Description: A NOL soldier has been arrested! And for some reason none of the NOL officers had wanted to stroll on down to the precinct to pick up bad boy PFC Kirikawa. But lo and behold, in strolls the optimistic Lieutenant from the Shanghai branch -- she'll take on any job, right?
Some people might consider an errand like this highly embarrassing for everyone involved. But unfortunately, *someone* has to do it. And today, the responsibility has been delegated to Lieutenant Yao.
What responsibility is this, exactly? That would be dealing with a certain misunderstanding between an operative of the Librarium and the local law enforcement. A brawl where both parties (one of whom according to reports was a tanuki??) employed forms of magic took place on a certain rooftop near the Southtown Village Mall. Property damage ensued, and while one suspect escaped, the local police succeeded in getting the other to surrendering for an arrest.
This would normally not be a terribly big deal. Sometimes the more mundane polife force manages to apprehend lower-skilled supernatural fighters, and they are typically promptly handed over to the Librarium. But the problem in this case comes with the name that pops up with the report.
Katsuro Kirikawa. It took precisely five seconds for cross-referencing the name to come up with a certain vaguely infamous PFC within the Librarium's ranks.
And apparently Private First Class Kirikawa did not have the sense to be uniformed or even carry his identifying badge with him before he got himself booked. And so the reason Lieutenant Yao has been sent to the Southtown Village Police Station is that an officer of the Librarium needs to come vouch for the arrested perp and fill paperwork to ensure he is processed without charges.
Whatever consequences he would face would surely be handled in-house, then.
The station in Southtown Village is a largely calmer affair. Larger than most small town stations, but still smaller than many of the district-specific departments' stations in Southtown City proper. The staff greeting Meifeng and guiding her through the process are friendly, too, even if she might get some suspicious looks due to her appearance. It doesn't take terribly long, then, for her to be lead to the holding cells, and...
The particular cell wherein a very much bored japanese man is sitting. She would recognize the face from the internal documents if she did her homework -- even down to the wild, somewhat messy mane of thick, brown hair that flows along the man's face. And as she was told, he is indeed not dressed by any stretch of the imagination in anything resembling an uniform; instead clothed in a white dress shirt with a slim black tie loosely hanging from his neck, and black leather pants clinging tightly to his legs.
Just sat there, tapping his foot impatiently to the floor with his elbows propped to his knees and head rested down on the palms of his hands.
As an officer on detachment from the Shanghai branch of the NOL, First Lieutenant Yao shouldn't even be here. Her only official duty was to subdue a wanted criminal from her home jurisdiction, and take part of the work necessary in repatriating him back to China.
And yet, the Southtown NOL branch found a way to stick Lt Yao with the grunt work. Kirikawa's reputation, after all, was widely known amongst the close-knit officers. So when the call came -- every officer present promptly found something else to do. And all eyes turned upon the First Lieutenant when she walked through the front gate.
"... Oh, I'd be happy to pick up Kirikawa-san."
She -was- happy, to be fair.
Until she glanced over his official NOL record.
And the police station's arrest report.
And the sheafs of paperwork she had to fill out.
She's rather ambivalent to him now. The Japanese are remarkably particular about their paperwork, and her right hand has been worn sore from filling out so many paper documents. Why they haven't progressed to digital, she hasn't a clue.
The tigress is still rubbing her right hand as she rounds the corner to the holding cells, a mildly irritable look on her features. A very very small part of her irritation is due to the cold stares she's getting. Nothing new, sadly -- but facing them with a pleasant expression can be more tiring than it looks.
Unlike Katsuro, Meifeng is sporting the official NOL colors of royal blue and white -- something of a contrast to her fluffy orange fur.
"Yes, that appears to be him," comes Meifeng's soft reply, when pressed to affirm Katsuro's identity. "A few moments, though, if you would," she requests."
The tigress stops in front of Katsuro's cell. Her tail swishes to and fro with idle grace. "Mr Kirikawa," she starts, removing and unfolding her yellow shades so that she can eye him directly. "First Lieutenant Yao from the Shanghai branch. I would have wished to meet you under different circumstances." She clears her throat, glancing pointedly at the tapping foot. It's... not like this visit didn't ruin -her- plans for the night. "Do you have somewhere important to be?" Her tone is sharp -- for, as a superior officer, it's her duty to keep the leash taut.
Regardless of his answer, she holds out an open palm, willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Softening somewhat, she asks, "Would you mind telling me, in your words, what happened tonight?"
The sound of approaching footsteps brings the man behind bars pretty quickly. And once the familiar colors pop up in the vision of his eye not covered up by the wave of unruly hair, he's quick to hop up from the bench in the cell, too.
"Yeah, that'd be me," he declares in a tone that is *much* too casual for his current situation, even more so with it being directed at a superior officer. His Kansai accent and dialect is only partly to blame for that.
