After relaying the information to Athena and Alexandria, Kei decided to let her stay at her place for the night and go get a drink to celebrate. What he found, however, would not be cause for celebration. He sees in the distance, a group of people huddled around the bar. This was an odd scene, indeed, Kei thought. As he drew closer, he noticed yellow caution tape around the door and an area around the front where police could move. He worked his way through the crowd to the front and tried to climb the tape, but two policemen stopped him.
???: Let him through!
A familiar voice sounded out. It couldn't be, Kei thought. Kei caught sight of a dog beastkin in police gear, a bloodhound breed with brown eyes and short, dirty, messy brown hair. Kei passes under the tape and walks over to the policeman.
???: Been a while, Kei.
Kei: Didn't think you'd be working this scene Nick.
Nick and Kei served in the same unit in the war. Their friendship goes way back.
Nick: You used to frequent this bar belong to the owner, Mitch, correct?
Kei: I did. Mitch in trouble?
Nick waits a moment before issuing his statement.
Nick: Kei, Mitch is dead.
Kei is stunned by that statement. He looks into the bar and notices for the first time, the glass door was broken. It had only been a few days ago that he had been drinking here and met Alexandria here, and now another tragedy had befallen him.
Kei heaves a deep sigh before turning to Nick.
Kei: So tell me what happened.
Nick: About 6:00p.m., we got a phone call about a disturbance at Mitch's bar. By the time we got here, Mitch was lying behind the bar dead.
Nick: He suffered a puncture wound to the head. The perp busted him open with one of the glass cups. At some point, he stabbed him, nicking an artery, he bled out. The perp had fled by the time we got here.
Nick: Kei, you were a frequent visitor to the bar. Right?
Kei: I was.
Nick: Did Mitch have any enemies?
Kei: Like heck he did, plenty of humans mad at him when he inherited the bar from that human, probably some beastkin down on his luck too.
Nick jots it down quickly. Kei turns to see another familiar face. One he hadn't seen in many years. Another dog beastkin, a female one. She had short black hair and dog ears, she wore a black shirt and a medium-length grey skirt, she wore black sandals. Her black tail sat on the bench with her, never moving.
Kei: Nick, is that...?
Nick looks over to where he is looking.
Nick: Yep, Mitch's sister, Shigure.
Kei: She's definitely grown.
Nick: Yeah. Sure been a while since all four of us met. Why don't you go talk to her, she could use a friendly face.
Kei nods and walks over. He stops in front of the bench and she looks up. Kei immediately notices her eyes are red from tears.
Shigure: Oh, Kei, its good to see you again. Haven't seen you since...
Kei: Lexi's funeral, yeah.
She looks back down.
Shigure: You probably know what happened to Mitch, by now.
Kei: I do.
Shigure: How could someone do that to Mitch, Kei?
Kei sits next to her on the bench.
Kei: I honestly don't know. He was a good dog, Shigure. Real good.
Kei, Nick, and Mitch ran back a long time. They served together in the war. Kei got to watch Shigure grow up in front of his very eyes. She was only twenty-five now, only two years younger then he was. She had grown into a beautiful woman, Kei had thought. He had promised Mitch he would never make a move on her. Eventually, he met Lexi, and the rest was history. Shigure wipes her eyes again. Kei isn't quite sure how to break the tension. He wonders what to do. Nick comes over to speak with the two.
Nick: Listen, Shigure, with the ongoing investigation, we need to make sure you don't leave Yamatsumi. To that end, you cannot be alone. Can't have the same person that came after Mitch, come after you.
He then looks at Kei.
Nick: Kei, I'd like for her to stay with you. You'd be a deputized bodyguard and police dog, and work with us to catch Mitch.
Kei isn't sure about it. Alexandria would be at Athena's place tonight, so having her stay tonight would be okay, but the long-term thinking was that she'd return home at some point when she wasn't in danger.
Kei: Only if Shigure is okay with it. I'm not going to force her to...
That was a quick response, Kei thought.
Nick: You brought along a few change of clothes as I requested, yes?
Nick: Good, take her to your place Kei, she needs to get away from this.
Kei: Come on, Shigure.
Shigure nods and grabs her stuff. They begin the long walk away from the bar as Nick looks on. If anyone could make her feel better, Nick thought, it'd be Kei. The two walk along in awkward silence. Grey clouds hung above them, just waiting to poor down rain on them at any moment.
Shigure: I haven't seen you for quite a while, Kei.
Shigure was first to break the silence.
Kei: I suppose so. You don't drink much, and work kept me busy most of the day, so I didn't get to see you much.
Shigure: Yeah, seeing you, Nick, and Mitch enjoy each other's company, really made me happy. And seeing Lexi with you too.
Kei growls, then quickly stops himself.
Kei: Sorry, habit.
Shigure: Still protective, huh?
Kei: Old habits die hard.
Shigure: How long has it been now, two years?
Shigure: Now Mitch and Lexi will have plenty to talk about with each other, huh?
Kei laughs a bit at that statement. Lexi and Mitch could carry on a conversation for hours, unlike anything he'd ever seen.
Shigure: Your house must be lonely though.
Kei: Its been a whirlwind of a few days, but we can talk about it later.
The two reach the door and they deposit their shoes at the entrance as they enter in. Kei takes her clothes to his room for the moment then returns.
