It was near the end of the day and the sun had almost completed its journey below the horizon, staining the Angelus skyline brilliant shades of red and orange that easily bled to the blues and purples of oncoming twilight. A lone woman stepped from the main building of XSWAT HQ, looking somewhere between depressed and lost in thought. Most people would have been disturbed by everything that had transpired after descending into the sewers, by what she and her teammates had been through. Most people would have been driven near (if not clear past) the brink of insanity upon discovering that they had been missing for three months.
For Tyche Serket, the former was all part of the job. Admittedly she was put on edge more than once, but that was what had kept things interesting and she knew what she was getting into when she signed up. Even if that wasn’t her idea in the first place. The latter she saw as being more of an opportunity. If not to mend bridges, then to at least visit particular establishments that she had been banned from in the past; after all, they couldn’t very well kick her out again if she’s supposed to be dead, right? That alone should be enough to put her in a great mood. Besides that, she had received a promotion on the spot, and from the Director no less! Known by those in power indeed!
What weighed on her mind and did a phenomenal job of ruining her mood was what she had almost done, what she was all-too-willing to do. It made her skin crawl. I am just a selfish, greedy little bitch aren’t I? Tyche’s thoughts were pulled from the recent past to the present when she realized that she was standing beside her car.
The Tesla UX-0096 Skylance was one of the most expensive spinners money could buy and it was hers. It was bought and paid for, in cash no less (courtesy of the Las Vegas’ Lucky 38 Casino). She loved it. Next to her customized sunglasses, it was one of her most prized possessions. As she stared at the sleek, fire engine red body, she could not help but loathe the machine.
With a sigh, she keyed in the code to open the driver’s side door and just before sitting down, she noticed a note, neatly folded in half and stuck to the windshield. She plucked the note from behind the windshield wiper and opened it.
I thought you might need this.
She made a sour face and crumpled the note into a ball. She thought about throwing it away, but thought better of it. She shoved the note into her pocket and slipped into the sleek, sexy, leather seat. As she settled into the vehicles embrace she felt nothing, despite the fact that she had been looking forward to this moment for what seemed like days. The engine turned on without a spark, hiss or any other sign of protest, as if the Skylance had only been waiting for her for twelve hours instead of twelve weeks.
As the spinner lifted into the air, Tyche suddenly felt absolutely no desire to return home. Like the Skylance, her luxurious penthouse-style condo was paid for and she had more than enough money in her various accounts to cover the building fees. She knew TAVROS wouldn’t care. Sure it would pretend to do so, but it couldn’t truly care even if it wanted to. The thoughts of returning to her own home triggered a train of thought that had her wondering what would happen to the others on her team. It was entirely possible that because they had gone missing for so long that they could have found themselves suddenly homeless.
Tyche wasn’t sure what made her go the long way around the headquarters building. Was even less sure why she did so at ground level. The thought occurred to her that perhaps in her state of mind, she unconsciously knew she was not in any particular shape to actually fly. Perhaps it was because of her lack of desire to return home right away that influenced her. Maybe her talents to manipulate fate and probability had their say in the matter. In retrospect, she would chalk it up to the latter as Fortune had a funny way of working out like that. None of that mattered right now however. It wasn’t difficult to miss her temporary partner for the training exercise standing out in front of the headquarters building as if she were waiting for something.
Slowing to a stop in the same space that any of the busses and shuttle-vans would use to pick up and/or drop off passengers, Tyche rolled the passenger side window down. “Hey, you need a lift?”
The freshly minted Patrol Officer Claire 404 stood on the curb clutching her ever-present satchel and glancing from side to side. Her triangular ears kept shifting to the down position and back as she rapidly alternated between expressions of worry and hope. It took a second to realize that someone in the spinner in front of her had asked her a question. As she looked in the window, she smiled when she saw that it was Tyche who had been speaking. The Clade's ears perked up again. "I guess so. Jenny was supposed to give me a ride, but that was three months ago." There wasn't a hint of irony in that statement. In fact, it reminded Tyche of the silly-me way that someone might admit that they put their pants on backwards. This girl was certainly a strange one.
