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Why Springfield?
By Alsike


A woman had moved into Harley's house in the fall, and the Springfield gossip mill had been running at a clip ever since. The woman was said to be a recluse, except it was pretty clear she couldn't cook. Daisy had been by, gossiping with Ashlee nearly every day, telling another tidbit about the silent woman who ate by herself in Company every night. Ashlee had even gone around to her house and tried to interview her on her impressions of the neighborhood. She said that the woman had barely opened the door, didn't invite her in, and answered her questions in two words at most.

Doris was not particularly interested in the new resident. She was busy with a vast bureaucratic reform initiative, which really was quite compelling, even though she couldn't even convince her own daughter to interview her on the subject. Dinah had received her request for a short piece with an arched eyebrow and a comment that anything with the words "bureaucratic and initiative" in it was asking to be forgotten in the diarrheic bowels of journalism.

And everything in Springfield was moving at its usual clip. Phillip had taken a nosedive off the deep end again, but this time he seemed to be targeting Alan, so no one was particularly stressed about it. Even Olivia, just back from a family trip to Washington DC, child and assistant in tow, was almost frighteningly relaxed about the situation. Doris supposed she must be getting laid regularly, which was said to do wonders for the blood pressure. Sadly, Doris had no independent data to verify this claim.

In fact, the reason Doris finally found herself even thinking about Springfield's newest resident had nothing to do with the town's ruffled feathers, or their (often warranted) nerves about having an inexplicable addition to the drama. She had merely dropped in at the police station to pick up some data about pay, time on duty and arrests made that had to do with her bureaucratic initiative, when she ran into Springfield's mopiest cop who was looking surprisingly less mopey than usual.

Frank had that idiot grin on his face and the sparkle in his eye again. Doris would have been seriously worried if she hadn't driven past Olivia and Natalia making out behind a tree in the playground on her way there. As it was, she was only mildly unnerved. She assumed that something positive had happened in Frank's life, finally spurring him out of the funk he had been in since Natalia had screamed at him in the middle of Company informing him that she "didn't want to marry him, had never wanted to marry him, and that the pity fuck she had given him was the worst idea in her entire life, because he couldn't make a woman come with two hands and a map!" or something to that effect. Doris hadn't actually been there, and the rumor had exploded to astronomical proportions, especially because Natalia had followed it up by bursting into a live televised press conference, pushing Olivia down on the table, and kissing her in full view of all the cameras with Dinah, Doris, Alan, and Bill Lewis looking on.

Frank had never been the sharpest tool in the drawer, and Doris considered asking him what was making him so happy before it turned into a nation-wide press debacle like last time. Luckily, Frank was never one to keep his business to himself, and Doris was not forced to feign a neighborly interest in the goings on of the Cooper clan.

"Have you met the new woman in town yet, Mayor?'

Doris carefully moved herself out of the range of his excitement, which had a tendency to be accompanied by a light spray of saliva, before responding. "I'm afraid I haven't had that pleasure, Frank."

"She's beautiful."

"That's nice, Frank."

"And I think she likes me."

"Really, Frank. Why do you think that?"

"Well, she eats at Company every night when I'm working." Doris nodded. She had heard that the new woman did eat at Company every night, and knew that Frank was there every night, being the only policeman whose beat was one mediocre family restaurant. "And she always orders from me."

"So you've spoken?"

"Yes! We've had some very interesting conversations."

"Really? What about?"

"Well," Frank furrowed his wide forehead. "She doesn't like Buzz Burgers… or chili… or coffee."

"Then what does she eat?" The poor woman was probably starving, as those were the only reliable foods provided for dinner at Company.

"Um, usually a salad. She doesn't like tuna casserole either."

Doris couldn't help the amused chuckle either. Poor Buzz, a regular customer who couldn't stand his cooking. "What's her name?"

Frank looked blank. Doris sighed. It would probably be a public service to warn this woman about Frank's affections before he managed to propose. And she was the mayor. Public service was her duty.

From Ashlee Doris discovered that the woman had drinks at Towers every Friday afternoon during the after work rush. She almost seemed to be keeping a normal routine, if you could call eating somewhere you hated and not telling anyone your name to be a normal routine.

Doris considered wearing her incognito fedora to the planned interception, but decided against it at the last moment. She would go as Mayor Wolfe. If her assumptions were correct, that might be more greatly appreciated.

Doris spotted the woman as soon as she made her entrance at Towers. She was on the end of the bar, with a clear view of the main door, the emergency entrance at her back. Doris didn't pay too much attention to her, she just settled on a stool a few seats away from her and ordered a ginger ale. She didn't order alcohol very often anymore, because drinking made her want to smoke.

She cast a glance over the woman from the corner of her eye. Frank had only slightly exaggerated by calling her beautiful. She was rather good looking, if her jaw was a little strong and masculine, and her hair was a muted brown color that had obviously come from a box. She wore glasses as well, rather charming ones, in red plastic. And through those glasses, Doris noticed herself being examined in the same detail. She hid her smile. Frank had done it again, fallen hard for a lesbian. If this pattern kept up she'd have to watch out for her own virtue.

Doris called the bartender over and told him to get the woman another of whatever she was having. The bartender gave her an amused look, but Doris had hit on enough of his colleagues to know that the barman's guild in this town must have a stringent code of Omerta, or she would have been outed years ago.

