|Don't Feel Bad, Jack|
It's been an eventful week for Mizuno Ami. She's gone from a freelance contractor that helps small business or individuals adapt to an increasingly-advanced technological ecosystem, and moonlighting as a Magical Pretty Not-Vigilante* to consulting with the MCPD on magical cases. What prompted this change? She was in the lobby at the wrong place at the wrong time - and she has a conscience.
Having studied all of the rulebooks for consulting with the department from the first night she spoke with Rayne, Ami is no longer poring over them when she enters the break room as she was on her first day. Now, she feels comfortable enough with what's expected of her to read for leisure. The blue-haired girl walks in with a vanilla oolong tea in one hand, and a book titled "IEEE 802.3ae standards - Implementation and Best Practices" in the other.
Different people have different ideas of leisure, apparently.
Jack Hawksmoor shifts position into one that's a bit less upright as Ami enters. It might ALMOST seem as if he moved before she came in, although that's frankly ridiculous. "Hey," he says, not removing his feet from the second chair. There are, after all, plenty.
Ami looks up at Jack's greeting as she enters the break room, smiling. "Hmm?" Her face brightens as she recognizes Jack, having seen him around a few times. "Good afternoon, Detective Hawksmoor!" Yes, she knows everyone's last name already. She's some kind of weird over-achiever. Maybe compensating for some insecurities?
She blinks when she notices the man's feet, however. She purses her lips, thinking. She's rather curious about those, but is it rude to draw attention to them? Best not - it will come up sooner or later if she's patient. "I hope the day is going well for you!" The blue-haired girl moves to find a free chair, and makes a pleased sound once she sits down. Standing for too long can be uncomfortable, and bad for your posture!
Jack Hawksmoor offers a ready smile. "Mizuno Ami, right?" And yes, he's polite enough not to reverse her name, unlike far too many Anglophones.
Jack's proper form of address draws a blink from Ami, and then her smile warms a full degree, and her cheeks color just a bit. Noone's referred to her properly in many years. She'd almost forgotten how it sounds. Like an old sweater you find and put on to curl up with a cup of cocoa by the fire in winter.
"Yes, that's correct. You certainly do your homework." From the homework queen? That's a compliment.
"I worked for some years with a woman from Tibet," Jack explains. "She made sure I kept with it." He falls silent for a moment. He wishes Jenny was here more, but he definitely misses Li-Min. At the same time, he's rather glad she isn't trapped here too.
"I certainly appreciate it." Ami chimes in cheerfully and helpfully, breaking the silence with pure positivity. "I'm sure you've had quite a storied career. We're all very fortunate to have you watching out for us." One of the few that doesn't usually need much protection, Ami still very much appreciates the help and dedication the MCPD puts in to, well, making her nightlife less urgent.
Hopping from lightpost to lightpost is fun and all, but there has been much less violent crime to deal with in the last few years, and she attributes that almost entirely to having a well-organized police force. And people like Jack.
"I watch out for everyone," Jack quips. "So, I hear you're a magic expert."
"Expert?" Ami says, looking a bit surprised. "Well, I'm an analyst. I can assess and determine the nature of problems magical, metaphysical, and..." She glances down at her book - a hardcore networking best practices guide and discussion - and smiles a bit. "...some more modern ones as well." She bites at her lip for a moment, and then looks at Jack a bit more quizzically.
"Chief Rayne suggested there was a distinct lack of such on the force." Suggested? Yelled at the top of her lungs. It's a form of suggestion.
Jack Hawksmoor ahs. "Got it...and Rayne can be, well, very persuasive." He knows that from experience. It's probably her greatest talent, to be honest.
"Persuasive. Yes." Ami offers Jack a smile with some real radiance behind it, and it's quite sincere. "...Actually, to be honest, I'm a big fan of hers. She has a lot of fans, amongst the populace." This is likely not surprising to Jack. Ami's bright eyes and cheery demeanor give away that she's excited to be here, even if it wasn't something she'd really planned.
The girl clears her throat, then shifts a bit in her chair, and puts her thumb in her book before closing it and lowering it over her lap. "I understand you work in a very different field and capacity."
Jack purses his lips. "What have you heard?" He's always curious what reputation he might be garnering. Other than 'weird,' which essentially sums up all of MCPD's detectives.
