Actions

Work Header

Whiskey's Story

Chapter Text

“Why exactly are we sitting here watching some stupid pawn shop? Let the shit-munchers in the SPPD take care of the boring crap and let us Praetorians do the real work.”

Whiskey couldn’t help but roll her eyes at her teammates. They had been sitting in cover for close to an hour now, and she herself hadn’t seen anything from her vantage point so far. Still, the intel was good so the brass wanted a team watching out. The Bloodroses had been hitting shops down this street for years now and given the current state of the CSA, the leadership wanted to see something that looked like more than just more bullets and explosions than actual help. She finally clicked her headset on and spoke to her team.

“Listen, when those Roses show up, I want no hero shit. Heroes get shot. Just stay in your positions and take precise shots. The brass wants these tangos down with minimal casualties.”

Not a moment after clicking the headset off again she let out an exasperated sigh. The likelihood of this mission going down in a way the brass will agree with was near enough zero. It’s been a running theme in her experience with the Praetorians. They style themselves as a kind of militia made of ex-military and ex-police; professionalism, efficiency and precision were all cornerstones for their image. The reality was different. Most of the foot soldiers of the Praetorians were practically indistinguishable from the Prentiss Tigers, or even crims on occasion. The extended silence after her transmission made her wonder if her team even got her message, or if they were simply ignoring her at this point. It turned out to matter little as she saw a black and red van speed around the corner and coming to a halt not far from the target store. Whiskey was willing to bet her rifle that these were the Roses they were looking for.

“Whatcha seeing up there corporal stick-up-your-ass?” one of her teammates quibbed over the intercom.

“It’s Specialist, and I see five possible Tangos going for the store, seem to either be unarmed or carrying concealed weapons.” Whiskey wanted to throw an insult right back at the other, but right now she needed to focus on her targets. There were five of them, three men and two women. They were all wearing similarly themed black and red clothing with plenty of space to hide firearms, knives and blunt weapons. Her initial reaction was to wait and see what they were up to, but as soon as one of them drew a revolver out of a hidden holster, she lined up her sights on one of the women, who had also drawn a weapon. She was wearing a black leather jacket over a blouse and a pair of skinny jeans tucked into knee-high boots. Whiskey couldn’t help but feel almost sorry for having to shoot the redhead, but the feeling was merely momentary. As the group kicked down the door, Whiskey started to squeeze the trigger gently.

“Jesus christ what are we waiting for, get them!” one of the hotheads shouted over the comms before charging out of his cover shooting in the general direction of the Bloodroses. The split second this all took place in ruined Whiskey’s shot as the woman ducked for cover, making Whiskey’s burst of bullets barely miss her. In just another moment’s time, her teammate was shot in the head with surgical precision from the revolver-wielding possible leader of the group. The rest of Whiskey’s team obviously followed the impatient gunman, ending in them reaching a similar fate, only taking out one of the roses in the process. Fuck. There goes the mission bonus. Whiskey readjusted her sights on the roses. They seemed to be unaware of her exact location. At least one advantage to the lunatics running and gunning in: They covered her shots. She had a split second opportunity to get a shot on the leader of the group. This time pulling the trigger with much less finesse, she hit the man in the shoulder and just a moment later, she heard the all too familiar cracking of bullets going past her. Well, it was only going to last so long . This was not her first rodeo though, and also not the worst odds she had faced in her almost 2 year career in the CSA. She shuffled over a few meters to her left, hoping to throw off the roses aim long enough for her to squeeze off another burst. She took a deep breath and held it, quickly poking up with her rifle. As luck would have it, one of the roses was sticking her head out of cover to get a bead on Whiskey. Instead of a bead she got a bullet to the head. Whiskey threw herself back down releasing her breath before another volley of bullets flew past her. That’s two down, three left. And one of them is wounded .