She cast one more hopeful glance around as she opened the spinner door and slid into the passenger seat. She'd have to admit, there was a reason she usually took public transit. (apart from the fact that every vehicle she had attempted to drive didn't make it out of the parking lot, that is.) Not many bucket seats were built for people genetically designed with tails, especially the full five feet of fuzz that Claire possessed. She did her best to curl it in her lap but it still mostly obscured her view of the windshield. "Sorry. It kind of follows me everywhere."
Tyche smiled and waited for Claire to get comfortable and then they were off. Normally she would have hit the gas, pushing the Skylance into the red to simply show off, once her passenger was secure. She was in no mood for showing off tonight. "Don't worry about it.” There was a moment of silence as Tyche maneuvered deftly through the ground traffic. “I’d like to grab a bite to eat if that’s alright with you,” she said, breaking the silence. Yes, the Director had bought them all lunch, but that was hours ago.
"I don't mind." came the reply. Claire was already focused on the prohibitively expensive vehicle she was now riding in. Horsepower. Turning radius. Flight capabilities. Fuel consumption. Every facet of corresponding math that had appeared in an article she read when filing an auto-collision report sometime back in the APD came flooding back. Any other day and she'd have been a puddle of squee. Today she was simply too tired.
Tyche nodded in response. “Know of any good places… or should we just leave it to chance; pick a place and hope for the best?”
The young Clade's head tilted to the side as she thought about this. "Might as well see what happens, I guess." Claire couldn't place it, but taking chances didn't feel quite so risky when Tyche was around. It was kind of comforting in its own way.
“Sounds good to me.” Tyche said with a nod and then picked up the speed a little. Part of her was content to find the first thing that looked remotely interesting, the other part wanted to just explore the city. Why not a little of both? Sigma Sector isn’t that interesting anyway. Taking an exit towards Beta Sector, Tyche looked over to her passenger. “So… what’d you think of your first day?”
The warm glow of the street lights passing by occupied most of Claire's attention. Her ears turned as if watching each one zip by. "That was... that was scary. I know that's part of the job, but I-I just don't know what I was expecting." She hugged her tail in her lap, "We were gone for three months? I wasn't sure that was possible."
“I can understand that…” She pulled her sunglasses up to her forehead and smiled to the Clade. “I think pretty much everyone in the room except the Director was creeped out by it.” A short pause as she turned her attention to the road and lowered her sunglasses with a grin. “…except me. But seriously though, I'd be lying if there weren’t some things that didn’t make my skin crawl or make me just throw up my hands and walk away. The important thing to remember is that you didn’t… we didn’t run. We stood our ground and didn’t let the uglies win.”
"Yup. We had a job to do and we did it." Claire let out a yawn. It had been a long... day? ...couple of months? Whichever. “So that was the Director? She was... I mean, kind of...” She held out her hands a few inches from each other, one over the other.
Tyche released a laugh of genuine amusement. “What, you thought she’d be taller? I think she has that effect on most people who meet her for the first time, especially if you've heard any of the stories about her.”
"Actually, she's a lot taller than I thought. I guess what they say at the Precinct is just them being not-nice." Claire rubbed the back of her neck while she searched her erratic memory. "Come to think about it, most of what they say about XSWAT is not-nice. So far, not all of it is true. Well, maybe the bit about things going not-normal."
Tyche peered at Claire from the corner of her eye for a moment. “Well… I guess it makes a bit of sense. You see, people fear what they don’t understand, and well… it’s pretty hard to understand what’s going on in XSWAT from time to time. Even now, there are a lot of things we keep secret. The fact that we can easily drop in and take over whatever it is they’re doing, whether they ask for help or not, and show them up in the process would eventually make anybody upset and carry a grudge.”
After a short pause, allowing her words to sink in, Tyche grinned. “If you ask me though, I think they’re just jealous.”