The woman looked startled when the drink was delivered to her, and she looked around sharply, before settling on Doris, who was the only one meeting her eyes. At that the surprise was replaced by a suspicious curiosity and Doris slid over the three stools to move closer to her.

"Can I recommend my salon to you? They're very trustworthy. Not one of them has ever mentioned my occasional grey hair."

"I'm…" the woman didn't finish her reply. She bit back the words, and eyed Doris with increased suspicion.

"It's a shame for a woman as beautiful as you to suffer from inadequate hair care."

The woman gave her a sidelong glance over her drink, but she seemed less skittish. "I don't believe you've ever had a grey hair."

Doris smiled. She decided that she liked this mysterious woman. Once the tension left her form she seemed statuesque and poised and her voice was low and rich. "Please don't tell anyone. This is a very small town, and word gets around pretty quickly."

"I think I've discovered that."

"I'm impressed though. You've been here for, what, two weeks, and I still don't know your name."

"A-… Emily." The woman hesitated before she spoke, as if she had to think for a moment. Doris made a point not to blink and held out her hand.

"I'm pleased to finally meet you, Emily. I'm Doris Wolfe, Springfield's mayor."

The woman's eyes widened and she shrank back. But then her gaze fell on the second drink and she looked back at Doris, with her brow furrowed. "The mayor?"

Doris met her eyes, glanced to the drink, and then back up to the red framed green eyes. "Can we add this to the list of things not to mention to anyone?"

Emily laughed quietly. "Not a problem. Apparently I'm good at not mentioning anything to anyone."

"Even so, you've already managed to convince someone to fall in love with you."

Emily was startled. She gave Doris a sharp incredulous look, which was parried by a raised eyebrow. "Who?"

"Frank Cooper, your regular server at Company. He has this tendency. I thought I would warn you."

"A waiter?" Emily's look of horror was almost comical.

"I told you that you need to fix your hair, but no, he's a cop."

Emily's face went still, and her eyes reflected as if she were looking inside herself. "I used to date a cop."

"Not one like Frank Cooper. I honestly don't recommend it. In fact, the Coopers in general are to be treated with caution."

"Is that so?"

Doris chuckled. "Well, it depends on who you ask. Others might say that it's the Wolfes that need to be kept an eye on."

"Do they?"

"A close one."

Doris took Emily somewhere besides Company for dinner. She picked the most authentic restaurant she knew, because there was something about Emily that struck her as cosmopolitan. She wouldn't be fooled by midwestern imitations of cuisine.

She would always tense and hesitate whenever Doris asked her a question, so Doris did most of the talking. It wasn't a challenge for her, and she kept a close watch on Emily's reactions. When she started in on an anecdote about one of her horrifically failed cases as an ADA, the reaction was so striking that Doris nearly forgot what she had been saying. She only told a few stories about cases, because Emily's eyes would grow distant and sad.

The best part of dinner though, was that she made Emily laugh. Imitations of the townspeople, tales about Dinah suing herself, general absurd hijinks were all marshaled into that duty. When Emily laughed she looked like a whole person, not the rail-thin skittish shell that Doris had found at the bar.

When Doris pulled up outside of Harley's old house to let Emily off, she turned to her and said, "You know, if you're looking for work, I could find a place for you in my administration."

Emily froze; she looked eager and suspicious at the same time. "I- I don't have a lot of credentials…"

Doris waved the protestation away. "I've hired convicted felons. Don't talk to me about credentials."

When Emily showed up at her office the next Monday, game face on and obviously fake resume in hand, Doris smiled and named her police liaison. No one in Springfield would forget the day Emily Winthrop walked into the police station and started firing questions like a semi-automatic. In days the entire hierarchy had been turned on its head and the police were operating at an efficiency that hadn't been seen in years.

Doris had made a point to be there when Frank got his dressing down and she would never forget how the look on his face had changed from amused condescension to shock and then to horror as he realized that Emily was nothing like he had imagined and then that he actually was getting demoted back to beat cop until he learned how to file his paperwork correctly.

Emily kissed Doris for the first time after the grand success of Doris' Bureaucratic Reform Initiative. They had stayed late in the office after the small party, celebrating and drinking wine. Then there was a moment, when Emily was looking at her, and an intense sorrow came into her eyes. "You're everything I wanted in my life," she whispered. For a moment Doris wasn't sure if Emily would cry. But she looked up. Her sharp green gaze pinned Doris to the chair with its desire.

Then she kissed her.

"It's not your first time," Emily mumbled with certainty after Doris had her bra off with one flick of the wrist.

"Of course not."

When Emily slid down her stomach Doris considered that this actually was her first time sleeping with someone who she felt intimidated by. Emily didn't have to have an impressive past or resume for it to be blatantly obvious that she existed on a different level than everybody in this small town. Even the Spauldings were big fish in a small pond. Compared to Emily they were as a goldfish is to a shark.

But intimidated or not, Doris wasn't about to let this opportunity go to waste.

It was after they had been sleeping together for a month that Emily said those five little words. Doris was nearly asleep, sated and comfortable when the whispered words cut into her consciousness.

"I can't promise to stay." They were said softly and with a regret that Doris had never expected.

"Why would you?" Doris mumbled, still half asleep. "Why would anyone choose Springfield when they can have New York?"

The End

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