blinked. "Nothing, sir? At all?"
up from yet another set of papers to take her sweet time filling out
and drawing on, Rakashi shrugged. "Normally I would have grand
adventures to send you on, Mr. Coi." She assured flatly. "Today is
mysteriously slower than even the usual drudgery. But
as I understand it, you can't be paid unless you've been here for a
certain amount of time, so... I do hope you'll find something to
amuse yourself with for a few minutes at least."
was getting her, he thought. Rough, very rough, but
there was that almost invisible sense of humor... and that
other thing. He didn't dare think of it as acceptance or anything
like it--but she was tolerating him. Not that he had proof of
this theory. Not yet. "Do you have any pencils that I might
borrow, sir?" He hoped very much that Demi would give a good
her eyebrow slightly, the general opened her top desk drawer and
searched for a few sharpened pencils. She simply watched as
Rean turned the rickety folding chair at the side of her desk toward
her, sitting with a series of metal creaks. Seeing as he was amusing
himself with just balancing the pencils, she supposed he would
have to learn just how exceptionally boring this place was sometime.
was only when Rakashi heard a very distinct thunk-ping above
her that she stopped her "work" to gaze upward. There,
over her head, embedded in the ceiling tile, was a pencil. A very
even gaze was leveled at her assistant.
barely noticed. Instead, he was in the process of aiming another
sharpened pencil, throwing and managing to land it a little over an
inch away from the first. Luck, sure, but no one needed to know
was when the third pencil found its mark that she finally decided to
ask icily, "What are you doing, Mr. Coi?"
he was going to die. And he was going to deserve it. "Amusing
myself." He answered simply. The fourth throw had a bit too
much power, landing in the tile and then quickly falling--happening
to miss Rakashi's head by inches. There really was no way he could
avoid shrinking back just a little from that look. "But now I'm
out of pencils."
wouldn't have been surprised if she'd lept over her desk then and
there and throttled him. Maybe knocked him out and beaten him to
death with that crowbar. At that point, she could have kept a
chainsaw under her desk for the purpose and he wouldn't have felt
anything close to shock. What she actually did managed to stun him
into unmoving silence, however.
a quiet sound of agreement, General Vrunai simply stood up, walked to
the far side of the room and began to dig through the undersized
closet. Taking out a container about the size of a shoe box, she
dropped it in front of Rean. With another dig through her desk
drawer, she found the manual pencil sharpener and set it on top of
the container, then went back to her papers. After a moment of
noticing that her assistant hadn't so much as moved, she spoke up.
"Well? They aren't going to sharpen themselves."
must have looked, not to mention behaved, as though half of his brain
were missing. That was how he felt,
patient seconds to grasp the idea that the container was
full of pencils,
had to take advantage of this situation. Particularly
before Rakashi ceased to be amused and slaughtered him.
wasn't really a better place to pile those sharpened pencils than the
side of the general's desk. It went from a small stack to a
surprisingly big one alarmingly fast, the pencil sharpener proving to
do its job just as well as its operator. When a sufficient pile was
achieved (and Rakashi was sick of doodling on official documents),
she actually reached for one of the sharpened pencils and threw it
straight up without looking.
had missed the action, but not the sound. Blinking, his eyes went
quickly from the pencil in the ceiling to the general. She... still
appeared to be working. Odd. Looking away to get another pencil
resulted in the exact same thing, the pencil tips mere centimeters
from one another. "You've done this before." He almost
accused. Come to think of it, the ceiling did look a little more
full of holes than it should...
don't know what you're talking about, Mr. Coi." She met the
reaction with blandness.
grinned. Suicidally, he grinned. Then lightly placed a pencil in
front of her. "Of course not, sir."
are walking on extremely dangerous ground." She warned quite
seriously--even as she took the pencil. Rakashi looked
that time, flinging it straight up like a dart... and landing the tip
in the eraser of the first pencil.
was slightly open-mouthed as he looked up. "So... you've been
before the run of assistants, yes." She finished for him. Taking
another pencil without looking, she managed to catch the
eraser of the nested pencil just a second before all three toppled to
the desk. "How old are you, Mr. Coi?"
was absolutely puzzled about being asked so out of the blue like
that. Not that he saw any reason not to answer. With another glance
to his watch (and a silent curse to himself for forgetting a clock
for the office), he responded just a little too precisely, "I'll
be twenty-three in eight hours and twelve minutes. Give or take some
raised eyebrow responded. Twenty-three and trapped here... that was
unfair. "Ah, well then. Happy Birthday, Mr. Coi. Consider
yourself off early."
general was certainly full of surprises. This one was particularly
wonderful. "Thank you, sir."
celebration, but Demi
had made him promise. The bastard.
seemed that Captain Dulce was already well on his way to celebration
in his usual spot at the back table. Upon seeing his friend, he
grinned. "She let you off the leash early, then?"
ha, funny." Rean responded dryly, taking a seat. There was an
entirely different reason that he'd come to the bar early, and while
Demi unfortunately didn't seem drunk yet, he was pretty sure he could
get away with this. "I've got a favor to ask of you. Captain."
shit. It must be big to mention that." The raven-haired
man chuckled. "How about some conversation and a drink first?"
sighed deeply, though he could hardly refuse. "Fine. Beer. And how's work?"
his time in the galley, as far away
from work as possible.