Two triangular ears flicked in the darkness of the spinner. "Captain Earle never liked XSWAT exercising jurisdictional override. I guess you're right. All we can really do is to try to let them get to know us as XSWAT Officers. Good thing we'll be there in the Precinct then. We'll have plenty of time to get along." Claire gave a nod, certain that that train of logic was sound.
It was a combination of Tyche’s innate ability to manipulate probability in her favor and a set of reflexes behind the wheel that were granted by several years of active police duty that kept the Skylance from becoming wrapped around a pole, imbedded in a barrier or worse. In immediate retrospect, Tyche assumed that it was far more of the former than the latter. “WHAT?!?” she exclaimed after regaining control of the spinner.
Two triangular ears buried themselves in Claire's hair as she hugged her tail again; unsure of what exactly caused the commotion. "Yeah. The precinct we're being assigned to is the one that I used to work in."
“Bluh…” While she knew nothing of the 16th Precinct, she knew how the APD generally regarded XSWAT. Of course there were exceptions and actual sentiment varied from precinct to precinct and Sector-to-Sector, but it was generally negative. Something tells me this will only end in tears. Deciding that it was best to get off the road sooner rather than later, Tyche pulled into the first sit-down restaurant that entered her field of vision.
Tyche had seen several Angel’s Diners all across Angelus. Its construction an intentional throwback to a building style used last century and an eclectic menu that defied rhyme or reason (seriously, who would want breakfast food at five in the afternoon or a cheeseburger first thing in the morning?) were elements of days long gone by. Personally she avoided the place like the plague, deeming the establishment far beneath her standards. Not that her palette was excessively refined, she enjoyed a grease-burger as much as the next person, but something about the retro faux-future exterior matched with the kitschy rendition of ‘the Digital Angel’ used as part of the establishment’s signage was a huge turn-off for her. Still, the place had its fans; otherwise there wouldn’t be at least two or three in each sector. She pulled the Skylance into a parking space and looked to Claire. “Sorry about that back there. Is this place alright with you?”
The mirrored chrome exterior and the bright neon lights were mesmerizing to the Clade, and ultimately familiar. She'd been to one on one of her late night walks. Their red and blue neon lights could be seen from quite a ways off in the dark. While she couldn't agree with some of the menu, they did have some awesome waffles. "Yup! This place works!" Claire peeled herself off of the comfortable leather seat, and stepped out onto the wet concrete of the parking lot. The scents of coffee and short order cookery wafted through the night air. Coffee might be good. Claire was about to nod off.
A slight nod in reply and Tyche was out of her seat as well. She glanced about; she wasn’t completely sure which sector they were in, at least by appearances alone at any rate. Nevertheless, she armed the alarm system before walking with her partner into the restaurant. The scene inside the Angel’s Diner was fairly subdued given that it was early evening and those who intended on eating out would be doing so. Not that Tyche was complaining. She really was not in the mood to deal with people right now.
A rotund woman in her mid-to-late forties greeted them. Despite her kindly, welcoming smile and clean uniform she looked like she was twenty hours into an eight-hour shift. “Hello and welcome to the Angel’s Diner. Will it just be you two girls tonight?” After receiving the affirmative, the woman nodded and collected a pair of menus and place settings. Her next question about preference was asked out of habit than any real acknowledgment of Clade. “Whoops! I’m so sorry hon.” She placed a gentle hand on Claire’s forearm. “I’ll get you all a table. Please follow me.”
Without waiting for any response, the woman made her way through the aisles and chose a table closer to one of the windows. Her free hand dipped into her apron and fished out a cloth, which was used to wipe down the already cleaned table. Paper mats and rolled utensils placed, the woman wiped her hands with the cloth. “Your server will be over in a moment.”
Claire found the seats akin to sitting on plywood compared to the leather interior of Tyche's car. Still, they weren't exactly not-comfy. She very gingerly opened the menu. The pages stuck together a bit, which Claire verified by licking her thumb. "Maple syrup."
Tyche blinked as she watched Claire lick her thumb. For a moment she reconsidered her choice, but it was a little late now. Picking up her own menu as if it were a recently killed ‘skin phantom’, she carefully opened the cover. She thumbed through the pages, glancing at the offerings. “Get whatever you want. I’ll catch the tab this time around.”
