Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.
Acelin wasn’t in the lobby anymore when the Heirs stepped out of the elevator, which Leilan was relieved for. The bodyguard was a hard person to sneak by. They’d supervised a younger Shane while working for the House of Courage before they had gotten promoted to serve all the Heirs, and Leilan knew from stories his friend told how little got past them. They had to have left the lobby even earlier, or Kasumi wouldn’t have stood a chance in slipping out.
“I honestly can’t believe that she just left,” Kaja grumbled, pushing past him to reach the rotating doors first and exit the hotel. The cold wind hit Leilan a moment later when he followed, and the air seemed to bite at him like it was trying to frost him over. “What the fuck does she think she is, a detective?”
“Are you sure Kasumi hasn’t just been listening to too much of your talking about how it’s our right to have the power to enforce things, Kaja?” Shane said, with a tinge of bitterness that surprised Leilan.
Kaja glared at him. “Don’t think that I won’t kick your ass into a snowbank if you try to blame this on me.”
“Both of you, quit it,” Leilan protested, sighing heavily. “Kasumi’s the only one of us who should be getting an earful, but you’re already giving me a headache.”
“I don’t think she thought it was her job to check it out,” Dawn said with a frown, pulling the fur-lined hood of her coat over her head. “There’s not enough overlap between being an Heir and investigating a mystery on the front lines for her to get confused in a gray area on what to do. She must’ve reasoned differently.”
Leilan nodded. “She could have gone out of curiosity. Concern. Sheer boredom, even.”
“The first two are the most reasonable, but given how dreary that meeting was, it could also be the last,” Shane said.
“In any case, she shouldn’t have done it,” Leilan continued. “I’d like to keep this between the five of us, because we don’t need her getting in trouble, but it’s important that she knows she made the wrong choice. Kaja, that means you are not to blackmail her.”
“I can’t live anything down,” Kaja muttered. “It was one time.”
“And what a time it was.”
Dawn shook them both by the shoulders and pointed upwards before either of them could say anything more. All of them looked up at the rails overhead, where a train was passing them and clearing the distance to the station just a couple blocks away. Leilan heard a few sighs rise up from their group. One of them was probably his.
“Kasumi’s definitely catching that monorail, if she hasn’t caught the one before, and we’re not,” Dawn said matter-of-factly. “We’ll have to follow her over the ravine.”
Shane looked at the train tiredly. “Can’t we just call her and tell her this is a stupid idea? I wanted dinner.”
“Do you think she’d pick up?” Leilan asked gently.
Shane heaved a sigh as he immediately found the answer to that question. “Better catch the next one, then.”
“I think we funded public transportation here too much,” Kaja grumbled, going back to pushing her way through the crowd and leaving a path for them in her wake. “The trains are coming too fast.”
Leilan pressed his lips together rather than object. He didn’t have the energy to persuade her that just because something had inconvenienced her didn’t make it bad, and he knew the other two Heirs wouldn’t speak up either. They didn’t, but he saw Dawn’s shoulders slump slightly after Kaja spoke, and he had to wonder if she got just as weary of this as he did.
“The casino is called The Fortune,” Shane told them when the four stepped off the train, at the stop that was closest to Kasumi’s location. They walked down the station steps to street level. “She’s stopped moving and seems to be there. Her location is close to Favia’s, but not close enough that they’re together.”
“If the place is dangerous, she can’t have been there too long at least,” Leilan said hopefully.
“Gambling’s not suspicious,” Dawn said with a frown. “It’s perfectly legal in Central.”
“Gambling isn’t, no, but openly discussing and knowing of crime as it unfolds is.”
Shane glanced up from the screen on his wrist, worry spreading over his face. “Do we think Kasumi’s actually in danger?” he asked slowly. “Favia too? Have they walked into a place where they’re likely to get hurt?”
Dawn shifted uncomfortably, looking away across the street, and Leilan thought he saw some slight concern in Kaja’s eyes. His chest tightened a little at the idea— Kasumi backing away from something, alarm in her eyes as she bumped into a poker game table behind her.
“We’ll get there, alright?” He did his best to smile reassuringly to match the promise. “We can get her out of there and safe if there’s a risk. Not to mention, she could probably fight someone off with sass if anyone tries something.”
The other three gave him hesitant nods, slowly relaxing. Dawn let out a deep breath of relief, unstiffening before she gestured to a building across the street and half a block away. “That’s a movie theater,” she said, and Leilan saw it a moment later. “Kasumi said there was one of those opposite from the casino.”
Kaja peered over the crowd, which was easy with her height. “Well, there’s a sign for The Fortune just across the street from it.”
Shane frowned. “How did she know about that? I’m not seeing the movie theater labeled on the map, so she didn’t see it when she saw the casino’s location.”
Leilan hummed uncertainly. “I… don’t know. If she remembered the casino somehow, that’s a strange detail to remember.”
“Remembered it from what, though?” Dawn asked.
He shook his head, waving them onwards. The question was too hard to answer, and that bothered him. “I’m not sure. Let’s get in there and see what we can find out.”
After they’d walked the other half of the block, Leilan pulled the glass door to The Fortune open, and he was surprised by the volume of the music that he hadn’t been able to hear from the street. The four of them shuffled to the side of the entrance and stood in a huddle, scanning the area with distrust. People moved between slot machines and arcade games or congregated around card and pool tables. Some patrons sat at the bar against one wall, sipping drinks and watching the activities. Even though he’d walked in here expecting to see something bad, Leilan couldn’t find something specific that was off about the place.
“Should we ask someone if they’ve seen her?” Dawn suggested timidly.
“That’s a good idea,” Shane agreed. “Let’s be careful talking to people here though, we don’t know what they’re up to— Wait, wait. Oh, shit.”
Kaja was already walking towards a pool table with purpose, her jaw set and clenched with what Leilan considered too much hostility for this. She tapped the man with the cue stick on the shoulder roughly before he could make his shot. The man glanced up, at first looking annoyed at the distraction, then mildly scared by her size and obvious strength. Dawn sighed, Shane pinched the bridge of his nose, and Leilan grimaced slightly when they heard her bellow.
“I’m looking for someone. Sarcastic, medium-length black hair, short but pretends she isn’t, has probably been rude to a few people already, wearing a leather jacket even though it’s freezing because she’s stubborn.” Kaja paused. “And also heels. Where is she?”
Leilan shook his head as the party around the table shifted nervously, and the man with the cue stick squeaked out, “I’m sorry, I don’t know who that is.”
“I practically gave you her census information,” Kaja grumbled, her low tone indicating that she was about out of patience with the unfortunate player. “What more do you want?”
“I haven’t seen—”
“I am not that short!”
The clacking of heels punctuated the exclamation as Kasumi hurried in from the direction of the bar, wearing an indignant scowl and folding her arms over her chest. She raised her chin defiantly, which did make up for her height a little.
“I knew it’d work,” Kaja crowed, leaving behind the pool table to meet her.
“Sorry for the trouble,” Shane called over to the baffled players as they rushed to join Kasumi. With a few shakes of the head and extremely nervous chuckles, the game of pool went on.