"Honestly? I mostly hear that you walk through walls and know things." Ami giggles just a little bit, before looking at Jack for a long, serious moment. "...But you interact and commune with the city directly, don't you?" Partial credit!
The girl almost reaches down into her purse to pull out her glasses and have a look, before mentally chiding herself. Jack has as much right to his privacy as anyone else. He's not a science experiment.
If she only knew.
Jack Hawksmoor grins. "Rayne blew my cover," he jokes. Of course, he expects her to tell people who need to know. "So, yes, I do. In ways which are, I admit, hard to explain."
Ami's smile becomes smaller, but remains warm. "Rayne blew your cover," she agrees immediately. Then she laughs, and her eyes light up. "...But I also was curious independently." It's a frank admission, but she doesn't seem embarrassed by it. "I've known individuals with widely varying abilities, and I find them fascinating. Learning more is a top priority for me." She says this in the bright, insistent way a schoolgirl academic might insist she loves going to school when her classmates say it's boring. Probably because she was that schoolgirl.
Jack Hawksmoor has known that schoolgirl. Has known several of that schoolgirl. "You're allowed to e curious, and I'll do what I can to explain."
"Well..." Ami glances at her purse again, then shakes her head. He said she's allowed to be curious, not map his genomes, girl. "...I suppose first of all I'm just curious what it feels like." Oh? "To be at times one with an urban environment, and to communicate with the place that provides you haven - refuge. I have to imagine it's a heady experience." Her eyes are lit up like a child at Christmas. Strange. At first glance, she seems like the type that would be most curious about the mechanics of it.
Jack Hawksmoor purses his lips. "Unfortunately, it's one of those hard to describe things. I mean, it's not...it's not language, it's knowing and feeling and sometimes it's pain and sometimes it's... It's data, flowing, sometimes too much of it." Yeah. It's really hard to describe being him.
That draws a nod from Ami, who puts her hands in her lap to keep them from doing anything nervous like playing with her purse, toying with the edge of her book, or worst of all pulling out her computer. She manages to look proper and attentive, instead of fidgety and excitable. This is progress for her.
"I can only imagine - though I'm sure poorly!" Ami's smile doesn't fade. "And I suppose I'm curious how much is intuitive, and how much is abstract." She's not trying to press him or interrogate him, but it might feel like it. She is interested, after all.
"Think..." Jack furrows his brow. "...about where the line between those things falls within a dream." yes, he's trying to explain.
Ami considers that for a moment, her brow getting this thin little worry line as she scrunches up her nose, just a bit. "...That's unclear to me." Maybe that's the point.
"Exactly. You're asking me to draw a line that doesn't really exist, while describing a sense you don't have. I can try, but..." But words are inadequate.
"Ah..." Ami's eyes get a look of comprehension, and then she blushes a bit, embarrassed, before nodding. "I understand. I'm sorry, sometimes my curiosity is stronger than my sense." She offers a disarming smile to follow that, and tucks some hair behind her ear - maybe she's not completely free of those nervous habits yet.
"It's not you, it's the fact that there aren't the words I need invented," Jack says, a little ruefully.
With a nod, Ami sits up a little straighter in her chair. "Still, I appreciate the candid explanation." She takes a moment to reflect, and then tilts her head very slightly to the left inquisitively. "If you should ever want to work with someone on inventing those words, my office is open to you." Ok, so she doesn't have an office. It's a figure of speech.
Jack Hawksmoor laughs a bit. "Maybe we can find them in Japanese?" A pause. "Actually, I already looked for them there." And in a few other languages too.
Ami at first looks thoughtful at the suggestion, but then laughs at Jack's follow-up. "Somehow I'm not surprised." She's also not surprised that she likes Jack. She liked Rayne and Shirou, and the others that she's met so far. Cosgrove was a solid neutral, though. It's hard to get a read on that man...
Jack Hawksmoor shrugs. "Fact is, we're dealing with a bizarre mix of technology and psionics and it's just the way it is. The important thing is I can translate the data."
With a slower nod, this time, Ami looks a bit sympathetic. "I've been on the side of overwhelming data without proper translation available." The blue-haired girl's eyes lose focus, looking past Jack at something that isn't there. Just for a second. Then she shakes her head quickly and smiles again. "It can be a mess."
