Author's note: Not beta'd. All boo-boos are mine.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
When Carl Met Beth (or, She Was Just Lucky the Cochinita Pibil Was On Special)
Carl fell back against the booth and loosened his belt a notch. He was patting his mouth with a napkin when a blonde stopped in the doorway of the diner and began looking around at the customers. Quickly he scrunched down in his seat. He'd seen her hanging around recently at crime scenes with the Buzzwire crew; several times he'd caught her looking at him as though she was waiting for a chance to approach, or inching closer and closer as he spoke to witnesses and other officers. Thus far, he'd managed to avoid her, and he hoped to maintain the status quo.
No such luck—a moment later, she slid onto the bench across the table from him.
"Oh, come on!" Carl threw down his napkin. "Don't you people ever sleep?"
The blonde shook her head. "Not tonight—not when there's a killer on the loose."
He heaved an exaggerated sigh and glanced at his watch. "All right, now that you've interrupted the only break I've taken tonight, what do you want, Miss…Buzzwire?"
"It's Turner—Beth Turner. I already know who you are—Lieutenant Carl Davis. I've done my homework."
Carl ignored the hand she held out. "Great. You get an A+. How'd you find me, anyway? Did you follow me from the crime scene?"
"No." She flipped her hair over her shoulder. "One of my sources told me that you—"
"'Sources'?" Carl rolled his eyes and leaned across the table. "You're not even a real reporter!"
Her eyes flashed. "Hey—just because they haven't given me a live webcast yet…"
"I meant because you work for a tabloid."
"Oh." She seemed to process that for about an eighth of a second, then rebounded with energy. "Buzzwire is not a tabloid. Okay, yeah—there's some sleaze," she shrugged, "but I'm trying to change that." She locked eyes with him and leaned forward. "You can help me."
"What? No!" Carl snorted. "No."
"Don't you want to see crime reported properly in the news?"
"Yeah. But I'd also love to see a pig fly. It ain't gonna happen."
Beth glared at him. "Hey, what are we supposed to do when the cops won't talk to us?"
"Oh, um, I don't know…wait until we have something we can tell you?"
"If the public is in danger, they have a right to know—"
Carl scoffed. "The public's 'right to know' is the problem half the time!"
"Look, I promise to hold the story until you give the okay…"
"Yeah. Right," he scrunched his nose, then frowned. "Wait…what story?"
Beth scooted nearer to the edge of the table and said in a low voice, "I have a tip for you on the 710 Freeway Shooter."
"'The 710 Freeway Shooter?'" He covered his face with his hand. "See, that right there, that's our first problem: you guys give the psycho a nickname, and then—"
"What do you refer to him as, then?"
Carl thought for a moment and uncovered his eyes. "Psycho #639,456?"
"Okay," Beth said with a little roll of her eyes and shake of her head, "Well, I think I know the location of Psycho #639,456."
"Oh? Oh yeah? And did your fairy godmother reveal this to you through her magic mirror?"
"No," she scowled. "…And I think you have your fairytales mixed up."
"Whatever. Look—we've got this covered, all right? We don't need help from some junior Buzzwire reporter."
"You've got this covered?" she curled her lip incredulously. "There was another shooting this afternoon! I'd think you'd take any help you could get right about now."
"I'd do anything to get you to leave me to think in peace right now," Carl said under his breath.
Her eyes narrowed. "What was that?"
"Nothing." He pursed his lips. "Okay. I'll check out this tip of yours—if you pay for my dinner."
A furrow appeared in Beth's brow. "I'm helping you out, and you want me to buy you dinner?"
"All right. Fine. If your tip pans out…I'll pay you back." He spread out his arms. "How's that—happy?"
Her eyes lit up. "And I get the story?"
"Deal," he said, rising hastily.
Beth pushed a folded piece of paper across the table, which he grabbed and shoved into his pocket. Then she held out her hand. Carl did a quick shoulder-check to make sure that the establishment was not currently being patronized by any other members of the LAPD, and shook it grudgingly.
"Thank you, Lieutenant Carl."
"Yeah—that's Lieutenant Davis," he pointed at her as he walked away.
She sank back in the booth with a grin.