbed the back of her head, "No." She sighed, and slid closer to the fox. Beatrice hesitated, then reached out and gently grasped one of the vixen's paws. "Cherr...do you trust me?"
Cherry's brow furrowed, her eyes darting between the officer's pleading look and the paw holding her own. "Of course I do. You know that."
"Then can you trust me on Grizzoli?" pressed Beatrice, giving the smaller paw a light squeeze, "I trust him to watch my back, and…" She grimaced, "...I know you have a problem with polar bears-"
"I-I don't!" stuttered Cherry defensively, eyes wide in shock and tail falling out of her lap, "I-I'm perfectly fine w-with them!"
The lupine silently studied the fox, watching every twitch of her still pinned ears and flick of her fluffy tail. Beatrice wasn't an expert on Cherry, but she knew the vixen well enough to know when she was lying. The officer could have prodded until the vulpine eventually broke, but that didn't seem right. Even when they were fighting, the wolf cared too much about Cherry to strain their friendship. Beatrice eventually sighed, and nodded her head.
"Ok...you don't hate polar bears…" The wolf smiled weakly, "Sorry for saying that."
Cherry smiled and squeezed the lupine's paw, "I'm sorry too...for everything."
There was an awkward silence, as neither female knew what to do next. Beatrice wondered if she was still welcome, and began to pull her paw out of the vixen's grasp. "Well, I guess-"
Cherry grasped the wolf's larger paw with both of hers. "Wait," she interrupted, "Don't go. We can…" the fox looked around the room till her gaze landed on the television, "Watch a movie! Maybe get some takeout?"
Beatrice gave a reserved smile, "A movie night? On a weekday? Are you gonna go to work tomorrow?"
"Maybe," responded the vixen coyly, closing the distance between them, "or maybe Jezz can run things tomorrow." Her brow rose expectantly, "What about you?"
The wolf laughed, "I think I can take a day." She leaned forward, and wrapped around the vulpine with her free paw into a one armed hug. "It sounds really good…"
Cherry hugged the lupine back, resting her head against the wolf's chest. "Yeah…"
Beatrice knew they would have to break this contact eventually. Soon Jezebel, Saffron, Ginger, or any number of girls would interrupt them, and then complain about them hogging the couch or ask what was for dinner. The living room would become crowded, and an argument would break out about what to watch. For now though, the wolf would enjoy this moment of reconciliation. Something was bothering Cherry, digging deep into the fox's heart and turning it cold, but the lupine wouldn't abandon her. The former working girl was the officer's best friend.
Nothing would change that.