An amber eye steadily draws along the length of the tigress' figure while Katsuro steps up closer to the bars. "Shanghai, huh...? I was routed that way once for a couple ops. Guess it was on a different contingent from yours though." One hand takes hold of the bars while he leans in, not quite *draping* against the bars, but perhaps appearing just a tad uncomfortably close regardless even with the lengths of iron set in between the two while he flashes a companiable smile. "Sure I would'a remembered someone like ya otherwise."
The smile fades away a bit when the Lieutenant's sharp tone hits in, but... even then, he just ends up rolling his shoulders her way. "Well, yeah? Anywhere but here."
None of this probably helps her impression of him in any way whatsoever.
One finger takes to idly drumming against the iron bar, filling the space with the telltale metallic *tink tink tink* from the rhytmic tap while she regards him, and then urges him to give his side of the story.
"Easy. I was mindin' my own business off-duty, and I happened to catch the scent of an unauthorized magic-user they'd put me up to tryin' to track down. No big deal an' all, just someone usin' magic for some petty crime, but I figured I might as well take care of it while I'm there."
Why he apparently had his sword - which has been registered as a focus for his own brand of combat and tracking magic - while off-duty might be worth a different line of inquiry, too. At least he supposedly had the sense to keep that one concealed with magic, too.
"The suspect resisted the request to come along for questionin', obviously. Got into a bit of a fight over it. ... So I *might* have been a little responsible for some of the property damage, but..." He flicks his free hand to the side slightly in a vague gesture of helplessness. "The locals decided they gotta butt in and interrupt things, ya know? Gave the suspect the window to make like a rat and run off and decided to snatch me instead. Figured I would just make more trouble if I didn't let them at that point."
It might be easy to assume that, just because Meifeng doesn't show any sort of frustration when Katsuro speaks casually with her, and straddles the line between flirting and negging her, that she might actually be okay with any of it. Another pointed reason for the officer to employ the sharp tone.
But, there's only so much that pointed words can accomplish. Sometimes a more delicate touch is needed.
"Ah. Perhaps we just missed each other." It's true that Meifeng worked out of the office quite a bit. Though, the more likely explanation is that Meifeng was working with the office at a time he wasn't.
She seems open and receptive to most of his explanation, but diverting blame from himself by saying 'they put me up to it' earns him a flat-eyed look momentarily. Especially as he was, by his own admission, off-duty.
Meifeng folds her arms behind her back as she listens to the second part of the story, doing her best to remain calm and levelheaded. It doesn't take much of a leap of logic to infer that 'the locals' are the ones down the hall, likely listening to this very conversation in some form. And that raises one of Meifeng's eyebrows.
She listens patiently. And then she reaches up to scratch her temple with her index finger. "You were using your NOL-issued weapon, while out of uniform. This is irregular -- and frowned upon." Her tail stops for a moment, before adopting a more deliberate pace in its shuttles from side to side. "But, tell me, Mr Kirikawa. Without your uniform -- and perhaps more importantly, without your NOL credentials -- you have placed the local police in the unenviable position of doing their jobs -- in taking down a supposedly violent criminal. Would you not agree?"
She keeps her arms folded behind her. She's not on trial here -- Katsuro needs to understand what he did wrong before she'll budge on helping him out.
"I am also curious, if you were off-duty, why did you take it on yourself to apprehend the criminal rather than call for someone on-duty? Your free time is valuable, Mr Kirikawa. You should treasure it." The tigress keeps an even disposition, not wanting her own emotional responses to interfere with a hard lesson. Even if Katsuro -is- older than her.
The logic behind Meifeng's words is undeniable. And contrary to certain aspects of the rumors surrounding 'Bloodhound Kirikawa', he isn't actually stupid.
Still, to have it - and his own very clear mistake - laid out so plainly before him does draw a bit of a frustrated huff from him, while he draws his hand away from the cell's bars.
"I mean-- *Yes*, I agree," he concedes, even if he is still frustrated over the situation overall. At least he doesn't resort to throwing his arms in the air over it, even if he does end up electing to leaning his back against the wall with his arms folding over his chest. "I should'a had my badge with me at the very least instead of forgettin' it back in the quarters, I know."
A faint, curious sound does shift along his throat from the tigress' followup question, however, and he sidles one arm - with the forearm left bare with how the sleeves of his shirt have been rolled up - away from the fold so that he might reach up and brush the unruly locks of hair away from his right eye -- and in doing so permit him to get a more full look at the officer.
"Well, I was given an job to do now, wasn't I?" He says, as if pointing this kind of thing shouldn't be necessary. "Just cuz I'm not on the clock don't mean I shouldn't be takin' the opportunity to complete it if I see one, yeah? Besides... I was bored."
Meifeng nods slowly as Katsuro concedes to her statement. She's been keeping her distance from the bars -- close enough that he could potentially grab hold of her, but little leverage for anything more than that. She may be remaining stock-still in her stance, but the swishing tail shows she is nonetheless paying full attention to Katsuro's words.
That, and when he talks about doing his job, the tigress narrows her eyes.