Ami takes a moment, lifting her vanilla oolong tea to her mouth and breathing in to enjoy that pleasant aroma. The smell and heat are calming, and she takes a slow, long sip before she lowers it. "Did you have any questions of me, Detective?" She plays with the title, her voice having a hint of amusement in it. She's pretty sure he wouldn't mind being called Jack.
"What kind of magic do you do?" Jack asks. "Or know about, or whatever. It's probably different from the magic in my world."
Straight to the point, then. Ami's easy smile at the question glosses over the years and years she spent coming to terms with the fact that hiding her magical abilities simply wasn't practical here. Four years ago, she'd have laughed nervously at the question and implied she had no powers.
"I'm mostly an analyst - I specialize in magic and technology, and the interaction between the two is especially fascinating to me." She reaches into her purse and pulls out her glasses, tapping the side for a moment before turning them so Jack can see the lenses the way he would if he were wearing them.
In the frames, Ami is surrounded by a calm blue aura that drifts down around her in a fashion that might resemble snow, if Jack were looking closely. Mercurian script that is definitely not any earth language describes what the glasses are seeing, but it doesn't likely mean much to him. "And these are my tools. I'm not actually near-sighted." Or far-sighted for that matter.
Jack Hawksmoor ahs. "AR glasses. Theoretical where I come from even for people with high tech access." But he understands the theory.
Jack's understanding clearly pleases Ami, as she sits up a little straighter and smiles just a little brighter. "I'm quite proud of them - they took several years to get right." She doesn't mention that she was reverse engineering from significantly more advanced AR and sensor tech. That was its own struggle. Besides, she technically made those, too. Just... previous her. Mercury. "I also have some control over water, but lately, I've been trying to avoid using that." Her powers have been a bit out of control lately - she never used to even have them in civilian form, but now she's using them intuitively there. She's not afraid - merely erring on the side of caution.
Jack Hawksmoor purses his lips. "Why? It could come in handy." Reverse engineering counts! Any tinkerer he's met would agree.
"Ah..." Ami fidgets a bit, and this time her hands do start playing with the corner of her purse. "...I almost hurt someone with my abilities on accident the other day." And almost turned herself in for it. "They've never been so... intuitive... before. I'm just trying to keep them under control until I have a better handle on the changes I'm going through."
Jack Hawksmoor leans back a little. "Now I wish Jenny was here, she's good with tips for that kind of thing."
"Jenny?" The name is a question on Ami's lips, and she tilts her head to one side, thoughtfully. "A friend of yours from before Twisted?" Getting separated from friends and loved ones is pretty much a fact of life, here.
"My former team leader. And, yes, my friend." Amongst other things. "The fact that she hasn't tracked me down is a testament to how hard it is to get in and out of this place."
"Ah." Ami offers Jack another sympathetic look, not knowing how best to describe her theories on the matter. "...It's also possible that you'll find your way back shortly after you left, temporally speaking, and she won't need to look for you." ... That's a weird kind of optimism.
"That's possible too. Or I might never make it back. Heck, it might be that this place, right now, needs me more." He sounds serious. Regretful, but serious.
"Needs you more?" Ami sounds a bit confused, but not judgemental or anything like that. "...I suppose that's less abstract of a question for someone of your nature than most of us." The girl looks thoughtful again. "Regardless, I'm glad we have you, even if I'm sorry for what it cost you." Not that she would know.
"Mabase is...wounded. Hurting. And healing only slowly," Jack says by way of an explanation.
"The crash." Ami states simply, and winces a bit. "...Were you here when it happened?" She doesn't want to consider the level of pain that would have been felt for someone of Jack's persuasion. If she's even capable.
Jack Hawksmoor shakes his head. "No. I wasn't. But I can feel the lines of it, the folds." His lips quirk. "It can't be put back, from what I can tell."
Ami looks relieved when Jack says he wasn't here - she wouldn't wish something like that on anyone. She purses her lips when he says it can't be put back, though. "I know someone who would do everything she could to prove you wrong if she were here, but..." Yes, they all lost people. Or those people lost them. Either way. "...We'll make due."
"I mean, as far as I can tell the city's stable in this form, at least as long as we can keep people from messing around with any more portals..." He apparently knows something of what happened.
