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Old 10-11-2018, 03:26 AM   #1
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Default [Solo] In Spirit

“Sir, you wanted me to remind you?”

In Spirit

Haru’s scribbling stopped, the pen resting against his writer’s callus. He rolled it back and forth in his fingers as he reclined into the desk chair, looking to his chief administrative officer, who was leaning half-way into the room, a few strands of hair the worse for wear.

“Thank you, Yumi.”

His nod to dismiss her barely moved his braids. After she had closed the door, he propped himself against the edge of the desk, hands spread wide, for the long sigh that was to follow, but cut his procrastination short and instead began to gather up the papers scattered across his beaten wooden desk before fully exhaling. He stacked them, deposited them in their accordion binders and transferred the documents to the short filing cabinet by the door.

The small bullpen beyond his office’s reinforced glass was alive with activity. It was a busy afternoon in EON’s modest headquarters. There were no windows save the ones fronting the street by Yumi’s desk, through which sunlight slanted steeply, and it was clear that the bulbs in one or two of the high ceiling’s hanging lamps would need changing soon, but the wan illumination didn’t phase a single one of his officers, drafted in on rotation from each of Kusagakure’s three major divisions to follow up on cases in Sougen. Some were in it for the long haul, while others commuted, and Haru respected those who had commitments elsewhere.

His eyes glazed over for a moment. When they cleared, he was staring at his own pale reflection, one hand still on the lip of the filing cabinet’s partially closed top drawer. With a quiet sound of admonishment, he rolled his eyes. He held a different opinion on those who shirked their commitments, particularly if they were a certain Sennin with no real excuse to be wasting time.

Quickly locking the drawer, he donned his blue-collared kimono and shinobi sash, fixed his top knot then left his office quietly. The bustle of the bullpen rose to meet him as he turned around. Tora walked past, pushing a perpetrator towards the holding cells and winking at Haru with a wolf-like grin, which caused his own resting frown to dissolve into a soft smile. Was he really showing his hand so plainly? His resulting chuckle shored up the chink in his armour and he swept past his other colleagues with renewed charisma. Whatever the turbulence inside, he would be damned if he let it show.

Not today.
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Old 10-13-2018, 11:50 AM   #2
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Saki was standing outside, tall and long-legged in a slim-cut maroon three-piece, examining the buttons along his suit sleeve and fussing over a cufflink.

“Waiting long?”

The young detective didn’t look up, but swayed on the spot, as if to start walking.

“Not so much.”

Haru moved to head west and Saki fell into step beside him, a golden shadow. After a few moments in silence spent looking along the weather-warped facades of small business up and down the street, Haru cast an eye over his shoulder.

“You didn’t have to wait, you know. You could have taken a beat, met me on the way.”

“True.” Saki slipped his hands into his pockets and shrugged. “But I’m rendezvousing with someone after we part ways, so sooner’s better.”

“Hm.” Haru was tempted to ask the younger man if she was pretty, and opened his mouth to do so, but could fairly feel the fatigue radiating from Saki so he closed it again. The chuunin had literally just arrived from Kusagakure, with only enough time to drop his bags. Instead, Haru made a small sound and gestured for the pair to turn up a narrow side street, bypassing the foot traffic around the government buildings.

“Tora picked up that POI of yours. Seems to be making headway. Any progress on the home front?”

“Nope. Stonewalled.” Saki’s handsome expression soured. It didn’t suit him.

“That’s a good thing,” Haru interjected. “They’re showing their hand by shutting you down. A little give would be natural if they had nothing to hide.”

“I know. It just seems like a wasted trip.”

“Good intel is hard to come by. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Tora’ll make your guy crack and then the pieces will start fitting together. Or at least, the edges’ll start to take shape.”

Saki was silent for a moment, then nodded. The pair passed back into sunlight to navigate a densely peopled plaza, stripping away their dialogue to a handful of sidelong glances and nods. The currents were against them until they neared the entrance to the theatre district, denoted by its oversized, bright red torii gate. Haru picked the reins of the conversation back up when they could walk abreast again.

“How is the Village?”

“Small talk now?”

“No, I’m serious,” Haru professed, with a chuckle. “I’ve been so wrapped up in everything here.”

“Well it’s…fine, I guess. Hasn’t burnt to the ground. They’re in the same bind we are, only with more shinobi in the mix— …what?”

“Nothing.” Haru kept smiling all the same. “It’s just…that’s the first time it’s been ‘they’ and ‘we’ instead of ‘we’ and ‘you’. Feeling more at home here?”

Saki made a show of looking around, but couldn’t hide his expression of eyebrow-pinching amazement when they passed under the multi-coloured rows of unlit festival lanterns lining the streets. The town had been dressed up a fair bit in his absence.

“Slip of the tongue,” he answered, still looking up, although Haru suspected it was more of an avoidance tactic. He didn’t mind, and chose not to push the matter. He appreciated Saki’s companionship and could see the cracks in the younger man’s stamina beginning to show, slip of the tongue or no.

It was time for the two of them to part ways.

“I can take it from here; it's just a short walk. Try to get some rest after that meeting of yours, or shorten the meeting. If you’re making silly mistakes like that, you clearly need it! I’ll need you on top form tonight.”

The chuunin lowered his gaze to street level and scratched his cheek, perhaps realising the merit in the order, or maybe just its good timing. Or neither. Haru found that Saki usually played his cards pretty close to the chest, and liked to keep them that way. Tora was the open book.

“Yeah… I’ll do that,” he said, and started to drift. Haru put a hand out, catching him gently by the elbow.

“You good?”

“Yeah,” he repeated, turning to regard the sennin, his thoughts clearly laboured. Then, after a beat, he relented and scowled softly. “Forgot I had tonight.”

“I know it seems like a lot to ask, but I need you there. Work something out with your partner.”

“Sure, boss,” he said, donning his mask of the professional once again, but not doing the best job of it. “I’ll, uh, see you.” He made as if to leave, then pivoted to backpedal instead. “Oh, and, uh, good lu— I mean, break a leg!"

Haru watched him jog back the way they had arrived until he was out of sight.

Poor kid.

It pained him to be the bad guy when things needed to get done, particularly on a bootstrap, but it was good work, and a good test for his officers. Besides, as Saki had been the first to point out, galas could also be fun!

Last edited by Calibur; 10-14-2018 at 09:45 AM..
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