::The Inspector sat alone in his office, resting one arm on his chair as he tapped a newly opened letter against the desk with the other. The contents thereof were still disturbingly fresh in his mind...::
::The letter was not unlike one he had recieved over a decade ago. The grammar was far better, and there had been no attempts to shock him with the macabre, but the pattern of a murderer who informs the authorities of his crimes by letter could not be denied. And the shadiness of what little information was given left him with far more uncertainty that it absolved.::
Yamazaki followed Souji toward the precinct, with a frown firmly planted on his face and his hand tugging at the collar of his new western clothing.
He‘d slept very well, and thought when he woke up that perhaps it wouldn’t so bad living in this place. But that was of course before he was jolted out of his reverie by the loud clatter of Souji forcing his way into his bedroom, and remembered that today was to be the day of ‘tiring introductions and speeches’.
Breakfast had gone well; the food was decent and his companion had been kind enough to save the teasing/annoyances/etc for later. But soon after the meal he’d returned to his room, realized he had little idea how to wear the suit he was given, and had to go about the mortifying task of asking Souji to help him dress. Needless to say it had not left him in a pleasant mood.
As they ascended the steps to the building and passed through the doors, Susumu glanced around and familiarized himself with the area. “We’re meeting… Lusk-San?” he asked Souji quietly, double checking that he’d gotten the name correct.
Souji had kept his teasing of Susumu to a minimum sensing his declining mood after breakfast, and had been downright well behaved at the meeting at the embassey. Once free, and heading off towards the precinct to make final introductions.
The only stop Souji had insisted they make had been to Souji's favourite cake shop, where he bought enough to feed at least twice the amount of people he expected to occupy Lusk's office this afternoon. But that was typical Souji and his love of sweets, and nothing unusual.
Arriving at the precinct, Souji asked to see Lusk, and the two waited.
"Inspector Lusk." Souji corrected, taking a seat and resting his package on his knees. "I'm thinking of calling him Seiuchi-san." He added, giving Susumu a bright smile."
::Lusk came walking out a door in the back of the main room, accompanied by another guard. He smiled warmly as he saw his friend the counsilor, but the light seemed to have dimmed in his eyes.::
"Good afternoon.", ::He attempted a respectful bow::, "I assume you have enough in that bag to give this old dog a doughnut?"
"Of course!" Souji said, standing up, and offering the package of cakes. "It's to thank you for seeing me home safely yesterday." He said. He didn't look over at Susumu, wanting to keep the incident as as low-key as possible so Susumu didn't know of it.
"And I wanted to bring my co-worker down to meet you, as well. He'll be working with me at the Embassey." He said, gesturing to Susumu with a smile.
<<"Be nice to Seiuchi-Lusk-san. He's a dog, and we're wolves. So we're like cousins.">> He said to Susumu in Japanese, smiling.
"Inspector Lusk, this is Yamazaki Susumu."
<< “Of course, of course.” >> Susumu replied in Japanese. Despite how he was feeling he wasn’t the type to openly show his displeasure, unless he was in the company of Souji or someone he’d known for a while.
“Good to meet you also, Inspector Lusk.” he said, returning the bow.
The man did have walrus-like qualities to him; maybe Seiuchi-San wasn’t such a bad nickname. Susumu shot a very discrete glance at Souji to affirm his approval.
Souji gave Susumu a satisfied nod, glad that the surley ninja was being at least a bit socialble. Or. Trying. It was good for Susumu to try to make friends.
Especially someone like Lusk who he actually might have something in common with if he stoped to think about it.
"The park is nïce, and it's a nice day!" Souji agreed. Although he knew Susumu would spend too much of it, learning it's layout, instead of relaxing and enjoying it.
"Oh. But we'll have to get some bread for the ducks." he said after a moment, and looking at Susumu with some concern.
"Is it ok for you to leave work to walk in the park?" Souji asked.
"Hohoho! Police work is ninety-percent being in the right place at the right time! You might even say we're encouraged to leave the building... well, come on then! Let's not dally!" ::Hums an old English tune as he practically jogs out the door and down the steps.::
<<"Does all police work here involve feeding ducks and walking in the park?">> Susumu asked Souji sarcastically as they followed Lusk back down the steps.
