perfectworry: and I'll rise like the break of dawn that perfect girl is gone (that perfect girl)
[personal profile] perfectworry
title: Swooning
rating: G
word count: 1,006
prompt: Advent
pairing: Zoe+Hale, implied Lucy/Zoe
summary: Zoe and Hale staff the Nowhere Vermont Police Department fundraising booth at the annual craft fair. Lucy stops by, but she doesn't want hot cocoa.
notes: hot off the press and 100% unedited, new 'verse. enjoy!

Zoe shivered and stamped her feet. She huddled beside Hale, shoulders hunched against the cold and her hands jammed in her pockets.

“I don’t understand how you aren’t freezing,” she hissed, and her breath clouded the air.

“It’s my natural animal heat,” said Hale.

Zoe barked out a laugh, despite herself. “Oh, phew. You had me scared for a minute there, Saint Hale. I thought you were going to say something pious like God’s love keeps me warm.”

“That, too.” Hale grinned. “And this new matching hat and scarf set, did you see?”

“Hale, they can see your new hat and scarf set from the space station.”

It was Hale’s turn to laugh. He preened for an imaginary audience of astronauts, and the Girl Scouts at the next table twittered with laughter. He bought the safety orange handmade hat and scarf from a gaggle of tweenage girls when they set up shop next to the Nowhere Vermont Police Department booth. Hale winked at the Girl Scouts. One of the older girls, a teenager with a khaki vest, fanned herself with a holiday concert program.

“Aren’t Girl Scouts a little young to be swooning?” grumbled Zoe.

Hale ignored her. Instead, he poured out a hot cocoa into a doubled-up paper cup for the kids gathered around their table. The police department always had a fundraiser booth at the local craft fair, but Hale ramped it up with homemade hot cocoa with peppermint and enough cakes to feed an entire army of Girl and Boy Scouts now until cookie and popcorn seasons.

“You should try swooning sometime,” said Hale, after the kids paid and wandered off. “It’s fun.”

“I think I missed my prime swooning years,” replied Zoe, shrugging.

“Let me guess. You don’t believe in Santa Claus, either. Missed your prime believing years?” asked Hale.

Zoe didn’t even bother to dignify that with a proper answer. She just hmphed and rubbed her hands together for warmth.

Their shift wore on. A steady stream of local kids and a handful of grown-ups drifted past the booth to admire or mock Hale’s new hat and get a cup of cocoa or a packet of cookies. Zoe left Hale to it while she jumped from foot to foot and blew on her hands to keep warm.

She watched everyone who passed their booth, right by the entrance. The craft fair was held in the basement of the old church, but she had to keep her wits about her. The Good Neighbors hadn’t been so neighborly since All Saint’s. Zoe had to be vigilant.

“You’ll put me right out of business!”

Zoe jumped. She covered her surprise with a cough.

“Miss Dove,” she sputtered.

“Detective Hayes.” Lucy Dove grinned over her hot cocoa. The steam curled around her in delicate tendrils. “Merry, merry.”

“Happy holidays,” chirped Zoe. She cleared her throat.

“I was telling Detective Farraway here that your booth will put the diner right out of business,” said Lucy.

“OK, folks. That’s it, pack up,” said Zoe. She reached playfully for the sauce pan on the gas burner where Hale was heating up another batch of milk and chocolate. “This town is nothing to me without Lucy’s Diner.”

“Now, now,” said Hale, dodging out of Zoe’s way. “We’ll just have to compromise. I was thinking, I should take up baking in my retirement. What do you say, Miss Dove? We’ll leave the police work in Detective Hayes’s extremely capable hands.”

Hale winked at Zoe, who shoved her hands in her pockets. Her fingers were stiff and numb with cold, and she flushed at the thought of what he was implying.

“Let me see your hands, Zoe.”

Lucy reached across the table, and Zoe reluctantly pulled her hands from her pockets. Lucy’s hands were bigger than hers, and rough from cooking all day. She took Zoe’s hands between hers.

“Your hands are freezing,” she cried. Then, to the Girl Scouts, she said, “How much for a pair of gloves, girls?”

“Grown-up sizes are $15, ma’am,” said the swooning girl from earlier.

“I’ll take a pair in…” Lucy paused, considering. She looked Zoe up and down, as if reading her like a book. “I’ll take a pair of the dark green.”

She let go of Zoe’s hands to pay, and handed over the gloves before Zoe had a chance to protest.

“I – But – Really, Miss Dove! I can’t take these!” Zoe waggled the arm warmers at her.

“Why not?” asked Lucy. A smile played on the edge of her lips.

“Because I don’t have a gift for you!” blurted Zoe. Her cheeks warmed and she fought the urge to smack herself in the forehead.

Lucy really did smile at that. “Then you’ll have to get me one, won’t you? Now, put them on. Just a little something from me, for my favorite customer.”

Zoe stammered.

“You could try thank you,” suggested Hale.

“Thank you,” said Zoe, but while she was adjusting her new fingerless gloves, Lucy had disappeared back into the crowd.

Hale hummed to himself while he ladled out the cocoa.

“I hate you,” said Zoe. “You engineered this whole thing, didn’t you?”

“Yes, Zoe. I engineered a decades-long tradition of local crafters –“

Zoe rolled her eyes. “You at least set up the Girl Scouts.”

“Dastardly Girl Scouts. At it again, with their adorably girlish ways!”

Zoe huffed, but she spent the rest of her shift admiring her gift. They were expertly knit, probably by one of the older girls.

“D’you think she meant it?” asked Zoe, as Jeanne and Jack sauntered up to take their shift at the hot chocolate stand.

“About getting her a present? Uh, yeah, she meant it,” said Hale.

“That’s not what I – You know – I.” Zoe paused and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath. “I meant, the when she called me her favorite customer.”

“Why?” asked Hale. “Are you swooning, Detective Zoe Hayes? Aren’t you a little bit old for that?”

“Humbug,” said Zoe, but her heart grew three sizes that day.
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perfectworry: meet me in the door with the desert in the morning I am there (Default)
李杏 | Frances J., a lion-hearted girl

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