Kei: Listen, I know you don't drink much, but...
Shigure: I'll have wine, if you have it.
Kei is a bit surprised to hear it, but he understands. He brings out a bottle of red wine and two glass cups. He pours them each a drink, then raises his glass towards her.
Kei: To Lexi and Mitch, two dogs who should still be here with us now.
Shigure: Hear hear.
The clink of the glasses can be heard and Kei and Shigure drink the glass straight down.
Kei: So tell me Shigure, how's your life, I want to know what you're doing.
Shigure: Just recently finished my current job, just quit.
Kei: Humans again, because I'll-
Shigure: No, nothing like that. I just didn't want to work there anymore.
Kei pours them each another glass.
Kei: Well, what will you do now?
Shigure: I'm not sure.
Kei: Don't hurry then.
Shigure: You haven't dated anyone since Lexi passed, have you?
Kei: Not a single person.
Shigure: When are you going to get back into the dating scene? Lexi wouldn't have wanted you to be alone the rest of your life.
Kei: When the time is ready, I'll know. It'll just happen.
Shigure: I remember when you and I first met.
Kei can't help but smile at the thought.
Shigure: Mitch almost punched you because he thought you were hitting on me.
Kei: I can still remember how he clocked me. Right across the jaw.
Shigure takes a sip of her wine.
Kei: So what about you? Did you find someone special?
Shigure: No, not yet.
Kei: That's a shame. You are very beautiful Shigure, a good dog will realize that.
Shigure nods. They each finish their next cup of wine. Kei pours them another glass.
Shigure: Kei, why did you agree to take me in?
Kei: I owed Mitch that much, he did a lot for me, you both have. Hard to say no to the both of you.
Shigure: That's all.
Kei: Shigure, you're a friend, I'd do anything for you.
Shigure smiles at his response.
Shigure: You're a very good dog, Kei.
Kei laughs a bit and blushes.
Kei: Oh stop, you're embarrassing me.
About another hour passes with the two talking about memories and enjoying more wine until the bottle was mostly empty. At this point, Shigure and Kei are both mildly intoxicated. Kei is surprised at how well Shigure can hold herself.
Kei: You can really drink.
Shigure: Well, I'm old enough to drink aren't I? I may be a woman, but I can beat you at anything.
Kei stands up.
Kei: Oh yeah?
Shigure stands up as well.
The two were obviously not thinking straight at the moment. With plans of besting each other at some sport or game running through their heads like if they were brother and sister. As Kei takes a step forward, Shigure does too. Neither had expected the other to move and they collide. A little bit off balance in his steps, Kei loses his footing and takes Shigure down with him.
Kei: Are you o-?
Kei notices Shigure's face is right in front of him, as she lay on top of him. Shigure notices as well. The two stare into each other's eyes, both of their faces each turning red. Only the sound of their heartbeats could be heard as they stare.
Shigure: Kei, are you okay?
Kei: Yeah, did you hurt yourself?
Shigure: No, I-i'm okay.
The two can't figure out a way to get out of this situation. It was already way beyond awkward. Yet, neither wanted to stop. It had been a long time for Kei, and feeling the embrace of another woman excited him. For Shigure, she had always had a crush on Kei, being in his strong embrace made her feel safe. Shigure, in the moment leans in farther to look into his eyes. Her face completely red.
Shigure: Its like every time I've needed help you've been there Kei. Whether it was when I sprained my ankle, or when I was lost in the woods, or even right now. You've always been there.
Kei just takes in her words. Shigure wraps her arms around him.
Shigure: You've always protected me. And now here we are again, in the midst of another tragedy, together.
Shigure: My heart already hurts, Kei. I already feel lost without him. You and Nick are the only people I have left. Please, stay with me.
Kei can't bring himself to move her. After everything that had already happened today, he couldn't. He lets himself be taken, if only for a moment and hugs her back. Just for now, he reasoned, it won't be bad.
Kei: I won't leave you Shigure.
Shigure feels completely comfortable within his arms. This felt right. This is what she wanted. Kei lets go and gently helps her up.
Kei: Listen, Shigure...I'm not ready for this...not yet...
Kei: You are a beautiful woman, but now isn't the right time.
Mitch would've killed me, he thought.
Kei: For now, let's stay this a way a little longer, and try again down the road.
Shigure seems encouraged by the answer.
Maybe by then, Kei thought, he'd have a chance to sort this all out. It was the wrong time. They had just lost someone important, and he was inches away from probably making the worst decision of his life. He wanted them both to be in their right state of mind when this decision was made.
Shigure: We're both a bit tired and saddened over the day's events.
Shigure stands up.
Shigure: I think I'm going to go to bed now.
Kei: Yeah, night.
Shigure uses Kei's room tonight, and he'd sleep in the guest room. She deserved a comfier room he had thought. Kei walks to the entrance puts his shoes on and walks out of the house to look at the stars above his house. On the table, the bottle still sat with one glass of wine left inside it. That's Mitch's, Kei thought. They had drank most of that bottle, whether because of sadness of their losses, or even perhaps starting a new fire, he now had to take responsibility for the misguided souls now in his care.
Kei: I'll wait. Until Mitch and Lexi give me a signal, I'll wait.
He decided that right then and there. He wanted to make sure they were okay with it first.