Happy birthday, Catsafari! As of publishing this it was Catsafari's birthday yesterday and as a gift to her I asked her to give me a prompt. Here are the results, a fun little one shot that grew completely out of control.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, I don't even own the idea behind this story, but I did write every single word all by myself.


Haru was running late, that was an undisputed fact. She half speed walked, half jogged down the side walk. She'd have all out sprinted, but the modest heels she was wearing were just enough to make anything too fast quite dangerous. Not to mention the pencil skirt and her best blouse making it all the harder to do anything more than a stilted strut from the bus stop to her destination. A blast of frigid winter wind made her clutch her overcoat all the tighter around her interview outfit, she hoped her hair wouldn't be in too much of a mess when she got there. A glance at her phone, the interview was supposed to start in six minutes, meaning she was unofficially already ten minutes late and probably meant if she made it in time it would be with only seconds to spare. She tried to walk faster despite her already unsteady ankles.

The flustered young woman turned a corner, and found the narrow side walk taken up by the back of... someone. Someone wearing a top hat and expensive looking long coat, complete with a cane, smart looking shoes, and... were those gloves on his hands? And he seemed to be out for a leisurely stroll. Haru debated her options, the gutter was full of dirty looking water, not to mention the streets were as narrow as the side walk so cars were whizzing by a hair's breadth from her already, so that route was right out. The shops lining the street were butted right up against the side walk as well, no way to squeeze past on that side either. Ugh, this was impossible!

Haru threw up her hands in silent frustration. Maybe she would just give up and go home, it's not like this job was strictly necessary. Sure, the hours would be a bit nicer than the late nights at her current job, and it was sort of closer to her field of study, but the hourly wage would be lower so over all it seemed like a step sideways, and this seemed like an awful lot of effort for what amounted to a step sideways.

Oh wait, the next building was set a bit further back from the street, it looked like whoever built it had bought up several buildings and some on the next street over, bulldozed them all, and built some modern-ish monstrosity made of nothing but glass and steel. There was a path leading to the front door smack in the middle of some municipal grass with ornate fountains on either side. This was her chance!

Haru slipped past the older gentleman and started speed walking over the grass. Unfortunately a miscalculation in where her foot would land on the cement path meant her foot was half on it and Haru's ankle gave up. With a strangled yelp Haru reached for the nearest thing as she tipped over, which happened to be the man she was trying to walk around.

There was a clatter as something hit the ground, Haru squeezed her eyes shut and clung to the fabric she had grabbed like a life line. It took a moment for her to realize that she wasn't the thing that had clattered to the ground. She peeked, finding her hands fisted in thick, cream colored fabric, wool probably. There was a hand at one elbow and another on her shoulder. "Are you alright, miss?"

Haru looked up at hearing the posh accent, surprised to find what she had assumed was an eccentric old man out for a stroll was actually an eccentric, handsome young man out for a stroll. "Oh um... yes, thank you." Haru looked down in embarrassment as she tried to get her feet back under her. "Are you alright?"

"Quite well, thank you. That was quite the nasty fall you nearly took." Haru just nodded in response, letting go of the young man's coat without raising her eyes. That's when she noticed his cane sprawled across the sidewalk.

"Oh no, your cane!"

"It's quite alright, miss." They both reached to pick it up, meaning Haru's hand brushed the young man's gloved hand. She let go immediately as he inspected it.

"Is it okay?

"No damage done, thank you for asking." Haru sighed in relief, she didn't want to have to replace the expensive looking cane. "Ah, where are my manners? My name is Humbert von Gikkingen, though my friends just call me Baron." The young man smoothly turned and stood erect, tipping his top hat as he introduced himself. Then he held a gloved hand out to her, "And you would be...?"

"Haru Yoshioka," she replied as she shook his hand, trying to stifle a giggle.

"A pleasure to meet you."

"Ah, wait!" Haru whipped her phone back out and checked the time. "Augh, there's no way I'll make it in time now." She drooped in defeat, the interview was due to start in just two minutes. Even if she could run she was pretty sure she wouldn't make it. "I give up, it's impossible!"

"If I might suggest, could you call whoever you're meeting and inform them you're on your way?"

Haru blinked at Baron, she hadn't even considered it. "I don't see why not." She had to dig the contact information out of her pocket, Baron took the liberty of gently taking her elbow and guiding her into a sort of nook between buildings so they were out of the other pedestrians' way. While she was waiting for the other end to pick up Haru decided the prospective job really wasn't worth going through all this fuss again. Baron was politely looking away as Haru just as politely canceled the interview, though she was sure he was listening in. As she locked her phone's screen and tucked it away she noticed he was staring down at his phone as well, presumably to check the time despite what looked like a chain to a pocket watch being clearly visible on his waist coat, or whatever those vests that go with suits are called.

"Ah well, if you're all settled I really need to get going myself, dress rehearsal today you know." Haru perked up at Baron's comment, it would certainly explain his unusual clothes.

"A dress rehearsal for what?"

"For a play my class is putting on. I can tell you about it if you like, but it will need to be while we're walking." Baron offered his arm, which Haru took as her new friend started leading her away.

"I'm guessing this class is a theatre class?"

"Of course, we're doing Dickens."

"Ah, that explains the outfit. But... isn't it a bit late to be doing a Christmas play? It's January."

"Oliver Twist, actually. I'm playing Mr. Brownlow, the kindly gentleman that takes in the titular orphan boy. I had some extra time before rehearsal starts so I was uh... trying to get into character." Haru giggled, Baron seemed rather embarrassed to be caught like this. "What about you, Miss Haru?"

Haru had to stifle more giggles, she wasn't used to being called 'miss.' "I'm a student as well, clothing and fashion. I have a lot of experience with working with clothing, the fashion part not so much." A glance over to her companion showed a twinkle in his eye that made Haru nervous for some reason.

"Have you ever considered going into costuming?"

"Let me guess, your theatre class needs a replacement costumer."

"Ah, you caught me. Yes, the theatre department is rather short of costumers this year and we've taken to recruiting from the fashion department to make deadlines. For us it's mostly tailoring or making clothes to match already existing designs, not so much making completely original designs. Most fashion students would rather turn every play into a runway show, gaudy one's at that." Baron's last comment was such a mix of defeat and disgust that Haru couldn't help feeling sympathetic. Not to mention she hadn't even considered costume design as a possible career, with the way her classes were going she was sure she was going to end up as a tailor at some dry cleaner or other.

"Well, I'll have to talk to the director or whoever first, but I'll definitely consider it."

"Great! You can talk to her today at the rehearsal! Plus I'm sure you'll love watching us practice, the class is a lot of fun this year. Mrs. Tupman is being especially brave and letting us put on Oliver Twist as a musical, since she has so many returning students this year." Haru couldn't hold in a guffaw, that did actually sound like fun. Or at least the way Baron put it made it sound like fun. Perhaps it was a good thing the interview fell through after all.