A smile curled at one corner of Pirouette's lips as she listened to the increasing fallout of her open line conversation with patience and poise; she was happy to make NightMan a little uncomfortable and to allow AppriasalMan his little vindictive win, as long as he continued to give her actionable information. She cut her eyes briefly to HoundMan, giving him a collected expression that she hoped would reassure the other officer to keep his peace for now.
In a way, it worked in her favour that AppraisalMan took more from her accusation of lying than was really there; it served the same end, ultimately, as he seemed increasingly eager to give more information; as long as it was causing other people discomfort, embarrassment, or... a thought occurred to the ballerina and she tucked it away... exposing their flaws... those were the reactions that he really seemed interested in. Perhaps the sexual debasement that Disappearance had ended up leaning into was just a means to that particular end – the more uncomfortable, ashamed, or departed from what she would normally be okay with doing, the better, and that was where the appraisals had led her behaviour.
The more dirt he spilled, and the more agitated it sounded like NightMan was getting, as Lady of the night or otherwise, the more excited her house guest seemed to get, and Pirouette was content to let it continue, holding the line open the extra time that it took them to share their exchange. After a while, however, the teasing hints and AppraisalMan's obvious excitement in laying out the trail became a conflicting argument between himself and NightMan, and Pirouette turned to face AppraisalMan with a grin and a raised hand, lifting one finger to her lips as she did. Things were about to get... interesting.
“NightMan.... Aie, it is difficult... You damn yourself with your own words, you know? It is unbecoming of any net police officer to veil threats as warnings... but know this, and understand it, yes? You should not tell an officer from Internal Affairs that they are getting into something they will not get out of. I am interested in the truth, yes? In the facts; in duty and in justice. Right now, you are in a precarious position from all sides, so it sounds, you know. Those around you can be of help, or hindrance, but you may rest assured that they will be fairer than these... trials you have faced already, yes?” Even though there was no video line, Pirouette shrugged her shoulders in a softer motion, turning partially away from the blank direction she'd been speaking towards while addressing him.
“Perhaps much of this was not your fault, but some decisions were. We are, none of us, without flaw... what matters is how we respond in this pressure, when our flaws are exposed and pressed upon. Decide now, who you are, yes?” Her wings ruffled as she delivered her response in as commanding a tone as she could muster. NightMan might well be a victim in this mess, but hesitancy to be forthcoming would not help his case. She continued with a more earnest tone, though it still came out hard.
“If you have even a shred of loyalty to the ideals for which the net police are supposed to stand; if you have any dedication to the duty we are meant to hold to those who cannot protect themselves... then you will sit down, right now, with officer Disappearance, and you will tell her everything you know of this incident. You will leave no detail out, no matter how personally shameful or upsetting, no matter how grievous or damning. I am ordering this of you, now, you know, under my mandate as Internal Affairs, NightMan. You will comply, without complaint, without restraint, and without obstruction or obfuscation, yes? You will name names; you will provide whatever logs of evidence you are capable of providing. Anything less will be considered to be collusion. You understand this, yes? If matters of honour and duty are alien to you in this, NightMan, then I assure you, justice will proceed as it must. If, as perhaps some of us here suspect, your only crime in this is indeed one of following orders and feeling unable to act beyond them when necessary, then, you know, your crimes are not so severe... but you must co-operate now.” With a snap of her fingers that resounded around the small interview room, Pirouette cut the line and turned a steely blue gaze back to AppraisalMan, set in an expression that might have been called dangerous by less charitable individuals; a grim smile was on her lips as she faced him.
“Now... We are not alike, AppraisalMan... I draw no pleasure from NightMan's squirming and suffering, or from the personal devastation he may undergo as a result of all that has happened here... But I think, you know, we might still be able to be friends after all. I will return in just one moment, yes? And then, I will tell you something that I think you may enjoy hearing very much...”
As she stood back and turned from him, Pirouette looked towards HoundMan instead, softening her expression, and reaching out to take his hand in one of hers for the moment. She gave the out-of-his-depth officer a more reassuring smile.
“Come, I must share a word with you...” She quickly led HoundMan back out of the interview room, closing the door behind them, and checking the common room to be sure no-one else was about.
