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My Funny Valentine

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Teresa runs into the precinct, pulling her hair back into the loosest ponytail she thinks she has ever performed upon herself (she'll fix it into a bun when she's in the patrol car), one that gets even looser as she jogs. She has never, ever been late for work before - not when she was a paramedic, not when she worked in that florist for extra money when she was at college and definitely not as a rookie cop.

It's her haste that leads her directly into the path of Captain Hicks, who has a few stern words of his own regarding his staff's tardiness. She apologises profusely and he explains that her partner is waiting for her in the car. She nods, turning to leave, but Hicks tells her to pull it together first, make herself presentable, then head out. She takes those orders with a nod and heads to the locker rooms.

Pushing the heavy door open with a sigh, she heads to her locker and upon raising her head, she finds a single red rose taped to the front of the green metal box. Furrowing her brows, she steps forward and looks at it, puzzled, before whipping her head round to see if anyone else is watching. Once she's sure the coast is clear, she pulls at the tape, turning the flower round in her hands, careful of its thorny stem, wondering who on Earth would leave her such a gift. She shakes her head and pulls open her locker to find a slip of paper at the bottom, having been posted through the grate.

Teresa deposits the rose to sit upright at the back of her locker then pulls the slip open, reading its contents.

I know you never like to make a fuss, it reads, but today, I thought someone should at least make the effort.

What? She thinks to herself. Oh. Oh. Of course, it's February 14th, she'd completely forgotten in her mad dash to get out of the house (not that she made a big deal over this damn day anyway!). She rolls her eyes, decides it must be some practical joke by Ray and Tom - wouldn't be the first time - and places the slip amongst her belongings.

"There must be a reason you're the only one in here whilst everyone's already out on duty, Officer Ortiz," comes a familiar voice, one that makes her grin with a slight shake of her head. Joel. Always the one to seek her out, always the one with a charming, sarcastic comment.

"Well, Detective," Teresa drawls, pulling her hair back to fall over her shoulders (the whole reason she came in here after all), "that does not explain what you're doing here. Aren't you meant to be catching criminals too or does making that rank just give you a desk and a higher paycheck?" It's all in jest, of course, and Joel raises a brow.

"Part of the job - a perk, one might say," he offers and she laughs. "So you're actually on your way out?" He asks and she nods, pulling her hair into place.

"Yeah, just gotta do this," she replies, nodding upwards, signifying her hair. "Then it's on the beat! Remember those days, eh, when you were Officer Stevens?"

"Yes thank you, Ortiz. I remember those days," he says as she secures her low bun, hair pulled taut, making her look much more severe, especially once she pulls her officer's cap into place. "I'll walk with you."

Teresa closes her locker, the rose all but forgotten as she follows her friend - colleague - out of the room and into the busy building. They speak of his latest case on the short walk to the exit and he asks her to keep her ear to the ground for him, for clues, something which she duly agrees to. She spots her partner's car parked just a few yards away and, if his face is anything to go by, she's in for a real treat today.

"Keep safe, Officer," Joel murmurs and Teresa nods.

"You too, Detective," she responds, giving him a small flicker of a smile, turning to walk away, as he says her name again, but much more quietly this time.

"Happy Valentine's Day." He gives her a grin before he turns and goes back inside, leaving her rooted to the spot, mind racing, racing right back to that very bloom inside her locker.

It couldn't be..?