"Slow." Demi responded, putting
his hands behind his head and leaning back. "And how's your
since he'd asked... there was something remarkable that Rean had
encountered. "I never would have believed that General Vrunai
is... human." He admitted.
eyes widened just a split second before he leaned in closer. Like a
predator. Oh yes, this was the stuff of many weeks worth of teasing.
brunet knew he'd made a mistake already. Even so, it seemed
important to report his findings. "She laughs." He
started out with the most startling revelation he'd had about her. "She
has a really evil sense of humor. She gets bored."
you notice." Demi pointed out, that grin only increasing in
--What? "What's that supposed to
"Rean. Come on." And so
began the teasing. Really, the boy should
know better. "I've got 'the sense.' And you've got it
his eyes, he pointed out, "You've got no sense at all." When a waitress
came by with two alarmingly oversized steins of beer
and no reminder that they'd have to pay before they were allowed to
leave, he could only guess that Demi had made a big deal about "the
birthday boy" earlier. "It's just... fascinating to see
her as... human." He continued quietly, wondering how anyone
was capable of drinking that much. "Not at all what the rumors
made her out to be."
"Uh-huh." His friend responded,
grinning even through his first several gulps
of amber-colored alcohol.
shut up." Rean returned, annoyed.
I outrank you." Demi continued to tease.
don't have a rank." The brunet argued back. "So
you can't. Ha."
for the far-too-dirty-to-be-legal secret weapon, then. "At
least I know better than to have a crush on Rakash--"
too far. "Look, Captain I Was Once Convinced That Bacon
Was Made Out of Sheep..."
Demi laughed, hands up in surrender. "Okay, really! I'm sorry! Now that
we've fought, onto the favor!"
least that much was over... hopefully. Rean allowed it to drop--for
the moment. He knew that his friend was never purposely malicious...
it just happened sometimes. Even so, he knew that the captain was
his best bet for something like this. Leaning in, he lowered his
voice, grateful for the noise of the gathering crowd at the other end
of the bar. "Can you get into files? Deep ones, I mean... the
ones the public don't have access to."
was quite clear that the man hadn't expected a question like that. It
was... worrisome. "Well, I can't get into personal files...
but the history files are open to me."
perfect." The brunet assured, thinking it over one more time. He'd
already thought through every possible consequence for his
request, had weighed the pros and cons--but this was important. "I
want to know everything about the Rush."
erased the constant smile from Demi's face. "Why would you want
a file on that? Millions of people died--"
know." Rean assured quietly. He was set, though, sure of what
he wanted; and what he was asking. "I need to know more,
long silence passed between them. Captain Dulce seemed to be half
staring him down, and half trying to figure out if Rean really wanted
what he was asking for. He knew that look, though, knew the kid well
enough... and this wasn't a subject that could just be distracted
away no matter the warnings. "I'll see what I can get
tomorrow." He promised softly, feeling like something a lot
stronger than beer.
brunet nodded, satisfied. "I'll make it up."
how tight Demi's chest felt, how his abdomen clenched... he
wasn't going to let that request ruin his night. Nor his perfectly
valid excuse for getting drunk. "You damn well better!" It was all too
easy to return to the teasing, particularly with
another swig of beer. "You're gonna scare her away, you know."
looked around for something to throw. Finding no objects, it seemed
that a deadly glare was the only option he had.
captain chuckled. "I know, I know." He couldn't help but
push as hard as he could, even on his friend's birthday. "But
if you did 'like her'--"
continued as if there hadn't been a rude interruption. "Then
I'd suggest you not bother getting into her business. And you sure
as hell shouldn't try to protect her. From anything."
Rean had absolutely no clue what the idiot was talking about. "What
the question off before it could be asked, the raven-haired man went
straight back to teasing. "I've seen it all before, kid. Lovestruck
eyes narrowed. He could try to argue with his friend, sure, but it
was a lost cause. Particularly when Demi started chugging that beer
like a thirsty man in the desert. Before the asshole went and got
himself drunk, there was one thing that Rean needed to be certain of.
"You won't forget tomorrow. You won't just sit around feeling
sorry for your hungover self."
the stein down with a soft snort, despite his knowing better, he
swore, "I won't forget."
brunet nodded. If anyone was capable of getting those files, it was
an unassuming idiot. "Okay. Then... drink."