Disclaimer: I don't own Law & Order or its characters…
Author's Note: Um…yeah… When I wrote the majority of this fic (it really just needs gaps filled in) I had only seen the first five or so episodes. Hence, my Lupo is the more timid and shy one of the earlier episodes before he really became confident as a detective… (Just FYI…or an excuse for my lack of adherence to character)
"Whoa," Lupo said breathily, unable to suppress the sentiment upon seeing his unsolicited ward all cleaned up. She had emerged from the bathroom scrubbed to a glowing level of cleanliness and smelling of some tropical fruit he could not identify, that was definitely not a scent typical to his toiletries. Without the mask of make-up, she looked at least a hundred times more alluring, which made the task of coherent thought near impossible.
Fumbling from embarrassment, he attempted to recollect the blanket that had fallen to the floor and tuck it over his bed that he had been making up for his uninvited guest. This wasn't right. Witnesses weren't supposed to unsettle him; he was supposed to unsettle them.
"Sorry, It's all I have," she apologized, her freshly-washed cheeks turning pink with a self-conscious glow. She tugged at the hem of a snug camisole, a futile attempt to cover her navel and the tiny, equally snug shorts below. "Actually, everything else seems a lot worse, now. I mean…I had grown so accustomed to running-around half-naked, I didn't even realize it anymore. Not that I liked it! Or that call girls dress so gratuitously all the time. Because they don't! It's just that you stop realizing at some point…"
She trailed off, her ramble stymied by the realization that her newly proclaimed protector was staring. When she began to wring her hands nervously under the scrutiny, Lupo finally realized the harsh cruelty of his absent-minded act.
Rude! It was incredibly rude to stare at her like that!
"Uh…you can have the bed," Lupo said, hastily averting his eyes. "I'll take the couch."
He made for the door before his willpower ran out and he began to stare salaciously again.
"But I wasn't exactly invited," she protested to his back, causing him to pause in the doorway. "I don't want to kick you out of your bed, too!"
The thought of sharing his bed with the woman he was undeniably attracted to flashed in his mind, stimulating amatory impulses. He forced his eyes not to stray from her face, which admittedly didn't dissuade his desires all that much.
"We can switch off," he growled before making an expeditious exit. It sounded more like he was angry at her intrusion into his life than desperately trying to control his thoughts. And he hoped she took it that way and would give him some space. This assignment was already proving one of the most difficult he'd ever undertaken.
Lupo awoke in the middle of the night to a whimpering and the absence of his supposedly loyal best friend from his side. Moaning, he sat up and groggily attempted to find the source of the whining.
"Where are you, Otto?" he uttered softly, and the whining stopped. It was replaced by a scratching noise, which judging from the direction, had been turned upon his bedroom door.
"Come 'ere, boy," he called the forlorn creature to him, and granted it the attention it had so craved, heartily scratching the dog behind the ears. "You stuck on her, too?"
He sighed. "Well, she's all yours, friend. Off-limits to me."
Cyrus dreamed of a quaint farmhouse tucked amongst rolling fields of wheat. The sky was an expanse of blue dotted with the odd white cumulus cloud. The golden rays of the sun were transformed to a warm glow as they passed through the thick and aged window glass, cutting a swathe of buttery bliss across the cozy kitchen. A stack of pancakes were placed before him, thick and tempting like none he had ever laid eyes upon before.
His stomach growled its jealously, startling him awake.
A heavenly odor filled the apartment, one that flooded his mouth with saliva and turned the pleas of his stomach almost painful. He couldn't even think of the last time he had smelt anything so delicious.
When he entered the kitchen, he found a delectable spread upon his normally lonesome and disused table. So-Called-Kandy was at the stove, humming an upbeat tune to her self and bobbing up and down to the beat. Otto was waiting patiently by her side in the hopes of securing some crumbs or treats. When he realized his master's presence, he got up and made to beg foodstuffs off him instead.
Taking notice of Otto's departure, her gaze followed him until it encountered the lethargic intruder. Alarmed by her intense inspection of his person, Cyrus would've checked himself, had he not already made sure he was-more or less-decent before following his nose and the tantalizing aroma. Suddenly, he didn't feel so bad for his wandering eyes the night before. Although what she could possibly find appealing about a barely-rolled out of bed version of him, he didn't know.
It wasn't actually all that long that she seemed to survey his appearance before she broke into a cheerful smile.
"Pancakes?" she offered, transferring the ones from the frying pan onto a plate with an already Pisa-worthy stack.
"You didn't have to…" Lupo said, taking a seat in front of the most glorious stack of pancakes he had ever laid eyes upon. It was all he could do to prevent himself from stuffing as many into his mouth as possible that second.
"The least I could do is make breakfast after imposing on you like I did," she replied, taking the seat across from him. At first, he had been glad to see she had borrowed his robe, but it didn't really help all that much. She had failed to close it and cover the same form-fitting items that had distracted him the previous night. Fortunately, his stomach's desires were much more vocal and he had the restraint not to stare.
