As Mayumi and Sky stand in the doorway of the Copper Pot, they both sense the tension filling the air. Sky immediately recognises the two teenagers he had seen outside his apartment only the day before. The older boy stands with a group of other youths, dressed in matching gang colors, refusing to meet Sky’s gaze. The younger of the pair stands at the other side of the room, behind a young woman – her status as some sort of immortal indicated by her preternaturally pale skin and vague aura of power surrounding her – who wears the colours of an opposing gang. The schoolboy stares pleadingly at Sky as the immortal female mutters at him over her shoulder. Sky can only hear fragments of what she is saying, “…family… safe… y’not gonna… scum…”
One of the gang members standing with the older boy fails to notice Sky’s presence and calls across the café, his voice dripping with machismo, “C’mon Mira, let the kid go, I don’ think ya doin’ it for him! Eh puta?!”
“The boy doesn’t know what he likes… yet!” retorts the demi-goddess, loading her final word with innuendo as she provocatively caresses the struggling boy.
“HEY!” shouts Kyri, as she storms back into the cafe, “I said to stop! Don’t make me force the issue or I’ll have you all singing and dancing like chorus girls!”
“Yeah?” snears Mira, “an’ what about after that? I’m sure all of them’d just love dancing like a bunch of pretty girls, but I’ll have our old friend Frogsy pay you another visit when he gets out – gonna be soon, from what I hear! How’d ya like that?”
Kyri looks over the immortal’s shoulder to Sky, “I trust that you heard that Inspector?” she trills, tipping her head sweetly to one side as she bats her eyelashes.
“Yes, I did,” growls Sky, stepping in front of the blushing demi-goddess. “Now Mira,” continues Sky, his voice taking on a paternal tone, “have you had a nice drink of water?”
“Uh-huh,” nods Mira, her normally chalk-white face now beet-red.
“Good. So why don’t you be a good girl and run along? And send my best to your mother.” Sky looks after the suddenly child-like demi-goddess as she swiftly leaves the café, trying but failing to maintain some dignity. To the teenager she was bothering, he says gently, “Você está bem, Sundar?” The boy nods and joins the others, his boyfriend putting a protective arm around him.
“Thank you Inspector,” says Kyri, smiling with only barely controlled mirth. “Now, why don’t you bring those barrels out to the kitchen so we can have a little chat? You too, May. Doria, d’you mind if I leave you in charge out here? I’m sure you can find some generous souls who can give you a hand,” she continues, nodding knowingly at the bewildered schoolboy.
“OK boss,” says Doria, sticking her tongue out at Kyri. “Right. You and you,” she commands, exhaustion tingeing her voice, pointing at the boy and his paramour, “can you two roll these empty barrels out to the back of the cafe?”
As Kyri closes the kitchen door she begins to giggle infectiously, May soon joining her, their laughter increasing until Kyri’s is uproarious, while May’s quieter but even more intense. Kyri wraps her arms around May for support, the Bunny seeming surprised but happy at the contact. Their laughter finally subsiding to a quiet giggle, Sky looks at the pair and smiles with amusement. “Are you two quite finished?” he asks, raising his eyebrows questioningly.
As the two look at Sky they once again start laughing. “My goodness!” gasps Kyri, struggling to regain her composure. “That was positively brilliant!”
“Quite excellent,” trills May, in a passable imitation of Kyri’s voice and accent. “Do you really know her mother?” she continues, as Kyri collapses against her into gales of laughter, sinking to her knees, her arms helplessly around May’s waist. May bites her lower lip, smiling and looking at Sky with a shrug.
“Yes,” admits Sky, grinning. “She’s my landlady.”
After a moment, Mayumi stops smiling. “You know you’ve made an enemy of Mira now,” she says, her voice serious.
“I know, but I think I can manage one adolescent demi-goddess, regardless of who she thinks her friends are,” he says, nodding.
I only hope you’re right, thinks Kyri as she stands with May’s help.
“Kyri,” Sky says, “I wanted to thank you, and apologise for getting you to lie about May to Sergeant Alma. I had no right to ask that of you.”
“That’s quite all right,” responds Kyri, “but I don’t like having to tell lies, especially to people like Sergeant Alma.” She smiles wryly. “She doesn’t seem like someone I’d want angry at me!”
“Of course,” says Sky, nodding contritely.
“I would, however, like to know why you needed me to tell that lie. Was it because May wasn’t meant to be out and about? Or was it because you don’t want Alma knowing that you two were out and about together?”
A moment of embarrassed confusion passes as both Sky and May struggle to find a way to answer the heavily loaded question.
“Well, it was the first one of course!” May bursts out, her voice fierce. “Why should Alma mind that I was with Sky? Why would that be a secret?”
Stone-faced, only his eyes betraying his discomfort at Kyri’s question and May’s insistent response, Sky says, “I had better keep moving, Dona Kyri. There are a few other people that I need to speak with.”
“Oh…of course, Inspector,” says Kyri, taken aback by Sky’s sudden return to crisp formality. “I’ll see you two out. Coming, May my dear?”
As they walk back into the café, Doria stops them, nervously pushing her ever-damp hair back. “I… I… just wanted to say thank you for helping the Oracle and me,” she says clumsily to all three of them, before continuing more confidently, “Kyri, I was wondering – if you had made everyone in the room sing and dance like chorus girls, would that have meant that our dear Inspector Tuma-Sukai would have been dancing like a chorus girl, too?”
“I rather think he would have been,” giggles Kyri archly.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing that,” laughs Doria, her eyes twinkling mischievously despite the dark circles under them.
Upon hearing this, Sky smiles thinly, his earlier discomfort lingering. “You are most welcome, Priestess. But I am only doing my job – a job that is far from complete. Mayumi here will be running messages between the Guardia Station, and the Copper Pot, so she’ll be staying here with you and Dona Kyri. It’s possible she may even need to go to the Oracle’s Grotto, in which case I would appreciate it if you would show her the way. Now I’m afraid I have business to attend to.” He catches the eye of Sundar’s boyfriend. “Paolo. I need to speak with you.” With a jerk of his chin, he indicates the door of the café. Touching a finger to his cap, he says to Kyri and Doria, “Ladies,” and with a quick glance at May, he heads out the door just behind the gang leader.