Not that he would prefer to spend the day in a strange-smelling office, but he assumed there would be some sort of informational meeting where he could learn more about what he’d be doing here.
Susumu picked up his pace slightly to keep up with lusk... the two did seem to be excited about spending the day outdoors; and maybe with some luck he’d get information after they settled down at the park.
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<<About as much as it does crossdressing.>> Souji replied, giving Susumu a small smirk. He knew the meeting earlier this morning with the embassey had been annoying and insulting and downright unpleasant, but really. That was no way for Susumu to be acting, Souji thought.
::The Inspector continued his steady jog down the old road, passing the cemetery. He could have sworn he saw a young, dark-haired girl in white standing amidst the headstones, but he dismissed it as a trick of the eye. At any rate, if there had been such a person there, it would not have been inordinate. Death appeared to be ever-present and closing in, and for that very reason he wanted to be somewhere open and comfortable...::
Susumu clenched his teeth, in order to prevent his anger at the cross-dressing comment from showing. They weren’t exactly behind closed doors, and he had enough sense to not loose his temper and start arguing with Souji in front of a man they would be working with. He let out a small grunt and walked a little ahead of Souji; but found himself still a ways away from Lusk, who was moving at a pace Susumu wouldn’t have thought him capable of an hour ago.
Full of oddities, this place.
::The spry old man stops suddenly as he realizes how far down the tracks he's gone, giving the young counsilors just enough time to catch up.::
"Baulderdash; not where I intended to be. Bloody roads... Not to worry! I know a shortcut to the park! Come along!"
::He has yet to finish this sentence when he veers sharply to the left and starts jogging back into the city, heading directly through the marketplace.::
Susumu was angry. Souji knew he'd said something a bit too stinging. He closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. He wasn't even sure if he'd been trying to pick a fight with the ninja, or tease him now.
Souji trailed along behind, careful not to push himself. He didn't want to risk another collapse.. not with Susumu here to enforce and doctor him... he'd never get out of the house again if something happened.
Apparently Lusk led them off track and as they cut through a 'shortcut' Souji made a note to remember how to return to familiar ground.
They arrived finally at the park, thankfully without incident, and Souji wasted no time in settling down at the river bank near where a group of ducks were fishing and grooming.
"Gomen ne, Yamazaki-san." He said, as he passed the ninja, giving his shoulder a light touch, but acting casual. <<"I didn't mean it to sting.">>
By the time the trio reached the park Susumu had a bag of bread hanging off his left arm, and had memorized a good portion of the places they passed on Lusk’s shortcut.
He frowned as Souji brushed by him, but instead of ignoring the comment he followed the younger man down to the bank and sat down next to him.
<< “Here, feed your ducks.” >> he said, fishing in the bag and holding a hunk of bread out to him. Susumu had his own way of doing things, accepting apologies included. But he knew Souji had spent enough time around him to understand. He watched the ducks for a moment, before twisting around to see what the inspector was up to.
Souji had given Susumu a soft look when he'd been offered the bread. A quiet and kind look, that might have almost been a smile. He abandoned Lusk and Susumu however to the riverbank and crouched down, crumbling the bread in his fingers before tossing it out to the ducks that had started to gather around.
The ducks seemed happy to see him and quacked in annoyance as he pulled his shoes off and rolled up the legs of his pants before dipping his feet into the water and eaving Lusk and Susumu to business.
He didn't look anything like the twenty something former first captain of the shinsengumi, or someone who would hold the title of child of demons. He didn't even look sick, in the shade of the riverbank trees. He just looked like a boy, perfectly at ease in his surroudings.
::The inspector stood quietly by the bank a little ways down, watching the lake and the city just beyond it with a decidedly ...was it the look of regret? As the counsilor approached, he did not turn to face him with his reply.::
"It's peaceful here. You'd hardly believe what goes on in the streets surrounding this little park if you didn't see those dusty old buildings just yonder..."
Susumu stood up and brushed off his pants. He watched Souji approach the ducks then glanced to Lusk, and followed the older man’s line of vision until his eyes rested on the city as well. He silently nodded at Lusk’s statement. It was peaceful here; the park was one of the few things he could see himself enjoying. But he was hardly even settled, and had little idea about the workings of the city or government.
“Do crimes occur often here?” he said offhandedly, attempting conversation.