"Aww, that's nice of you, Tyche." Claire smiled before diving back into the menu. "These sammiches look good. Ooh! They have pancakes all day! How cool is it to have breakfast for dinner? I think I'll have those!"
“Don’t worry about it.” Tyche replied as she flipped another page. While she couldn’t wrap her head around the idea of such things, apparently it worked for a lot of people. A mental shrug was given as the thought was cast aside in favor of actually making a decision on what to eat. Bluh… nothing looked particularly good at the moment… oh, that looked promising--the Blue Ribbon Burger: Bleu Cheese, marinated mushrooms, bacon bits and white truffle oil. Her decision made, she closed the menu and set it in front of her.
"I mean it. You're kind enough to give me a ride home, and buy me dinner, and we just met three months ago." Claire paused trying to figure out the exact math on that. "Well it was yesterday to us, and I don't know how that actually would work, cuz I don't exactly understand relative time/space theory, but I-I want you to know I appreciate it." She nodded once or twice before glancing at the container of maple syrup off to the side of the table. It was really good syrup.
Tyche blinked. When it was put like that it, it put things in a different perspective. “Well… we’re partners, right? Sure, after today we’re supposed to work more as a team and all, but I still see us as partners and, well… partners take care of each other.” It wasn’t the first time she was genuinely thankful for the design of her sunglasses, or the fact that she wore them all the time, and it likely would not be the last. If only she could hide her voice in a similar fashion. She was then infinitely thankful that Claire seemed to be about as dense as neutronium, especially on some of the subtleties of human emotion.
She still felt guilty about what she almost did, was all-too-willing to do. Part of her wanted to tell the Clade about it, explain to her what had happened and why she was so grateful and appreciative to have been paired with the young officer. Unfortunately, she also felt that such exposition would fall on deaf ears. Not because Claire was uncaring, but rather that she was unable to understand the subtleties and complexities. Another part of her was content with this fact simply because that part of her also did not feel like discussing the matter with anyone right now.
Claire's head tilted to the side a bit, and her eyes looked like they were trying to read her eyebrows. "It is recommended that officers engage in periodic activities designed to further officer 'closeness' and understanding,” she recited verbatim from the rules and regs. "Camaraderie is important for moral support. That's... That's what friends do too."
It was about this time that their waiter decided to make an appearance. A broad shouldered man about college age, likely a jock of some sort, with his dark hair pulled into a ponytail. He wore dark slacks and a pink polo shirt that was enough to offend all of Tyche's sensibilities. He walked with an air of smugness, pleased with his current customers. Oh, how lucky he was tonight. "Hello ladies," he said as slick as oil. "My name's Dan and I'll be your server this evening. So if there's anything you need, I'll be more than happy to provide it."
“Y-“ Tyche’s response was cut off; first off, the question that died on her lips was likely already answered. Claire was just that sort of person. The second and by far the more distracting reason the question went unasked was due entirely to the appearance of their waiter. She pulled her candy apple red sunglasses down her nose just a bit and peered at the man appraisingly; a look that could easily be mistaken with more approval than what she actually felt. In fact, something about him made her skin crawl. Oh… oh god, that was it. That shirt with those pants! What was he thinking?!? She slid her sunglasses up her nose and sat back. “Evening, Dan.” She replied. “I… think we’re ready to order now.” She glanced at her partner. “Claire? You know what you want?”
Claire looked at the menu one last time just to be sure. "Um... I'll have a cup of your Earle Gray, and some pancakes, please."
Dan jotted the order down on his notepad. "Right, one short-stack and some hot tea for the short, stacked hotty." He turned his attention to Tyche and did his best smolder. "And what can I do for you."
Tyche seemed to let the comment about her partner go by unnoticed. Strike One. “You can get me a coffee, easy on the creamer and the Blue Ribbon burger, cooked medium.” She slid her folded menu towards Dan and interlaced her fingers upon the surface of the table.