And then both eyebrows raise, at that last word. Which she repeats, for emphasis: "Bored?" Her fluffy tail stops in mid-swish.
"Boredom can be an instigator for trouble. The solution for boredom is a renewed commitment to self-discipline -- for as I am sure you will find, there is always -something- better you could be doing."
She steps back from the bars. And pivots one foot to the exit, as if to leave.
"But, yes. If boredom is what got you into this debacle, perhaps you should remain here for the night to reconsider your obligations to the Knights of the Blue Flame."
She does not leave, however. For she waits to see Katsuro's response first.
"Well, look, I saw a chance to be a productive instead of sit on my laurels, ya know?" Katsuro declares, still with that entirely casual and largely unworried tone of his. He even idly fiddles with some loose strands of his hair in the meantime.
But then she makes the motion signaling the intent to leave, coupled with the threat of an ultimatum -- and that Private Kirikawa reacts to much more seriously.
"H-hey now, hold on!"
The call after her comes with the soldier quickly snapping back towards the bars, clutching onto them with both hands now. It's not an aggressive move, really -- more a desperate one.
"Come on, I'm chokin' here. L-look..."
The smile that previously was on the playful side? Now it looks more forced. And nervous, for that matter.
"I get what I did wrong, and it won't happen again, honest!"
And right after saying that much, he lets go of the bars, and very purposefully straightens his stance, to something much more formal, with his hands grasped together in front of his waist.
"...But I will take responsibility in any way you deem necessary, Lieutenant Yao-dono."
The tigress' motions to exit are put on hold when he clutches hold of the bars.
She stares back at him, listening intently. The lieutenant remains motionless, save for her tail drooping into a lower sweep. The tigress keeps her position, even as Katsuro pleads with her for mercy. Boredom, apparently, being the greatest punishment she can offer.
"That is good to hear. For in order to improve as an individual, one must not only acknowledge when errors in judgment occur, but also make amends for those errors, and ensure they are not repeated."
Meifeng completes the step she had been about to take, squaring up her feet with Katsuro. Her hands remain folded behind her back.
"The Imperator needs the Knights of the Blue Flame to act as a cohesive unit, not a legion of independent mavericks with a disregard for their peers. You are a Private First Class, and as such, a -role model- for the Privates beneath you."
The first lieutenant withdraws her glasses, unfolding them, and quietly replaces them upon the bridge of her nose. "By causing widespread damage, you have damaged the reputation of the Librarium. By stepping in on your off hours, you were robbing yourself of rest and recuperation, placing yourself at the potential for self-injury. And, by marching in without apprising headquarters of your intentions, you placed us at risk of losing -you-."
Meifeng lets her hands fall by her sides. "And you have caused me to take time out of -my- rest and relaxation, to fill out -paperwork-." A glimmer of a smirk appears on her face -- perhaps the first hint at a sense of humor in the tigress. She arches one eyebrow, gauging his response.
"That said. The most important form of redress is to ensure that we keep our working relationships normalized. We cannot do our job without local support. And as such, a formal apology to the local police force is required. Are you prepared for that, Mr Kirikawa?"
While everything the Lieutenant is saying is clearly sinking in, subtle hints of discomfort suggest Katsuro is still not entirely happy to be lectured like this, no matter how much he might recognize his own fault in this incident.
But still, there's no protest made. And he maintains his firm posture there, standing upright and perfectly still like a light post even while tigress is squaring up to him. Or as much as she can with the several iron bars acting as a barrier between the two.
And there is a particular wince that becomes apparent when Meifeng makes a point of mentioning her unfortunate fate of being brought in to handle paperwork on his account. For all the reputation that he has for acting on his own as much as his orders allow him to with seemingly little regard for consequence to people around him, he can evidently at least sympathize with *that*. If only because he might imagine how much he would hate being put in a similiar situation.
And lo and behold, once she finally presents him with the path forward through the way of a formal (and what he might expect to be an embarrassing) show of apology, he lets his head dip downwards, the motion inadvertantly causing the earlier-brushed-back bundle of hair to slide back to partially covering his right eye all over again.
"...Yes, Lieutenant-dono," comes his answer after a few seconds of contemplating. It might have taken a bit of weighing a potential embarrassment against further boredom in the cage, but the hound appears to be properly leashed again.
The 'punishment' may be embarassing -- but decorum and jumping through the proper hoops is required in order to keep the NOL within Japan's good graces. And with how Kirikawa has expressed himself in front of an officer, Meifeng has no doubt he's expressed his wishes in other forms as well. And that is something she needs him to make amends for, because she'd much rather be lying at home under a warm blanket.
Finally -- finally! -- Meifeng offers a smile to Katsuro, nodidng her head. "Wonderful. I will get the rest of the release paperwork taken care of." She bows her head and shoulders stiffly to PFC Kirikawa, and steps sideways, only to stop mid-step once again.
Here, she leans close to the bars. "I just have one more question, of a personal nature..."
