The bells on the diner door jingled softly, indicating to Sunset Shimmer there was a new customer. Turning, she reached for her pen and pad, walking over towards the sound of the door closing. Smiling out of habit, her face turned to surprise as she noticed who it was: Nightwatch.
“Good morning, Becky.” The police officer said to her, taking his formal hat off his head and placing it under his arm. “Hope I’m not too early.”
“Nightwatch, no I’m just about done. My till is counted down, just need to tidy up before Rose gets in.” She glanced at her watch, noting the sun would be up in an hour or so from the dim glow of morning barely visible over the overcast sky of Equestrian City. The slight dusting of snow from the early morning had given the street and the roads a slight gleam. Taking off her apron she turned and looked back at the newly promoted Captain of Meta Human Relations for the E.C.P.D. and quickly turned her gaze elsewhere.
Sunset, or as he knew her as Rebecca, had done her best to lay low out of the public eye. In fact, save for the interactions she had with the officer in particular, she had succeeded in being as much of a wallflower as she could. No one would suspect the waitress around the corner at the diner as being The Phoenix, especially as frumpy as she tried to look.
The first few times he had offered to swing by and make sure she got home safely, she had found an excuse handy to decline. This last time however, her quick mind hadn’t formulated a way to sidestep his offer without raising suspicion. The area of town she lived in had gotten a bit more dangerous during the early morning hours, and to the best of his knowledge, she didn’t even have a can of mace, let alone the massive martial arts training and pyrokinetics actually at her disposal.
“Got a few minutes? It’s chilly out there, got any coffee?” Nightwatch said, taking off his thin policeman gloves and stuffing them into the pockets of his jacket. He shivered for a moment after he did that, finally sitting on the stool at the counter and turning to look at her again.
“Sure, let me get you a cup. Shift’s not over anyway.” Sunset nervously answered before turning and pouring a cup for her only customer, the television in the corner blaring on in the background. She set it down and gave him some sweetener and cream like he preferred. “You know you don’t have to walk me home. It’s not that far in the grand scheme of things. I can’t imagine I’m the most important thing to the new head of the Meta Relations unit?”
“Oh not at all. You know that statistically, a crime will happen to you within 25 miles of where you live.” He spouted off a random fact, nervously adding his cream and stirring it in.
“Wow. Makes you wonder why I don’t just move huh?” She made a quick joke, trying to keep things light. Leaning on the counter and smiling as she finished, a slight grin on her face.
It took Night a moment to register she was making a joke, but he looked down as he chuckled. “That's not bad. Not bad at all.” He sipped his coffee, careful not to burn himself.
“Let me get my bag and punch out.” She stood up, adjusting her name tag absently and walked into the back of the diner, past the television.
“A record low for this time of year again, in fact the last decade we’ve slowly been making new records. The National Weather Department is at a loss for the reason, but assures the public that even though it’s a bit chillier than last year, there’s nothing to worry about. Snow in the forecast for later this morning, with accumulation of up to four inches.” The weatherman recited, the television barely loud enough to hear.
Sipping his coffee again, Nightwatch stared at the back, waiting for his favorite waitress, glancing back at the television as it gave the weekend forecast. He felt some tension leave his chest as she walked out the back. He had faced down unspeakable metahuman criminals and dodged death more than a few times, but the effort he was making now terrified him.
Since the day he first started noticing her, he had been quite taken by the waitress known as Rebecca Strong. Not as fickle or snide as most of the early morning employees he was used to, she was far more than just another employee. The only thing that was constant was her, and for that he was grateful. No matter how bad the day had been, he could count on her being there for him, a cup of coffee, a hearty breakfast, and a remarkably sharp intellect, despite how she tried to hide it.
There were even a few times he had come in on his day off, in uniform, just to talk with her. For being a collage drop out, she had a wisdom about her that was much more expressed then some grad students he had talked with in his job. He couldn’t quite place it, but to him, she had always seemed like she had, had far more diverse life experiences then she’d let on.
“Laying it on kind of thick aren’t we?” Sunset asked, walking out of the back with a small duffel bag and putting a light blue jacket on.
Nightwatch blinked as she asked that. “Pardon me?”
“The weatherman always seems to make things sound worse than they are. Little snow never hurt anyone.” She motioned to the television, putting a small hat on her head and tucking most of her hair under it.
“Oh! Yeah, well, you can’t really make it sound more exciting then it already is, suppose they have to at least try.” He said, finishing his cup and standing up. “Ready?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” She smiled hesitantly, hoisting her bag on her back and making sure it was zipped shut, keeping his or anyone else's’ prying eyes from her costume inside.
