Author Topic: Career Counselling  (Read 119 times)

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Offline Existentially Odd

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Career Counselling
« on: April 08, 2019, 11:43:05 PM »
A knock sounded on the closed door of her office. "Come in," Xiamara ordered, not looking away from her keyboard. She wasn't the best typist and she had to watch the keys as she tried to write an inspirational speech for the commencement ceremony in a few nights' time. It wasn't going well. She was not a good writer. Regardless of her ability to motivate them, twenty brand new Ward officers would soon be released onto the city streets to police them. As Captain of the City Ward, Xiamara was proud that it was their biggest cohort yet, it meant great things for the city. It also meant more headaches for her.

The scent of a vampire came to her and she glanced over as a young blond settled himself cautiously in the chair on the other side of her desk. He looked nervous, fidgeting with an invisible spot on his uniform and not meeting her gaze. It was two in the morning so he would be just coming off shift. His mannerisms gave her enough concern that she saved her document and spun away from the keyboard, forearms resting on the edge of the desk, hands hovering.

"Officer Harper," she greeted warily. "Shift go okay?"

Owen looked confused for a second but then his expression cleared. "Oh! Yeah, everything went fine. Easy night," he dismissed with a wave of his hand, wriggling in his seat again.

"Then what can I do for you?" Xiamara demanded brusquely.

"I... w-wanted to talk to you..." he stammered, the nerves attacking him far more aggressively than he'd expected. It was difficult to say what he needed to, especially with the captain looking so expectantly at him.

The silence stretched awkwardly between them while he decided how best to phrase himself, intimidated as he was by her. He'd seen her wings and sexy tail once, in the early days of the Ward. They'd been on patrol together and needed to subdue an angry stone demon. Owen had been shocked when her glamour dropped and he'd frozen in the middle of everything, too amazed by her wings' magnificence to be much help. She'd reamed him out - after she'd got the demon squared away by herself - for a good five minutes afterwards. Without stopping for breath. She was totally awesome, which only made this harder.

"So talk," she ordered gruffly.

Owen sat up straighter and squared his shoulders. "I wanted to talk to you about leaving the City Ward," he said quickly.

Xiamara frowned. "You're not happy?"

"It's not that!" Owen exclaimed, holding out a hand to stop that line of thinking. "I love working here!" She gave him a look that was a mix between 'I smell something strange' and 'you're fucking crazy', prompting him to elaborate. "It's just... I've been talking to Ben - Samson? - and he o-offered me a job doing security. F-for the Kerr Galvin Academy. It's better pay and I-I think it'll make Vincent a lot happier if I'm not roaming the streets every night, so... " he trailed off with a defensive shrug, going quiet while he waited for her to respond.

Xiamara remained silent, staring at him through narrowed eyes while she put all the information together and made a decision. When she did, it was unequivocally spoken. "No."

Owen frowned. "No?" he asked shakily, as if he'd misheard her blunt utterance.

"No." She curled her hands together, interlacing her fingers and tilting her head so that her square jaw was sharply angled towards him.

Owen didn't know what to say. He hadn't been asking for permission, he'd been giving notice. Perhaps she hadn't understood that (even though the fire in her dark brown eyes made it perfectly obvious that she had, and the stubborn way she was glaring at him was both scary and arousing, which only confused matters)? He started to tell her again. "You d-don't understand, I--"

"I understand perfectly," she cut in calmly. "But I'm not having it."

"N-not having it?" the young vampire stammered, confused.

"Exactly. I'm not having our supposed benefactor - whom I can never get to meet with me, let alone confirm my budget, my rosters or approve my plans for expansion, because he's always too busy - swan in here and scoop the cream off our roster just because he feels he has the right to. Not without speaking to me first!" she barked, stabbing her desk with a finger for emphasis.

"I-I'm cream?" Owen asked, a slow grin spreading over his face at her inadvertent compliment. He sat a little straighter in his chair. The captain merely glared at him, helping him realise he was missing her point. He cleared his throat. "But there are twenty new recruits starting soon and the roster is looking healthier than it's ever looked. Plus, there aren't even any neutral territories for us to patrol anymore!" he pointed out triumphantly, confident his argument would be well received.

