was starting to suspect that Rakashi slept in her office. There had
been times in that first week when it was clear that she'd been there
before him, but she'd been out doing... something. When Rean came in
several days in a row to see the woman at her desk, her oddly nearly
dark auburn enough to be black hair always hastily pulled back in
some shape or form, the suspicion moved to near-proof. Regardless,
he always got a grateful (or so he liked to think) grunt of
acknowledgment when he placed a full mug of coffee on her desk, away
from the papers. At least, as much as was possible, seeing as how
nearly every square inch of desk space always seemed to be taken up
back to the wall of file cabinets, Rean simply sighed. He'd already
been working on this for such a long time and still there were
drawers and drawers worth of stuff that needed to be organized
and re-divided and then clearly labeled...
how goes the massive undertaking, Mr. Coi?" the general
prompted, having heard the sigh--but, as usual, hadn't looked up from
thought about how to answer that for a long stretch. "It is a
massive undertaking, sir."
would have sworn on his life that he saw the very short-lived flash
of a smile on her lips, but it was gone before he could get a good
look. "Carry on."
own lunch until he absolutely had to. Not that he
enjoyed sorting papers, honestly, but the faster he could get this
done, the faster it would... be done, he supposed. Whatever happened
after that was definitely not something he wanted to focus on. The
idea that the general might have an even more horrifying task was an
so, he had to get up and stretch sometime. Getting up and stretching
inevitably involved walking around, and while he really didn't mean
to look... the papers were right there. The ones she was always
working on. He glanced.
then he stared. Then tentatively reached out and flipped through a
couple of pages. Then stared even harder. She did indeed leave her
signature in every space that required it (some mix of messy and
elegant, undoubtedly her signature), but... between lines and along
the margins were doodles. Sketches. Flipping through more pages,
some of those doodles proved to be little more than stick figures on
a battlefield with guns and tanks. Others, well... he had to admit
that Rakashi was quite talented at drawing vines. Bricks. Stones.
was just a little bit jarring to know that General Vrunai was... sketching
on official documents. And obviously took a hell
a lot of time to do so.
really don't think you're cleared to be reading those papers, Mr.
voice startled him far more than he really wanted her to know. Rean
had jumped quite a bit, not to mention made a very unmasculine sound
before turning, papers crinkled slightly in his suddenly very tight
grip, turning quickly. He hadn't heard the door open, hadn't heard a
single footstep... "I-I, um... General. Sir. My apologies. I'd just...
something caught my eye, and..."
fine, Mr. Coi." He dismissed entirely too easily. "Back
the pages back on her desk, he doubted that he'd ever been so eager
to get back to those filing cabinets.
general had only just taken her seat when there was a knock at the
door, a man entering without waiting to be acknowledged. "Rakashi,
looking well today."
tried really very hard not to look back for her reaction. Being
called by her first name was one of those notorious rumors...
she lived up to it. Her tone was somewhere between flat and
murderous, a rather obvious danger boiling just beneath the surface.
"Lieutenant Pachter, I suggest if you want to keep those little
shriveled things you call testicles that you refrain from
disrespecting me, particularly in my office. If it was anything
important then please ask your superior to approach me, as at the
very least he has a tendency to wait to be invited inside first. Are
was a lengthy pause following those words, the man seeming to require
it. "Yes... General. Of course." The speed at which he
excused himself was certainly impressive.
quite still, Rean stayed silent. It had seemed unnecessarily harsh,
even for Rakashi. Even considering the man hadn't waited to be
acknowledged, and what he'd said in greeting. But then she had
called him by name, and maybe they had some sort of history...
worry yourself, Mr. Coi." The general's voice had gone back to
what he had to assume was her natural tone of near-disinterest. "He's
always been what the military refers to as an 'asswipe.'"
that more or less said enough. He wasn't quite sure how one possibly could
respond to that, deciding that it was best just to
on with the sorting. Several minutes passed in mostly silence,
interrupted only by the sound of pages flipping and paper rustling. The
tension had mostly faded, and yet still Rean unconsciously seemed
determined to prove himself a little suicidal. "They're, um...
they're very nice, sir." It was the way she paused in the
middle of turning a page that prompted him to continue. "The...
the sketches. They're quite nice."
page continued to turn over a handful of seconds later. "I do
hope you're not planning to be an art critic, Mr. Coi."
a little stunned that she hadn't fired him on the spot (or worse),
Rean could only think to respond, "No, sir."
he asked immediately, "How did Rakashi
get banned from here?"
snorted before laughing. "Rean, if she knows that you know,
you're going to catch hell."
he asked again, determined.
captain gave a dramatic sigh and leaned in. "She stabbed one of
the higher-up doctors in the hand with a fork. You can still see the
dents on the C-6 table"
stared for a moment. "She stabbed someone's hand with fork?"
has it, she still has the fork." Demi grinned brightly, chin
resting in his hand. "Why the sudden interest, kid?"
muttered something rude at the old nickname. "She completely
chewed out a guy today for calling her by her first name."
finally seemed to surprise the captain a little. "Really? Who?"
thought for a moment, trying to remember. "Lieutenant Pachter,
pft." The raven-haired man dismissed. "They got off on
the wrong foot a long time ago."
should have known better. He really, really should have. "How?"
closer, Demi simplified matters. "She caught him groping her
field secretary. A very unwanted advance. Apparently he's forgotten,
well, that was more logical at least. "Hm." Rean
just got the captain to laugh. "Is that really all you came
brunet snorted softly. Instead of answering, he simply accused, "You
spend way too much time here, Demi."
"There's food here!" the
captain defended himself at Rean's
and more he was wondering if Demi was
actually the idiot. Closing (and then locking, just in case) the
door behind him, he took a deep breath before approaching the desk. On
that little bare corner, the one not covered in papers, he placed
another one of those wrapped sandwiches. "I wasn't sure if you
had lunch yet, so..." Rean made some attempt to explain. She
didn't exactly strike him as the type to actually do any eating
during her lunch break. Even on the rare occasions when she took
look. Nothing vicious, nothing
condescending, but as fleeting as it was, it was certainly a bit...
challenging. "Thank you, Mr. Coi."
his hands. "Sir, I... admit I'm sort of curious
over a rumor..."
without pause, turning yet
another page for yet another signature--an more than likely another
a particular rumor about table
C-6 in the galley, and a fork..."
why in a rather close and personal fashion as
those eyes seemed intent to burn holes straight through him, brown
with a strange touch of what he'd almost say were flecks of gold. "Ask
your question, Mr. Coi."
late to back out now. The actual question that
he asked surprised him, however. "Do you still have the fork?"
She seemed to be debating
whether or not to throw him out more than she was debating an answer,
until finally she opened the top drawer of her desk. Dropped on top
of her papers with a light clang was, sure enough, a fork from the
galley. "Is this sufficient?"
never again ask Rakashi a question he
wasn't prepared to have answered.