At this point Whiskey decided she had to abandon that level of the roof, it was not wide enough for her to continue playing her dangerous game of whack-a-mole. Crawling on her stomach, she moved to the ladder with which she got up on the roof in the first place, dropping down a level. She dared sneak a peek around the corner, revealing that her new location had a much better, and far more lethal, angle on the Roses’ position, taking the opportunity to reduce their count to two. The red-haired woman and the leader of her opposing group were still somewhere in that store, keeping a low enough profile that Whiskey felt she had to approach closer. Jumping down another level to reach the floor, Whiskey could now see all the way to the back of the store. The woman was kneeling next to the leader, pressing a bandage down on his wound that Whiskey had administered only moments before. Seizing the opportunity, she made a dash across the street into the building, her gun trained the two remaining criminals.

“Get the fuck on the ground, both of you,” She yelled at them without moving her gun away.

“Go to hell you fascist scum.” The leader tried to duck away back into cover reaching for his gun, forcing Whiskey to pull the trigger, putting three more bullets into the man’s back, rendering him motionless on the floor. The other woman simply raised her hands.

“Well, this could hardly have gone worse,” the other woman mumbled as Whiskey approached her, a pair of handcuffs at the ready. At least she was taking one alive Whiskey thought to herself.

“Should have picked an honest line of work them my friend, now don’t move a muscle or you’re joining your friends.” Whiskey finally reached the woman, where she would grab her arms and yank them behind her back, cuffing them together. With a firm tug on the cuffs, Whiskey pulled her up from the floor and began escorting her out of the front door.

“Who do I owe the pleasure?” The woman was not showing any signs of struggling, a behaviour Whiskey found almost troubling, knowing her experience with the Roses before this.

“Willson, Courtney Willson. And I prefer if you keep your mouth shut until you’re on record, then you can spill all the beans you want.” Whiskey wasn’t having her friendly play, she was probably trying to charm herself out of trouble. Worst part was, knowing the CSA, she’ll probably slip out for nothing more than a quick blowy around the corner. She suppressed a sigh and continued walking her captive towards where she had parked her car. As they turned the corner, she saw a group of men in black suits standing near her car, as soon as they saw her, they began walking towards her with purpose.

“Back off, I’m armed,” she barked at the men running her hand to her holster. Whiskey could her a faint chuckle from her captive.

“Ma’am I suggest you can the threats when you’re dealing with my bosses,” she finally said.

“Miss Willson, Special Agent Aaron Hart, FBI. We’re taking the situation from here. Hand her over, uncuffed.” The man was formal, but the tone of his voice was strict and threatening.

“Excuse me, just because you wear suits and have a slightly fancier badge doesn’t mean you can just snatch up the criminals we arrest. You can pick her up from the station.” Whiskey was about to push her way past the FBI agents when the first one grabbed her shoulder tightly, the others placed their hands onto their holsters, unclicking the retaining straps.

“Come now Courtney, Aaron doesn’t mess around,” the woman told her. Whatever was going on here, Whiskey wanted no part in it. After another moment she took the key and unlocked the woman’s cuffs.

“Thank you, now, if you would please, run along. You’ll be hearing from us again shortly.”

Whiskey wanted to object, but she knew she was in no position to argue. The FBI was leagues above her paygrade. She simply grunted and got into her car, speeding off to the nearest Praetorian field office.

 

*    *    *

 

Whiskey had just gotten out of her frankly humiliating debriefing when she saw two familiar faces sitting in the waiting area: The FBI agent and her former captive Bloodrose. She wanted to shout out in rage when they got up and walked towards her.

“Miss Willson, Special Agent Hart, we met a few hours ago when you were attempting to arrest one of my agents,” he said in an again formal but subtly threatening tone.

“One of your agents?” Whiskey quizzed.

