He just wants to be another customer at this crowded street cafe, enjoying the heat of the spice and crunch of the pork like any other customer here, but when the gangly man with the ridiculous button-up shirt and tie strolls up to his table, a little kid in tow, he sighs deeply. Remy's brought in another one.
Remy grins wildly, his tangled black hair mussed up in its customary fashion. "Sorry to bug you again, Alex." He speaks fluid Indonesian in a high, lilting tone. "She asked me to take her to the Library, and I just couldn't say no, really."
The girl clutching his hand is tiny and pudgy, chewing on her knuckle. She looks like she's barely just lost her first tooth, and certainly not old enough to be asking anyone to visit a Library that doesn't officially exist. Her wide eyes and pink shirt are almost comically out of place in the grimy joint, a fairy princess among the peasants.
"Look, Remy." Alex takes a good sip of his Tehbotol, wiping his mouth after he's done. "Why are you taking five year olds now? The tourists, the dog of all-" (people) "-things, now little girls?" He tugs at the collar of his khakis, the stifling heat of the Malang air only serving to choke him further. "We're not field trip guides, Remy, and we're not in the business of taking kids off the street for Library visits."
He takes another bite of the pork, before putting down his cutlery. "Let me guess, you made a mistake."
Remy glances from side to side at the other patrons and pulls up a chair for the girl, causing a couple of the other patrons to give him annoyed looks as his bookbag jabs into a few plates and backs. "Look, OK, I was just getting the books you wanted – which reminds me, there you are-" -he takes a leather-bound book from his bag and dumps it on the table, making the cutlery and the surrounding diners jump- "-and she just happened to be passing by Pak Sugi's place, alright?"
In response, Alex taps the side of his neck, where Remy has an elaborate-looking tattoo. "You had a glamour charm, you could've damn well used it," he grunts. The girl is now taking bites of the since-forgotten bowl of food, chewing on the roast pork.
His companion visibly deflates, bony shoulders slumping. "Look, I didn't think there'd be anyone passing by, and I sure as hell didn't think she'd be the one to notice it out of, you know, everyone else who happens to pass by the old bastard's house? Plus," he adds, "she's not stupid. She knows what we do."
Alex freezes. "…What did you do," he asks after a few moments of pause.
"I didn't do anyth-"
The girl bursts out into a choking fit and Remy quickly moves to thump her on the back. She coughs and the bowl rattles – Alex quickly pulls the bowl towards him and discovers, much to his surprise, that the thing in the bowl is… a diamond, or as close to it as he can tell.
Alex swears softly. "You weren't kidding, were you?"
"Not unless that's a special that someone hasn't told me about yet," Remy quips, picking up the gem and rolling it between his fingers. "Come on, the Hand's gonna be the best place for her. She's gonna get shot by the Gock, locked up by the Foundation, you really want to keep her here?"
"I…" Alex leans back in his chair, sighs deeply, and picks up the half-finished Tehbotol. "You roped me into this, you're getting the Indomie to open the Way," he scowls, getting up from his chair and placing a few notes on the table.
"Deal." Remy nods, gives Alex an apologetic peck on the cheek and pokes the girl's arm. "Come on… uh…"
"…You picked her up off the street, you wanted to take her to the Library and you didn't know even know her name." Alex rolls his eyes. "What's your name, then?" he asks the girl.
She smiles a toothy grin. "Jasmine, Pak Alex."
"Jasmine, huh?" He stares down at the little girl in the dress, remembers the reason why he's in this uniform, and his scowl softens the slightest bit. "Come on. Let's go visit the Library."
License: CC BY:NC:SA 3.0