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She replaced her cigarette and inhaled deeply with her eyes closed. She spent many of her nights at bars, others on her very lonely, shitty couch watching whatever struck a vague note of her interest, from the boring news to a semi-decent movie on one of a million channels playing absolutely nothing, and others just sitting out here until she was driven back inside by the discomfort of sitting on the stairs or... whatever, really. If she had a nickel for every time she nursed her so-called bad habits, she may have quite the collection already. Still probably better chances if it were dollars for them instead, though.
It was her shitty little hole in the wall and she liked it like that. The kitchen space was cramped. Her couch was old. Her neighbors weren't always pleasant to deal with. But where would she go otherwise, right? Manhattan was too much for more than visits and work.
Work. Direction. It was just enough direction to give her something to achieve and work towards, but working for herself offered that tasteful freedom of doing whatever the hell she pleased when she pleased to a fine enough extent that she just didn't get from working under other people. Sure, she still technically worked for other people, but she did get to pick her clients, so that still didn't really apply.
A smile came across her lips as a familiar gray shape slunk from the shadows from along the buildings, padding up to her to majestically sit down, wrapping its tail neatly over its feet and blinking at her with observant yellow eyes. "Where you been lately, you rascal?" she muttered, reaching out to give a slightly rough rub of the cat's head, but it simply leaned into her hand, as usual. "Guess I haven't been too much around for you to visit, huh? What a bad friend I am."
Truthfully, why didn't she just take the poor bastard in already? He visited, she fed him a bit, gave him some pets... He started to show up more as she created the little pattern for him, not that she had expected much of anything else. Her eyes narrowed slightly as the feline started to purr faintly, pressing against her hand and weaving about it as she continued to scratch at him carefully. "Guess I should probably come up with a name for you before I start doing that, hmm?" she mused. Black lines printed across his mostly gray coat and there wasn't a spec of white to be seen nor spoken of anywhere on him. He was skinny and he walked funny.
But, just like her little shitty hole in the wall was her little shitty hole in the wall, this stray was more or less hers, in her mind, at least. No one else seemed to care much for him and he made for decent company more often than not when she sat down out here to smoke. Maybe she'd just call him that. Smoke.
Ami decided to order Thai food from a restaurant that she went to all the time during the school year (because it was open late which was perfect for a college student cramming at two a.m.) but she didn't want to eat alone. So she impulsively took the food and a cab to visit the only friend she had who'd be up this late (and hopefully at home). The only reason she took a cab was because she knew her dad would go ballistic if she visited this part of town at night (if he had his way she'd still live at home even though she was totally an adult).
"Let's wait a few more minutes," Ami suggested to the cab driver, ducking down to smile at him through the rolled down passenger's side window. He'd parked on the curb outside of Kestrel's apartment and she asked him to wait for her while she knocked on the door (no one answered - but Ami wasn't ready to give up yet). Kestrel was the kind of person Ami wanted to be: she was super smart and super funny, and Ami met her for the first time when she was a police officer, but now she was a private investigator doing her own thing, not having to answer to anyone. Ami thought that was so cool. She couldn't imagine what that would be like. She'd always had her parents and her professors telling her what to do and how to do it, and sometimes she worried she'd never get away from other people's expectations. She wanted her own life just like Kestrel.
She leaned against the side of the cab and pulled out her cellphone, but just as she scrolled through her contacts for Kestrel's name under 'R', she glanced around the (mostly) empty sidewalk and recognized her (at least, she thought it was her - they really needed to get better street lamps down here, Ami thought distractedly, it didn't seem safe).
Ami held up one finger to the cab driver (he was getting paid for all of this, so she was sure he wasn't too annoyed with her) and walked towards the figure on the sidewalk. "Kestrel?" Ami called out to her, brightening as she drew closer and realize that it was, indeed, her very favorite P.I. "Hi! It's Ami!" obviously, not some sketchy person, "I'm sorry to drop in without calling first but- I couldn't sleep and I thought- well, I brought Thai food." She brandished the plastic bag with her favorite restaurant's logo with a hopeful smile on her face. First she wasn't sure if Kestrel would be around (she could've been busy on a case somewhere else in the city), and her second place to check would've been one of the bars she knew Kestrel liked - but now that she'd found her, she wondered if she (really) should've called first. Also, she wasn't alone: "I didn't know you had a cat."