"Absolutely. One Blue Ribbon coming right up. Good choice with the coffee. I go easy on the cream, myself." He collected the menus and gave Tyche a wink before turning to depart. "I'll have those drinks to you fast and hot."
Tyche’s brow twitched as the man departed. “Ugh… what a slimeball!” she muttered under her breath only within earshot of Claire. “Does he give you the creeps too?”
Claire gasped at the thought. "I didn't know they had crepes!"
“I… wa… bu…” For a moment Tyche’s brain just stopped. With one swift motion, her sunglasses were taken off and dropped to the table and her face buried in both hands. Even though their time together was short, Tyche had already picked up on a number of Claire’s idiosyncrasies and felt that she could reasonably anticipate the nature of what Claire would say, as if there was some manner of disjointed, alien logic that turned the gears in the Clade’s brain. This was one of those instances where Tyche spectacularly failed.
Once her own brain rebooted, Tyche put her sunglasses back on and smiled. Sometimes it may just be better to speak Claire. “I think that man is kind of not-nice.”
The Clade thought about it for a moment. "He seems friendly enough. I don't know why he only smiles with half of his face, though. Must be a nervous thing. Are you ok?"
“I’m fine.” Tyche smiled reassuringly. “Let me tell you Claire, guys like him seem friendly, but they probably aren’t. Lots of people who are not-nice tend to smile like that too. Not all of them, but a lot of them.” She paused, rethought her strategy and tried again. “Hey, I’m sure you worked with some people who were not very nice at your old job. Even though they seemed nice, they actually weren’t. Right?”
Mauser and Harris immediately sprang to mind. Claire's smile drained away rather quickly. "Yeah. Yeah I guess you're right."
The pink shirt reappeared, and two mugs were set on the table. "Here you go. Coupla' hot drinks for my hot girls. Food'll be out in a sec."
When the waiter showed up with the drinks and a wink, Tyche bit her tongue, literally, to keep from saying anything. After he had vanished, she glanced in the direction he went off to and then leaned towards Claire a just a bit and offered another reassuring smile. “Hey, don’t be like that. I’ve got your back.” She sat back and took a sip of her coffee. Ok, the guy got some points back for at least getting it right. It wasn’t anywhere near what she was accustomed to, but then again, places outside of Alpha Sector had a problem even thinking about trying to keep up her usual haunts. “Look, I may not be able to there all the time, but I won’t let anybody hurt you… or if they do, I’ll make sure they won’t get away with it.”
"Aww. Thanks Tyche." her smile returned. Claire's curiosity got the better of her. She dabbed a little of the maple syrup on a finger and tasted it again. Carefully, she removed the teabag from her mug and started pouring the syrup in for sweetener.
Tyche could not help but laugh with genuine amusement. “Wh… what are you doing Claire?”
"Pouring syrup into my tea? It'll make it taste sweet!"
Still chuckling, Tyche held her head in one hand. “O-kay… but just keep in mind that if you use too much, you won’t have any for your pancakes.”
Aghast, she stopped pouring maple goodness into her near-overflowing cup. "Good point. Yup. You got my back alright. Almost made a bad decision there."
She pointed to the cup. “Also… “ She let the thought trail off as her mind went back to the place that she did not want it going. “…you don’t want to make a mess…” Her voice lost amusement and seemed almost melancholy.
While her attention span often resembled that of a goldfish, Claire's hearing actually was rather acute. It wasn't the first time this evening that Tyche's voice pattern dropped off. "Are you sure you're ok? You sound like there's something on your mind?"
“I’m…” She stopped herself. She could bluff and lie her way at a game table well enough. She was even a reasonably accomplished liar away from the tables when she needed to be as well. But something told her that none of that would on her partner. Tyche was fairly convinced that Claire would know that her concern was being brushed off, even if she chose not to press the issue. Besides, in an indirect way, it was kind of Claire’s fault; at least according to the selfish, spoiled part of her mind. “…I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Ever since you closed that door in the sewers, it’s just been bothering me.”
The repetitive tinking of Claire stirring her tea ceased abruptly. She was a tad confused. "Did I do something not-right?”
