"So there was this massive backup on--"
Shawn's mouth remained open, paused mid explanation as he stared at the other man. After a moment, he closed it with a huff and tossed his helmet onto the seat of the booth before dropping down beside it.
"Could've been true," he muttered, grabbing a menu. "Hell, Godzilla could've been attacking and you'd have no idea in this place." Shawn shrugged a shoulder towards the rest of the idyllic diner that looked like it had been ripped out of a 1950's movie reel.
One corner of the man's face twitched up in the slightest of smiles.
"Possible," he conceded to Shawn as he took a long drink of coffee.
"Probable," Shawn corrected the older (though he wasn't entirely sure how much older, the guy couldn't have been out of his twenties) man. "Don't you know that LA is where all the crazy stuff happens? I mean, how could people not notice all the crazy shit that happened with Buffy and just go about their business? You've got to be used to some bizarre stuff to think improvised flamethrowers at high schools are normal."
The man merely raised his eyebrows at the reference.
"Hello there, darling," a perky young waitress drawled with a southern twang that reminded Shawn of his boss. She gave him a flirtatious smile as she pulled out her notepad and retrieved the pen that was tucked behind her ear. "What'll it be today?"
Shawn returned her smile with a brilliant one of his own, making a conscious effort to ignore that thought about his boss.
"I was thinking pancakes," he replied then dropped his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "But I need to ask you something." The waitress leaned in, clearly expecting something completely different than what came out of Shawn's mouth next.
"Can you put pineapple in the batter?"
The waitress, Leann as her name tag read, stared at him for a good minute trying to decide if he was being funny or not.
"Are you serious?" she finally said, eyebrows knitted in confusion. "Who eats pineapple in December?"
The other man at the booth almost choked on his coffee before laughing under his breath at the expressions that crossed Shawn's face: shock, disbelief, and before settling into a combination of haughty disgust.
"This is California, there is never a wrong time to eat pineapple," Shawn informed her with a sniff of indignation. He paused, letting his anger subside as he reevaluated the situation. "But since you're new here, I'd be happy to show you all the different permanations of the most glorious fruit ever."
"Permutations," the other man interjected.
"I've heard it both ways," Shawn returned easily, not looking away from his quarry. "So, Leann? What do you say?" he asked with his most charming smile.
"I'll ask the cook," Leann replied succinctly, scribbling something on her notepad, not noticing how she had crushed the young man's hope. "Coffee?"
"Yeah," Shawn muttered, slumping down in his seat. Leann nodded and took a sharp turn on her heel to hurry over to another booth that was flagging her down.
"Ouch," the other man said quietly, earning a glare from Shawn.
"Like you'd do better," he countered confidently. "Besides, I didn't even use my best tool."
"I hope you're referring to that badge you keep fussing with under the table," the man said blithely. Shawn opened his mouth to argue but shut it again when Leann returned with a cup and a pot of a coffee.
"Your pancakes will be right up," she informed him as she topped off both cups. "Cook says no pineapple."
"I guess that'll have to do," Shawn lamented, reaching for the sugar and cream, completely missing the roll of the eyes he received from the waitress.
"I could do better," the other man informed him, his blue eyes filled with confidence.
"I'd like to see you try."
"Next time," he promised. "But now we need to get down to business."
"What business is that?" Shawn replied, taking a sip of his too hot coffee. "Obviously you're some sort of hot shot UC detective, but not one that works for RHD or GND. Maybe you're one of those super secretive SIS guys..."
Shawn trailed off, distracted by his arriving stack of (woefully pineapple-less) pancakes by means of an indifferent Leann. The man watched him carefully, appraising his boothmate.
"So, who the heck are you?" Shawn went on, digging into his pancakes. "'Cause Cap'n wasn't exactly talkative about the whole thing. 'Go to Pann's on La Tijera, you'll know who you're meeting when you get there'" he mimicked in a thick southern drawl.
"His accent isn't that strong," the other man corrected. "It's more like this," he went on in an almost perfect copy of the Robbery-Homicide Captain's voice. Shawn considered it for a moment then nodded in agreement.
"So you gonna tell me who you are?" Shawn asked again, meeting the other man's eyes with a serious expression.
"You don't remember me from the other day?" he chuckled, taking a drink of coffee.
"Well obviously I remember that," Shawn replied, stabbing a piece of pancake with a bit more force than was strictly necessary. "But I thought it'd be kinda bad to just go up and be like 'Oh hey you, I arrested you at that chop shop after I save your ass'."
"You didn't 'save my ass'," the other man argued, a hint of annoyance in his voice.
"Oh heck yeah I did," Shawn said smugly. "I was totally like John McClane, just kicking that guy in the face."
"And you almost blew my cover."
"You do realize I was letting him beat me up."
"Duh, you were barely even flinching when that muscle head was wailing on you."
The other man leaning back in his seat with a vague smile, clearly satisfied with that answer. Shawn shrugged and shoved the last few pieces of pancake into his mouth before pushing the plate away. He swallowed and let out a satisfied sigh.
"Now, seriously dude," Shawn said, giving the man a level look. "Who are you?"
The other man smiled broadly this time and held out a hand for Shawn to shake.
"Kevin James," he replied. "I'm your new partner."