Aoi remained silent during their patrol that morning. Yoriko tried several attempts at humor with no results. Pouting met with similar results. Any attempt at engaging her partner was met with unrelenting silence. Aoi would only speak when calling out parking violations, helping the neighborhood kids cross the streets and giving directions.
By the end of their shift, Yoriko was at wits end as to what she had done and how she could make it better. Aoi glanced up from her computer once in a while to see Yoriko staring back at her, the same pained look of frustration and sadness on her face. Aoi cocked an eyebrow and returned to work.
Silently, Yoriko stood from her workstation, walked around the row of desks and stood behind Aoi. Bending low, she whispered:
"Whatever it is I did, I am sorry."
"We shall continue this conversation after work, Yoriko-san," Aoi replied smoothly. Nothing in her voice signaled displeasure or coldness, simply the response of someone with a lot to do and little time to do it.
Witnessing the whole farce unfold, Miyuki and Natsumi shared uncomfortable glances. Both were so happy that Aoi and Yoriko had finally found someone. It would be a shame if a rift caused their work and love lives to suffer.
From bitter experience, Miyuki knew all too well that office morale suffers greatly when two partners allow a row to destroy a good working experience. It was only because they missed each other terribly and worked so well together that Natsumi came back to Miyuki and tearfully apologized. Unable to bear her partner's suffering any longer, Miyuki would take her back knowing that, while it would take time, each lesson would build on the previous and Natsumi would mature into the adult Miyuki saw in her eyes.
The end of the day could not come soon enough. Aoi's silent treatment was unusually protracted, even for someone who rarely gave voice to her own thoughts, let alone spoke out. Taking the concept of "ideal Japanese femininity" to its absurd, yet logical, conclusion, Aoi became the very embodiment of stereotypical womanhood. Still it was unnerving to watch Aoi simply ignore Yoriko as she had done. Even Kachou considered intervening, but Miyuki convinced him otherwise, saying this was a matter best settled between the two lovers. Kachou acquiesced to Miyuki's considerations with the understanding that he could not allow a lover's spat to influence and undermine office and department morale. If this kept up, he would pull the two of them aside and deal with things the way a proper leader should.
Yoriko preceded Aoi into the locker rooms and dressed to go home. Sitting in the lobby, she bid her good nights to her fellow officers and continued to wait.
Aoi strode into the lobby, her overcoat buttoned against the winter chill. Snow had been forecast that day and Aoi did not want to catch cold. Spotting Yoriko sitting on a couch, squirming uncomfortably, Aoi walked over, smiled warmly and sat next to her partner. Leaning in, Aoi gave Yoriko a light peck on the cheek.
In shock, Yoriko could only gape at the same person who, only minutes before had given her the silent treatment.
"Are you ready to go home, dearest?" Aoi asked. "Did you remember your gloves? I understand it is to be below freezing tonight. We would not want you getting sick."
"A-ano, I don't…wait, what?" Yoriko stammered. "I thought you were angry with me."
"I was," Aoi responded. "Mostly, I was angry that our personal lives were brought into the squad room."
Yoriko continued to gape in surprise. Aoi reached over and gently lifted Yoriko's jaw closed with her index finger.
"I don't mind that our co-workers know about us, but I would prefer that what we do and where we go after work remains between us. Can you agree to that?"
Yoriko slowly nodded her head. Aoi smiled sweetly, stood up and proffered her hand.
"So, shall we?"
Yoriko took her lover's hand and stood.
"Are we okay?" she asked. Aoi looked at her lover and nodded serenely.
"Now then," Aoi said. "Shall we meet up with Miyuki-san and Natsumi-san for teppan yaki?"
Yoriko nodded as the two walked out of the main lobby arm in arm, bundled against the cold.
A/N: hmmmm. oh, well, as a throw away story, not bad.