Tyche almost dropped her coffee. “What? No! You didn’t do anything wrong.” She held the mug in both hands and stared into it for several long moments. “I did… well… almost did something wrong. Something very, very wrong.”
"Wh-what do you mean?" Tyche could see the evident concern on Claire's face.
Tyche pulled her sunglasses off and folded the arms before carefully setting them on the table. “Promise me that you will not tell anybody else what I’m about to tell you.”
Claire gave a few conspiratorial glances around them. Well, as conspiratorial as Claire could get at any rate. "O-okay."
She took a deep breath, held it for a beat and then exhaled “When I looked at the door… well, I don’t know if I told you what I saw exactly, but that doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that I almost took it up on its offer. I know that I wasn’t the only one tempted, but I am pretty certain that I was the only one who didn’t give it a second thought. I had every intention of taking the offer.” She paused “I wanted to do it… and looking back, knowing now that it was a terrible thing; it only makes my willingness to do something like that so much worse.”
The Clade couldn't remember what was offered that night, but she remembered that, for her, it was a feeling of true contentment. She also knew that at the end of it all it didn't really matter. "Wow. Really? Then, wh-why'd you stop?"
“I got… distracted.” That really was the best way she could put it. She was in a good position to reach out and take what was being offered and nobody could really stop her. “I got distracted just long enough to focus on something else that, by the time it was all said and done, the thing’s true nature revealed itself.”
"So you wanted to do something that was very not-good, but you got distracted long enough not to do it?" Claire took a sip of her tea, enjoying the sweet taste. "I don't think you wanted to do it that much then. Whatever distracted you must have been more important to you."
“Maybe,” she murmured staring into her coffee. She genuinely wanted to throttle Claire right then, but only because she knew that in all likelihood the Clade did not know that she was the distraction she was talking about. “But at the same time, I still know that I was too willing to do something terrible, like how selfish can you be to do something like that?”
She reached absently for the maple syrup and poured a dollop into her cup and used the act of stirring it into her coffee as a means of keeping herself focused. “I was given a job to do and not only did I fail, but I didn’t care. I knew better, I knew that it was wrong, but I was willing to do it anyway. What kind of person does that? Someone who…” she stopped and stared into her swirling coffee. “…who’s not-nice.”
"B-but you didn't. That's the difference. I-I mean, I could be not-nice if I wanted to." To emphasize the point, Claire picked up an errant saltshaker. "I could pour this into your coffee and... and make it taste not-good. But I don't." This was getting complex. Granted, Claire's view may be overly simple, but you didn't get into existential debates of self-worth. And really, who wants salty coffee?
“You’re right, I didn’t…” She took a sip of her coffee and made a face. She remembered why she didn’t put sugar in her coffee. Still, the flavor combination was interesting. “But just because I didn’t give into that temptation doesn’t mean I wouldn’t. I mean, if things had gone just slightly different, or someone was not there… I would have done it. Not only that, but I was given a job to do, and I didn’t do it Claire.”
There was a very long pause. “I… I think that’s what’s really bothering me about all of this; how easy it could have been and what it would have meant. That I was shown my own shortcomings and that…” She paused, appearing angry as if she suddenly realized something. As quickly as that feeling came, it was replaced with a smile. “I’m not sure how else to explain it, Claire… it’s just that I thought I was a pretty good, or at least, nice person… and this whole thing showed me how I’m, well, not. At least not as good or nice as I thought I was.”
"Well, you've been exceptionally nice to me today. And I'd call that a total 'Yay'." Claire placed the saltshaker back where it belonged, adjusted it slightly to line up with the pepper and took another sip of tea. "What job didn't you do?"
Tyche retrieved her sunglasses and put them back on and sat back. “Well… for one, as an XSWAT officer, I’m supposed to defend the city, protect people and pretty much put others ahead of my own ambitions, especially in the face of supernatural or otherworldly threats. The problem is that I didn’t do that… at least in spirit anyway. I was also assigned to a cadet to show them the ropes and help them along in their first field mission. I was supposed to set a good example of how XSWAT officers are supposed to act, and, well… I didn’t do a very good job of it, at least in spirit.”