They exited the diner. He held the door open and the bell jingled softly again as they walked down the street, their footsteps crunching the snow on the scattered areas not shoveled clear by store owners or the city workers. Nightwatch put his hat and gloves on, walking diligently next to her. Keeping an eye out for any trouble, he was happy there wasn’t any to be seen.
“Bit more than I was expecting so far.” Nightwatch finally said, a nervous silence between them broken.
“What?” Sunset asked back, turning her gaze slightly.
“The snow. Even back home this is a bit much for this time of year.” Night responded, turning the corner with her.
“You’re not from here?”
“Nope. I started out working far up north, small little town. Moved to the big city to study for Medicine.” He tilted his hat to a police cruiser coasting by, they waved back. “Eventually saw I enjoyed the rapid response to emergencies, and then fell into the police line of work instead.”
“See I never knew that about you. You always seemed like you were cut out for the police life.” Sunset eyed down an alley next to them, her senses noticing they were for the most part, in no apparent danger. She was happy since she didn’t exactly know how she was going to keep her identity concealed if any problems came up. Another reason she tried her best to avoid being escorted home, no matter how much good intent was behind it all.
“Oh no, not at all. My parents actually wanted me to be a doctor. They were…less than thrilled when I told them I was changing my major.” He rubbed the back of his neck as he finished the sentence. “Mom was a doctor, and she had been quite open about her expectations of me. She said it felt like I had failed her in a way by going into a line of work that promoted death instead of life.”
“That seems a bit short sighted, if you don't mind me saying.” Sunset seemed troubled by the story as he told it. “Police work is generally about preserving life, promoting peace. Your mother didn’t see that?”
“She does now. She was upset I guess.” He turned another corner with her, walking at a slower pace, though he didn’t really want to think about who was the one slowing it down. He was happy it was taking longer than he thought. “I don’t know if you can know what it's like to feel like you failed someone like that. She always said she had great expectations for me.”
Sunset was quiet for a few steps, looking down and thinking. “No. I can sort of understand that. I…failed a mentor once myself.” she finally said.
“Oh? Someone at college?” he inquired, dusting off some snow from her bag.
“She was a huge part of my education, yes.” She said hesitantly. “But, it’s neither here nor there. It’s good that your mother came around and realized her mistake before it drove a wedge between you two.” She redirected the conversation. “Was your father supportive?”
“Oh he wanted me to be happy first and foremost. He’d always kinda, well, you know, been more quiet about his thoughts on the matter. But I know he loved me. Just like I know she does.” He nodded, shrugging his shoulders a bit.
“It’s good you know that. So few people know exactly what they want in life. A Lot of times they end up doing...the wrong thing...even if they think it’s right in their mind.” Sunset looked towards him a moment.
“See thats why I like you. You’re not like most people our age. Most of them are still out trying to party or make some sort of impact for themselves. You? You’re working at a diner, enjoy it, and don’t berate others for their choices. You just don’t see that in many people these days.”
“I’m not perfect. It took me awhile to understand that. Now I just do what I can to --” she paused. “Did you say you liked me?”
There was an awkward silence as they stopped and he suddenly pulled her by the bag strap, a step further and she’d have gone right into traffic. “Careful now!”
“Whoa!” she exclaimed, astounded she had lost focus for moment.
“Lets not go too far too soon.” he said, leaving his meaning ambiguous to her.
“Oh no, let’s be clear, this is as far as we go.” Sunset responded a split second later, his face turning a slight paler gray tone.
“Pardon?” he stammered out, panic setting in.
She smiled, a sly tone in her voice. “You heard me. We can’t go any further then this right now.” She pointed to a doorstep. “I’m home.”
There was another pause and both of them laughed, looking away shyly for a moment.
“I guess I lost track of where we were. My apologies.” He bowed slightly. “But...I’m glad I could finally get you home safely. I worry you know.” He tipped his hat up a bit as she walked up the few steps.
“Well, thank you for walking me home, officer. I still feel bad for taking up your time.” She smiled down at him, snow fluttering down a bit more insistent now. “Though I can’t recall a time I’ve felt more safe.”
“Not at all. The pleasure was all mine, Ms. Strong.” He nodded. “It was nice to talk with you. Makes you a bit more real in a way.”
She smiled, a fake smile as the reality that he didn’t know the real her set in.
“...and if you don’t mind, maybe we could do this again sometime?” he added hesitantly.
“Oh, you’ll see plenty of me, I’m sure of that.” She responded, half lidded eyes at him.
He seemed to perk up a bit. “Oh?”
“A cop needs his coffee and breakfast doesn't he?” she added, making it difficult to gauge her meaning in the manner. She smiled a bit wider and waved at him, unlocking her door to her apartment building and letting him watch silently, bewildered still.