It was raining. Hard. That was all Kei could think about as he made a mad dash toward his favorite place to drink. Damn rain, he thought to himself, as he finally reached the front door. He shook off the remainder of the rain and walked in. The brown khaki shorts and the white shirt he wore were completely soaked. He held on to his jacket that he had been holding over his head, also soaked. An audible squish from his shoes could be heard as he walked in. The bartender looked toward the door as he walked in. He wore the traditional bartender's outfit, his white and black-spotted ears, his dull brown eyes stared at him. Kei sat down at the bar, and looked straight into this man's eyes with his own blue eyes staring back.
Kei: Do I even have to tell you, Mitch?
Mitch: Yeah, yeah, I know, the regular.
The dog beastkin began to create the concoction that was the drink Kei had every time he came in.
Kei: Slow today, eh?
Mitch: The rain prevents a lot of people from visiting, makes it tough on business. It was to be expected.
Kei: Still, the place is emp...
His sentence trails off as he catches the sight of a little girl in black sitting by the window. She held a small rabbit to her chest. Her black shoes that grasped her feet moved back and forth as she stared out the window, her black-haired head never budging.
Mitch: Take a liking to the girl, eh?
Kei looks back to the bartender.
Kei: Mitch, you can't have little girls in here like that, you'll get your license revoked.
Mitch heartily chuckles.
Mitch: You underestimate me if you think I'd let a drop of alcohol touch a young girl's lips. You know better then I do Kei, they'd shut down this place so fast they'd slam it on my tail.
Kei notices a half-filled glass on the table.
Kei: Then what'd you serve her?
Mitch: Orange Juice, on the house.
Kei: No money, then?
Mitch: You were expecting the girl to be rich?
Kei: Partly. What kind of little girl would be here by herself?
Mitch: I found her outside the place when I opened earlier today. If you thought I was going to let her sit out there like a wet dog, you've had one too many already.
Kei: Where's the kid's parents?
Mitch: No clue. She wouldn't talk to me. Let her come in, and she's been sitting by that window watching the rain hit that window like baseballs all day.
Kei: If that's the only business you're getting today, you're in trouble.
Mitch: I'll be fine. I've got money stored up to where I could let her drink a thousand glasses of orange juice and still be well off.
Kei: That human that left the place and money to ya, he was a nice guy.
Mitch: It is sad yes, but it was his time to go. He trained me well enough to keep this place going.
Kei nods as the bartender sets a glass in front of him.
Mitch: The usual
Kei takes a swig. It went down cold, just like he liked it. He sets it back down on the bar and looks back to the little girl sitting by the window. Mitch follows his stare back to the little girl.
Mitch: She's a brave one, I'll give her that. I offered her a chance to come in and get dry, but with all the people around here, its not exactly safe.
Kei: That's putting it mildly, ya old mutt.
Mitch: And very few humans even come in here, wonder what she's doing all the way here in Yamatsumi.
Kei: Still. You can't just let her stay here.
Mitch: You expect me to take her home? I've got two puppies of my own to take care of, I don't need a third.
Kei just stares at her.
Mitch: What about you, Kei? Weren't you and that foxy girl going to settle down and have puppies at one point?
Kei turns his glare to the bartender. A small growl escapes.
Mitch: Now don't go growling at me for talking about Lexi.
Kei: That's still a touchy subject.
Mitch: Get over it. You'd think she'd want you living like this? What she ever saw in you I can't fathom.
Two other dog beastkin walk in the door. Their heads like cue balls with pit-bull ears attached, wearing black jackets and jeans, and brown boots. They approach the bar. The man in front approaches the bar and demands a stiff drink.
???: Make it snappy.
Mitch immediately goes to making the drink. Kei already didn't like him. There were definitely some beastkin around that were the equivalent of thugs. Kei makes no attempt to make eye contact with the two. Focusing only on his drink, he lifts it to his lips to take another swig, as he sits it down on the coaster, his ears pick up on their conversation.
???: Look, boss, that little girl in the corner.
???: What about her, stupid?
???: She's kind of cute.
???: What, you so desperate for puppies, you'd adopt a human?
???: No, I mean, she could be useful for stuff.
???: The heck are you implying, Rick?
Rick: Well, Mike, boss, what if we were to use her for peddling stuff, like a pick-pocket?
Mike: Heh, she might be useful for about that much. Training her wouldn't be too hard.
Kei didn't particularly like where the conversation was going, he lifts the glass up for another drink.
Rick: It doesn't look like her parents around. Could take her and ransom her for money.
Kei slams the drink down on the table, immediately grabbing their attention. He turns the stool around to stare at them. He stands up.
Kei: Its beastkin like you that give the rest of us a bad name.
The two bulldog beastkin stare at him.
Mike: Oh, mister tough guy here, what, is that pup over there yours?
Kei: She's not.
Rick: Then beat it mutt, its none of your business.
Kei doesn't budge. Mike cracks his knuckles.