The Clade's ears went flat. "We fixed what needed to be fixed, right? And we survived, right? We did good. I-I'm sure we'll do better next time."
Tyche smiled. “Yes, we did, and I think we did a great job. Nobody got hurt too badly, we were all able to walk away and most of us got promotions.” Her smile widened just a bit. “And yeah, I think we’ll do better next time too.”
As if on cue, the scent of roadside cooking and too much cologne wafted over them. Dan gave Tyche another wink as he set the plates on the table. "I hope you didn't go too long without me. I'd hate to keep a couple of fine ladies like you waiting. If there's anything else I can do to make this evening more... pleasurable, just say the word." He looked Claire up and down, before wandering off again. "Nice tail."
While Tyche’s smile didn’t change, it seemed to drop several degrees in temperature. Ok, those points you got back for the coffee? All of those just went to the hole and you’ve just gone bust. As Dan sauntered off, his toe happened to catch a piece of the carpet at just the right point to disrupt his gait. To his benefit, he managed to stay upright, but at the cost of any attempt at grace and all of his dignity. “You should pay more attention to where you’re going instead of where you would like to be,” Tyche muttered into her mug under her breath.
Across the table, Claire froze, mug of tea in one hand and tail in the other. She had no idea what that was about, and was unsure if she actually wanted to know. After a moment, she relaxed a little. The steamy pile of pancakes before her seemed like a worthwhile investment. No matter the situation, you could almost always find comfort in good food. She clasped her hands together and muttered a small prayer of thanks. Then she once more reached for the syrup. From somewhere back in the kitchen, her sharp ears picked up the unmistakable sounds of sneakers on wet tile, followed by scattered utensils and crashing plates. "I hope he's alright..."
“Oh, I’m sure he’ll be alright. I don’t think his luck has run out completely just yet…” Tyche replied with a knowing smile and then took a bite from her burger. She winced, chewed as she set the burger down and swallowed. What was I thinking? There are just some things that don’t belong together and bleu cheese, marinated mushrooms, bacon, and truffle oil was four of them! She had a hard time forming a proper complaint though. After all, the burger was exactly what she ordered, cooked to perfection even. There were just some things that chance and probability had absolutely no say in however.
“So, tell me about this place we’re going to be working at? The Director said that you knew the place rather well.” Tyche asked, focusing on her fries.
Claire paused between bites. It wasn't polite to talk with your mouth full. "It's okay. Jenny'll be there. She's one of my oldest friends. The people there are mostly nice." She considered this for a moment. "Mostly." She wasn't sure how much to say about some of the not-nice people. "At least I get to work outside the Basement this time."
Tyche nibbled on a fry. “That… doesn’t exactly answer my question there.” She paused and riffled through the Claire-speech. “I just want to get an idea of what it is we’re getting into and the sorts of people we’re going to be dealing with. If you don’t want to talk about them or find that you really can’t, that’s fine too I guess, but at least let me know who I should watch out for.”
"I-I'd rather not, i-if that's okay with you." Her ears had once again buried themselves in the tangled mess of her hair.
The older woman who seated the pair earlier passed by the table while the two spoke and in the exact opposite fashion that most wait staff approached customers at a table, she waited until there was both a reasonable pause in the conversation and that neither of them had a mouthful of food. “Here you go.” She set down a fresh cup of tea in front of Claire and a cup of coffee in front of Tyche. “Is everything alright? How’s your food?”
And Claire once more bounced back to normal. "Deeeelicious. Thank you very much."
Tyche made a mental note to keep her eyes and ears open regarding the 16th Precinct when they actually started working there. Claire was obviously upset by certain individuals there, and she would make them pay. The appearance of the earlier waitress and her question pulled Tyche’s mind to more positive things and she smiled. “I got exactly what I asked for, so no complaints for me.” She paused and as the woman started to depart, Tyche lifted a hand stopping her. “Though, if you could do me a huuuuuuuuge favor and let our waiter know that he is dealing with two XSWAT officers and that if he doesn’t change his attitude he is going to have a bad time.”
