Prompt: Character A needs to borrow seventy-five cents from Character B.

A/N: IMPORTANT NOTE. To avoid any confusion, this single chapter is written in reverse chronology; we are working our way backwards. Enjoy :) ~Meowser


Now


Maddie climbed out of bed, awkwardly feeling around for her clothes. Chimney was still lying there, wrapped in sheets, and she could feel his eyes on hers. "Going so soon?" He asked, and she nodded.

"I have work in the morning, remember?" She said. "Hence the laundry emergency."

"Ah, of course," he said, climbing out, and grabbing for his pants. He slid on the joggers, grabbed a t shirt, and slid on sandals. Maddie watched in frustrated awe. She still hadn't located her panties.

"Looking for these?" He asked, scooping them off the floor and holding them out to her. She flushed, mumbled a thanks, and stepped into them. Howie, a gentleman, had turned to give her some privacy. He now turned around with her bra and camisole.

"Thank you," she repeated, slipping into them.

"Can I give you a ride home?" He said. "I don't want you taking the bus at this hour."

Maddie paused, not wanting to be even more indebted to him, but she knew it was the smart move. Yes, the buses were still running, but navigating the LA bus system with laundry was never a fun day. Why should she say no to a ride offer? She overcame her pride.

"I'd like that," she said. "Thanks."

"No problem," he said. "Besides, Buck would probably bury me alive if he knew I let his sister take the bus home alone."

"Oh god, Buck is never finding out about this," Maddie blurted, her face suddenly bright red.

Chimney laughed, holding up his hands. "I'm sorry," he said, chuckling. "I was teasing, I promise."

Her face stayed red. "Yeah," she said. "Well. I'm sorry. Like I told you earlier, my life is a work in progress. I can't be doing this, I shouldn't have, but…" She trailed off, losing track of her words when she saw how warm his eyes were.

"You're fine," he said. "Come on, let's get you home."


One hour earlier…


"Do you want to kiss me?" Maddie spoke the words, immediately regretting them, but there was no turning back now.

Chimney paused, slowly turning around. Their eyes met in the dim kitchen light, and she could see the desire now present on his own face. "I don't want to take advantage of this situation," he said slowly. "I don't at all want to put you in a position where you feel you can't leave, or like this is the only reason I asked you up here."

"I don't think that," she said. "Besides, you didn't really ask me, I asked you. And maybe it makes me a terrible person, but I really wanted to kiss you. And that's why I said I was thirsty."

He swallowed, stepping forward. "Then I think we're in agreement," he said slowly. "We both want to kiss each other."

Her heart danced, and she quickly stepped forward, closing the gap, and pressed a kiss to Chimney's lips.


Two hours earlier…


"I'll be down in a minute," Chimney said, pulling into a reserved parking spot at an upscale apartment complex. "Unless you want to come up, which is totally fine."

They'd spent the whole ride talking, and Maddie's cheeks hurt from smiling so much. She couldn't remember the last time she'd done something like this. Honestly, she didn't think it had ever happened.

"I could use a drink of water," she hedged, but now she had ulterior motives. She wanted to see his apartment, wanted to see where this amazing man lived. Apartments gave you such a clue into the person who lived inside.

"For sure," he said, jumping out of his door. Maddie started to open hers, but Chimney had somehow made it around the car in that moment, and held it open for her. She flushed, climbing out. Chimney grabbed his basket of wet laundry, and then started out. "It's not too far," he assured her. "I pay extra for a spot that's closer because I am way too tired to walk more than a few feet to my apartment."

Balancing the basket on his hip, he deftly used one hand to fish a keycard out of his pocket, and slid it down the scanner at the apartment door. He lived in a very nice complex, she realized. One of the few indoor buildings in this neighborhood.

"I'm on the sixth floor," he said. "But look, we have an elevator."

"Good, because otherwise I'd tell you I'd see you in the car," she joked.

"I know what you mean," he said, as they stepped into the elevator. "There was one day the elevator broke. I almost called into work. That's not my idea of cardio."

There was something about being in an elevator alone with someone that was so intimate, Maddie reflected. She didn't know where to look, what to do.

She wasn't the type of girl to do this. She didn't go up to a man's apartment hours after meeting him, even if they were almost friends through her brother.

And yet. As she walked down the hallway to Chimney's apartment, her heart pounded, and she felt the proof of her desire pooling between her thighs.

She really, really wanted this. She wanted to kiss him. She wanted him to kiss her. She had no idea if that was really where this was leading, or if she was injecting meaning into Chimney's actions that just wasn't there.

He was such a kind man, she was sure he had no ulterior motives. Maddie herself, on the other hand…


Three hours earlier…


"Hey, I don't want to be too bold, but do you mind if we drop by my place first?" Chimney asked as they left the laundromat. "Like I said, my washing machine is the only thing broken, my dryer works fine, and I don't want to leave this sitting too long."

"That's fine," she rushed to say. "You're the one doing me a favor."

He double tapped his clicker, opening the trunk of a midsized black sedan. "You can put your basket back here," he said, setting his own basket inside, before turning to take hers from her arms.

"Thank you," she said, moving to the passenger side of his car. She placed one hand on the door handle; she wanted to wait until he got in first, so as not to seem presumptuous, but it had the opposite effect she wanted. Chimney darted over, his hand closing over hers on the handle.

"What was I thinking," he murmured. "I have to get your door."

