Disclaimer : Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Warnings : Sex and love between women
Feedback : Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2011 Geonn Cannon
Officer Diana Rios spotted Ariadne Willow fifteen minutes into her shift and decided not to use it as an omen. The private detective was walking down Eisner Street, wearing dark-colored clothes with her hair pulled back in a ponytail. She looked like she was coming back from a business meeting, despite the hour. Diana checked her watch, sighed, and pulled away from the curb. She flashed her lights to get Ari's attention and pulled to a stop at the curb. She rolled down her window and waited for Ari to catch up.
"Something wrong, Officer? Or are you finally going to let me play with your handcuffs?"
"Just keeping you out of trouble to the best of my ability, Ms. Willow. What are you doing out at this time of night?"
"Detecting. Privately. It's my job."
Diana couldn't help but smile. "Stay out of trouble, Ari. Despite what you seem to think, I don't like roughing you up and hauling you downtown."
Ari saluted. "Totally on the up-and-up, Officer. But thanks for checking in. It's good to know you care."
"Promise you'll at least try to keep your nose clean."
"I always try ." She winked and backed away from the car. Diana pulled away from the curb, refusing to look in the rearview mirror to see if Ari was watching her go. It would be easier if she hated Ari, if she could look at what happened between them as an entirely bad idea. But the truth was that they had feelings for each other. She knew that despite any ulterior motives, Ari truly did want to spend the night with her. The problem came when Ari woke up in the middle of the night and used Diana's laptop to get past firewalls on the police database. She looked at files she had no business reading and chalked it up to being in the right place at the right time. Diana could never forgive that level of privacy invasion, so she'd never seen Ari again.
Well, at least not romantically. Since going back to the night shift, it seemed like she was always running into Ari at least once or twice a week. It was getting harder to remember the one bad thing because her brain kept focusing on the really, really good things that had led up to that moment. She sighed and turned the corner, leaving Ari behind.
Diana continued her patrol, responding to calls of suspicious people lurking behind the movie theater and an open door at a private residence. Neither call required much more than walking around with her flashlight and making sure everything was okay. The residence turned out to be abandoned, and she searched the house to make sure no one had turned it into a gang hangout or a drug den before she secured the locks and called it in.
She was on her lunch break when the call about a silent alarm came in. The address was only a few blocks away from where she'd seen Ari, and her instinct refused to call it a coincidence. She called that she would respond and headed out, lights-only.
The alarm was from an office complex a few blocks from where she'd run into Ari. The parking lot was surrounded by a chain link fence hidden behind bushes and vines. The fence was unlocked and the gate pushed back. Diana parked in the driveway and walked across the empty parking lot to the front door of the building. The front door was locked so she walked along the perimeter. The east side of the building had the loading dock for one of the companies housed in the building and Diana immediately saw that one of the rolling doors was raised a few feet off the ground. She bent down and used her flashlight to scan the interior of the warehouse. "Police! Come on out now." She waited for a reply and then ducked inside. She was hyper-aware for the sound of footsteps, whispers, or furtive movement.
History told her that if there was someone inside, it was probably just teenagers looking for a place to neck. But there was always that itchy feeling. The thousand to one chance that someone inside was willing to hurt her in order to get away. She repeated her identification as she walked down the central aisle between two tall shelves.
A wooden flight of stairs led from the warehouse to the second floor. Through the windows on either side of the door, she could see the pale golden glow of the security lights placed every few feet along the baseboards. The door was slightly ajar. Diana was about to ascend the stairs when she heard a sound to her right. She spun toward it, one hand on the butt of her gun while she searched the shadows for the source.
"Police! Come on out."
A dog stepped out into the beam of Diana's flashlight. She rolled her eyes at her own jumpiness. "Go on, get out of here, doggie." She stepped closer and examined the dog. She couldn't shake the feeling she'd seen it somewhere before. It was a big dog, almost wolf-like, and the eyes were startlingly blue. Probably just one of the many strays wandering the streets after the sun went down. But those eyes... she would have remembered a dog with eyes like that.
"Get out of here, pooch."
The dog chuffed and padded past her. Diana watched it go back toward the entrance and, satisfied it was leaving, headed upstairs.
