Hitomi was a short, Japanese woman in her thirties. Her hair was cut in a simple boy’s cut and crammed under a paint-splattered baseball cap. She wore old, worn jeans and an equally paint spattered t-shirt. Her gaze bounced back and forth between Al and Hito, taking in Hito Yon’s combat fatigues and Al’s techno-domme armor. “Right,” she said. “Nice costumes, and I’d love to help you put the final touches on them, but it’s opening night and I’ve got to get back to my theater, so you two will just have to come back later.”
Hito clambered up to his feet. “Hitomi?”
“Uh, yeah,” Hitomi said. “Who else would you expect to be coming to my apartment? The better question is: who are you two?”
Hito Yon flushed. “I’m Hito Yon. Didn’t Mr. Tanaka tell you about us?”
Hitomi frowned. “Nope,” she said. “I’ve been at work all day, and my phone is in the sound booth. Um, why don’t you come in and we can sort this out?” She stepped between Hito and Al and unlocked the apartment door, then swung it open.
“Please, guests first,” she said, gesturing for them to enter and following when they did.
Hitomi’s apartment was cluttered with boxes. Clothes and fabric were spread over everything, and dozens of paint cans were stacked along one wall, but the walls themselves were bare.
“Pardon the mess, but I haven’t really finished unpacking. So, are you two with the reinforcements?” She grimaced. “I don’t have a lot of space, so you’ll want to find a place of your own, but I can break out some sleeping bags in the bedroom.”
Hito cleared his throat. “I think we need to update you on the situation before any considerations like that are made,” he said dutifully.
Hitomi looked at him and arched an eyebrow. “Sure,” she said. “Go for it. As long as you can get through whatever it is before I finish getting a change of clothes: I’m on a schedule.”