The tigress' face contorts into a show of mild anxiety. "... How would you describe Colonel Kagura's approach to female subordinates, in general? This is off-the-record, and has no bearing on your release of course, so please feel free to answer honestly." It would seem she hasn't been able to get a straight answer on this question in any -other- venue.
"Yes, Lieutenant-dono," PFC Kirikawa repeats, like a good soldier. As much as he might have had to say earlier, he has judged that now is a good time to subscribe to being quiet save for the standard responses to affirm what is being said to him by the superior officer.
But his bowed head perks up when he realizes the tigress has suddenly halted her etreat again -- and his brows follow suit when she leans towards the bars and presents *that* particular question.
He has to process the fact that this kind of thing is even asked for a moment, and his head tilts to one side in a manner that is, to put it bluntly, rather befitting of the nickname some of the officers and other soldiers have given him.
"Haven't personally dealt with Colonel Kagura," he gives her in answer first, with a subtle shrug. "And I've only been back 'round here for a month or so now." That's right. The records did seem to show that he'd been transferred pretty rapidly between various different postings. No doubt due to some officers not wanting to take responsibility for him for too long at a time on account of incidents not too dissimiliar to the one that has lead him in this cell now. And yet, some of the reports actually suggested that some officers outside of Japan were perfectly happy to have had him under their command. Strange, that.
"Heard plenty share of rumors though," he adds in after a moment, and his head straightens up. The clasp of his hands in front of him is released now, in favor of scratching at his lightly-stubbled chin in thought. "Mmm. It all more or less comes down to one descriptor, ya know... What was that word the word kids like to use these days? Right. 'Thirsty'."
Now it's his turn to lean over towards the bars slightly, but still keeping himself far enough that there is a distinct seperation of personal space between him and the Lieutenant. Even if only because leaning any further would result in his face getting smooshed against chilled iron.
"If we're talkin' off the record... Guessin' the good colonel came on 'ta ya, Lieutenant-dono?"
Meifeng begins to reconsider her 'personal' question when she hears the PFC's first response. No exposure to the Colonel. Not enough time to really gain a true understanding, perhaps. The outer extents of her lips tug downward slightly.
But then he mentions rumors, and the feline's ears perk up, swiveling towards him eagerly. "Mm?" He has her full attention. And that becomes even clearer when her eagerness transitions into unease at the word 'thirsty' -- an unease which only grows as Katsuro leans closer to her.
And when he hazards a guess, her eyebrow whiskers twitch violently in a way that the eyebrows alone might not have suggested. Clearing her throat, she stammers back, "... Not... in so many words." Which is to say he probably hit the mark.
She takes a step back from the bars, her stance stiffening. She tightens up the knot of her necktie. "It was nothing improper, just... unexpected." She flashes a nervous smile to the slightly older PFC. "... Thank you. I do feel better knowing that."
Once again, she turns to leave. "At any rate. I should only be a few moments finishing up the release paperwork. And then after a brief chat together with the station's captain, we'll be on our way." She knows he is looking forward to the first and third, if not the second. And while she -could- twist the knife a bit -- she opts instead to maintain a pleasant smile.
Once satisfied, she'll proceed back to the front office to make good on her part of the deal.
Leashed as Kirikawa might be now, he can't quite hold himself back form letting obvious signs of amusement show through, in the form of the sharp smirk that tugs at his lips while he watches her reactions to everything he has to say about Colonel Kagura. Particularly with the guess he makes on what brought this particular line of questioning on.
"That right?" He drawls out, still smiling much more than he probably should be allowed to when addressing a superior officer over a subject like that. But then, she *did* say it was off the record. Either way, with her taking the step back he, too, leans himself away from the bars.
"Prolly nothin' to worry about there yeah, if you're into that sorta thing, Lieutenant-dono," he offers then, with a hint of a sparkle in his eye. "Good luck there."
With her finally following through on the intention to leave, he does dip into a formal bow -- even if, indeed, his face does twist briefly into a wince at the mention of the second item on the immediate agenda. He can wait patiently for her and the local police to come get him out of this cell for a few minutes longer, at least.
The process itself is likely a fairly smooth one. Apparently Kirikawa did have the decency to be cooperative with the them when he was brought in. ...However, they most definitely did overhear the few choice words he had regarding them and their performance while she was interrogating him. No doubt they will be more than happy to see the Private making his apologies to them at her behest.
The Colonel is a superior officer, and his commands are supposed to be honored in -most- circumstances. But now that Meifeng understands a bit more about his position, perhaps she can be more discriminating. And it's with that knowledge that the tigress flashes a knowing half-smile back at Katsuro. An odd, but heartfelt, means of showing her appreciation. - - -
Fifteen minutes later, Meifeng is escorting Katsuro out the front door. She holds his sword in her capable hands, though she's eager to change that.
The Lieutenant had already filled out most of the paperwork before coming in to see Katsuro. All that was left was for her to sign the release form -- though she -did- pad for time just to ensure Katsuro wasn't -too- suspicious of that particular part of the process.