"I don't think there are many left who can," Ami offers hopefully, "so there's that." She takes another sip of her tea, and then puts her glasses on absent-mindedly, instead of just holding them awkwardly. She sighs and closes her eyes for a long moment. "...But I can't help but wonder..." She trails off. It's not her fault this happened; she was in the hospital at the time. But maybe she could have pieced two and two together sooner...
The girl seems to wander off in thought.
"Somebody who can might fall through a portal at any time. We'll just have to quietly warn them." Even most bad guys don't want to risk destroying the ground they stand on.
"I suppose that's true." Ami returns from her thoughts without any preamble, her focus returning to Jack. "I'm sure we'll be able to reason with them if we catch them in time." She offers a bright smile that is somehow unvarnished by the jaded cynicism that living here should impart people with.
"And if we can't, we'll deal with them another way. I prefer reason, though." Not that Jack won't punch somebody if he has to...
"I... yes." Ami looks briefly concerned. "...I hope it doesn't come to that." She has more than a little experience with individuals that fail to see reason - and more than a little experience with taking and dishing out violence. Those were literal demons though, youma. People shouldn't be exposed to such things.
"...What do you do with a drunken sailor?" She muses to herself quietly.
Jack Hawksmoor comes out with the next line. "Early in the morning."
Ami blinks. Twice. She looks to Jack as if he just unearthed the answer to an ancient riddle, and then gives a warm, musical laugh. "Was that out loud?" She should be embarrassed, but she's tickled, just now. "I'm sorry."
"Yup, it was," he says with a slight grin.
"Sometimes things just come out that should probably stay internal." Ami continues laughing it off, and then shifts a bit in her seat as she realizes she's staring at Jack with her glasses on. She blinks, blanches, and then hurriedly reaches up, snatching them off her face to fold them back up. She'd forgotten that she was wearing them. Rude.
Jack Hawksmoor flinches a little. He has some idea what she just saw, and he looks away. Not so much embarrassed, as...
Jack doesn't even have to say anything. Ami looks properly chastised already. In fact, she stands up and bows low in a form of apology that it sounds like Jack is actually familiar with. "I apologize, that was rude and unprofessional of me." She keeps her head low and winces. Privacy, Ami. "I'll report the misconduct to HR immediately." Oh, well, now maybe that's going a bit far. Is she a cartoon character?
Don't answer that.
Jack Hawksmoor shakes his head. "No need. You would have found out sooner or later anyway." No, he doesn't go around telling people, it creeps them out. And he's still not quite looking at her, but...
"Still." Ami is more insistent than Jack, about his own privacy, which will give her a moment's pause shortly, but for right now... "It's a gross violation of your privacy." She stands back up, and tries to look him in the eye, which proves difficult with him not looking at her. She doesn't have pity, or sympathy, or any of the things Jack might expect in her eyes, not even fascination or scrutiny. She's just upset with herself, and that's more important, apparently. Someone has a complex.
He looks back towards her. There's a red glint in his eyes. And, oddly, he relaxes. "I'm saying, don't worry about it."
When she sees Jack relax, Ami looks confused, but she visibly relaxes, too. "O-Ok." The girl takes a deep breath, and then nods her head once, as if that settled matters. She decides she'll crack a joke to get conversation back on track, and break up the awkwardness. What did Mako-chan call it? An Ice-breaker? No, that can't be right.
"Normally I reserve those for troubleshooting problems, not spying on people." She gives a light laugh, and goes to tuck some hair behind her ear, only to find she has already done that in this conversation. This causes her to blush just a little more, but she wears embarrassment well. From experience.
"It's just the hardware," Jack says. "I never could be sure Battalion wasn't poking around in my head. NOt that I think he really ever did, but..." Telepaths. "Although maybe if I have a problem I'll get you to troubleshoot it."
That causes Ami to tilt her head to one side. "Battalion? A military unit of some sort? Special ops?" Apparently not wanting to violate someone's privacy and being nosy are completely separate, non-conflicting goals. To Ami, anyway.
"...Regardless, please feel free to ask if ever you need anything. I'd be honored to help." Well, she would! She likes justice. Jack likes justice. Teamwork!
