Sitting on his treated mahogany desk, eagerly awaiting his return, a small scone rested on a plate next to some fresh, warm coffee. A Mr. Julian Thompson, owner and proprietor of the Thompson & Clark Photography, liked to watch the sunset from the top-floor of his high rise enterprise. And he liked to watch it in his best suit, with a serenade of soothing jazz. A phone call had pulled him away from his throne long enough for his scone to get cold, but far too briefly to ruin the show. Someone else would have that honor.
He sat down and breathed, and let the comfort of his chair and all of the awards and breathtaking memories painting his wall wash away whatever stress he might've picked up just a moment before. He took a long, slow sip of his coffee and let his plate rest on his lap as he spun his chair around to face the scenic view behind him. What he found awaiting him wasn't just radiant evening sun, but a woman dangling atop a Bosun's chair; right in the center of his view. A suspiciously innocent look on her face and a grievously outdated camera dangling around her neck by a worn strap.
And she knocked on his window and gestured for him to approach. And he hesitated; more curious than worried. He took another sip of his coffee before resting it, alongside his untouched snack, gently back on his desk. Mr. Thompson approached with an inquisitive look on his face. It was far too late for anyone to be cleaning his windows, and the girl looked more like a thug than someone that he'd have had maintaining his pride and joy.
A knock from the outside of the window, "Mind letting me in? I'd prefer not to fall from this height."
Mr. Thompson glanced over at the latch for the window, but made no motion to open it, "Don't worry. I'll go get someone from security to open it."
"Hey, C'mon. The breeze is starting to pick up. I could fall at any moment."
And Mr. Thompson turned with a gentle smile, "Then perhaps you shouldn't have put yourself in that situation, young lady."
She sighed and pressed a finger to the outside of the latch. The sheer force of that one digit tearing through the locking mechanism and allowing for the window to swing inward, unnaturally. The man's smile had fallen to a panic a moment or two before the woman entered his office, but he would find that he had no time to scream or call for security.
In the time that it took for him to blink, she had covered his mouth and caught him by the hand. Her grip was firm, albeit gentle. She held him for a moment until he stopped struggling, then uncovered his mouth so that he could speak.
"What, are you here to kill me?" he growled.
"If I wanted something like that, you'd have known by now."
"Oh, I get it. You want money, right? A photograph that shouldn't have gotten out? An official apology?"
"N-no! Look, I'm not here for anything like that, alright. Calm down." the dragon replied, a hand still firmly grasped around one of his wrists.
With each passing second, the old man's pulse fell. He calmed himself and took a good look at the woman's face and found that he had seen it more than a few times before.
"Ah, you're one of those supers aren't you. Or, I guess, you're more a vigilante, huh?" he glanced at the window that she had left damaged and swinging in the wind, "Well, I can't stop you from searching the office, but you're wasting your time. I don't know what you're looking for, but you won't find it here. I run a clean business. Now can I have my arm back? I know that you won't hurt me, so I won't bother calling security. I would like to at least enjoy my scone this evening."
She let him go, and he trounced over to his seat; turning his sights away from Ryoko as soon as he could. He had no interest in watching her ransack his office for evidence of something that she wouldn't find there. Much to his dismay, she floated over to the front of his desk to grace him with her presence once more.
"Actually, I'm not here for anything like that either, Mr. Thompson."
"Then what do you want, woman?" he finally bit into his scone.
"I think that I'd like to work here," she took the camera in her hands and raised it up slightly, "As one of your photographers."
Mr. Thompson stopped chewing and looked up at the woman like she was out of her damn mind, and she merely answered with a shrug to confirm that he had, indeed, heard her words clearly. And then he took his time chewing and swallowing what he had in his mouth and washing it down with more coffee to ensure that he wouldn't end up choking in response to whatever insanity flew out of her mouth next.
"And you thought that the proper way to pursue a career in Photography was to break into the boss' office after hours?" he put his meal aside for this conversation.
"No. No, I didn't. But I never would've been able to speak with you if I hadn't. I've been trying to get to you for two weeks," she pulled out the photos from Plainsville; precious gems that anyone would be hard pressed to replicate, "I don't have much in the way of a resume. I don't even have... whatever this 'GED' thing is that they keep asking me for. But I have proof that I can do this job."
