The sun was shining down on the city mercilessly, making the asphalt glow and the air burn. The hot, stuffy air in the cubbyhole – some higher ups dared to call it an office – turned it into an unbearable sauna. They didn’t have air conditioning, but at least Shuichi no longer had to brew coffee. The content of his cup was heating itself up at the current temperature. Even he found it difficult at times to concentrate on his work when he felt like every cell of his body was evaporating. The heat took its toll on him, made him sluggish and tired, and no amount of caffeine was able to make up for it.
Jodie had long since gotten rid of her blouse and was sitting at her desk in a purple top. Shuichi secretly envied her for it as much as he cursed her for the very same reason. For one thing, it was less permissible for him to take off his shirt than for Jodie to wear a sleeveless top, and then again the amount of bare skin made it clear why the Bureau had a dress code in the first place. The less his girlfriend wore, the more he got distracted by the situation in their office.
Sighing, Shuichi got up and wiped the sweat from his face as he made his way to the vending machine. It would be helpful if he could swap his long pants for some shorts and didn’t have to live with rolled up sleeves. At 40°C he was forced to dress up just as much as in winter, while Jodie enjoyed her work dressed in shorts and a top.
Shuichi set a cold can of lemonade down next to the documents Jodie was lost in before he sat down with a cold coffee.
“They didn’t have any more water or iced tea.”
Jodie raised her head in surprise. Her gaze lingered on the can, puzzled, then she smiled at him.
“Thanks,” she said happily.
He smirked slightly as she pressed the cold aluminum to her cheek, humming – relieved and low. He watched her for a moment, before he shifted his focus back on his work.
Over and over again Shuichi was wiping the sweat from his forehead, before it trickled down his temples or dropped into his eyes. Sometimes he also combed through the wet hair on the back of his neck to get some relieve. The moisture made them curl up more than usual but he was sure he would get a heat stroke if he put on his cap – it would only worsen the problem with his hair anyway.
The sun passed their windows, but their office didn’t cool down. Still, he and Jodie were both lost in their files they carefully worked through that afternoon as best as they could.
“Hmm, 4.6 inches,” Jodie mumbled deep in thoughts. She started to drum on her desk with her pen in a very fidgety way.
“18 centimeters,” Shuichi countered without looking up from his file.
“No, I just–,“ Jodie began. Then stopped. And Shuichi could suddenly hear the gears in her head working.
“What?” She eventually asked, aghast.
“What?” Shuichi shot back nonchalantly.
He stopped writing and raised his head to meet her irritated look with an innocent expression. He blinked as she frowned. For a moment, their words hung heavily in the air.
“I don’t want to disappoint you,” Jodie mumbled at first before a cheeky grin creeped onto her lips, “but you should really not hang the bar too high.”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, playing dumb.
Shuichi looked back at the form in front of him, trying to hide a tell-tale grin.
“Right. That’s why you have racing stripes on your car, huh?!”
“What is 4.6 inches?”
“12 centimeters. Shuichi. Don’t change the subject.”
“Technically, it’s 11.6 centimeters,” Shuichi said smugly.
“Technically, it’s 11.684 centimeters,” Jodie countered mercilessly. “So?”
“Seriously?!” Shuichi grimaced as if he had bitten into a lemon. He fished for his cell phone because he didn’t want her to have the final word. Unfortunately, though, she was right.
Jodie laughed and Shuichi displayed a touch of embarrassment he tried to cover up with a smile. Fortunately for him, she seemed to drop the subject as she turned back to her files, shaking her head.
When his cell phone announced a new message a moment later, Shuichi glanced at it – only to realize that his girlfriend wouldn’t let it go.
»Don’t worry, I can live with 4” :-P«