Yellow Pages 
There were fifteen minutes between now and midnight. Tomorrow he would call in to the first meeting. At eight they would meet at the precinct and see who the hell they could scrabble together and see if this high risk idea could also produce the high reward they were counting on. (Make that the reward he was counting on.) He'd gone over the meeting plans for the morrow at least a dozen times, and yet his laptop and papers still called from him across the apartment he called "home" this year.

He stared at the screensaver and its dancing ribbons, but he sat far away in the dark kitchen, nursing a bottle of water in his wooden table for two. Squall was far away from the materials on his living room's coffee table.

The clock struck. The bell chimed. It shook him from his reverie and he glanced to the grandfather clock beyond his modern laptop, unfazed by its clashing antiquity.

Today would be the day.

With that resolve, Squall finally made up his mind to step to his counter and pick up his phone. His contacts opened, he pressed a name with his finger, and then the speaker button to fill his empty home with the familiar chime of a ringer.

When the chime cut and air whooshed into the receiver on the other side, he greeted tersely,



Night greets her callously, armed with a wiry string of thoughts and fingers just long enough to pluck them well into sleeplessness. And though she sits hovered over a cup of coffee—twice reheated and still barely touched—she still stumbles headlong into her mind's own flinching incision, scatters there among the debris. It's black and thick and hard to breathe beside the ugly things that claim her quiet; things she's unwilling to face when they're so bold and bared and unfiltered through sunlight.

It makes her restless.

She is thankful for his call.

Eagerly, the first thought presents itself: instinct, she doesn't think before she speaks.

You alright?
What this means is: I'm alright, so you don't even need to ask.

The voice on the other end was as alert as his own, and he wasn't sure what to make of that. There's urgency and edge to it, and maybe something else he couldn't place with the words she answered.

He hesitated, feeling like there was a gap he had been meant to pick up on, but he didn't have enough clues to put to image together. He gave up,
I'm going over notes for the meeting. I think we may have missed some things.


Taking the hint from his tone, Juliet pieces her impulse to the man and quickly realises the error of her step. A soft shade of shame restores balance while she scrunches her nose against its uncomfortable drag and leans back instinctively—building an analogy of distance between herself and the moment.

Right, yeah. Good, that's good.

Embarrassment abates as he presses onward without what seems like much regard and again, she is thankful.

Her head meets the back of the couch with a rough thud (and a stifled hiss through clenched teeth), and Juliet stares blankly at the ceiling.

Yeah? Like what?


 Still in his blackened kitchen, Squall pulls up a small paper carton from the counter and works it top open.

Not sure. Doesn't feel right.

 He covered the receiver with one hand and flipped open a lighter drawn from his pocket. The cigarette he'd pulled from the carton while talking dangled in his lips, and he lifted the flame to its tip while he inhaled.

We need to show them why they should be motivated to help us. Why is it in their best interest?



She contemplates openly, tipping the cup of lukewarm coffee to her lips while trying to not think about how fucking cold and stupid the people in this city can be. Why wouldn't they help—because the answer to his question seems obvious as fuck.

I dunno, because it's the right thing to do?

The tail end of sarcasm nicks itself on her teeth.

You sure you're not just nervous?


If they were already motivated to do the right thing, we wouldn't be in this ice hole.


She smiles.

Yeah, maybe.

And leans forward to set her mug on the edge of the coffee table.

You should bring brownies.


There will be coffee.
His voice conveys his finality on that issue.
We're going to need some of them on our side, you know.


Concern snakes itself around a question, half-hesitated, then gently eased out.

Hey Rey... do you think brownies and coffee are the same thing?

She groans internally; of course he fucking does.

Yeah, I know. I just don't think it's gonna be that much of an issue.


Squall. You sound as naïve as a child.
He drew in smoke and let it out, watching the tendrils curl in the dim light of his kitchen. Beyond, physically distant and yet so close on his mind, was the hum of his laptop in the living room.

He contemplated it further before suggesting,

Maybe you should come over so we can go over it all again, make sure we haven't missed any angles on any of the cases we have so far.
Having a respectable start he thought would be the best way to lead the team to success, and convince those tomorrow that this was happening, regardless of resistance or reluctance on their behalf or that of the residents of Mountainside.

And you sound jaded as fuck.

Onset frustration crowns a couple of teeth and sets them 'round the edge of some wound she doesn't fully remember receiving. It's small, but he's nonetheless managed to poke at it, and she feels the stringent heat of his finger deep down in her chest. It's made all the more afflictive with the sound of his inhale-exhale, which she recognises immediately.

Gonna fuckin' kill yourself, you know.

Her chin's tipped bitterly, like there's some measure of high ground she's conquered.

She takes it where she can get it.

Right now?

Juliet sneaks a peek at the scarred bareness of her legs twisted up beneath her and sighs. Pants are the fucking worst and the thought of pulling them back on has her clawing melancholia.

I'm already in my pyjamas.


 He wouldn’t dare argue the point, but he still growled at her in his throat. The ember of the cigarette flowing in front of his face, glaring light in his eyes with its stark contrast to the darkness around him.

Thankfully this time she gave him another avenue, and he took it,
Yes now. Or are you too busy at your boyfriend’s?

He’d heard the mumbling (sometimes shouting) male voice in the background of her calls with some consistency. There was equal amounts of banging and slamming of doors as well, which had thus far convinced him that the guy was probably a loser and she was child for evidently sleeping with him.

Silence bridges the line between them for a long moment as she attempts to sort through a stroke of confusion—as her mind cards through the admittedly long list of potentials he could be gleaning from, though none of whom she's ever mentioned.

Nothing connects, and this aggravates her further.

She decides he's just being a dick.

Fuck off.


That’s an order, Voss.


Are you fucking serious?

It's a stupid question; she already knows the answer.

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