As we crossed the road to get to the line for people on foot, heads swivelled around to stare at my brother and his pure black hair. There were some glances thrown my way too, of course, because of my bleached blonde hair and the fact that I was accompanying Mitsuo, but the majority ogled him. I made sure to have my face arranged into my darkest scowl to discourage any would-be admirers.
Whatever little adrenalin that was left had completely worn off by the time we reached the front of the line, so during the entire time my brother talked to the guard, the pain had me spacing out and trying to will it away.
When a hand waved in front of my face, I started and almost punched whoever it was. I blinked at the guard. This one was at least a decade younger than his co-worker, being in his mid-twenties, and had pale green hair.
I scowled at him. “Yes?”
Mitsuo nudged my arm. “Don’t be rude! Kapren has offered to take you to the clinic and then take me to handle our papers at the town hall, since his shift’s ending soon anyway. Isn’t that kind of him?”
The guard, ‘Kapren’, blushed and rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.
“Aw, shucks, it’s my job, you know? Plus, I’m always happy to help.”
“It’s still very kind of you,” my brother smiled. Kapren’s face grew redder, only to pale suddenly as I focused all the ill will I could muster in my current state on him. Mitsuo didn’t notice a thing.
“Yes,” I said, in a sweet voice, “So kind of you. Only, do you think it’s possible to handle our papers first? It’s not that I don’t trust you or anything,” It’s obviously because I don’t trust you! “but I won’t be able to rest easy if I leave my brother with a complete stranger in a completely foreign town. You understand, of course?”
“Mitsuko,” whined my brother, “I’ll be fine.”
“I know you will,” I reassured him, patting his head with my good hand and not breaking eye contact with Kapren, “but still, I’d feel better if you didn’t leave my side for now.”
“So, Kapren, you get it, right?”
“Y-yes!” Kapren nodded frantically. “U-uh, oh hey, the guy relieving me is here, so l-let’s go!”
He nodded to the sleepy looking guard who’d just arrived, then motioned for us to follow him.
The town was pretty nice, all things considered, and it would be even nicer if people would stop staring at us. I focused on putting one foot in front of the other and was vaguely aware of the threatening aura that I was projecting.
Finally we reached the town hall. It was a three story brick building with large wooden doors, which Kapren pushed open for us. He seemed to have mostly gotten over his fear of me, which was… not unexpected, with him being a trained guard and me not being at my best, but still annoying. I could send full-grown yakuza running with just a word; scaring the hell out of people without all that much effort was something I usually took for granted.
“Behold,” he announced, “Plintorien’s town hall! Betcha’ve never seen anything like it up in the mountains, eh?”
I rolled my eyes and pushed past him. He was trying entirely too hard to impress Mitsuo, and I just wanted to get this over with so I could go to the clinic and get my arm treated. Mitsuo politely agreed and complimented it, making Kapren puff up with pride.
“Can we just get our papers already?” I cut in before he could start going on about the grand history of the town or whatever. He deflated slightly and nodded.
We walked up to one of the many harried looking receptionists’ desks and Kapren knocked on the scarred wood. The woman behind it looked up and made a dismissive noise before going back to her work.
“My answer is the same as the past hundred times; no, Kapren, I will not go on a date with you.”
“What, no! I wasn’t going to ask you on a date!” Kapren peeked nervously at Mitsuo, who looked cluelessly back at him. I gave him a look that told him I knew what he was thinking and was internally laughing at him. He flushed and looked away. “No, no, Troya, I’m here to help these lovely siblings get their papers.”
“Is that so?” Troya gave us an assessing look and her gaze stopped at my arm. “That looks like a nasty wound. Shouldn’t you have taken that one to the clinic first?”
“That’s what I suggested!” Kapren protested. “But Mitsuko said that he didn’t feel right leaving his brother with a stranger and insisted on coming with us.”
“Well, I certainly can’t blame him for that,” Troya said. “I wouldn’t want to leave anyone in your care either.”
“Um,” Mitsuo interrupted. “Mitsuko is a girl.”
“What?! Seriously?!” Kapren was way too shocked, I thought. I raised a single disdainful eyebrow at him.
“Maybe if you weren’t so busy with your pathetic attempts to impress my brother you’d have noticed,” I drawled.
“I was not-!”
“I’m Mitsuko, and this is my brother Mitsuo,” I told Troya, ignoring Kapren’s attempts to explain himself. “Can we get our papers now?”
“Very well.” Troya, also ignoring Kapren (“Hey! Are you listening to me?!”) rifled around beneath the counter. She came up with a few blank forms and slapped them on the counter. She paused. “Do you know how to write Welzish?”
I looked at Mitsuo, who looked at the forms and shook his head with a faint blush.
“That’s fine. Mitsuo and Mitsuko, was it? Do you have a family name?”
I let Mitsuo deal with the paperwork and our cover story and devoted my attention to staying upright and staring a nervously sweating Kapren down.
Kapren finally broke.
“I’m sorry!” he squeaked. “I’ll stay away from your brother, okay? Just – just stop glaring at me!”
Actually, this was just a stare. I narrowed my eyes in an actual glare and he flinched. Satisfied that I’d put the fear of me into him, I turned my head away.
“You better,” I muttered, just loud enough for him to hear. “Or else you’ll be just another name on the list of people I’ve beaten half to death.”
“And we’re done.”
Troya’s words brought my attention back.
“Oh, good. My arm hurts-” like a motherfucker, I was going to say, but at Mitsuo’s worried look, I changed it to “not as much as before, but I’d still like to get it checked out as soon as possible. Dunno what the hell has been in that wolf’s mouth, after all.”
I lied. The pain had only intensified, and I did not look forward to peeling my no doubt ruined hoodie off my arm. My brother still looked worried, but not ‘on the verge of crying’ worried, so I counted that as a win.
“Oh, okay!” Mitsuo bowed to Troya, who looked a little puzzled by the action but accepted it as a cultural difference. “Thank you for all your help.”
“You’re welcome,” she replied and nodded. “Now, go to the clinic.”
She made shooing motions at us and returned to her work. Kapren gestured at the door.
“Shall we get going?”