There was a black pegboard just inside the warehouse door, listing the various businesses on the upper floors. A dentist, an insurance agent, the air conditioning repair company that owned the warehouse, a telemarketing agency, and a divorce attorney. Diana cleared every floor, checking the doors to every office to make sure they were locked before moving on. The only disturbance she found was at the insurance agent's office. The door was standing open, but she couldn't find anything else amiss. If someone had stolen something, they covered their tracks well. She gave the rest of the offices another examination and then went down to the security offices of the building.
The manager of the office plaza didn't employ an all-night guard, so Diana called the office that supplied security during the day and made a report. They would come up, secure the premises, and wait for the follow-up from the crime scene units. In the morning, the insurance company would go through their files to let them know if anything was missing.
When the security truck pulled into the parking lot, Diana gave them a report and handed the scene over to them. She radioed in that she was leaving the scene, filled out an incident summary in her log and left the plaza.
Four blocks away, she passed a bus stop. At first she ignored the bundle of clothing on the bench; there were far too many homeless to run them all off. But on second glance, she realized the face above the clothes was familiar. She sighed, irritated, and slowed to a stop. She debated just driving on for almost a full minute before she put the car in reverse and backed up. She rolled down her window and whistled to get Ari's attention.
"Fancy running into you twice in one night."
Ari looked up, confusion evident on her face. "Uh, yeah."
She doesn't remember meeting me earlier. Diana looked at the army jacket and ripped jeans Ari was wearing. "What happened to your other outfit?"
"The clothes you were wearing earlier."
Ari looked down at herself. "That's a really good question, Diana." She stood up and tugged the collar of the jacket closed; Diana saw that she was topless underneath. "You don't have to roust me; I'll move along peacefully."
"Is Dale coming to pick you up?"
Ari shook her head. "I couldn't find my phone to call her. It's okay. I'll remember eventually, I just needed to rest my brain for a second."
Diana rolled her eyes. "Hop in."
"Front or back?"
"You're not allowed in the front, but I'm just going to take you home. Don't make me rethink this."
Ari crossed the street and got into the back of the patrol car. "Where are you heading? Home?"
"Uh, yeah. That's fine."
Diana started driving. When they were together, there had been instances where Ari seemed stricken with amnesia. She became lethargic, forgot where she was or what she had been doing, and seemed to be in a complete daze. At first she suspected drugs, but there was no other evidence of drug use and the effects faded far too quickly. Ari promised she was clean, which left Diana afraid that she had some kind of mental problems that she didn't want to disclose to a casual fling.
Finding her in this daze on an empty street, in the middle of the night, wearing a different outfit from what she'd had on earlier... Diana couldn't help but make a few alarming connections. She glanced in the rearview and saw Ari was slumped against the back of the seat, mimicking sleep with her eyes open and searching the landscape they passed.
"Ari, you know you can talk to me if you want."
Ari sat up, almost as if she was confused to see Diana in the car. "Talk?" A pause. "No. That's okay. Thanks, though."
"I worry about you, Ari. You're out here doing God knows what, pissing people off. You seem to lose your clothes on a nightly basis."
Ari chuckled. "Yeah. I'm trying to work on that."
Diana knew where Ari's apartment was. There was a laundromat nearby that Diana had stopped using because it was near enough they might have run into each other.
"Dale takes pretty good care of me."
"If you're sure."
"Yeah. But thanks. Thanks for worrying."
Diana parked at the curb and got out to open the back door for Ari. She unfolded herself from the seat and smiled. "And thanks for the lift."
"Don't make a habit of it." Diana realized why the stray dog's eyes had been so striking; they were almost the exact same shade of blue as Ari's. "You really have beautiful eyes, Ariadne."
Ari smiled, cupped Diana's cheek, and kissed her softly on the lips. Diana spent the entire kiss trying to force herself to push Ari away, but Ari ended the kiss before she could. She dropped her hand to the collar of Diana's uniform blouse. "That was just a thank you. Unless you want to come upstairs."
Diana ignored how good Ari's kiss had been, and how nice her hand felt. "I'm on-duty. Even if I wasn't..."
"Right. Probably wise." She let her hand drop and stuffed it into the pocket of her oversized jacket.
"Try not to make a habit of it. I'm not running a taxi service here."
Ari laughed. "Yes, Officer. I won't let it happen again."
"Do you have your key?"