"No, it's fine," she said, flushing. "No, no, I was just waiting for you to get in first, I don't need you to get my door."

His hand was still over hers, but Maddie somehow didn't mind. She could feel how warm his hand was, and she swallowed.


Four hours earlier…


"Come on," Chimney said. "You have to have something better on Buck than that."

Maddie couldn't remember when she'd last laughed this much. "I probably do," she admitted, leaning against the dryer with her clothes inside, hugging her now full laundry basket to her chest. "But that's all I really have time for tonight."

"It's only 8," Chimney protested mildly.

"Yeah, but I have to catch the bus home," she said. "Or I have to wait another hour." She smiled at him. "It was really nice talking to you, though."

"Hey, um, I know this is a little forward, but we both know Buck, we both know the other isn't a serial killer, so," Chimney began, his face suddenly flushed. "I mean. I can give you a ride home. That way you don't have to grab the bus, and you can hang out with me until my cycle finishes."

Maddie gently set her laundry basket back down, considering. The bus ride home was almost an hour long. If Chimney drove, it would be under fifteen minutes, and arguably a lot safer. "Thank you," she said. "Really."

Chimney grinned, and the sight of it made her feel butterflies in her chest. He was so damn cute. "Are you married?" She suddenly blurted. "I've always imagined that you have a wife and kids and a dog."

He laughed again. "You make it sound like you've imagined this more than once," he said.

She was the one to blush now. "I mean, I get the cards that Evan sends," she said. "He's always with his team. There's the woman, Hen. She's very tough, he's mentioned that. She's also married. Um. There's Bobby, he's chief. I think Evan said he just got married as well. And then there's Eddie, who's Christopher's dad. Evan can't stop talking about Chris. And then there's you." She paused. "You know, he never said much about you," she admitted. "And I think that's why I imagined so much. I don't have that many friends of my own, I think I fell into thinking of Evan's as my own."

"Well, I shouldn't be surprised that he never talks about me," Chimney said dryly. "I am offended, however. Just kidding. Um. No. A wife didn't happen, not for lack of trying, and neither did kids. Again, not for lack of trying. It's something I've always wanted, but the universe disagreed."

"No dog waiting for you either?" She asked softly, feeling how the moment had shifted.

"I work too long hours," he said. "Maybe a cat sometime, but I couldn't do that to a dog."

"Cats are nice," she said. "I had a cat in college, but I had to surrender her to a shelter when I got married."

She could see his face change. "Ah," he said. "You're one of the people who the universe granted that wish."

Interesting. So Evan hadn't told his teammates quite everything.

"Not quite," she said. "I should be grateful that Evan hasn't told my whole life story, I suppose. So yes, I was married. No, it wasn't happy. Yes, I'm single now. No, he's not dead. Unfortunately."

She smiled tightly, to hide the pain.

Chimney's face had changed completely. "Fuck," he said. "I really just put my foot in it, and honestly, now that you said it, I did know you had a….past. I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to bring up a sore spot."

"Don't worry about it," she said softly. "I don't remember most of what Evan says either."

The moment lightened again. "That's fair," he said, as his machine beeped behind him to signal its completion.


Five hours earlier…


Maddie stared at the dryer in disbelief, and then went through her purse for the third time. She was short a measly seventy-five cents a load, but she had work in the morning; there wasn't time to dry these at home. She huffed out a breath, turning her purse over, but she didn't even have any bills she could have converted to coins at the taqueria next door. Damn it.

She sank down onto one of the benches, head in her hands, trying to figure this out. She could ask Buck to bring her some quarters. No. She'd never live that down.

So what was she supposed to do?

For an LA laundromat, it was surprisingly quiet. Monday night, at 7 pm, and there were only a few other people in the whole place. She turned her head away from the machines, trying to focus. The door jingled, and she started as a man walked through. She knew him. Buck worked with him. Damn it. What was his name?

She'd never officially met him; she just knew his face from pictures. He was an Asian man, who always came off happy and friendly in pictures. She felt like he was a safe person just from those Christmas photos Buck sent of the whole team; she'd long imagined this man as having a wife and 2.5 kids. Probably a dog too.

Surely he was a safe choice to ask for a quick loan. But what was his name? It was something bizarre. Window? Mantel? Roof?

"Chimney!" She called, waving a hand. Maddie wasn't the type of person to flag down random men in public; she probably hadn't ever done this before in her entire life, but desperate times…

She waited for a second, terrified she'd gotten the name wrong, but then the man was turning, albeit slowly.

"Chimney," she repeated, walking over to meet him.

"Do I know you?" He asked, taking an airpod from his ear.

"Kind of?" She said. "You don't, but I think I know you. Chimney, you work with the 118? Evan Buckley's teammate?"

"Yes," he said slowly, a confused look remaining on his face. "And you are?"

"His sister," she said, all in a rush. "Maddie. I recognize you from pictures, you know, I always thought you looked so kind."

His face softened with this new information; now that he knew he wasn't talking to a crazy person, he had relaxed somewhat. "Maddie," he said slowly. "Yeah, Buck talks about you."

"Oh god, don't pay him any mind," Maddie said. "Listen, this is quite possibly the most awkward thing I've ever done in my life, but do you have seventy-five cents? I'm short that much on my dryer, but I need dry clothes for work in the morning. I will literally transfer you a dollar on cashapp or venmo right now, I just need to get this done."

His face broke out in a smile. "Hey, anything for a friend," he said. "And don't worry about it, I got you."