“Indeed one of my agents. She has been working undercover within the Bloodrose organisation, attempting to undermine and disable them. Until you blew her cover this morning. Do you have any idea how many million tax dollars you have just wasted because of your little stunt? Thousands of man hours went into this, let alone the year that McConner has been forced to work with the scum to build trust.” the threatening tone began to be a lot less subtle. “You should consider yourself lucky that you didn’t kill her along with the others in that group.”

“Aaron, let her off already, she didn’t mean for this to happen. The CSA was not informed about the op.”

“She needs to understand the gravity of this situation, and why this entire CSA business is ruining legitimate attempts at taking down the organised crime in the city,” he responded crossly before turning back to Whiskey.
“I expect to never see your name cross me again. You and your fellow mad men have caused enough damage already. Good day.” he turned to leave before quickly turning to the other woman again. “McConner, I expect to see you tomorrow at 8 o’clock sharp for a debrief.”

The woman responded with a nod, signaling for the man to turn away and walk to the stairs.

“So why are you still here? To make fun of me?” Whiskey asked skeptically. The woman responded with a warm smile.

“No, I wanted to make it up to you. Sara McConner, pleasure to meet you.” she extended a hand, which Whiskey reluctantly shook. “Look, I know Aaron can be a bit hard on people, especially you enforcers, but he means well.”

Whiskey scoffed. “That’s great, don’t change that he is an asshole.” Sara chuckled softly.

“That’s one way of putting it. Anyway, want to head down the street a bit? I know of a nice bar just a few blocks over.”

Whiskey blinked in confusion.

“I said I’ll make it up to you, my treat.” She grabbed Whiskey by her wrist and almost dragged her along to the front door.

Sara was still more or less dragging Whiskey behind her as they reached the bar She mentioned. Like most bars in the inner city area of San Paro, it was sleek and modern looking, the view inside was blocked by curtains and instead were filled with various neon signs making it certain beyond a doubt that alcohol could be bought and consumed there.

“Hold on now.” Whiskey finally managed to say. “What the fuck is this?”

“I got you into a heap of trouble by being on this mission today, so I want to make it up to you with a drink or two, it’s the least I can do. Honest.” Her smile was warm and genuine, though Whiskey still felt a sense of entrapment.

“I’m sorry but this is just weird to me. Like, only a few hours ago I almost killed you and now you want to buy me drinks?” Sara nodded in response.

“Come on, it’s just a drink or two, maybe a bit of idle chat. It’ll be fun!”

Whiskey thought for a moment longer before coming to the conclusion that there really can’t be any harm in getting plastered with this strange woman, she was going to need it either way after how the day went.

“Okay fine, but you’re paying for the taxi home,” She joked, though she secretly hoped Sara would accept the condition. She was met with a wide grin.

“We’ll see where the evening will lead us, now come on!” Once again Sara took Whiskey by the hand and led her inside. The interior of the bar was as to be expected from the outside, everything right down to the glasses the bartenders were handling was giving off modern vibes. The walls were decorated with various pieces of abstract art, and trimmed with light-blue neon lights at the top and bottom. The unlikely duo took a seat by the counter before Sara hailed one of the bartenders and ordered two beers.

“So, um, Sara. I dunno, this is kinda awkward. I’m not good with people these days. I- You- hm.” Whiskey was feeling even more out of place and just wanted to sink into her chair, Sara simply smiled.

“That’s quite alright, I’ll go first then. I don’t generally make a habit out of getting drinks with someone who almost shot me the same day, but working undercover for the FBI certainly does bring up odd situations.” A thought just snapped through Sara’s mind. “Oh my god, I am so sorry, I got so carried away I didn’t actually ask if you had time, I’m not making you keep anyone waiting, right?”

Whiskey half sighed “Nah, only one expecting me to be anywhere ever is the CSA dispatcher.” her tone was a bit more bitter than she even expected. She didn’t really have any friends since she came home from the Army. She had reconnected with Ray, an old friend who supported her through middle and high school, but apart from some CSA folks that she worked with more regularly, she had no one. Though at the same time, this was her choice. At least it is what she keeps telling herself.