Jack Hawksmoor shakes his head. "Battalion, so called because he could take on a military unit. On his own. Decent guy, mind. Just the kind of guy you want on your side, not against you."
"Oh. Oh my." Ami sounds impressed, and purses her lips together. "It sounds like he was? On your side, I mean." The girl bends down to pick up the book she dropped in her haste to get up, and then retakes her seat. Fortunately, she didn't spill her tea. That would have been a tragedy.
Jack Hawksmoor nods. "Yeah, he was. Like I said, decent guy. Not that I knew him well, but he never did anything I know of that I'd call...dishonorable."
"But you were worried he was...?" Ami lifts a hand and taps the side of her temple, a quizzical look on her face. It seems like she's just going to press Jack on any details he offers, which is probably not polite - but just because she cares about being polite doesn't mean she always knows where the line is.
"Hard to be comfortable around a telepath even if you know him," Jack says. "'Course, I have a few tricks of my own for invading people's privacy. I reserve them for people who deserve it."
"Oh, yes." Ami nods, looking less confused now, and possibly even a bit more relaxed. "Telepaths." This is apparently not a new thing to her, either. "And I... I'm not sure I know when people deserve to have their privacy violated. I'm not a legal or law enforcement expert." Right, independent consultant, then? Apparently she had reservations about joining the police as an employee, but she never made them known to anyone.
Vigilante activities don't always go well with law enforcement, regardless of intentions.
"Detective, remember. Sometimes you have to go through somebody's stuff." A pause. "The perp's, the victim's..." He tails off. "You forget what you saw that wasn't relevant. You kind of learn to compartmentalize.
"Ah." Ami can sort of relate to that. "Like forcing yourself to forget someone's login if they don't protect it properly." ... Yes. Sure. Like that.
Jack Hawksmoor nods. "Exactly. And then there's resisting the temptation to peek at stuff you know you shouldn't." He shrugs a bit. "You get used to it.
"I suppose you would." Ami's smiling again, now that the conversation has reached a point she can relate to. It's good to have a conversational touchstone you can rely upon. She's found, anyway. Normal people probably don't have that problem. Social skills and all that.
Jack Hawksmoor nods. "So, you're a hacker as well?" he asks. From his tone, he doesn't consider that term an insult.
"A hacker?" Ami parses the question with a look crossing her face and leaving it just as quickly. That look? Excitement. "I have been known to customize from time to time." ...She is running a modified version of an ancient, magical operating system that was created by a prehistorical super genius - who was also her - on a pair of glasses that are themselves a crystalline computer.
She may be understating - so as not to scare off conversation. People don't really want to hear about her hobbies, usually, even if they think they do before she opens her mouth.
Jack Hawksmoor nods. "Handy to know. Fiddling with computer systems isn't my thing." His lips quirk. "Especially as the computers here are a decade or two past what I'm used to."
"Well, I don't only consult on magical problems. But it would probably be better for the force to have a dedicated IT team than rely on a contractor." Truer words? Never spoken. "Still, if you need help, don't be afraid to ask." Ami apparently volunteers for a lot of things.
Jack Hawksmoor nods. "We do have some IT, it's just good to know what people can do." A pause. "I'll be more likely to come if there's magical...issues. I don't know a lot about magic."
The blue-haired girl lifts her tea to just under her nose, inhaling deeply and enjoying the scent and warmth before taking another sip. She closes her eyes and smiles as the warmth spreads through her, then opens those eyes to look at Jack thoughtfully. "That's quite alright. Either way, my door's open." Well, it would be. If she had a door.
"I know," he says. She might not have a door...not that Jack always uses them (except with Rayne. Rayne is finicky about doors) but he trusts she means it when she says she'll be available.
"Good." Ami's smile is warm, and she shifts a bit, glancing back at her book. After a moment, she picks it back up, and returns to where she was - she doesn't really believe in awkward silences, and there's nothing quite so pleasant as curling up with a good book. Plus, monopolizing all of Jack's break time is a concern in its own right. She worries a lot.
"I'd better get back to my case," Jack says, after a moment. "I may have something for you sooon, though." There MAY be magic involved. Or something magic-like anyway.
Ami glances to Jack as he says that, and her smile warms again. "Of course, don't let me keep you." She has no problem with magic and... magic-adjacent problems. She'll probably come in handy.