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The Shoot

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"There were plenty of photographs of me in the Syndicate's files - can't you just use one of those?"

"That's true, there were; but no offense, Hei, those photos make you look like, well, a criminal."

"The Director is right, Officer Li. We want the public to see your transformation from hardened criminal to upstanding law enforcement officer. But if you actually look like a criminal, how do you expect anyone to trust you? We want the idea of a ruthless killer, not an actual one. Don't worry, I've been photographing celebrities and pop stars for years. Just follow my direction and you'll be fine.

“Now, give a us a little pose, mildly threatening perhaps.” Click. Click. “Try to do something with your face, please, something that's a little less deer-in-the-headlights.” Clickclick. “And your hands, they need to be active, don't just let them hang there like dead fish.” Click.

"Wait, is that the coat you want to wear? That black, it's just soaking up the light, no, it's no good at all.”

“That was sort of the point…”

“Well, it’s terrible for photographs. Let's try taking it off.” Click. Clickclick. “That's better. Spread the coat over the chair, hm, not bad.” Click. “Except - what are those? Those are your knives? No no no, a black hilt in a black sheath against a black coat? That won't do at all, they completely break up the line of your silhouette. I thought you consulted a production designer on this, Director?"

"Officer Li, ah, missed his appointment."

"Director Kirihara scheduled it for right after my patrol shift. Something came up."

"Something quite conveniently came up."

"I can't help it if people leave suspicious-looking bags at ramen stands at the exact time my shift is supposed to end."

"You -"

"Ahem. Water under the bridge, water under the bridge. We'll just have to make do with what we have. Why don't you try holding one of the knives in your hand - yes, take that ridiculous harness off, not even the metal will show up on film, goodness. Now the knife - that, ah, that's a little too..."

"Aggressive?"

"Yes, aggressive, thank you Director."

"How else am I supposed to hold a knife?"

"Like you're not trying to kill someone."

"Haha, yes, thank you Director, exactly. You're not trying to kill anyone here, now are you? Yes, yes that expression is perfect! Just hold it...”

Click clickclick.

“Now, try not to hunch so much; you're not skulking in the shadows, you're contemplating the meaningless life of a killer, struggling to find the humanity within you - no, no that's a bit too...mugshot. Let's try for some heartfelt remorse. Bless you, Director.

Click. Click.

"Okay, better. Still not...well, it's better. Ahem.”

Clickclickclick.

“Let me adjust this light here, all that black, my my, the camera does not love it. Whoops, we're back to deer-in-the-headlights again. Don't look into the light, look at me.”

Click. Click.

“Why don't we try for something a bit more threatening, good - no, wait, that's too threatening now, we don't want to frighten the public, just give them a tiny taste of how dangerous you used to be. Mysterious, not Sociopathic.”

Clickclick click.

“Romance the camera, yes - don't grip the mask so hard, it represents your fragile inner soul. That's quite a cough you have there, Director Kirihara, I think I have some cough drops in my bag if you'd like.”

Click clickclickclick.

“Why don't we try sitting, yes? Knees pointing left - no, my left, sorry - and one hand on your thigh, your other elbow like so...lean forward a little...no, no, your elbow like - here, like this. Just - ah! My, that was quite the static buildup, um. Oh dear, my camera."

"Is it broken?"

"Hm, the shutter seems to be malfunctioning. Haha, no need to glare at him like that, Director, he can't be at fault for the dry air. I'm always shocking myself on the doorknobs in this building. But it's fine, I have another in this case here. Although, I am in love with that stern look  - maybe we can work you into a few photos, document your capture of the infamous Black Reaper, that sort of thing.”

"What? No! No, that's alright."

"Sounds like a good idea to me."

"It's a terrible idea! I mean, we want to project an image of trust and cooperation; I think depicting me arresting him would send the wrong message."

"Hm, perhaps you're right..."

"Anyway, I didn't arrest him; he volunteered on his own. Just like he volunteered to do this photoshoot."

"Volunteer is a strong word..."

“Yes, well, now would be a good time for a costume change, while I get this other camera set up. I think I have all I need of the Reaper persona. No, it's fine, you can change right here in the studio, no need to be modest. The Director won't mind turning her back, I'm sure. Director?”

“Oh, right. Sorry.”

“This will take so much editing, all that black… Hm, are you available in November? Only we're doing this charity calendar shoot and - okay, okay, never mind. There's a drinking fountain in the hallway if you need it, Director. Okay, you're Office Li now, Pal of the Police Force - a black suit too? Really? Well, no matter. We're going for friendly here, no, no that's deer-in-the-headlights again...”

~~~~o~~~~

“Well, Officer Li, that wasn't so bad, was it?”

“You owe me.”

“The photographer was a little enthusiastic, I know, but hopefully we got some good shots for the department’s new promotional material.”

“You owe me.”

“I told you you'll get compensated for your time - it'll show up in your next paycheck.”

“That's not what I mean.”

“Oh. Oh...well, I do have a camera at home. Maybe we can have our own, private photoshoot later?”

“Only if you agree to be in it.”

“I don’t -”

“You can be Miss August. Hang on, I have a cough drop here…”