“Oh, I’m sorry, didn’t mean to-”

“It’s okay, it’s a choice more than anything else.”

Sara revealed only the tiniest hint of skepticism in her expression.

“Wanna tell me a bit about yourself, Courtney?” Sara finally asked. Whiskey doesn’t usually enjoy talking about herself because in the end she always runs into the same two topics she desperately tries to avoid. She sighed quietly.

“Call me Whiskey. Everyone does. I’ve been working in the CSA for the last two years, before that I did six years in the Army.”

Without realising, Whiskey had clutched her dog tags while speaking. Sara’s face lit up with interest. “Oh, you served? My dad- well, step dad, he’s a vet too. He was a ranger, though he discharged in the 90s. 96 I think it was. He always has interesting and silly stories about what he and his squad got up to.” She chuckled then sighed.

“What about you? I mean I know you are with the FBI, but what else?” Whiskey was trying to steer the conversation as far from the Army as she could, as she was still liable to burst out into tears if Sara were to say the wrong things. Whiskey didn’t quite know why she cared, but she was worried she’d spook Sara away by breaking down.

“Born and raised in Dublin, well at least until I was nine, that’s when my mum met my dad. He was on holiday visiting cousins. I kinda hated him and my mum when they made us move here to San Paro, eventually I got over it though. I joined the Police Academy right out of high school, and after 2 years on the force I was scouted out by the FBI. That was… Lord in heaven, 8 years ago now.” Sara sighed reminiscently.

“That’s quite the long path you have behind you, coming all the way from Dublin.” Whiskey was unsure of what to say other than that, but it didn’t take long before Sara made new conversation.

 

*    *    *

 

Neither Whiskey nor Sara had any idea how much time had passed since they arrived at the bar, though judging by the fact that the bar was closing down, it probably had been several hours. Whiskey was having an amazing time after finally warming up to the other woman, in the end, both only really had one or two drinks, quite unlike what Whiskey expected from the evening. At some point she decided she wanted to remember the night instead of waking up in a haze on her couch.

“I can give you a ride home, my car is still in the CSA lot, saves you the cost of getting a Taxi,” Whiskey offered.

“Thanks that would be great.” Sara was still beaming with joy from the evening, a feeling that was almost infectious. Whiskey hadn’t felt this good in a long time.

“I have to admit, I had a great time. I didn’t know what to expect, but I am glad I met you,” Whiskey finally said with a slight blush forming on her cheeks.

“Likewise Whiskey. Hold on one sec.”

Sara reached into her pocket and got out a pen and a notebook, scribbling something down quickly before handing the note to Whiskey.

“My number, just send me a text to confirm it later tonight.”

Whiskey took the note from her hand, Sara had written her name adorned with a small heart above a phone number.

“Thanks, I’ll do that.” Whiskey couldn’t help but blush a bit more, something Sara noticed with a smile. When the pair finally reached the parking lot Whiskey unlocked the doors before swinging herself into her seat. “To think, this morning I tried to get you cuffed into this car.”

“Don’t worry about that, not the first time that’s happened in various contexts.” Sara couldn’t help but quib.

“So, where are we going?” Whiskey asked as she turned on the navigation system in her car.

“We’re going up a ways, midtown. Lemme enter the address.” She said leaning over to the display and typing the address. Whiskey pulled out of the parking lot and followed the path her navigation has laid out for her. It was about a 20 minute drive to Sara’s place. After pulling up by the front door, Sara undid her seat belt and opened the passenger side door.

“Thank you again Whiskey, for the great night, and for giving me a chance despite how we met this morning. If you want to, we could go on a da- I mean we could go for drinks again sometime.” Whiskey’s heart froze when she heard Sara’s stumble in her words. Date? She wasn’t sure what to think. She hadn’t felt this way in a long time.

