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[x]“Alright, fine, but your info better be good.”
The detective looked up to the darkening sky. There he was, about to accept an invitation to a casual dinner date with a total stranger he had just met, when he was still on the job, with a killer on the loose and much work to do to catch him. It didn’t sit right by him, no matter how easy on the eyes the blue-haired girl was (if he ignored for a second her peculiar choice of garments). But the matter of fact was, he reminded himself again, that she was her only promising lead. As long as she talked, he could consider it part of the job.
“What the hell, fine! I’ll take you out if that’s what you want. I was also getting somewhat hungry, anyway.”
“That’s the spirit, mister!”
The goddess giggled like a highschool student, and she boldly looped her arm around the detective’s, clinging to him. Shin felt his cheeks starting to heat up, and he looked away in embarrasment. Were all (self-proclaimed!) deities like that, or was it a case of foreign culture clash? Either way, it was getting rather uncomfortable, but he hadn’t the heart to push her away.
“Oh, right,” Hecatia said, “I think I didn’t catch your name, mister…?”
“Shin, you there?”
The door to the building’s stairs swung open, and a familiar petite police officer with her distinctive round glasses stepped out. Maeko froze when she spotted Shin—or was it Hecatia?—, but if she had been surprised by it, she managed to smoothly hide it as she saluted him.
“I’ve been looking for you, sir,” the officer explained, pointedly not looking at him, “I thought I heard you talking to someone, but I guess I was wrong…?”
Shin scrambled to detach himself from Hecatia’s grip, who let him go with a wry half-smile while she eyed the new arrival. The detective could not tell at first whether Maeko didn’t see her, or she was making a considerate effort to ignore her completely, but knowing his former colleague, he leaned towards the former.
“No, uh, I was… I was talking to the phone,” he lied. “Do you need something, Maeko?”
“Oh, n-no, I just wanted to… Nevermind,” she shook her head energetically, as if masking her unusual skittishness. She stretched her arms behind her back and stifled a yawn, “I was about to go back to the station, so I came to check up on you, see if you wanted me to deliver something… Like that bag, for example?” She pointed at the evidence bag with the ticket that Shin still held in his hand.
“Ah, no, that won’t be necessary,” Shin hurried to put the bag back in his pocket. Wait, why am I being so secretive? “I’ll take it from here, thank you. You go home and get some well deserved rest.”
“Huh? I-i’m fine, really!” Contrary to Shin’s expectations, Maeko was not only not glad for being relieved from her post, but she looked disappointed—or sad, even. “I can still keep going, sir! I won’t rest until we put that bastard in jail!”
“It’s precisely because of that that you should,” the detective shook his head, “the investigation still has ways to go before getting a lead on the culprit, and I’ll need you in top shape for when we finally find him.”
“I’ll give you a call when I need you,” the detective cut her off. “Now if you excuse me, I have work to do.”
Leaving the dumbfounded Maeko behind, he made his way down the buildings stairs. Hecatia followed close behind, taking the chance to turn around and mockingly stick out her tongue to Maeko, who was none the wiser. As he climbed down the stairs, the guilt of what he had done began weighting on Shin. Why was he being so cold to the poor girl? She was working her ass off and tried her best to keep her usual peppiness, and he kept mistreating her. She really doesn’t deserve this, he berated himself. He wondered if the fifteen years since he left her and his hometown behind had created an irreparable rift between them. Or was he trying to avoid her instinctively?
“Hoo boy, you really shut her down hard,” Hecatia whistled behind him, as if reading his thoughts. “Did she do something to piss you off, or are you just that eager to go out with me?”
“What? I meant what I said to her,” Shin retorted defensively, “she’s been standing guard at the scene all day long. You saw how bad of a shape she was in, right? She really does need to catch a rest.”
Hecatia only gave a quiet chortle at that, and Shin could hear her mutter something about <<blind fools>> just loud enough for him to overhear. The detective grumbled; sure he might be a bit of a fool at socializing, but at least he wasn’t the one wearing a stupid t-shirt and proclaiming to be a god! Shin exhaled and bit his tongue; he wasn’t about to lose a lead over a childish taunt.
“Anyway, where’s the place you wanted to go?”
“It’s an izakaya at the outskirts of town,” said Hecatia, “not very frequented, but they serve good food. And I happen to know the cook too, so he’ll give us the best stuff. Come on!”
The goddess took Shin by the hand and started to lead him across the streets, with a spry pace on her bare feet and a grin that made the detective skip a heartbeat. And yet, he could not help but wonder with apprehension just what the hell was this weird woman dragging him into...
It just is like me to fall sick on the very last day of Nanowrimo.
Expect another short-ish update in two or three hours. Hopefully before the deadline hits. Writing while sick sucks big time.