“Car 808 is 10-7 for the night. Over.”
Liadrin switched off her radio and placed it in the passenger seat of her unmarked car before leaning her head back against the headrest. She hadn’t really gone out - in fact, this was the first time. And, boy, did she go big. A diner. At two o’clock in the morning. The neon washed over her through the windshield so brightly she had to shut her eyes for a moment before finally forcing herself out of the car.
The inside of the diner was even brighter than the outside. Bathed in unnatural light that glinted off the overdone chrome accents of the counter stools she was heading for. A young woman exited the kitchen in response to the sound of the door ding - standing near the back counter as Liadrin removed her jacket and placed it over the back of the stool before sitting down.
Green eyes trailed over the leather straps of her shoulder holster and to the badge that still hung around her neck before finding Liadrin’s face as she walked over once the woman seemed situated. She didn’t hold a ticket book - that was the first thing Liadrin noticed.
And she was very pretty. That was the second thing Liadrin noticed. Yet her smile was faint and tired despite the slight glint of teeth in the waitress’s returning gesture. Cute smile. Or was it a smirk?
“Hello, Mrs. Officer.”
Ah. A smirk, then. Liadrin glanced down at her nametag then back up at her as she spoke. Valeera.
“Can I get you some coffee? You look tired.”
“Gee, thanks.” Liadrin responded with a chuckle. “And, no, thank you. I’m just getting off.”
“Are you, now?”
Liadrin lifted a brow as she fiddled with her menu.
“Take it easy. Joking isn’t against the law, last time I checked. What would you like, then? Glass of milk before bed, or…?”
“Water.” Liadrin’s eyes flashed back up at Valeera, then, and stayed there as a bubble she’d formed with her gum popped and then quickly disappeared.
Before Liadrin could respond, Valeera turned to head for the soda fountain.
It wasn’t the first time she’d gotten shit for being a cop. At least this time, it could possibly be construed as good-natured. Even mildly flirtatious. Liadrin didn’t mind. She hadn’t had much of a social life in...way too long. In fact, she’d only just begun noticing that other people even existed again.
“What are you having?” Valeera asked as she returned with the requested glass and placed it beside Liadrin’s hand.
“Two eggs over-easy and a side of fries. And, if you’ve got it, a slice of wheat toast.” Liadrin shut the menu that she hadn’t really even looked at and handed it over to Valeera before leaning back on the stool in a slightly more comfortable position. Not that anything was really all that comfortable with kevlar on under one’s shirt.
“Fries and eggs. Nice. Sorry we don’t do donuts.” The barb was softened by a timely wink and Liadrin couldn’t help the laugh the entire display resulted in.
Maybe she should go out more often. This wasn’t half bad, really. She got lost in her thoughts for a while - the sound of Valeera calling out her order muffled by both distraction and the door between them. She sipped her water while she waited, barely noticing as her head began to dip down towards the bar counter after a while before it jerked back up when there was suddenly a plate of food below her chin.
“Earth to Cop.” Valeera placed a napkin down beside Liadrin’s plate with silverware on it, glancing at her water quickly and then back to her. “You gonna make it? Passing out isn’t gonna get you out of the bill. Fair warning.”
Liadrin shook her head. “Sorry about that. S’been a long day. You can bring me the check, though, if you’re worried about me paying.”
Valeera took in the slightly darker skin beneath Liadrin’s eyes and the way her shoulders seemed almost painfully tense and leaned forward over the counter towards her. “Nah. Just take your time eating and try to wake up.” She reached out, then, threading her fingertips beneath the badge resting against Liadrin’s chest and lifting it so she could read it better. “Narcotics. Jeez. And a Lieutenant?” She rested the badge back down gently - an almost harsh counterpoint to her almost brash behaviour and way of talking.
“Guess you’re serious business. What’s your name, fries n’ eggs?” Valeera clasped her hands together as Liadrin unfolded her napkin and placed it over the immaculately pressed grey slacks she was wearing.
“Liadrin is fine.”
“Mm. Sure is.” Valeera slipped a fry from Liadrin’s plate as she stood upright again, popping it into her mouth as she walked to the other end of the counter to refill another patron’s coffee. Liadrin was still a little dumbstruck. She wasn’t entirely sure a woman had ever been this forward with her. There was nothing wrong with it, but…
“You let me know if you need anything else, yeah?” Valeera said as she passed back by her on her way towards the kitchen.
Liadrin just nodded before she finally began eating almost in a daze. She stayed alert enough to function, but that was about it. She barely even noticed the goings-on around her. Things were quiet, anyway. They usually were with a cop around. Even the drunks that filtered in now and again for a coffee or a waffle seemed inclined to behave themselves, and, once she was done eating - instead of taken her plate, Valeera rounded the corner and sat down next to her.
Liadrin didn’t look at her right away, but she could feel the woman’s eyes on her.
“I’m off.” Valeera explained as she leaned over and sat a little lidded foam to-go cup in front of her. “Coffee. Or you’re never gonna make it home, then you won’t come in anymore and give me the quietest night I’ve ever worked because everyone is scared shitless of a gun and a badge.”
Liadrin looked down at the cup that had been placed almost in her hand before lifting it to her lips and taking a sip of it. Black. But she liked it like that.
Her attention shifted then, finally, to Valeera. “And you aren’t?”
“Sometimes.” Valeera answered easily - not having to put any thought at all into what she was saying. Or choosing not to, anyway. “But these ones are attached to something awfully nice to look at.”
