The call couldn’t have ended at a better time. Just as Koichi put his phone away, the curtain around his table was drawn aside and a woman in a kimono knelt and set a tray of small dishes on the table.
Seer didn’t seem to notice. She was engulfed in writing something in her full-to-bursting planner. Despite her multiple attempts at organizing it, her planner always looked like it was about to explode. She had so many people and events to keep track of, it was no wonder she had trouble staying clutter-free. Even with her powers of precognition—no, because of her powers of precognition—she ended up being in charge of logistics, of loyalties, of weeding out the weak and unstable.
She was the perfect person for the job and Koichi did what he could to ease her burden. No one knew how much she had riding on her shoulders except Koichi and no one knew how much Koichi had on his own shoulders except Seer.
If only she would trust him with her true name. He had asked her about it before, but she had declined to tell him. He didn’t want to press her, and forcing her to tell him would breach the beneficial anonymity that he had so carefully woven into his society. No, he just had to stay by her side and hope that one day, she would trust him enough to tell him. Maybe he would even be the first person to earn her trust, as she didn’t seem to share her personal information with anyone at all.
Koichi shrouded himself in secrecy, but even his secrecy didn’t match up to Seer’s. Maybe it was because none of Koichi’s secrets were secrets to him, but he didn’t know anything about Seer, even though she had come to work for him straight out of college. She had already chosen a pseudonym and had already started wearing wigs.
She didn’t let him know where she had come from or what her hobbies were or even what she had studied in school. She was a brain sharp as glass and a mouth thin and closed with no guilt for not putting herself on display. She had everything together and she didn’t owe any explanations. Koichi admired that about her.
Nightshade, on the other hand, always seemed to be offering explanations. During their weekly phone calls, Koichi could hardly get a word in edgewise to inquire after Countersink, which was the whole purpose of calling in the first place. He would be glad of the day when he had Countersink separated from that buffoon.
Unlike Nightshade, Countersink had some real potential. And the best part was that he didn’t realize he had this potential. Hosts these days were their own biggest fans; they knew who they were, what they wanted, and they didn’t let anyone comment. That kind of attitude was attractive until you noticed that those same hosts hadn’t improved in years. They had the same flaws and the same problems because they believed they were already perfect.
Countersink was not like that. Countersink was malleable, and Koichi was confident that under his guidance the scruffy little desert mouse could become someone great.
“How are things?” asked Seer, still focused on her own work.
Koichi smiled. “Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”
Seer smiled briefly. “Well played, sir, and usually that would be the case, but you just got off the phone with him and I haven’t had a vision about them since this morning.”
Koichi nodded and put the smart phone into his jacket pocket and replaced his gloves.
“Things are going well according to Nightshade, but you know how he exaggerates,” said Koichi, picking up his chopsticks. “That, and he keeps reminding me of our agreement. As if I’d forgotten.”
“He’s scared,” said Seer, setting her planner aside and filling a plate with the food from the entrée dishes. “And he has reason to be, with this ridiculous take-the-US-from-other-hosts nonsense they’ve got going on.”
“You think it’s ridiculous?”
Seer pushed her rice around. “It’s needless strife when there’s already plenty of it going around.”
“Well, you’re not wrong,” said Koichi, “but things will balance out. Given enough time, things always do. And when they reach equilibrium, Nightshade will be out of the picture and I’ll have Countersink.”
“He would be more productive under your direction,” Seer said. “Nightshade has him running around like a lemming.”
“Yes, we’ll all be better off once he isn’t following Nightshade’s crazy betrayal scheme.”
“I thought you supported their scheme, sir.”
“I think it’s idiotic, frankly, but I’m not about to interfere. It sounds like more work than it’s worth. And yet it will probably push Countersink away from Nightshade, so he will be ready to leave him when the time comes.”
A/N: Seer has mastered perfectly-organized chaos. Her apartment has piles of things in corners, papers in the bathroom cupboards, sticky notes with names next to the coffee maker, her notes-to-self notebook shoved between the couch cushions, her things-to-tell-the-Angel-of-Death notebook on her bedside table, and her things-to-not-tell-the-Angel-of-Death notebook on her desk.
Not the most secure set-up, but her notes are so brief and poorly written that it would take a trained cryptographer to decipher them.