The apology itself -- well, Meifeng didn't do anything extra to make that awkward. That's all on him.
But now, it's clear that she's a bit -less- stuffy. She walks a bit more airily, her tail moving with a gentle lilt.
"So where will you be headed from here? I have use of a patrol car for the night, if your residence is not nearby..."
And then, the thought occurs to her -- and she holds the sword out to Katsuro. "... Can I trust you to exercise better judgment from here on?" She knows what his answer will be. But the tiger will only release her grip if she's satisfied with -how- he delivers it.
argh, add extra line break in - - - area
The apology was... awkward, to put it mildly. Katsuro at least made the effort of making it seem heartfelt, no matter how much it might damage his particular brand of pride.
And the weapon handed to Meifeng from his belongings is... a largely unassuming japanese sword, just by outward appearances. An undecorated black, wooden scabbard concealing the blade, and dark red cloth wrapped along the hilt. If the LIeutenant herself has the sense for such things, though-- there is undeniable magical power hidden within there.
As it happens though, the instant his superior officer takes on a more casual gait in her walk, so does he. Even with one hand sticking down to hook his hand into the red shash draped along his waist. It's probably obvious enough by now that it's present there mostly for the sake of the sword.
"I bunk in the base," he tells her in answer, with just the subtlest of tilts of his head to peek to her past the flowing locks of hair. "Sometimes in a hotel when I feel like privacy. No sense rentin' some place when I could just end up gettin' pulled to some other post on short notice again."
He halts when the sword gets held out-- but doesn't quite reach for it right away, no. He stares at it, first, and then sweeps his amber eye up to the Lieutenant's face.
"I will do my best," he declares, and then lifts his hand to reach for the weapon... only to halt himself short there, as if already predicting that such an answer would not be enough on account of a loophole it could provide.
"....At the very least I will not wield my blade when I'm off-duty, unless otherwise given permission," he adds in then, with a begrudging sigh. He still doesn't move to try and grab the sword, but his hand does lift high enough that it would be easy for her to push it to to his palm if she deems this acceptable.
"And consider me owin' you a drink or such too, after all this."
Lt Yao knows a thing or two about enchanted swords. One hangs on her hip, after all, and at least one page of the paperwork she filled out was to ensure she'd be allowed to keep it on her person as she walked in. At any rate -- she doesn't seem particularly alarmed by the weapon's imbued energies -- certainly not enough to show Katsuro any worries as she carries it.
"Oh, that should make for an efficient trip, then. I have some more business to wrap up on base, myself." A brief smile is offered, but not one so large that she'd need to slow her casual pace.
As for the sword -- Katsuro's prediction is correct, in that the tigress wouldn't be happy with his first remark. Predictably, the smile has faded into a thin line, and the trace hints of a growl can be heard from her throat.
Fortunately, Katsuro spares himself the tiger's rage when he adds his qualification.
"Very well." And as he's nice enough to -ask- for the blade, she's quick about placing it in his awaiting hand.
"... After all that talking in the precinct, I could go for something now." With both her hands free, her nose begins to itch -- and she raises both her hands to adjust the glasses upon her face. Better already. "... Is it alright if we swing by the Seven-Eleven?"
"Eh, I dunno if I'm actually going to be turning in quite yet, but I *guess* I should bring Nameless to the armory," Katsuro notes, probably referring to the sword with 'Nameless'. The sword that is spun around along his hand once after it has been handed over, and smoothly slid down to be held by the ornate shash.
"That's peeeerfectly fine," he agrees easily to the Lieutenant's request -- though he still flashes a wry, toothy smile over her way. "I mean, if you're okay with convenience store beer. Could show you some reeeal good stuff if you felt like going out of your way for that. Your choice though, 'course."
The Private's focus turns up ahead while they walk along after that, and his head dips downwards slightly -- still with a faint smile painting over his features.
"By your command, Lieutenant-dono."
"... Oh, Nameless, your sword?" Meifeng seems amused by that, if only because it seems odd for him to -not- have a name for his sword. He just seems like the type who -would!-
She is, at least, pleased by the expett way he seems to handle the blade. It'd be a shame if he was actually -terrible- at wielding the weapon that got him in so much trouble, after all. But, the tigress is still amused all the same. "The armory would be best, yes. But as long as I am on duty, I would think we could make a stop or two on the way. It's not far."
In fact, the 7-11 is right around the corner. Which makes it a good corner store.
"Beer? Oh, no. I was thinking something a little lighter: milktea. Seven-Eleven has an imported brand I have become rather taken with." She smiles with almost girlish glee.
"Tell me about this place though? I am not so daring as to try it tonight, but perhaps... sometime?"
"Nameless, yeah," Katsuro confirms, with an outright affectionate pat given to the hilt of the sword. "Been with me since several years 'fore I got recruited. Where I found 'im from didn't have anythin' that pointed towards any kinda history to draw a name from, so... Nameless is his name."