Well, there wasn’t really any misinterpreting that. And Liadrin found herself wishing she didn’t have an eight o’ clock meeting that she’d be running on four hours of sleep for the next morning, suddenly.
“What nights do you work?” She placed her debit card on the counter and the cook that had taken over operations came to gather it.
“Most of them. I only usually wind up with Tuesday nights off. I get called in a lot. Why?”
Liadrin shrugged and stood to reach for her jacket. “You have really good wheat toast here.” She responded dryly, placing a tip on the counter in front of her so no one else would wind up with it.
“Oh.” Valeera sighed - looking, for all intents and purposes, disappointed, though Liadrin was almost certain the look was feigned.
“And because I don’t mind pretty waitresses flirting with me. Thanks for the company. I needed it.” She retrieved her returned debit card from the countertop and nodded at the cook as Valeera watched her, waiting until the older man who was now sailing the ship on his own to shamble away towards a now-empty table that needed to be clean.
“I can be good company without the apron on, too.” Valeera finally replied, resting an arm over the back of the stool as Liadrin turned enough to look back at her.
“I'll keep that in mind.” Liadrin responded, her gaze lingering for just a moment before she pulled her keys from her jacket pocket and made her way out the door to her car. She sipped the coffee gingerly on her drive home - not wanting to drink so much as to have it keep her awake, but thankful for the fact that she was no longer half-dozing every few minutes.
Liadrin’s thoughts were tired and muddled as she slipped her shoulder rig off and hung it on the stand next to her closet, dropping her badge on the little shelf in the center of it and glancing at herself in the mirror. She really did look exhausted. That waitress had been a champ for hitting on her in this state. Once her shirt was unbuttoned and discarded in the hamper she sighed in relief as she began unstrapping her vest until it, too, was hanging on her uniform rack. She ran a hand along the tank top covering her stomach and then stretched languidly now that her movements were unhampered.
A long day, indeed. Her team had just ended a month-long investigation with four successful arrests that would put quite a damper on the local drug trade. For a week or so, tops. But that's how this job had always been. Like digging a hole in dry sand.
That thought left her a touch more melancholy than she might have liked as she picked her sweats up off the edge of her bed and stepped into them, not bothering to tie them any tighter. She just allowed them to hang from her hips as she wandered from her bedroom into the living room, her eyes coming to rest on a picture of Salandria on her shoulders that was placed on her mantle. She traced the little girl’s near-ecstatic grin - one that, even now, caused a smile to spread on her own lips - before she wandered into the kitchen.
Wine. Just a nice, relaxing glass of full-bodied red before bed. Liadrin uncorked the bottle that was already waiting for her on the counter and reached to one of her upper cabinets for a delicately-stemmed glass which she filled half-way and brought to her nose to smell as her free hand re-corked the rest and pushed the bottle further back onto the counter. In a daze, she tugged her blanket from one arm of her white, tufted sofa and half-collapsed into the corner of the plush, comfortable piece of furniture. Her book…. Liadrin’s eyes darted around until they landed on the mystery she'd been indulging in laying on her end table. Thank god. She'd been worrying she might have to get up in order to find it.
A couple pages and a few sips in, and suddenly it felt like a wonderful idea to stretch out along her couch beneath the throw she was nestled in - though even she knew better than to hold a glass of wine over white furniture, so that was set aside accordingly.
She read until her vision grew too blurry to see any longer then placed the book on the ottoman sitting in front of the couch. She didn't have the energy to go to bed, really. Nor did she necessarily have a reason to. There was no more Salandria to provide a normal, stable household for, and - after a year - she felt it might be safe to indulge somewhat. Perhaps in other areas, too. Maybe she would go back to that diner sooner, rather than later. Maybe she would let that pretty woman say more pretty things to her and enjoy her smirk and her snark a bit while she was at it...and see if she really was good company without the apron on.
But that was it. Nothing more. Liadrin didn't have the time for anything serious, and she wasn't sure if or when she would. But...some company? A heated, satiating night here and there? That, she could handle. She could more than handle. Even as much of a handful as Valeera seemed to be...she didn't seem too serious about it, either. She just seemed like...fun. Seemed like something that would be easy and straightforward to navigate. She hadn't been coming onto her due to their deep intellectual connection, after all. So that obviously wasn't what she was looking for, either.
Liadrin drifted off with thoughts of Valeera still on her mind. Thoughts of how nice it might be to work herself into exhaustion with a woman instead of over an investigation. It had been way, way too long.
Her alarm was too loud. Too incessant. She scrambled for it blearily with a groan and leaned over her own knees for a minute while she tried to stop her head spinning. Damn the department and their asscrack of dawn meetings. Literally straight to hell. She stumbled, half-asleep, towards the kitchen to start a pot of coffee before she noticed the cup from last night sitting on her kitchen island. Fuck it. It was cold, but it was decent, and the less effort she had to put into this morning, the better.
How she'd missed the phone number scribbled onto the side last night, she would never know. But she sure as hell saw it now. Along with the ‘text me’ written in surprisingly elegant handwriting considering the fact that it was pressed with ballpoint pen into styrofoam. Maybe Valeera had a lot of practice writing on cups. Maybe Liadrin added a new contact in her phone because she didn't really care if that was the case.
She needed something to look forward to. And that pretty waitress with trouble and mischief in her eyes and a smirk on her ruby red lips? Well, that was certainly something.