When she proceeded to douse her own plate in syrup, he took it as a cue that he could commence the total obliteration of his breakfast and eagerly tucked into the heavenly pancakes. They were thick, but not heavy and cooked to golden brown perfection. And maybe he was just abnormally hungry, but he could easily convince himself they were the best thing he had ever tasted. Forcing himself to savor them a bit, he restrained the overwhelming urge to ravage the food.
"Why did you?" he managed to ask between bites. She gave him a look that announced her failure to follow his train of thought. "uh… 'impose' on me?"
"I felt like I could trust you for some reason," she replied, her cheeks turning pink and her eyes averted.
"You don't feel you can trust your family?" he probed, the still enigmatic houseguest replacing his hunger for food with curiosity. She seemed surprised by the comment momentarily.
"How do you know I even have a family?" she shot back at him defensively.
He raised his eyebrows at her and gave her a Hello? Look. "Um… detective."
"Right," she conceded, realizing how silly it was to be shocked by his ability to read her when he had most certainly already proven his dexterity at uncovering her truths. He had taken her in, so she figured that she at least owed him some sincerity…or an attempt at honesty. "I cut myself off from them when I undertook this project."
"In other words, you didn't tell them what you'd be doing," he interpreted. "And you still don't want them to know."
"Are you on duty, today?" she asked, blatantly changing the subject, and barely ashamed at the obvious ploy.
"Yes," Lupo replied, deciding to let her reluctance slide. He'd get every last detail of her life out of her…later. Now wasn't really the time. "Actually, I had better…"
So-Called-Kandy nodded her head in acknowledgment of his informal request to be excused. Behind his back, she shook her head, wondering at his tendency to trail off. Soft-spoken didn't quite cover it. And yet, he seemed to lack no confidence when he had been grilling her the previous day.
He wasn't sure exactly how it had happened, but So-Called-Kandy was straightening his tie for him, making him feel incredibly uncomfortable. It probably would've been wiser to keep his daily struggle with the issue in the privacy of his bedroom, instead of wandering about the apartment like he wasn't housing an uninvited guest.
"There," she said giving him a cheery smile and patting the tie flat against his chest. The smile was too cheery, easily identifiable as forced. She was covering something. But hell, when hadn't this woman been hiding things from him?
The pause in which he failed to say 'thanks', too busy dissecting the troubled soul before his eyes, stretched into awkwardness. She stepped back slightly, but not far enough to quit his personal space.
Her eyes changed almost imperceptibly and the forced smile faded into a more neutral expression. At least, it wasn't one of loathing; she didn't hate him underneath it all…
"Janelle," she spoke softly. "My name is Janelle."
She held out her hand and he accepted it.
"Nice to meet you, Janelle," he said, his spirits uplifted by the sign of trust. Not only did she not hate him, it was possible that she liked him. "I'm Cyrus."
"Cyrus," she repeated, mimicking the standard, formal greeting custom. Perhaps, they lingered too long because the situation turned uneasy once more.
Thankfully, there was a knock on the door, breaking the strange tension of two strangers finding themselves thrust into an intimate acquaintanceship. Lupo gratefully answered the door and invited inside the plain clothes officer he found there.
Another strange woman in his apartment? He should've at least straightened the place up a little. Of course, he hadn't exactly expected his home to become New York City's answer to the Witness Protection Program.
"Um…Kandy," He had never really liked the pseudonym and now that he knew her real name, it was more difficult to use it. "This is Officer…"
"Despatie," she offered gruffly. This was obviously a less-than-ideal assignment for her, too. At least the critical eye the woman turned upon the writer-turned-hooker-turned-witness was that of a police officer. He had more than his share of witnessing cat fights. Any disapproval on Despatie's part was purely that of a law enforcement member against someone whose career was breaking the law.
"She'll be looking after you while I'm on duty," he explained even though every person in the room seemed to know precisely what the situation was, down to the last, awkward detail. At least, the pursed lips and immaculately woven French braid of Despatie' hair reassured him that she was unlikely a gossip. Having his partner know about the situation was bad enough. He didn't need to hear it from every single person he ran into during the course of the day.
"Um…you girls have fun!" he added quickly before escaping as fast as his feet could carry him. At least if they were busy hating him, it would give them something to do, besides noticing how sloppy a person he was. God, it was weird to think there were two virtual strangers in his home when he wasn't.
Well, that wasn't true.
Her name was Janelle.
A/N: I'm still feeling like Kandy/Janelle is less than three-dimensional, possibly not even two-dimensional… (But there really isn't much more I can do about it without taking the fun out of this for me or hurting my brain).
Up next...well, use your imagination (unless it's better than mine...in which case you better not lest you be disappointed)