Julie slouches back into the seat of the car, at least glad that she’s in one of Curran’s fancy ones and not the monster of a car that Kate still insists on driving around. Apparently Kate’s car would be ‘too recognisable’ or something. Well, Julie is not grumpy about it.
Next to her, Kate is still, her eyes fixed on the door that they’re supposed to be subtly watching for someone to emerge from. She’s never liked stake outs – Julie has always been one for the action, the thrill of the chase. Kate too, Julie is pretty sure. Sitting still for hours on end isn’t exactly what either of them would call a great time.
Kate doesn’t let on that she’s annoyed at being stuck here for five hours and counting, even though she’s slouched slightly in her chair too. The lack of complaining is probably learned through Kate’s old days at the Mercenary Guild, though it might also be that she wants to ‘set a good example’ for Julie, or something. That does sound like something she would do. Even though Julie is old enough to choose her own role models and has been for years, Kate loves to channel that oh-shit-I’m-a-mum-gotta-act-good role.
“This is dumb,” Julie mutters.
“As you’ve told me,” Kate replies. She frowns at the door they’re watching.
“We know who the guy is. We just need to go in and grab him! Sitting out here is just giving him a change to get away.”
Kate turns to look at her. Julie makes eye contact defiantly, and Kate huffs at her.
“The client wants proof.” She lifts the giant, clunky and probably more than a century old camera that she’s holding. “The job is more about getting proof than getting the guy. Especially since the client is his wife. She knows where to find him whenever she wants. That’s why she needs our proof. You know that.”
Julie sighs and slides down deeper into her chair. “I know. It’s just frustrating, sitting out here and doing nothing.”
Kate returns her focus to the same boring, grey and slightly rusted door they’ve been staring at for hours. “He’s not going to get away – you can still see him, right?”
“Yeah,” Julie says after a moment. The vaguely murky blue magic aura of the man they’re trying to get blurry photos of is still in the building. After seeing it once, Julie can track it well enough that if the guy does leave the building, they’re at least going to get a warning before he does so. “He’s still in there, though I can’t tell what exactly he’s up to. By himself, at least.”
They’re trying to get pictures of this guy because apparently he’s cheating on his wife – his wife had demanded photos. Julie had said that this seems to be a bit underneath them, but Kate had insisted that she paid well, and they need all the money that they can get while Kate sets up her business. And since Julie is on holidays away from school, that means she gets to come along. Yay.
The guy stands up for the first time in ages, and Julie tilts her head to watch him come down the stairs. “He’s on the move,” she says, trying not to sound too hopeful that something might be happening.
“Coming downstairs?” Kate questions, and Julie nods. Kate fiddles with the camera for a few seconds while Julie tracks the guy’s cloudy aura. Something about it is weird, but there’s something weird about almost every person – they’re individuals, so obviously they’re going to look different. What she’s been working on is focusing on the similarities that tell her something about the person who she’s looking at. By doing that, she can now almost always identify the main magical impacts a person has. This man might dabble sometimes, but other than that he’s not a heavy magic user.
“Coming out the door,” Julie stresses. Sure enough, a second later the man emerges, looking annoyed. Julie hopes he’s had a shit day, because she sure has.
Kate clicks the camera, and it makes a whining and clanging sound that sound like the opposite of whatever noise it should be making. Julie turns to stare at Kate, who is grimacing. Julie hopes that means that she doesn’t have to sit here for another day while Kate gets another photo because that one didn’t work…
The camera continues to whine, and then spits out a piece of paper. Kate grabs it and starts waving it around.
“Does that actually work?” Julie says doubtfully. From what she can see, it looks pretty blank.
“It should,” Kate confirms. After a few seconds a picture starts to form on the paper. Sure enough, it’s a vaguely blurry photo of the man exiting the building.
“Is this really all we have to do?” Julie asks doubtfully.
“The woman who hired us wants a photo of him coming out of the building, since she’s certain that this is where he meets up with whoever he’s seeing on the side,” Kate says. “You only got here yesterday, but I already did some work on this case and confirmed that he usually does see someone here. Just not today, apparently. So that’s all we need to do.”
Julie shrugs, because it’s not really her problem. If Kate says it’s enough, it’s enough.
“Does that mean we can leave?” she asks hopefully.
Kate carefully puts the photo and the camera away in a box, making sure the camera doesn’t get jolted by anything. Julie knows it’s the only one she’d been able to afford on the tiny budget that the business has, and that any damage to it probably couldn’t be fixed.
“Yes, we can leave,” Kate says. “I’ve got everything we need for this case. Do you want to go and get something to eat?”
“Please,” Julie begs, and Kate’s mouth tweaks into a smile.
Kate starts the car up and they work their way slowly through the streets. Julie almost complains about being stuck behind a mule and a broken down cart for twenty minutes, but then decides that this is at least better than waiting at the same spot with very little movement on the street for her to look at. Here, she can watch as the cart owner works with someone who had gotten off their horse to help him repair the broken axel of the cart.
When they finally arrive at their destination, a small Applebee’s that has somehow survived the magic apocalypse, Julie skips inside happily. A waitress sits them at a table, and Kate tells her to pick something off the menu. She orders some apple juice and fries, and Kate gets some orange juice and upgrades her fries to the maximum size.
Julie leans back in her chair and sighs as she works out the cricks in her back. After sitting still all day, she’s ready to go home, even if that means Kate will want to do some sparring practise with her. Right now, she’s pretty sure she wouldn’t even mind that. Getting to move after hours of being still sounds great.
“Thanks for coming along with me today,” Kate says. “I do appreciate not being alone on a stakeout.”
“Even with all my complaining?” Julie asks, looking down at her hands to watch them fidget awkwardly.
“Even then,” Kate says wryly. “Just having you around makes my day better. And when that day is sitting in a car by myself for hours, it really does need a boost.”
“Ha! I knew you only kept me around for how useful I was,” Julie teases. After all these years, she’s certain of the opposite. Kate rolls her eyes, knowing that too.
“Oh no, now you’ve figured out my master plan.”
“I’m wounded,” Julie says dramatically, putting a hand over her heart. “How could you have done this to me?”
“It’s payback for complaining all day,” Kate says, but she’s smiling. Julie reaches out to touch her feet with her own under the table, and Kate winks at her.
Julie decides that all in all, it’s been a good day.