Noa Izumi smiled as the redish brown haired woman walked from Labor to Labor, her teams crawling all over them as they worked away. "Hey," she raised her voice a bit as a tech banged a panel by accident with his wrench, "treat the Labors with respect."
"Sorry, ma'am," the boy called back sheepishly.
Shigeo Shiba smiled slightly, peering out from his ever present cap. "Must be odd," he said quietly to Noa, "to be called ma'am now."
"It does take some getting used to," Noa conceded. 'Of course,' she silently added, 'a lot of things in my life are taking time to get used to.'
Being back here at Police Special Vehicle Section 2 again after being at Shinohara Heavy Industries was very odd, especially following her break up with Asuna. She found herself buried in memories both good and bad, reminded of old companions and current friends. Even odder, she found herself paying attention to one person in particular.
Stealing a glance up to the catwalk circling the hanger Noa again gazed at Shinobu Nagumo and felt that odd, nervous feeling in the bottom of her gut. It wasn't an entirely comfortable sensation, and it made her wonder what Shinobu might be thinking about as she watched them working away.
"Worried about screwing up in front of the captain?" Shigeo guessed with a frightening degree of perceptiveness.
Noa scratched the back of her head nervously as she agreed, "Wouldn't you be?" A deep breath, "She's one of the best."
Shigeo looked up with a smile, "And here she comes now." Making sure his cap was straight he ambled off, "Excuse me."
Noa stiffened a bit, then took a relaxing breath as Shinobu descended the stairs with a undeniable grace. She filled out her uniform like a model, the older woman drawing admiring glances from everyone in the room, including Noa.
"How are things progressing?" Shinobu asked as she took up a place by Noa, her subtle flagrance drifting over to tease Noa's nose.
'She smells nice,' Noa found herself noting distractedly. "Fist checks are done," she reported, almost like they had in the old days, "and we're making a few adjustments based on your pilot's reports."
"Right on schedule," Shinobu nodded to Noa approvingly as she added, "good job."
Noa nearly wiggled in pleasure at the casually given compliment. 'God, I can't believe she can still do this to me,' she thought, thinking of how she had responded to Shinobu's authority in the old days. "Next up is piloted tests," she kept her voice even with effort, "though we wont be able to start till tomorrow."
Shinobu looked down at the shorter Noa, the expression on her face oddly unreadable. "I'm interested in hearing the details of the new upgrade," she calmly noted, "would you have time to discuss it?"
Noa nodded, "Of course." She mentally went over her tasks remaining, "It'd probably have to be later today, though."
"How about over dinner?" Shinobu offered, a faint smile teasing her lips.
Noa blinked, looking up into Shinobu's eyes and feeling her heart skip a beat. Yet the taller woman's expression was still mostly unreadable as Noa struggled to form a coherent response. "That'd be great," she managed to get out.
"It'll have to be here as my Division is on call," Shinobu frowned slightly, "but I believe I can manage something nice. Seven o'clock good?"
"Yes ma'am," Noa nodded happily.
'Oh my,' Noa though as a rare thought zinged into her brain, 'what am I going to wear?' While she was certain this wasn't anything like a date, being asked to eat with Shinobu was important, and all she had with her were her work jumpsuit. 'I'll have to ask around,' she thought, 'see what I can borrow, maybe.'
The day passed in a odd combination of agonizing slowness and busy rushing as Noa did her work, fine tuning Labors while also beg, borrowing and stealing items she could possibly make into a outfit. By the end of the day she had black pants, a matching vest and white shirt, a passable costume if she did say so herself.
Walking through the hanger Noa was surprised to hear her name called, then blinked as her former captain appeared. "Sir?" Noa asked.
"Shinobu has taken over the office," Goto said, the oddly sleepy looking captain of Division 2 smiling slightly, "you'll be eating up there."
"Thank you, sir," Noa bowed slightly.
Goto casually waved that off, "Glad to help. You two have fun now." With that he wandered off, whistling softly.
'What was that about?' Noa wondered as she headed for the stairs up to the office he and Shinobu shared.
Reaching the door Noa knocked, then heard Shinobu call, "Come in."
Pushing the door open Noa entered the office, her eyes widening a bit as she took in the scene. The desk Shinobu used had been cleared and several covered dishes awaited, along with two plates. A tablecloth, candles and subdued lighting made it look almost like a scene from some romantic movie.
"Ah, hi," Noa managed, suddenly feeling very glad that she had scrounged together some nice looking clothes.
Shinobu had changed from her uniform to a simple black dress, but on her it looked like high fashion. Cut low in the front it hugged her breasts like a lover, slid down her fit body and stopped just high enough to be daring. In short, she looked stunning.
"The takeout the boys got is still hot," Shinobu said briskly, but her eyes lingered on the boyishly dressed Noa, "we'd better get started."
"Right," Noa croaked, then cleared her throat. 'I never knew Shinobu could be this sexy,' she thought to herself weakly.
The food was delicious, and surprisingly the conversation flowed easily as well. Shinobu guided them easily from a professional discussion of the Labor upgrade to entertainment and other topics, all with such skill it wasn't obvious she was going it.
"Here, have some more sake," Shinobu poured with obvious skill.
Noa took it while stealing a glance into Shinobu's eyes. "Thank you," she said after taking a drink.
"Pardon if I'm prying," Shinobu met her eyes as she took a drink, "but what happened between you and Asuna? I would have thought you'd be a perfect match."
Noa sighed softly, stirring the food on her plate. "So did I," she admitted, "but it turns out we had very different ideas of the role I'd play in our lives."
"How so?" Shinobu asked gently.
"He wanted a house wife," Noa said wryly, "and I had no intention of giving up my job." She smiled slightly, "Still, I think we parted on good terms. I only punched him once."
Shinobu had to fight back a snort of laughter even as Noa grinned. Giving in and laughing she asked, "Seriously?"
"Yup," Noa smirked. She took another drink, "How about you? Do you have any romantic follies to talk about?"
"No," Shinobu shook her head, "sorry to say."
Noa hesitated, "I always though you and the captain might..."
Shinobu chuckled softly at that. "Goto is a very good friend, but he's too good of a friend to be a lover, if you know what I mean," she explained.
"The Labor team would be shocked to hear that," Noa confessed, "they've got a betting pool on when you'll get together."
To be continued...