Closed Curbed and Callow [Kagerou]

Caspian enlists the help of a stranger.

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Center of scholarly knowledge and shipwrighting, Zeltiva is a port city unlike any other in Mizahar. [Lore]

Curbed and Callow [Kagerou]

Postby Caspian on May 23rd, 2021, 11:48 am

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Caspian hadn’t meant to scare Kagerou off. He also hadn’t been entirely sure that Kagerou was hiding something to begin with, but that little itch that had started in his palm had traveled all the way up to his spine and settled in his brain, and when it turns the hunter was, in fact, lying about Syliras, he gets that brief but potent spike of satisfaction, one of the reasons he became an investigator in the first place.

But on a more serious tack – he knows very well the pain Kageoru’s describing, wonders if the hunter also finds himself staring up at his ceiling at night wandering down the endless roads of what-if’s and could-have-been’s and should-have-done’s. The topic is such a well-worn, familiar one to him that he wouldn’t mind talking about it more, especially when it seems he’s found someone in Zeltiva who might truly understand.

But it’s a nice afternoon, and it is his birthday, and perhaps neither of them deserve to inflict upon themselves that sort of doom and gloom.

“Remember that I ran too,” is all he says to Kagerou, for if anything, he respects when someone wants to come and especially when they want to go. “You didn’t waste my time, friend. I appreciate the company. And yes – suppose I’ll see you around?”

He doesn’t know what the odds of that really are, but stranger things have happened.

Alone again, the bay breeze ruffling through his hair, he turns his attention back to Nessa Reena’s townhouse. Just like the previous bells, nothing of import appears to have taken place. What he really needs to do, perhaps, is wait here just on the weekends, for she’ll certainly be out and about then – like most socialites, she keeps a fairly active calendar. But the thing is, he’s done that before, tailed her and Harv on several dates, made a list of what she wears and how many new pairs of shoes it appears he’s buying and what they eat and the one time Harv relented on his insistent gallantry and let her foot the bill. He knows what she’s like on stage, when she’s in the public eye – but what he’d like to see, now, is who she is when she’s alone.

Which, apparently, is a total shut-in.

Caspian sighs and crosses his arms behind his head, stretches and crosses the opposite leg. How much longer should he wait here before he can safely say he’s done his due diligence?

Distantly he realizes that he’s being unusually responsible about this job. That something about him has mollified enough to continue sitting here alone, with the most interesting sight being an old woman walking a ruffled toy poodle, with whom she shares a remarkable resemblance. It’s his petching birthday, and he ought to be wearing more gold and several ribbons and a string of pearls, or whatever this coastal town regards as finery. He definitely shouldn’t be spending any part of this day sober. And yet –

Things are different now, he supposes. He knows when they had begun to change. And the circumstances had in turn changed him, and –

Well, he’s starting to come to grips with it.

Under the ponderous weight of the potential that he might have suddenly become boring, a shadow crosses his path.

He doesn’t react right away – he’s in a park in Zeltiva in the middle of the day, and doesn’t think he needs to. But the shadow stays insistently put. Assuming it’s Kagerou, he prepares a jovial, teasing greeting –

But is met instead with the storm-trodden glare of his employer’s soon-to-be ex-husband Harv.

“Can I help you?” he says as pleasantly as he can muster, though internally he feels as if his gut’s just dropped right out of his body in shock.

“You can start by telling me why you’re stalking my girlfriend.”

Stalking? I’m not stalking anyone.” Wide-eyed, feigning ignorance, Caspian looks between the old woman with the poodle and Harv. “But can I just say? Rather unconventional. More power to you.”

“You know who I mean,” Harv hisses, taking what was once Kagerou’s spot on the bench. “Nessie. That house over there. Yes, I know you see it. You’ve been parked here all morning. And I don’t have any hard evidence, but I’m very certain you were following us when we left that bar last night.”

Caspian’s very proud of this – though no one would care – but he doesn’t flinch for a moment, doesn’t edge away even as Harv sits rather close to him and looks all kinds of livid. The second he falters, his cover’s blown, and more than his own discomfort, he’d really like to avoid upsetting his employer Mindy, who these days is his main source of both amusement and income.

“This is a small town,” Caspian says, though he’s not sure if that’s true, as far as measureable square mileage. But that’s beside the point. “If you’ve seen me up and around town, I wouldn’t find that the least bit surprising. But it’s one thing to point out coincidence, and an entirely other thing to suggest I’m here to bother your girlfriend.” Feeling momentum build, he throws out, “What’s so special about your girlfriend, anyway, that would make her worth stalking in the first place?”

Harv isn’t the most aggressive man. Nor is he the most assertive or forthright. Caspian had learned that a long time ago, when he’d first moved to Zeltiva and Mindy had asked him to investigate the possibility of an affair. Since dating Nessa, Harv’s gone through several notable changes – new suits, a far better haircut, several pairs of gleaming buckled shoes, even a new job less soul-crushing than the old. He even holds his head higher as he walks through the Zeltivan streets, shoulders back, his stride more purposeful. But this is a recent transformation, and Harv, not so deep down, is still that introverted office clerk – and though he had mustered up enough energy to confront Caspian, it doesn’t seem he’s equipped to react to any pushback.

“Just stay the petch away from her,” Harv finally says, standing from the bench and hurrying away.

Still a bit rattled – Caspian doesn’t like surprises – and wanting to assert his false claim that he is not here on surveillance, he goes through the familiar motions of packing his tobacco pipe, lighting it, and watching the elderly woman’s slow progression with her poodle around the park.

It’s not the most exciting birthday, but it’s not the worst. And should he decide to live it up, just for the sake of it –

He’s got a sister who ought to be amenable, and plenty of bells to make it happen.


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Caspian
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