The woman lifted a brow with a rather confused expression. “Sure thing hon.”
“Thanks.” Tyche replied with a smile that seemed far more predatory than intended. This went unnoticed by her partner who was wrapped up in thoroughly enjoying a plate of rapidly disappearing pancakes and a lake of maple syrup. Tyche also finished her meal in peace. She took a few more bites, stomaching the cacophony of flavors, if only as a matter of courtesy. The fries were finished in short order in contrast.
No sooner had the pair given the visual indication that they were almost finished did the older woman, Bethel, now that Tyche took the time to actually read her nameplate, appeared. “Here’s your check. You can pay at the front whenever you’re ready. Oh, let me get those dishes out of your way.” As she began collecting the plates, she noticed the partially consumed Blue Ribbon on the plate in front of Tyche. “You didn’t like your burger hon?” a barely perceptible hint of sadness, not unlike how a grandmother would talk to a child, evident in her voice.
“Not really, but you gave me exactly what I ordered and I can’t blame you guys for that.” Tyche replied. Bethel nodded in understanding as she finished collecting their dishes. “Oh, before I forget…” Tyche fished some money out of her pocket and made only the slightest attempt at keeping her actions hidden as she slipped it into a front pocket of Bethel’s apron. “Here’s something for you. Also, I’m pretty sure things will start picking up for you, at least for a little while anyway.”
Bethel looked at both women with a look of accommodating skepticism, but she accepted the kind gesture anyway. As the duo were heading to the front register to pay for the meal, Dan decided to try his luck one last time. His freshly bandaged face appeared between them, along with the reek of cologne and a hint of dishwater. "It was a pleasure handling you ladies," he said, his voice losing none of the oil it had before. He patted them both on the ass, copping a quick squeeze. "I look forward to servicing you both again."
Claire squeaked with surprised, not sure what was going on. Tyche let Dan’s hand rest on her bottom for a beat, rolling her eyes. Either the warning was not passed along, or it was completely ignored. Either way, it wasn’t her problem. She turned quickly and glowered at Dan. “I don’t know who you think you are, but you just crossed the wrong woman. You’re god dammed lucky I’m in uniform, otherwise I would fill you with so many holes it would make Swiss cheese jealous.” She stabbed a manicured finger towards his chest to make her point, the tip not quite touching him, as that could be considered assault and the last thing she wanted was to have her promotion taken away from her so quickly. “But that doesn’t stop me from using my imagination to make your life a living nightmare. Now get the hell away from me and my partner before I change my mind and have you arrested for assaulting an officer.”
Dan quickly put his hands up in mock surrender. He put on his best innocent face. "Hey, no problem, toots. Just tryin' to make you feel welcome. Catch you on the flip side, babe." He took one more long look at Claire's ass before he turned and walked way dismissively.
“Yeah… I’m sure.” Tyche frowned. She glanced towards Claire for a moment and Dan’s indignant and dismissive walk was violently disrupted by a busser’s tub filled with dirty dishes. “…sure that you’re going to have the worst month and a half of your life.” She muttered under her breath. The old man had warned her to keep her powers under wraps, but she felt that she was justified. After all, he brought it all on himself. Without another word, Tyche paid the bill, making sure to not leave a tip for him.
Once they were back in Tyche's spinner, Claire buckled herself in and hugged her tail once more. She let out a yawn, fully sated by the short meal. "I don't know what that was about, but I don't think I like pink anymore." She made herself as comfy as she could in the passenger seat, which was not hard considering Tyche's taste in upholstery. "You're right, he is very not-nice," she squeaked with half-lidded eyes.
“There’s nothing wrong with pink,” she replied, guiding the spinner out of the lot. “But that shade with those pants… ugh… anyway, you just need to keep an eye out for…” She looked over and noticed that Claire had already fallen asleep. Not that she could blame her, after all it had been the longest day either of them had, or would likely ever have, but at least it had been a very good day.