The man took the photos into his hands and carefully analyzed them. Questions began to leave his lips, but his eyes remained locked on the precious memories placed before him.
"You took these with that camera?"
"Did you show these to my receptionist?"
"I tried to, but she wasn't interested in anything that I had to say,"
"What's your name? Did you bring that resume with you this afternoon?"
"Ryoko. And I don't have a resume," she answered bluntly, "Just proof of what I can do"
He nodded, spreading the photos out on his desk so that they could each be seen clearly by the person who brought them in.
"Those are good. Great even. But I've got to know something, Ryoko. My office is full of normal people. Normal guards, normal janitors and normal photographers. What does a flying, zip-zapping, fire breathing, superhuman cape want with my photography agency."
"That's a long story. It's not important."
"Don't tell me that!" the man's index finger shot out at Ryoko like a spear; pointing her down as though she had just been deduced to be guilty of a heinous crime. She was a bit confused, "Don't tell me that. I'm going to assume that you've been telling me the truth. If you wanted to, you could've just beaten me senseless and forced me to give you a place here, but you haven't. Do you want to work honestly or not? Let's be clear."
"I ask a lot of meaningless questions during my interviews to pad out time. Things that don't matter just to get people to relax and be honest with me. And I could ask you a lot of things that don't matter. Why were you outside my window? Where you got that camera? Where these pictures were taken? But there are only two questions that really matter," He leaned forward in his chair, smashing his finger down next to each photograph as he spoke, "Can you take a good photograph? And why do you want to be a photographer? Now, these here are more than enough proof that you take a good shot. But that's not enough for me; not really. Why are you here, Ryoko?"
She started to speak, but he gestured for her to stop. He sauntered over and grabbed a second chair for her, then gestured for her to sit. What started as a impromptu invasion quickly became the interview that she had been seeking.
"I've been lost for the past few months. Not literally, but, I haven't really had a destination, you know? No goal; at least not one that I could actively pursue. You're right, I've been helping people out here or there, but that's not a life. That just common decency. I am the strong, I help the weak as I wander," Mr. Thompson laughed, "But between every bout of excitement, there is nothing. W-was nothing. So I wandered and met people; spoke to them and shared my thoughts in a desperate search for inspiration. And I-well, I think I found it recently. If I am going to travel and make memories, anyway, why not capture them and share them with others? Why not make the journey, itself, the destination?"
"Was this a spur of the moment decision?"
"It...no," she shook her head defiantly, "No. Something found after months of searching isn't 'spur of the moment' at all. Just an epiphany."
"Okay!" he replied before opening his desk and hastily shuffling through some files.
Ryoko waited a few seconds more for a more detailed response than the man seemed willing to give. After about a minute of, well, nothing, she felt pressed to try to get a straight answer out of him.
"So... do I have a job or..."
"Huh? OH, sorry, yeah, I'll give you a shot," he replied so casually that it almost pissed Ryoko off, "On two conditions."
"And those would be?"
"Two things. One, let me take these photos off of your hands. I'll use the profits to repair these windows and help me forget about the fact that you broke in and gagged me," Ryoko nodded, no desire to argue over that, "And second, go get yourself a better camera than the one you're using!"
He dropped a wad of cash on the table- no - picked it back up and slammed it directly into her hands with a smile.
"I don't know if you're full of shit, but you can never know with new hires until after about a month," he pulled his snacks back over to him, his coffee now far colder than he would've preferred, "Be here at 12 the day after tomorrow. I'll have someone get you oriented."
"Thanks, Mr. Thompson." a short wave before making her exit through the still-open window.
He turned just in time to watch her disappear over the horizon, then take a sip of lukewarm coffee that he immediately spit back up into the cup. He decided to sit the scone and cup of joe back onto the table, the moment had long-sense been ruined. He glanced over at the broken window, then ran his hands over the two legs that he was overjoyed to find were still in one piece. Nothing left to do but pack up and head on home now.
"No need to thank me, Ryoko. Hiring people is a job that I handle exclusively here and Thompson & Clark,"
He put on his coat, donned his hat, and turned off the lights before locking the door behind him and making his way to the elevator.
"Just don't make me regret my decision."