DISCLAIMER: If I owned it, I would have peddled it to cable. Fox just keeps knocking 'em down.
CHALLENGE: Written for Passion & Perfection's Big 5000.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author

Another Turning Point
By Sam


Billie hated eating alone. It wasn't because she couldn't enjoy her own company. Most of the time, she preferred solitude. Due to her chosen profession, she'd spent a good portion of her adult life having fake conversations with fake people. When it came to being out in the real world, it was just too damn hard to make the effort anymore.

But, mealtime was another story. Having been raised by her French mother, she was taught early on that sitting down to break bread was about more than just eating. It was also a time for socializing, for slowing down the world and catching up with the people you loved. Some of Billie's fondest memories were of times spent around a table with family and friends, talking endlessly about everything and nothing, always surrounded by love and laughter. Unfortunately, her life was very different now.

There was a turning point, though the comely lieutenant would be hard pressed to say just when that was. After graduating from college and the police academy, she had a circle of close friends, her mother had a nice home in Brentwood, less than ten minutes from where Billie and her roommate were living at the time, and she was enjoying a torrid love affair with her former college professor. All in all, things were just this side of perfect.

Maybe it was the first time she made an arrest.

It was no big deal, really, just a guy who'd had one too many taking out his miserable problems on his equally drunk and miserable girlfriend. Billie had used her pepper spray to put him down then followed that with a couple of solid kicks to the gut as incentive for him to stay there. And even with all of his crying and whining about his eyes burning up in their sockets, that's just what he did.

Maybe it was the first time she met Bob Parrish.

She was hungry, no doubt about that. And she certainly had a healthy enough ego. Why else would he have hand-picked her from so many candidates if she wasn't a stand out? Some of the guys in her station razzed her that she was only getting the attention because of her looks. She certainly couldn't argue with them, not when she looked a hell of a lot better in hooker drag than any of her male counterparts.

Maybe it was the first time she went under deep cover.

Working Narcotics was vastly different than any of her previous assignments. The danger level was significantly higher, and the people she encountered were some of the most ruthless, desperate human beings she'd ever seen. The job fit her like a glove. It wasn't until much later that the reasons for that became painfully clear.

Maybe it was the first time she shot up.

It was certainly the riskiest thing she'd ever done. It was also, by far, the dumbest. But in those days, her ego, her pride was always in the fore, masquerading as a sense of duty. It compelled her to do things... bad things, things that most of her colleagues would never, ever do. It was why she was so good. It was also why she became a junkie.

Maybe it was the first time she killed someone.

The rumors of Billie's kill list being longer than her grocery list made her somewhat of an urban legend in the LAPD. While not exactly a pariah, her fellow officers gave her a wide berth, which suited her just fine. Of course, once she became a favored target of Internal Affairs, the stories about her grew in both size and scope. The fact that it all started with a botched raid and a dead homeless man didn't dull the shine on her rising star the least little bit. But it did do a great job in tarnishing her sense of decency.

Maybe it was all of the above.

"Sorry, I got held up a bit. Have you been here long?"

Billie pushed away the dark thoughts and focused her predatory gaze on the pretty blonde sliding into the empty seat beside her.

"Nope," she replied. "I just got here a minute ago, myself."

"Good." Sara Matthews flashed a sweet, sexy smile. "I didn't want you to think I'd stood you up on our first date."

Billie offered a smile in return. She really did hate to eat alone.

But sometimes it sure as hell beat the alternative.

The End

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