"Fine," she sighed heavily, "I'll keep you." Despite the frown at the words, the rubbing of his head was fond. She'd only been petting the cat for several moments longer when footsteps against the sidewalk managed to draw just a sliver of her attention, leaving the question to grab the rest.
She would've brushed it off if it was just someone going about their night. She cared about the people she cared about, but Kestrel wasn't exactly the kind to throw her heart out on a fishing line for just anybody. Personally, she liked to say she walked a fine line between empathy and bitchiness. And almost always with a shade of lipstick to let the world know she was there to leave her damn mark, whether it was ready or not.
"Ami!" she grinned brightly and warmly, plucking up the cat in one arm and depositing him at her feet again as she stood, sidestepping about him to throw open arms out and pull the woman in for a hug. "How've you been, lovely?" Food was great, but far from a necessity.
She waved a hand vaguely to dismiss the apology and glanced over her shoulder at the cat now sitting on the sidewalk and staring up at her almost...
Kestrel shrugged. "He's not exactly mine. Suppose he is now, though. Been showin' him some love since he first came around; he's a stray. Seemed to take a shining to me though, so what the hell?"
She gave a welcoming wave of her arm, turning to lead the way into her apartment, "You know you're always more than welcome over, bearing gifts or just yourself," she said with a warm smile. "Of course, it's always a welcome bonus if you bring food. It smells amazing."
He really did seem to like Kestrel, the way he was looking up at her. "He seems sweet," a stray but maybe not a feral, especially if he was comfortable enough to make a human friend. "How does your landlord feel about pets?" Hers didn't allow any, but Ami had a family cat at her parents' house named Chip. They were definitely cat people. Sometimes she thought it'd be nice to have a pet, or a roommate, something to come home to. Just having her schoolbooks to talk to could make things a little lonely. And in times like those, she braved the New York City traffic to visit her friends.
And since Kestrel was here and invited her up to the apartment, she quickly detoured to the waiting cab driver, paid him, and thanked him for waiting. He pulled away from the curb without a reply and she turned around to catch up with Kestrel. "It is from my favorite place," she admitted, "They make the best noodles. I brought spicy pad thai, chicken satay, and spring rolls." She couldn't decide what to order so she ended up getting way too much food for one person to eat.
Ami was curious about what Kestrel had been up to, and she always liked to hear about her work (as much as she could share about it anyway). Being a P.I. seemed like the most interesting job. "Were you on a case tonight?" she asked, "Anything exciting?"
Honestly? It was a bit lonely sometimes, but she knew where most of that void, no pun intended, came from and that was almost harder to take on than trying to find her partner, even though it'd been years now. "Oh, you know me... Ups and downs and managing." She gave a somewhat careless shrug with one shoulder and scooped the cat up again under one arm. How did her landlord feel?
It was a question that paused her in the middle of rubbing until the tabby's chin for her to give a thoughtful frown. Did he care? If he did, Kestrel didn't care that he did... But he also knew her relatively well, for a landlord... Or at least her personality.
No, he hadn't ever said anything about her keeping an animal. She hadn't shown a lot of interest in it, sure, but. "If he's upset about it, he can get over it," she said decisively after a moment. She was keeping him and that was going to be that.
While Ami ran back to pay off her cab, Kestrel dug into her pockets with her free hand for her keys. She wiggled them into her door as Ami rejoined them and she kicked the door further open with the toe of her shoe. "Well, if you love it, I'm sure I'll enjoy it," she said with a grin, stepping aside to let Ami and the food in before closing the door and locking it behind them all, setting down Smoke afterwards and discarding her keys on the counter. For now, she wasn't too worried about her new feline companion. Most probably would have been more fussy over the matter, but given the fact that he simply sat down right where she'd placed him?
Yeah, he was probably going to be up her ass all night. Oh well. Personal heater!
"I wish!" she mused. She'd started rummaging through her cupboards for glasses. "It's a quiet night for little ole me, hence my sidewalk stake out. Figured I'd been a bad friend to the poor fella," she said, casting a vague wave at the cat, "so I owed him some proper company." She turned back to face her once she had two cups in hand, "Would you like something to drink? I'm honestly not sure I have the greatest selection, but what's mine is yours!"