“Yeah, I’d like that. Thanks Sara, I’ll see you around.” She said as Sara closed the passenger door, giving her a brief moment before speeding off towards her own apartment. She knew Sara corrected herself, but the thought that she wanted it to be a date kept Whiskey’s mind racing. It wasn’t the first time since she came back from the Army that someone wanted to ask her out, most of her old friends from school did when she came back. In all those previous cases the no came almost immediately but for some reason she felt differently about it with Sara. She took a hand off her wheel to clutch her dog tags tightly. What would Josh want her to do? This question had gone through her mind thousands of times ever since he died. Even though she knows that he isn’t around anymore, she still feels a deep connection to him, a connection she was certain she’d never lose, and she often feels like she’d disrespect his memory if she would date anyone else. Of course she knows that it was silly. He’d never want her to give up happiness, yet she worried. Worries that would echo through her mind all the way until she went to sleep that night.

 

*    *    *

 

A few days have passed and the weekend came along. Whiskey and Sara had been texting almost nonstop since their night out. Whiskey was surprised just how much she was enjoying the company, even if it was just in the form of text on her screen. The women had agreed to meet at a bar not too far from Sara’s place, which also happened to be a place Whiskey frequented with Ray. The sun was starting to set while Whiskey was waiting in the park opposite from the bar where the two arranged to meet. The time they agreed on was still over half an hour away, but Whiskey came early. She was unsure why she did. Was she hoping for Sara to also be early so that they would spend more time together? Or was she just being extra safe to not miss the time and make a bad impression?

Whiskey hadn’t realised just how much she was obsessing with making a good impression on Sara until just now. The feelings were almost foreign to her, as if she had never felt them before. As more and more time passed she was getting more and more certain: she was falling for the woman. The insecurity she had been feeling since their night out flared up again. She felt like she was cheating on Josh. Like he deserved better than having to witness Whiskey finding other love. No. He can’t witness anything. This is in your damn head Courtney . Whiskey was trying hard to pull herself together. She took hold of her dog tags and took deep breaths. It’s going to be okay . A few minutes later, Whiskey had herself back under control, just in time for Sara to turn the corner and make her way to Whiskey.

“Hey Whiskey, you’re here early, hope I didn’t keep you waiting,” Sara greeted. Whiskey was expecting her to extend a hand, but instead Sara opened her arms wide, inviting a friendly hug.

“Nah, I only got here a minute ago myself,” She lied before accepting the hug. Whiskey couldn’t help but notice the distinctive but attractive smell of perfume on Sara before releasing the hug.

“Shall we go then?” Sara asked with a hand showing into the general direction of the bar.

“Yeah, let us go celebrate the weekend.”

“Amen to that. I forgot how much I hated being a desk jockey,” Sara complained as they made their way to the bar.

“I thought you’d be glad not to have to hang around with the Bloodroses of all people.”

“Don’t get me wrong, if I hear another person laugh about beheading videos, I’m liable to shoot them.” She chuckled. “Though I’d much rather be doing anything other than sitting at my desk writing detailed reports on the shit that I did months ago. I’m just glad I took my notes.”

Sara shook her head. “Anyway, enough about work, I need a drink.”

The bar was, as to be expected for a Saturday evening, packed. The pair had trouble finding two free seats and then even more trying to get the attention of one of the overworked bartenders.

Unlike the bar they were at last, this one was a lot more rustic, “old english” themed. The wooden counter was discoloured from the hundreds of drinks that have spilled on it and the air was slightly musky with the smell of wood and leather from the seats and accented with a hint of various liquors. Despite all that, the atmosphere was far more alive than most of the more modern bars in town. It was incidentally also far away enough from Prentiss to not be filled with frat kids this time of day.

The two women had been sitting quietly for a few moments, neither being really sure what to say to the other. The silence of two people attracted to each other, but both too hesitant to make a move. The silence was finally broken when their drinks arrived.

