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Lights and Sirens

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Judy hadn't lasted long, spilling every detail of the emergency trip to the garage the minute Aiko called her when she got off shift.

Penny hadn't had to interrogate her for details either. Almost the minute she got home, Judy was telling her everything that had happened.

Of course, her sister was much less interested in the details of Evan’s injury and treatment than her fellow EMT.

Both of them had reacted about the same - though Penny found much more colorful language to express her exasperation at ‘fools dragging their heels for no earthly reason.’

When Don had called the next day to ask her if she’d join him at the bar, she’d had to decline because she was working night shifts for the next two weeks. She’d made a counter offer of lunch on one of her days off, but Don was working at the garage every day.

They'd texted back and forth, getting to know each other and sharing jokes or stories about their day. Judy did not get Don's taste in music. Like, at all.

The week before Christmas, by some miracle, Judy had the morning free on a day that Don wasn't working at the garage. They'd agreed to meet for a late breakfast.

Don had never in his life been early for anything, and he still wasn't, but this time he came close. He arrived at the cafe where they’d agreed to meet to see Judy staking out a table. She looked up when the bell above the door announced his arrival.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi,” Judy replied.

For a moment, neither spoke. The awkward pause was broken when Judy began to laugh. Soon enough Don joined her, until both were out of breath, and no one could say what exactly was so funny.

Judy started simple.

“I ordered for us already. Sit down, they'll call us when it's ready.”

“Sounds good,” he said, taking the seat across from her. “It's good to see you. I'm glad we're getting the chance to do this.”

“Yeah, me too. I didn't really see how busy work has been keeping me until I tried to make plans. Now I get why everybody thinks the night shift is the worst one.”

“So it hasn't been putting a damper on your social life?”

“I mean I live with my family, so they’re there when I get home, and Aiko is usually working the same time as me. What more social life do I need?”

“Five minutes to yourself to go on a date, for one thing,” he replied.

“What did Tam say when we were all out? It's a good thing when you like your job.”

Judy heard her name called from the counter and hopped up to retrieve their food.

“You know, now that I think about it,” Don began when she returned, helping her set up the table, “I'm exactly the same way. I go to work, where all my friends are, and then hang out with those same people after work.”

“It’s not a bad way to live,” Judy concluded. “But what I’m hearing is that we both could use, like, a hobby or something.”

“Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far, Doc.”

Don deployed that brilliant smile of his again, then they both tucked in to eat.

After a few minutes, Judy picked up the of the thread of their text conversation. They'd been talking the other day about Tam and Ava having an idea to turn some scrap metal from the garage into an art piece. Don hadn't believed it would work, but he kept taking pictures of their progress on Judy's request, who wanted to see how it’d turn out.

That flowed right into a conversation about Penny’s writing, then Aiko’s tattoo artist, and before they knew it, the cafe was starting to turn over from breakfast to lunch.

That's when Judy finally noticed the time.

“Don, I’m having a great time, and I don’t want to leave, but I’ve got to. This is why it was so hard to find a day to do this.” Her tone was apologetic, but direct.

“Hey, it’s no problem. You’ve gotta work when you’ve gotta work.” Don stood and cleared the remains of their breakfast from the table.

“Actually, I’m not working til tonight. I committed a few hours to the food back a while back.” She gave him a sheepish grin. “Actually, I think I told them I’d come back the last time we were there together.”

Contrary to popular belief, Don wasn’t entirely stupid. He had stepped on this landmine before and after the meal they’d just shared, he wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.

“You know,” he said, turning back to her, “could they use another set of hands? I have been told I need a hobby.”

Judy's jaw dropped open for a moment before she recovered enough to reply.

“Are you sure? I know it's not your thing.” This was a lovely gesture, but Judy didn't want him to regret it.

“Judy, I think this should be obvious by now, but I like spending time with you.” Don squared his shoulders and faced her fully. “If that’s where you’re gonna be, I want to be there too.”

Judy's smile, which had grown slowly as he spoke, finally took over her whole face.

“Don, that is just the sweetest goddamm thing. They can always use another set of hands.”

Judy hopped out of her seat and grabbed his hand.

“C’mon,” she said, racing for the door, “if we get there early, we'll have a few minutes to fool around before everyone else gets there.”

And Don wasn't stupid. He hurried to keep up with her and hoped that for the first time in his life, he’d get where he was going early.