"Just because there are no neutral territories doesn't mean there aren't thousands of neutral supernaturals out there that still prefer calling us to deal with their problems, rather than getting their district leaders involved," she ground out, her hand released from its pointing position to become a fist. Her smooth, tanned flesh glowed healthily even under fluorescent lighting, distracting him momentarily.

Owen had to admit she was right. He'd had that sentiment expressed to him personally almost every shift since the districts had finally been sorted out. The supernatural citizens of the city had trusted the Oligarchy - to a certain extent - because they'd had a nexus of interspecies representation from which to work. Everyone had felt comfortable going there because they'd been greeted and dealt with by a system that had seemed fair in its transparency. One building, many species and plenty of rules to keep everyone accountable.

By comparison, the districts came off as competitive, independently motivated and less reliable. People trusted the City Ward to take care of their dilemmas efficiently, not wishing to 'bother' their districts because it felt harsher or more targeted or something. Owen couldn't explain it, but he'd heard it time and again. Whether arresting unruly young vampires or intoxicated fairies, the first thing that usually came out of their mouth was whether they were being taken to their district leader or the Ward. They were always relieved when told they'd spend some time at the city's convenience.

"Yeah, I know," he warbled reluctantly, lowering his gaze to her desk. He didn't really want to leave his job at the Ward but Vincent did worry he'd get hurt and Ben had said straight up he'd be in charge of managing shifts and rosters at the academy. He'd be a boss behind a desk. It would be boring but the money was better and he'd keep his husband happy, plus help out Ben, a guy he liked well enough. How could he say no?

"Leave this with me," Xiamara instructed.

Owen lifted his gaze hopefully. "What're you going to do?"

"Get a meeting with Mister Samson, for a start," she said grimly, reaching for her phone. "Are you the only one he's headhunted?"

Owen really wanted to argue that she was being overdramatic, referring to a casual conversation as 'headhunting'... but Ben had asked Owen to talk to some of his fellow officers - the ones he trusted and knew worked hard - and make an offer on his behalf as well. So Owen had. He'd drummed up about ten peoples' interests so far. Guilt flooded through him. "Um... there are others," he nodded, looking contritely at his hands.

"Fuck," she swore beneath her breath, already scrolling through her contacts. She had Ben's number but she'd never used it, even though it'd felt like he was always dodging her. She'd only ever tried to set up meetings and calls with him previously as a courtesy. She always went ahead with whatever she wanted anyway, as that was how Conner had trained her to do it. Decide and act, no hesitation. It was a code she'd lived by for centuries and she wasn't about to change now. She found the correct number, glancing up and noting Owen was still there before she hit the call button. "You're still an employee of the City Ward until further notice, got that?" she told him sternly.

"Yes, Captain," Owen responded obediently, squirming in his seat once more.

"You're dismissed."

"Thank you, Captain," he said, relieved. As he reached for the doorhandle, however, she called out to him.

"Officer Harper."

He kept his hand on the door and turned his head to look at her over his shoulder, an expectant look on his face.

"Do you own a cat?"

Owen blinked, confused. When the captain used her phone to point to the bottom of his pants leg, he looked down and noticed a streak of short, stiff white hairs on the side of his calf. Wondering how she'd even noticed them and mortified he was being disciplined for a uniform breach, he bent down to brush them off, explaining as he did. "No ma'am, it's not my cat. A stray rubbed up against me in the courtyard, as I returned from shift, meowing for some food."

"Did you feed it?"

"No, ma'am," he said proudly.

Her expression became even more offended than when he'd told her he was leaving the Ward for another job, causing him to rethink his answer. "B-but there's a convenience store on the next block. It's open twenty-four hours. I could go get some cat food?" he offered, relieved when she smiled. She was just a beautiful woman in that moment and he couldn't help but gaze admiringly at her.

"Wait are you waiting for?" she barked after a few moments, the smile swiftly replaced by a frown.

"O-oh! Sure! Cat food! I'm on it!" he called and hurried out of the room.

Xiamara huffed disapprovingly and looked down at the phone. She'd make a quick call to organise a meeting that should've happened weeks before and then go and check on Officer Harper and the cat. Particularly the cat. Her speech could wait, she still had time. What did a vampire know about keeping living things alive? The cat might need more than food. She pressed the call button impatiently.