“It’s been too long since I last could sit in an even slightly awkward silence with someone and still feel okay,” Sara said after toasting her drink with Whiskey. Whiskey couldn’t muster up more than a blushing smile in response, her uncertainty was still holding her in a firm grasp. Meanwhile Sara simply grinned. A quick drink later Sara was feeling inquisitive again.
“Do you have any family here in San Paro?”

The question sat like a stone in Whiskey’s gut. It’s not the first time someone asked her about family in conversation, but until now she would almost always snap back at them to mind their own business. This time she felt different.

“My parents… they died in a house fire when I was little. One morning my mom dropped me off for school, then in the afternoon I was picked up by a cop. I didn’t find out what had happened until a few days later when they made me move in with my uncle, rest his bastard soul.” despite Whiskey believing it to be an old and healed wound, talking about her parent’s death put tears into her eyes. “The closest thing to family I have left is my friend Ray.” she looked away to try and conceal her emotions to little success as Sara placed a hand on Whiskey’s shoulder.

“I’m so sorry Whiskey, I shouldn’t have asked.”

“No it’s okay, sometimes I forget how much I miss them. Being reminded isn’t a bad thing. I just got something in my eye is all.”

Whiskey couldn’t help but notice the feeling of Sara’s hand touching her skin on her shoulder. Her touch felt soft, a gentle warmth spread into her arm, but above else she felt a comfort even unlike the kind she felt when Ray would hold her in a similar way. When Sara finally released her grip off Whiskey’s shoulder, she brushed her fingers subtly along Whiskey’s arm, giving her slight goosebumps. Whiskey quickly took a swing from her glass to try and cover her renewed blushing, all the while Sara was still smiling warmly.

“What about your family, Sara?” Whiskey finally managed to ask.

“Well I already told you that my ma and da live here in San Paro, da is a manager at the Citibank branch near his place, ma stays at home, sometimes she helps her neighbours in their gardens.” Sara stopped for a moment. “I also have a brother I haven’t told you about. Mainly because he’s not around.”

Whiskey’s eyes lit up. “Oh no I’m sorry I didn’t know.”

“It’s not like that, he’s alive. I think anyway. The idiot just ran away from home after I signed up for the police academy. I’ve been trying to find him ever since.”

Whiskey could hear the intensity and determination in Sara’s voice and see the fire in her eyes as she spoke about her brother.

“I hope you’ll find him, whatever his reason may have been to leave.”

“Don’t worry about that. It’s not an ‘if’ but a ‘when’ I find him.” Whiskey noticed Sara’s clenched fists which quickly relaxed again. Whatever the feud between her and her brother was about, Sara seemed very invested in finding him. Whiskey couldn’t help but admire the determination.

 

*    *    *

 

The evening once again blitzed by, and again neither Whiskey nor Sara drank more than a couple of beers by the time the bar closed. Whiskey was about to exchange goodbyes when Sara spoke up “Hey, Whiskey, I was wondering, since we were still kinda in the middle of something, wanna come up with me for a coffee?”

Whiskey was somewhat dazed by the question, but the potential of spending a few more hours with Sara was alluring.

“Sure, I guess we can do that,” she responded and not a moment later Sara grabbed Whiskey by the hand and led the way.

Just a few blocks down the road they arrived at the apartment building Whiskey dropped Sara off at only a few days prior. Whiskey barely noticed that she was still holding hands with Sara the whole way until Sara let it go to grab her keys, unlocking the front door and finally leading Whiskey up a flight of stairs. A couple of clicks later, Sara opened the door to her apartment and flicked on the lights, revealing a modest but tidy studio apartment. Considering the Sara’s position, Whiskey was expecting something much larger.

“Welcome to my cave, sorry if it’s a bit messy,” Sara said as she undressed her jacket, revealing that she had been concealing her service pistol under it the entire time.

