"So, wait," said the thief, topping off the detective's wine glass. "You're saying that your stressful case is catching that hot shot cat burglar that everyone's talking about?"
The detective grimaced, but didn't change the subject. "Yep," they muttered into their Pinot and took a swig. "The celebrity criminal."
This was a triumph. This was their third date and the thief had spent the prior two carefully laying the emotional groundwork leading up to this moment. The detective, as a social partner, was affable and considerate - surprisingly funny even, in a dry, deadpan way - but rigidly guarded about their line of work. The thief had asked the normal questions about jobs and had been expertly deflected with self-deprecating jokes about spreadsheets and paperwork. The thief had been content to wait. The detective was a fundamentally honest person, and the thief trusted the truth would work its way to the surface soon enough.
"But that sounds exciting!" the thief prompted brightly. "I mean, daring heists executed by moonlight! It must be such a nice change from your run-of-the-mill crimes."
"Mostly it's just exhausting," sighed the detective, rubbing their temples. "This perp is such an asshole."
The thief blinked. "Excuse me?"
The detective shook their head, tried to force a smile. "I'm sorry. I've had too much wine. You were saying about your invitation to audition for the Bolshoi -?"
"Oh, forget about me," the thief said quickly. "Please, go on. You're clearly stressed about -"
"Do you know," the detective went on as if they'd never stopped, "the morning guy on Channel Seven had the nerve to call this a victimless crime?"
"Well, the insurance will pay for it," the thief started.
The detective slapped the table. The thief jumped. "What about the people?" the detective exclaimed. A few nearby heads turned in their direction. "Are people supposed to walk into museums and look at what, framed checks on the wall from Lloyds? And meanwhile, these masterworks disappear into the vaults of gangsters and petty criminals, never to be seen again. Because you can be sure," they added, jabbing a finger at the thief, "crooks that steal art have no love for it. They'll destroy it, every lick of paint, if there's the slightest risk to their own skins."
The detective took another deep swallow of red wine. They looked close to tears. The thief awkwardly patted their hand across the table. This was not at all what they'd expected on this little reconnaissance side mission. The detective caught their hand and squeezed it with a grateful look that wrenched something in the thief's upper chest area.
"Now those guys," the detective said thoughtfully. "The criminals with the vaults. Now that seems like a worthy target."
"I... huh?" The thief stared across the table. The detective looked back with those guileless, honest eyes.
"I'm just saying," they said, with the slightest drunken slur on their words. "Walking the art out of some budget-strapped public facility is one thing. But emptying out of one of those vaults, liberating all those works of art and returning them to their rightful place before the public..." The detective sighed dreamily. "Now that actually sounds like a daring, hot shot kind of heist."
There was a moment where neither moved, gazing at each other like the lovers they were pretending to be. Then the detective tugged their hand free, stood up with an apologetic smile. "But I'm definitely tipsy," they said. "Let me go splash some water on my face."
When the detective returned from the restroom, the thief was still at the table, watching the waiter clear the plates. By unspoken agreement, they didn't speak until she was well clear.
"So, hypothetically speaking," the thief said finally, running a finger theough a puddle on the tabletop. "How would one go about this vault heist of yours?"
The detective smiled again, nothing drunk or vague about it at all.
23K notes · View notes