Mike: Eh? You got a death wish?
The bulldog beastkin throws a punch at him but Kei dodges and begins moving toward one of the tables in the center. Mike turns around toward him and rushes at him. Kei ducks under his next punch and lifts him over his head and slams into the table. The table breaks under his weight, a crack straight down the middle of the table as the bulldog beastkin groans.
Kei: Its beastkin like you that give the rest of us a bad name.
Kei's ears flinch as he hears the other bulldog beastkin coming towards him. The dog throws a punch at him before he moves to the side to avoid and then punching him in the face. Kei might have been smaller than the two, but he was certainly faster.
Rick: Stay still, you mutt! Nobody does the boss like that!
With each punch Rick throws, Kei avoids, waiting for his opening. He eventually gets his back pressed against the door with no place left to move.
Rick: No place left to run, mutt!
The bulldog beastkin charges at him in order to grab him, but Kei slips just out of his grasp as he ducks. He thrusts his palms upward into the beastkin's chin, dazing him. He then grabs him. He kicks open the door with his leg.
Kei: Why don't you go take a shower?
He throws the dog outside and he hits hard. He groans as his body hits the ground hard.
Kei: Wet dog smell is better than that stink you're putting off now anyway.
He shuts the door and walks back to the bar and sits back down. Mitch sighs as he looks at the damage done.
Mitch: I'm adding this to your tab.
Kei: Go ahead. I broke a table.
The bulldog beastkin slowly gets up and walks out of the bar, stumbling as he does. Kei lifts his glass and downs the rest of his drink. He sets the glass back on the bar.
Kei: Thanks for the drink.
He gets up and walks over to the little girl sitting at the table. She makes no attempt to move to speak with him.
Kei: Is this seat taken?
He motions towards the seat on the opposite side of the table. She says nothing still. He sits down and places his arms on the table as he looks out the same window. The little girl didn't take notice of his presence at all. He had just defended her from two thugs, and it wasn't like he was expecting a thank you from the girl, but it would have been nice.
Kei: Is there something interesting about the rain?
The girl's head budges at that question, she looks at him with big brown eyes, and Kei is amazed at her likeness. His mind immediately went to Lexi. She looked just like her. All she needed was a pair of dog ears, and she'd look just like her. The girl holds the rabbit closer to her chest as she looks at the dog beastkin in front of her.
???: ...I don't like the rain...
Kei wasn't sure what to make of her. She stared out the window at the rain, but she doesn't like the rain? Why stare at it then?
Kei: Where are your parents?
She begins to tear up at the thought. Whoops, thought Kei, landmine.
Kei: Okay, okay, don't cry on me, I'm sorry.
There is a bit longer of an awkward silence before Kei eventually speaks up again.
Kei: What's your name, kid?
Kei: That so? That's a good name.
As the awkward silence resumes, Kei thinks of better questions to ask the little girl. It isn't long before he thinks of a good one.
Kei: You have a home to go to?
Alexandria shakes her head no. Now Kei was worried, no parents, no home, and a young girl at this age, there was no way he was going to leave her alone now.
Kei: Why don't you live at my place for the time being then?
Alexandria looks up at him and their eyes meet.
Kei: I live alone, house to myself, could give you a place to stay, at least until we find you a permanent place.
Alexandria looks at her rabbit and Kei lets her think. Kei had already decided that even if she didn't agree, he was going to take her home with him. He was way too nervous about the prospect of letting a little girl wander around the city by herself. The place he lived at down on the lower levels, it would be quieter, plenty of space for the both of them, and she could run around in the back yard. Something, he thought, Lexi wanted for when they had pups. Alexandria looks back up to Kei and she nods, accepting his proposal. Kei's tale wags a brief moment before stopping.
Kei: Name's Kei. I'm a golden-retriever dog beastkin.
The girl seemed confused.
Kei: How about this?
He traces the letter K with his finger on the table so she can see it, and Alexandria seems to understand better.
Alexandria: You're K?
Kei: Well, if it helps you remember easier, sure.
At Kei's surprise, she traces the letter A with her own finger on the table.
Alexandria: So you can remember me.
Sure, it would take some time for him to remember her name without thinking about it, but would she really be okay with that? Being referred to by a one letter name? Perhaps, he thought, it was just mimicking what he had done. Wasn't anything wrong with that, he reasoned. He stands up from the table.
Kei: Well then, A, shall I show you my place then?
Alexandria nods and gets up from the table holding her rabbit. She uses one arm to grab on to his shorts and keeps one arm holding her rabbit. Kei had a better idea, he lifts her up and sits her on his head, rabbit in between the back of his head and her body, and sets his jacket on top of her.
Kei: Hold on tight, alright?
The girl says it nervously as she grips for dear life. Kei walks out the door, the other beastkin now gone, and begins running toward that place. Mitch just goes to cleaning one of the glasses within the bar, thinking about which table he now had to order.