“Are you always armed?” Whiskey asked with a raised eyebrow as she shut the door behind herself.

“Have to be. I Always carry my firearm and a set of handcuffs,” She responded as she unclipped the holster and hung it up next to her jacket, removing the pistol inside and placing it on her counter. Whiskey took a moment to look around. The small apartment was quite unlike what Whiskey had expected. A lot of the space was taken up by a large bed, most of the remaining space was devoted to a dining area and a TV stand, the door-side wall was mostly occupied by a kitchen unit. A couch was lined up opposite from the TV stand, next to the bed. The walls were covered in a variety of band posters, most were quite obviously on the harder end of metal.

“Please, make yourself at home, what’s mine is yours.” Sara said as she walked over to her kitchen unit, grabbing two mugs and setting them down by the coffee machine. Whiskey went to take a seat by the table. A mixture of feelings went through her. On the one hand, she was excited, she was in Sara’s apartment, set to just keep chatting the night away, on the other hand, Sara might be expecting more. The thought wasn’t uncomfortable on it’s own, but the doubt that had been eating away at her since she got Sara’s number that fateful night was going again. Is this right? Can I do this? Maybe this is just in my head. Whiskey took a deep breath.

“Sara… look, I… I’m not sure how to put this,” She finally stuttered

“What’s up? Something wrong?” Sara responded, half inquisitively, half worried.

“I… I want to know, what do you want from me?” She finally blurted out, taking Sara by surprise. It took a moment before she responded.

“I like you, Whiskey, you’re an interesting person, and I...  want to be more than just friends with you,” she finally said, blushing slightly. Whiskey felt her stomach drop. She knew this would be the answer but she somehow was not prepared for it. She sat for a moment staring into nothing, the silence only being broken by the coffee machine slowly brewing. A thousand thoughts were racing through her mind, she was paralysed, unable to speak.

“Sara… I… I don’t know,” Whiskey eventually managed to mutter “I… I need to think. I’m sorry.” With that, Whiskey got out of the chair and left the apartment, leaving Sara alone, listening to the almost silence, processing what just happened.

 

*    *    *

 

Whiskey was woken by a shaft of sunlight falling through a gap in her curtains shining into her eyes. It took her a moment to realise she was crashed over her couch with the TV on, a half empty bottle of bourbon was resting open next to her. It was now that she started to feel the headache she was having droning through her head. A glance to her DVD player revealed that it was 3 PM. As she sat up she felt dizzy; she wasn’t drunk anymore, but her body was still protesting. Giving herself a minute to clear her head, she started to recall the night, and finally why she got so drunk in the first place. Her guilt over wanting to be with Sara, and the additional guilt of standing her up the way she did. With a heavy sigh she reached over to her phone on the coffee table. two missed calls from Ray, one message from Sara. Her first instinct was to just flop back onto the couch and pretend she didn’t wake up, instead, she pressed the dial-back button to call Ray. After a few seconds the comfortably familiar voice rang from the speaker.

“Miss Willson finally emerges from the bedsheets.” the snark in his voice was undeniable.

“Ray, I need your help. Advice. I… I met this woman a few days ago, and we were clicking well, and sparks were flying, but… I just ran. I want it, but it feels wrong.” Whiskey’s voice was slightly shaky. She could hear the sound of ray scratching his beard thoughtfully.

“Because of Josh?” he probed, to which Whiskey nodded before realising they were talking over the phone.

“Yeah. I still feel like I am cheating on him, but...” she trailed off.

“But what?”

“I want it. She is the only person aside from you that made me happy lately.” Whiskey’s voice was getting more shaky as she suppressed sobs. She clutched her dog tags tightly as a tear ran down her cheek. It took a while before Ray responded.

“Whiskey, I think you should at least give it a chance. I know it’s hard, but maybe it will be good, and you wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity, would you?”

Rays words made sense to Whiskey, they didn’t alleviate her fears and worries, but they gave her confidence, at least give it a chance.