It's pretty quickly Katsuro's turn to look amused, glancing aside to the tigress' way with slightly-raised brows and just a hint of teeth showing with his growing smile.
"Milktea," he repeats after her. "And I suppose ya don't see any irony in that?"
Arms go stretching upwards and behind the private's head, groaning faintly with the stretching motion -- though he seems perfectly content to keep his arms there for a moment longer while he pads along languidly.
"Kind of a fancier bar down over in the city. Not some hole in the wall thing, yeah? I like a dance floor as much as the next guy--" Well, that might explain the leather pants, huh? "But that place is real chill. And the beer and whiskey's great. Play some nice blues back over there too."
Glancing back over to the tigress again, the look on his face edging a bit towards something more playful.
"If ya down for that kinda thing anyhow. Lieutenant-dono."
"I can definitely understand wanting to keep hold of a trusted weapon." She does not elaborate more -- as she really doesn't want to gain the reputation as the tiger who lectures people for hours on end. Instead, she just smiles -- and walks in peace.
At least, until he starts making jokes about cats liking milk. "Do I see irony in it?" The predator cracks a smile, baring her teeth. "Not yet -- but perhaps you would like to keep digging?"
She seems more than happy to keep the more casual conversation going. She's seen the darker sides to his personality, and seems amiable to exploring the better half. "Mmm. I am not a big fan of beer, though I partake from time to time. Blues..." She smiles. "I'd be willing to give it a shot. Do you bring anyone else from work with you?"
Reacting with some measure of fear would be perfectly reasonable for most people when faced with a smile like that from a tiger, no matter how much this particular tiger might have humanoid features (or is it human with tiger features?), but Katsuro? Katsuro just mirrors the smile right back at her, with faintly-lidded eyes.
"I might," he answers her head-on in a low drawl. "Why, you think I might not be able to handle what I'd find?"
His eyes linger on the tigress for a while, before focusing on the street ahead. Maybe the patrol car, even, with them inevitably closing on it.
"Yeah, how 'bout whiskey then? Or wine? Or just not that into alcohol? S'cool if not. Ain't everyone's thing."
Apparently he is perfectly happy to engage in conversation like this with her, too. Despite the earlier lecturing and the metaphorical leash-tugging that came as a result of their respective ranks, he seems quite comfortable and easy-going with her now. No hard feelings from him.
But as for if he usually invites other people from the base out to the nightlife of the city with him? "Nah. Not usually. Ya'd be the first from work." Considering his record, it might be easy to jump to the conclusion that the reason for that is in not many people even wanting to spend much time with Kirikawa off the clock. He doesn't show any signs of being particularly bothered in any way or form, however. One could suppose he's never asked anyone else and he's just gotten impressed with her, too, but who knows.
Meifeng isn't buying the evasion. She shakes her head, smile almost but not entirely fading away. "Milktea. You are not the first one to poke fun at me for the drink."
She watches Katsuro for a moment, before noticing his gaze lingering on the patrol car. It doesn't take her long to connect the dots.
"I won't let them hassle you. You are enough paperwork as it is," she comments with faintly cheerful smile.
"Whiskey has too much bite. If I am in the right mood, or wanted to forget a hard day, perhaps I would welcome it." She draws in her breath. Her tail sweeps back and forth amiably. "It is not the taste of alcohol which bothers me. It is the lack of other flavors. Fruit mixes, for instance ... I enjoy those greatly."
She glances over at Katsuro, as he mentions that she would be the first from work to join him -- and she raises an eyebrow. "Really? Do you think that may be due to the travel?" Meifeng is not above a little idealistic optimism here and there, it would seem.
Thankfully, the two have reached the corner store. Meifeng overshoots the door, gesturing Katsuro inside with an open hand. At this time of night there are not too many people about -- just a pair of folks at the checkout, and two or three others milling about the store.
"I guess I figured, yeah," Katsuro admits, his own smile still persisting even while hers fades some. "Still couldn't help it. Don't hold it against me, yeah?" There might be plenty enough things to hold against him, though.
"I could argue decent beer and whiskey have plenty flavor of their own that's worth it, but... Ain't gonna argue preferences, yeh?"
The car is given a brief side-eye as they pass it, even with Meifeng's assruances, but he doesn't pay much mor emind to it. Her question does bring him to peeking back to her though, with a curious upward jant of his brows. "Hmm? I guess. Ain't a lotta time to make friends an' all. Though honestly..."
A playfully toothy smile is flashed sidelong over her way. "Lotta folks at work are a bit stuffier than you for that matter, ya know."
As might well be expected, the Lieutenant and the PFC both get some... well, to call the gazes 'wary' would be generous. But Katsuro doesn't seem to mind much at all while he passes by Meifeng to duck inside the convenience store.
"What's the name of your brand?" He does shoot back over his shoulder once she's stepped inside after him. "Did say I owe ya a drink." Nevermind that he did also more or less promise to get a drink for her in the establishment he ended up indirectly inviting her to.