Though Lusk hadn’t really answered his question, Susumu was pleased with the answer. It was poetic in a way, and poetry (no matter how good or bad) had the habit of reminding him of the better times.
The former Shinsengumi member crossed his arms and continued looking out at the city. So this was his new purpose; to keep this strange westernized city peaceful.
::Bristling his mustache, the inspector turned around and approached the counsilor close enough to speak only to him, yet far enough away to give the man his proper berth.::
"Counsilor Okita tells me that your men have based their strategy for protecting the ambassador around protecting the key exits, but he had expressed concern about an attack from above. What is your stance on the matter?"
“That’s always possible.” Yamazaki responded, “If we’re speaking about a planed movement, then it might be best to close off access to the rooftops, and place armed men on the tallest buildings. In pre-scouted locations of course, so they would have a clear view of both the rooftops and windows of the lower buildings, as well as the path the ambassador would be taking.” he paused to adjust his tie, still not used to the western clothing. “However, if you’re speaking of an emergency situation, well… How many of these men do you suppose would be willing to use themselves as a human shield?” He asked, a morbid smirk passing across his lips.
“Oh?” Susumu responded, “I suppose I’ll leave the emergency plan to you then.” He hadn’t expected the comment would insult the man, he had been half joking when he said it. (Though there was a long record of people not realizing his rare attempts at humor.) But he also hadn’t expected to be offended by the retort. He crossed his arms and briefly glanced back to ensure Souji was where they'd left him, before returning his attention to Lusk. Did he honestly think he could keep all his men, and the ambassador perfectly safe during a surprise attack?
Souji had been listening despite his casual indifference and the outward focus on the ducks. He sighed inwardly as Susumu was... Susumu. He closed his eyes briefly and rubbed at the back of neck, feeling for the ghost of his old hair.
"They are not Japanese, Yamazaki-san." he said from his place at the river's edge, back still turned to the men discussing business. "We should not expect them to understand what our duty means to us."
He turned to glance over his shoulder and offered a smile to Lusk. "We will not rely on your men for such things. If necessary, we Japanese will die for the Japanese we are meant to protect.
::Lusk looked at Counsilor Okita with gratitude in his eyes, and returned an attempt at a smile.:: "I appreciate your fervor, gentlemen, but it is my hope that no lives need be lost in this endeavor. After all, the ideal is the protection of life!"
Souji offered his own smile to Yamazaki. Something darker perhaps, as there was the ghost of his demonishness reflecting in his eyes.
He had told Lusk if necessary they would die. He had also told Lusk earlier that they would kill anyone who opposed them.
"We haven't died yet, ne, susumu." He said before turning back to his ducks who had started to fuss at his innatention.
“No, not yet Okita-San.” Susumu responded.
Despite the seemingly pleasant end to the conversation, Lusk and Souji brought about, Yamazaki was still left unsettled. Maybe he was jaded, or perhaps he simply needed to not think about lusk’s ‘ideals’ to keep himself in a better state of mind.
Yamazaki bowed slightly, and turned to go inspect another part of the park.
Souji offered his usual smile, but there was that "yet' that hung between them. The 'yet' that meant they knew they should have died, that they had lost their friends and family and had been left behind and the yet that meant they suspected their own deaths were not far away.
The smile softened until it had almost vanished as Susumu walked away.
He coughed twice and a flicker of something that could only be described as angry crossed his features. But it was only a cough, not the deep wet betrayal of his lungs and as the cough passed harmlessly, so did the look.
"There you have it, Inspector Lusk." Souji said, turning to the ducks again.
"Quite", ::the Inspector nodded, clearing his own throat and standing as proper as if he were addressing his own men. The English Reserve was his saving grace, and the only thing that masked the well of doubt slowly rising within him.
The letter, whatever it was, was not to be taken lightly. Not after that. His negligence had already cost more than one life, of that he was sure. The victims were by no means innocent, but wholly undeserving of their undoubtedly gruesome fates.
With this in mind, he came to understand the truth behind the polite smiles and wayward glances of his these two, and found himself smiling in a follow-suit.
They were no different than he; wearing happy masks and letting the tears fall on the inside.
With a bit more of a bounce in his step, he joined Counsilor Okita in the 'useless' watching of ducks for the remainder of the afternoon.::