“Thanks Ray, I needed that, talk to you soon.”

“No problem, see you around. And remember, I’m never more than a phone call away.”

Whiskey hung up and looked at her phone screen. The message notification was looking back at her, as if daring her to open it. A moment of hesitation later, she pressed the button. Hey Whiskey, I’m sorry about last night, I was too fast. We’ll take things how you want them from now on. Want to hang out by the Marina this afternoon? Whiskey was almost shocked that Sara wasn’t angry at her. She quickly confirmed and threw herself into the bathroom to get ready.

 

A bit over an hour later, Whiskey emerged from her apartment door. She was wearing her favourite outfit and spent a bit more time to apply her makeup nicely. She was certain she hasn’t looked this good in a very long time. Traffic into the Marina was likely to be hell at this time of the day, so despite Whiskey and Sara agreeing on 5 PM, Whiskey still left no later than 4. By the time she reached the parking lot by the Galleria, her phone showed a quarter past 5 PM. Whiskey was getting anxious about what Sara would think with her being this late, she sent a text ahead and Sara said it was okay, but something kept Whiskey on edge. After a few minutes she reached the spot Sara wanted to meet at. Whiskey could already see the woman ahead, her red hair shining in the slowly but surely setting autumn sun. As she approached her she called over.

“Sara! I made it, traffic didn’t kill me.”

“Hey, Whiskey, good to see you!” She called back, opening her arms for a hug, into which Whiskey fell, embracing the woman tightly. Whiskey again felt the exceptional comfort she felt last time she embraced Sara, who was once again wearing a subtle but nice rose and vanilla perfume.

“So, any plans for us tonight?” Whiskey asked as she released the hug.

“I was thinking we could go for a movie, haven’t been in a while.” Sara said smiling. Whiskey’s eyes lit up with excitement.

“Okay don’t hit me but I really really want to see some trashy romance flick, I am an absolute sucker for them.” she said with not a single hint of irony. Sara chuckled and grinned broadly.

“Alright, we’ll do that, and I think they are showing just the perfect movie for that.” she was pointing at the screen of her phone which was showing the movies being screened right now. The poster in focus was clearly a generic romance story poster.

“That. Is. Perfect. We gotta watch it.” This time it was Whiskey’s turn to grab Sara by the hand and drag her to the cinema down the other side of the Marina. After having purchased their tickets and snacks, the two sat down in the back rows of the hall.

“Last time I went to watch a movie was ages ago, some action thing with Ray. This is gonna be so much more fun!” Whiskey was full of energy to the point of surprising herself. Being around Sara made her feel different, better. She made her feel special in a way not even Ray could. It took her a moment before she realised she was staring at Sara and snapping herself out of her thoughts just in time for the pre-screen ads to finish.

 

*    *    *

 

The sun was setting by the time the two women exited the cinema, casting a deep orange light over the Nantigo river, creating a spectacle of shimmering lights on the waves. Whiskey was still swooned from the movie while Sara was simply enjoying the view. They were simply strolling along the embankment for a while in silence before Whiskey spoke.

“Sara, I was thinking… About last night.” Sara stopped in her tracks, giving Whiskey her full attention. “I wasn’t fair to you, but I was overwhelmed.”

Sara took Whiskey’s hands as she talked. “It’s okay, I was bold, I should have been slower.”

“No, no. Look, I...” Whiskey trailed off before looking Sara in her eyes. The orange glow of the sun was reflecting of her deep emerald eyes. Without noticing their faces were getting closer together until after a felt eternity their lips touched in a tender kiss. After a brief moment, Whiskey could feel a tear running down her cheek, which Sara brushed off.

“Are you sure about this?” she finally asked.

“I have to try it.” Whiskey whispered, her voice shaking with uncertainty still.

“We’ll figure it out, I know it.” Sara whispered back, resting her forehead against Whiskey’s.