Meifeng gives a smile and a shrug in response. "An attempt was made." And that's all she has to say about that.
As for the taste of beer and whisky, she has a shrug for that as well. "Indeed! It is not that they have no taste. It is that I do not like that taste as much as, say, a strawberry daiquiri, or a fuzzy navel." Almost as soon as the words slip out, her eyes narrow. Her ears cup towards Katsuro, as well. She raises a fist as a warning -- though she does mitigate the threat with a mild smirk. "And yes, I know what I said."
Once inside the store, though, Meifeng seems almost blissfully ignorant of the question as she's heading to the coolers. Normally her responses are quick and snappy, but for this it's almost as if she didn't hear.
Until she plucks a 390ml bottle right out of the cooler, holding it out to him in reply. "This brand." She grins with a giddy smile.
"... I feel like our local co-workers do not like outsiders. This is not ... entirely unexpected, though, if I might say?"
"Hmm?" The response to Katsuro earns a quick, curious head-tilt from him. He elects not to say anything else on the matter, though. Somehow that seems like the best option to take right now.
But when she drops that delicious crumb of information that just *begs* for a comment, he does indeed look like he was just about ready to sya *something*, had she not provided that subtle threat. "I'm not sayin' anythin'!" He protests with both hands held up in surrender, even if he's smiling as wide as possible. "But you keep sayin' things like that, you're gonna end up killin' me just from the need to hold back!"
In lieu of getting an answer ot his own question right away, he ends up following after the tigress -- and promptly takes the held-out bottle from her. "May I offer the beautiful lady a drink, then?" He asks with an utterly amused tone, with a similiar sparkle in his exposed eye. It might not have been a drink at a bar like he'd originally suggested, but apparently mimicing the usual line in the middle of a convenience store was too amusing to pass up.
"It's not? Is it 'cuz us japs have a reputation for xenophobia?" He asks on the way towards the register, and then rolls his shoulders in an idle shrug. "I mean, ain't too different for me here though, I guess. But then, I dunno if it ain't that different in most other workplaces along the world when someone new gets transferred in from elsewhere. Ain't quite the same as someone new startin' their career out with your post. Instead'a someone you can train and raise into the job with you, you got someone with a whole bunch'a experience in another post, branch, precinct or whatever else comin' in, and it's easy to think of them as a sort of an... invader at that point, I guess. Especially if they're of a high rank; then you got someone who's never so much as stepped in your neighbourhood comin' in and givin' orders to you and yours."
A slow blink of one eye, and he quickly turns to holding his free hand up defensively. "No disrespect from me or anythin', though, Lieutenant-dono."
Meifeng seems... amused by the PFC's responses, if nothing else. "... I will avoid tempting you to make jokes at my expense as best I can."
When it comes time for him to take the bottle, she gives it up readily -- and then turns away with a hint of shyness from the compliment. "I suppose, yes." She coughs into an upraised fist. "I was just doing my job, though."
She remains quiet as Katsuro takes the opportunity to share his thoughts on jobs, and growing up in a place long enough to earn tenure. Meifeng nods along -- no judgement in her expressions, just quiet, attentive listening.
"None taken, of course." She looks at the register, then back to Katsuro. "Likewise, I meant no disrespect to any particular locality. I believe it's a natural tendency to trust those whom one has already built up a healthy amount of rapport with. But since both of us are relative outsiders, we do not gain that... benefit."
At 5'10", she already feels like she's standing apart from the crowd. But here in a thinly-populated convenience store, the staring takes on a slightly different meaning. She rubs the back of her neck, looking down at the floor. "But it is not so bad. I do enjoy the work."
Thankfully for the Lieutenant, Katsuro chooses not to comment on her reaction to the playful compliment. Though he does very visibly smile over it regardless. The temptation to tease might be strong, but now is probably also a good time to practice some self-restraint.
"More or less how it is, yeah," the PFC agrees. "I don't mind too much. But then I kinda end up travellin' too much to really have time to care. Don't mind that either. I actually like the work too."
How fortunate for him, then, considering the circumstances that surrounded his recruitment.
He doesn't seem at all conscious of the stares the two are getting. In all fairness, he does seem the type who doesn't care enough to get self-conscious about such a thing, but he doesn't seem to be aware of the looks the Lieutenant is getting, either. At least not until he finally gets to the register, and the young man working it visibly recoils at the potential approach of the tigress as a side-effect of Katsuro coming up.
"Oi, kid," the private practically *growls*, with eyes both narrowed into tight slits. He might not have the advantage of a natural predator's bearing that Meifeng's appearance lends to, but somehow he succeeds in channeling such warning through a simple change in expression and tone of voice alone. Like an underlying, natural threat of pure violence that never quite fully fades away. "Eyes here. Just ring it up and don't think about nothin' else."
This probably wont particularly increase the teenager's opinion on either Katsuro or the tiger, but at least it gets him into gear quickly. And with the money exchanged for the bottle, Katsuro too is quick to turn from the counter to the door, with the milktea held out for the Lieutenant.
