Title: A Day of Work
Author: AnnieVH
Fandom: Southland
Summary: John meets Ceasar on the job.
Rating: PG
Genre: romance, humor, general.
Characters or Pairing: John Cooper/Ceasar, Dewey, Nate Moretta.
Prompts: first meeting.
Warning: should smoking be a warning?
Spoilers: none.
Note: I know nothing of police/firemen procedures, but I tried my best with google.
Note2: Still unbeta'ed. Volunteers, please, comment or PM me.
Disclaimer: don't own. Just borrow.

The air still smelled of smoke and the remains of the building seemed unsteady, but John assumed that, since the second floor had already collapsed and the fire had already been tamed, there would be no further issues for the community other than going around bureaucracy to tear that piece of charcoal down. One less crack house in the neighborhood, anyway. And another dealer out of the streets - if the eighty per cent burning of his body didn't take care of him, the Prosecutor would. All in all, not a bad day of work.

John looked down the street. Found Dewey flirting with two local girls who looked barely legal. Pretty soon he'd get sick of it and demand they headed back to the station to punch their cards and go home - or maybe he'd suggest they gave the girls a ride to some party, you never knew with bright idea would emerge from that twisted mind.

One of the detectives, a tall, good looking latino, jogged to John's side, catching his attention, "Officer."

John nodded back, but didn't say anything.

"Detective Bryant is heading to the hospital to follow up on the suspect."

"Officers Brown and Diaz took the other two to the station."

The detective nodded and loosened his tie. The night was already hot enough without the heat coming from the burned down house. He sigh. "Gosh. Okay. I'll head there soon as I'm done here."

"Need a ride?"

"I'm good, thanks. End of your shift?"

John grinned.

The detective sighed. "Lucky bastard," He looked back at the firemen as John laughed. One of them broke from the group and headed for them. He was still in full gear, but the jacket was opened and his helmet was off, exposing a scarlet face. Another latino, around the same age as the Detective. His voice was breathless when he greeted, "Gentlemen."

"Lieutenant," Replied the detective, with a soft bow of the head.

John just gave him a short nod in recognition. "We good here?" He asked.

"Long as nobody tries to be stupid and get in, I don't think we'll have any problems," Said the fireman, glancing at the house.

"I'm sure the magical 'caution' tape will make sure to keep idiots out," John said, making the other two men laugh.

"Yeah, right," The firemen said. Very soft accent. "I'll be back here on Monday to rescue some twelve year old who got stuck in the basement playing dare with his friends."

The detective shoved his hands in his pockets. "Well, that's tomorrow. Tonight, everybody can get back home safe to their wives. I call that a good day."

John agreed quietly, but didn't really feet like contributing to that thought. The fireman's mouth stiffed, trying to repress a smirk, and he too let the comment slide by. The detective said, "At least you both get to. I still have a suspect in custody and a hell of a lot of paperwork. Night, guys. Thanks for the help."

They watched him walked away to his car and drive away.

The fireman wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. "Man. What a night," He looked around. The crowd was dismissing and the policemen would soon be replaced by yellow tape and the not very effective "do not trespass" signs. Some of the houses had been painted black by the smoke. He said, "We got lucky the fire didn't spread."

"Better luck would've been no fire at all."

The fireman laughed. "Yeah. And no drug dealers. But then you'd be out of job."

"Nah, too many garbage calls in this city."

He gave him a dead serious look. "Don't you just love those? If I have to save one more kitty from a deadly tree I'll go back to my dad's auto shop."

He looked at his coworkers, by the firetruck, sharing a laugh over something funny and showing no desire to drive back to work. John gave Dewey a passing glance. He was writing something down on his notepad and making the girls giggle. Looked back at the firemen, who was flapping his coat and huffing, "God, that's hot."

"I know."

"You smoke? I could use a cigarette."

John reached inside his pocket and took a half-full pack. The fireman rushed to tuck one in his mouth and signed for a lighter. When John took it out of his other pocket, he stepped closer and leaned forward, letting him light it up. After inhaling deeply, he just opened his mouth and let the smoke float out, relieved. "Thank you, Officer..." he squinted to read the tag. "Cooper."

"John. You're welcomed."

"Won't you have one?"

"I don't smoke on the job. Besides, I'm trying to quit."

"Yeah, me too." He laughed, blowing more smoke. "Fat lotta good that's doing me. I'm still inhaling toxic smoke at work. This one at least makes me happy."

"You know better, loot."


John said nothing in return, just gave him a short nod and stood still while the fireman stared at him, maybe wondering if he was perhaps standing too close, but didn't move. Just kept blowing smoke, turning his face away so it wouldn't fly into John's.

Then, he pointed at the building with the cigarette and asked, "Now, who the hell sets up a crack lab on the second floor?"

Since that was not one of life's biggest mysteries ("Because people are stupid, plain simple."), John knew Ceasar was only trying to keep the conversation going. And though he wasn't sure, he had a hunch why, and said, "Not exactly masterminds we're dealing with. And I don't suppose you'd expect it to blow on your face and take down a whole house."

"I suppose not." He threw the butt on the ground and crushed it with his boot. John offered him another one. "I'm good. Ask me again in twenty minutes, though."

"We'll still be here in twenty minutes?"

Ceasar looked at him. Smirked. "Well-"

"Hey, John! Get your ass in the car, I got a shift to end."

Ceasar looked down the street at the skinny man by the patrol car, car keys in hand and anxious expression on his face. Frustrated, he pointed a finger at him. "There'sa guy who loves his job."

"You have no idea. I better go before he leaves me on foot."

Ceasar hooked a thumb at the firemen. "I better take those bums back. Still got a coupla hours 'till shift's up."

He didn't move, though. Added, "And no ride home."

"Really?" John asked, trying to keep a neutral expression.

"Yes." Without saying goodbye, Ceasar started walking his way back to the firetruck. Turned his face back and said, "Battalion I. I leave at midnight."

John's car was parked across the street when Ceasar walked out of the building around 1am, carrying a backpack on one shoulder and shouting goodbye to his coworkers. He stopped at the sidewalk for a second. John waved and Ceasar crossed the street. "Nice ride," He said, leaning on the open window, face inches from John's.

"I figured, I don't need to eat."

Ceasar ran a hand on the black door, "Food is overrated. This beauty is forever. Though I could use a burger."

John unlocked the car. Ceasar smiled and got in.