"I hid one in the building. Like you said, this happens frequently enough that I have to be careful."
Diana waited to make sure Ari got into the building safely and then got back into her car. She sat for a few minutes and watched the building until the window she knew as Ari's lit up. She had just started the engine when the balcony door opened and Ari stepped out. She lifted her hand in farewell, letting Diana know she'd gotten safely inside, and Diana flashed her lights briefly before she pulled away from the curb.
Diana knew that she and Ari were a bad romantic match, but the feelings were still there. Ari was like an addiction. Diana felt like an alcoholic who kept a bottle of Scotch in the house; as long as she could face the temptation and not give in, she would be fine.
Diana clocked in for her shift the next night and left the locker room. She was on her way down to the garage when she spotted Ari in the lobby. She made her way over to where the desk sergeant was just finishing up a call. "Hey, Ari. I thought I told you to stay out of trouble."
"She's actually doing a service." The sergeant smiled at Ari. "The detective says you can go on up."
Ari stood and slung the strap of her bag over her shoulder. "Thanks, Deke. Love to your kids for me, huh?" She passed from the visitor side of the desk to the business side. She looked Diana up and down. "Hey, Officer Rios. Looking tasty, as always."
"Keep walking, Ari. Glad you're feeling better." Ari saluted and went upstairs. Once she was out of sight, Diana nudged the sergeant. "What service is she providing, exactly?"
"It's the craziest thing. You know Demeter Insurance? They share a building with some appliance repair company."
Diana raised an eyebrow. She had been in the insurance company's offices and the repair company's warehouse the night before.
"They turned down this teacher's claim, said they couldn't be sure if it was a pre-existing condition or not so they weren't going to pay for it. Apparently a bunch of the company's internal memos accidentally got stuck inside of a toaster oven that Ms. Willow's secretary sent in for repair. How that happened is anybody's guess."
Diana had a pretty good guess. She wondered tracking the teacher's movements for the past couple of days would reveal a trip to Bitches Investigations.
"Anyway, the toaster got returned to Ariadne's secretary, she found the report, and she brought it to us. Apparently the guy in charge ordered his agent to turn down the report because it would cost too much to treat the teacher's illness. Demeter's been under investigation for a long time, but this is probably going to be the final nail for 'em. Ariadne has got a pretty big reward coming her way."
"So the teacher is going to get covered?"
The sergeant whistled. "Oh, her settlement is probably going to cover any treatment she wants. She might make them throw in a couple of MRIs just to make sure the machine is working."
Diana chuckled. "Keep the lights on for me, Deke."
A few hours later, Diana happened to be outside Ari's office on her lunch break. She was halfway through her sandwich when Ari and her secretary - although Dale really seemed more like an equal partner in Diana's observation - came out of the building and started down the street. Dale spotted the cruiser and tapped Ari's elbow. Ari held up a finger and jogged over, leaning down to look through Diana's open window.
"Just making sure everything is okay. Did you ever find your clothes last night?"
Ari smiled. "They're always in the last place you look. Thanks for the ride home. I appreciate it."
Diana nodded. "So that was a pretty amazing coincidence with Dale's toaster oven. You know, there was a break-in at that insurance company last night."
"Really? Anything taken?"
"No. But there's a chance that whoever broke in just Xeroxed some files so no one would notice they were gone."
Ari nodded. "If they were sneaky, yeah. Got any leads?"
Diana shrugged. "It's not my case. But I'll let you know if anything comes up." She looked past Ari to where Dale was waiting. "Listen. You did a good thing for that teacher."
"Well, you know. Right place, right time. I got lucky."
"Yeah. I hope you wore gloves when you got lucky."
Ari shook her head. "I don't know what you're talking about, Officer Rios. Have a good patrol."
"Yeah. Sleep well."
Ari waved and went back to her friend. Diana watched them walk away in her rearview mirror and then went back to focusing on her sandwich. If Ari was involved in the insurance agency break-in, it would most likely be very hard to prove. Ari was more than sneaky; she could be downright devious. Sometimes Diana wondered how she managed some of the things she did; other times she knew she was better off not knowing.
Whatever Ari's methods, she always seemed to be working for the good guys. As long as she kept her nose clean and her fingerprints off crime scenes, Diana was willing to take the victory however it came.
She was just glad Ari seemed to be on their side.
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