Katsuro might choose to be an outsider, but someone like Meifeng will always -be- an outsider. The predator with razor-sharp vision dons stylish glasses in an attempt to fit in, in hopes of showing people that she's -not- a furious marauder who tears people into shreds with the slightest provocation. The lieutenant pulls her tail close to herself, not wanting to occupy any more space than necessary inside the confines of the convenience store's crowded aisles.
If it were her purchasing the drink herself, the exchange would have been over already -- quick, brief, and efficient. But losing herself in conversation gave others time to adapt. To understand that, despite walking and talking like a human, Lt Yao is not.
And Katsuro picks up on that. Quickly. She bows her head to the teenager behind the counter, and hurries along to match Katsuro's pace, taking the milktea bottle from his hand with appreciation.
She waits until she's outside to speak again. And then, with a bow of the head, she answers, "... Thanks." In a snap, the Lieutenant is in mission mode, walking briskly to the parking lot of the police station, back the way they'd come. And now that they're out in the open again, her tail returns to its former position, swinging along behind her with a mind of its own.
Popping the drink cap open, she takes a sip. "... I am not sure of the brand, to be honest. So many Chinese words are written just like Japanese words. Even my name!" She draws the characters in mid air. "Meifeng." And she draws the same characters a second time. "Mikaze."
A shudder rolls through her shoulders. "It is very different here. Not bad. Just -different-."
"Think nothing of it, Lieutenant." Katsuro does send a long, thoughtful look to the tigress after she's taken the bottle. He keeps up pace easily with her even with his attention turned to the side like that, at least. However, the sight of him seeming so... contemplative might seem a bit unlike him, perhaps, even just based on what the Lieutenant has seen and heard of him.
"People in that bar should be chill, for the record," he notes eventually, and with that, his eyes turn back to focusing on the path ahead, on the way to the station and presumably the car assigned to Meifeng. "But I wont let them give you grief, alright? Don't you let anyone tell you what you are for you, either."
Her views on the differences and similiarities between their respective birth cultures does draw some visible interest from him, however. "Have you travelled much?" He asks, curiously. "I've bounced all over the world even 'fore I got recruited. I've learned to go with the flow pretty easy. Take the good parts of every place and enjoy them to their fullest, you know?"
But the way she draws the characters for her name draw a particular smile from him. It's a bit playful at first, but then turns to something more genuine, while he looks the tiger over. "Mikaze," he repeats, letting his gaze linger on her for a moment before casually turning his facing properly forwards again, and adding in a few words in an equally casual tone.
"It suits you."
He says it so casually it might sound outright off-handed. Like it's perfectly normal to give a compliment of such nature to a superior officer. ...But then, he might also know *exactly* what he's doing. He did seem to enjoy the reaction he got out of her earlier, afterall.
"Mm." It's worth a few hundred yen, but it's a nice gesture all the same. He didn't -have- to buy anything to slake her thirst, all she did was take an hour out of her day. "It is appreciated all the same. I do not often get the time to stop and get this drink. ... And for some reason I can never seem to find a vending machine with it."
The vaguely familiar car set aside for her use comes into view ahead. Meifeng takes another sip of her drink as Katsuro brings up the bar, once more. And offers to defend her. "I appreciate the offer. I'll consider it on a night when we're both free."
Meifeng does not mention that, with her mission complete, her detachment to the Southtown branch could end at any time. When it becomes pertinent, she might. But for now... this is a comfortable feeling. Someone good to talk to.
"Uhh... not... very much. Northern China, mostly. A trip to Hong Kong a few years ago, a trip to Osaka not long after that." She smiles faintly, nodding. "It is good to enjoy the local food while you can, as there is no way to taste it afterwards." As she turns to share her smile with Katsuro, her ear flicks at him briefly.
But when he repeats her name? The smile grows a bit warmer.
Does she know what he's doing? It's debatable, really; while she had taken other opportunities to stop the joking, she hasn't raised a fuss about the compliments.
"It is very kind of you to say that. Thank you."
She remains lost in thought for a moment, sipping her drink. A good treat.
"Maybe that's something I could do, you know?" she muses. "Travel to many countries. Like the wind, never staying in one spot."
She tilts her head to regard Katsuro. "Would you say that's worked out well for you?"
"I've quite enjoyed it, honestly," Katsuro confesses, first. But then, after a moment further of thought, he shrugs his shoulders and adds in, "Though my wind only goes where the bosses say these days."
He doesn't sound like he minds that too much either. Perhaps he truly does enjoy the work he is often given under the service of the Librarium?
"Still get to see a lot of interesting places. Meet interesting people..." A purposeful glance over to Meifeng's way, with a subtly-mischievous glint, before he takes a brisker step forward, to carry him around the car he has apparently deduced to be hers. "Come on, let's get going then. So you can get me out of your hair an' all, yeah?"
Log created on 20:17:20 06/16/2021 by Meifeng, and last modified on 14:17:21 06/18/2021.