“HoundMan, I have to ask you to remain out here. I will be safe, I promise. I will not be long. I feel this next negotiation... it will work better if I am alone, you know? Please wait... I will be quick.” She paused, wings slowly rising and falling as the nervous warmth she was feeling drew attention to the empty room around her. The ballerina hesitated for a moment, unsure of herself. A moment of unconscious fidgeting saw her holding both his hands in hers as she took a longer breath; her cheeks pinked slightly as she looked for what to say.
After another moment of not finding the words, she neatened his uniform, brushing and straightening, then swiftly took hold of the fabric with both hands and pressed herself in closer to him. Her own eyes closed for the next few seconds as she tilted her head to one side and allowed her lips to press in against his, focusing, just for a lost few moments, on that sensation and nothing else. At the back of her awareness, she felt her wings arch and stiffen as her fingers curled and gripped tight in his uniform. The stolen moment broke eventually, and the ballerina pulled back again, releasing his uniform and beginning to brush and straighten it once more. Her heart raced, thundering madly in her chest and her cheeks felt hot while she tried to calm her suddenly rapid breathing.
“Aei... I... I just... I wanted you to have that, yes? Ah... When this is over, you know... I would like, very much, to get to know you better, HoundMan. I would like... you know... to see you, some time... when we are not on duty, yes?” Her blush was only growing more fierce, and Pirouette desperately sought poise. Her wings settled back to a more neutral position as she willed the blush from her cheeks and watched HoundMan's eyes for his reaction. She only waited a few moments however, before darting past him again, back into the interview room and shutting the door behind her once more.
The more determined Pirouette entered the room again, coming to lean on the desk between herself and AppraisalMan. Her heart was still racing, but she ignored it. Instead she fixed him with a lidded gaze and a small upward curl to her lip.
“We knew you had been paying large sums to someone, it is true. We did not know who to... but we saw that... recently, you know, the amounts, they have been getting smaller and smaller. You mentioned NightMan was growing more accustomed to his new career under your guidance. Growing more comfortable, perhaps? Less satisfying for you then, no? So perhaps you were not so inclined to pay as much as you were initially for his continued use, yes? It is just a small theory. A guess, aside from what matters to me... what matters to me, AppraisalMan... and I think you may enjoy thinking on this...” she leaned in closer, hands planted firmly on the table and her eyes hard.
“The net police is a laughing stock. The people, they have no faith in our effectiveness, or our capabilities. This is from many factors, but they come back to one thing, yes? There is corruption, in the net police, and it runs deep and high.” She paused, watching him, and as she continued her voice was low and serious.
“You know much, and I would do much to know it, if, and you understand this is necessary, if you have indeed got the evidence to back up what you say. There is corruption here, and I do not intend to stop digging until I have rooted it out entirely, AppraisalMan. I do not care who must be uprooted in this process; I do not care how senior or established their tenure. I do not care how respected or shining their image. I intend to rip this rot out of this organisation, and if it should leave a bloody mess behind it... such is often the way of excising a cancer, no? If you know where to look, you will even have a front row seat to watch it happen.” Despite herself, a note of primal savagery threaded its way into her voice as she explained her goal to her house guest; any who might normally mistake her for a delicate flower of a woman hadn't yet seen the iron poise and razor talons that her presence radiated now.
“I would know what you know, AppraisalMan. I would have your help in this matter. It is a cabal; this I know. More than one individual, and positioned well enough to make bringing justice to even their small fish difficult... they must all be found, exposed, and disciplined to correction, or else purged entirely. Eggs will be broken. Will you help me do this?” She drew back and stood upright again, folding her arms and considering the diamond-themed man.
“You would enjoy seeing one as myself, confident, poised, you know.... you would enjoy seeing me debased, broken down... compromised, no? Perhaps you wish to see my flaws lead to my downfall and ruination, yes? I will not be broken, I am sorry, but you are free to push and to try... But consider, AppraisalMan... Rather than just myself, you could be instrumental in much, much more, yes?” She tilted her head and smiled.
“And perhaps, while you help me in this, I can be your... aie... the phrase... vstavnoy nomer... your... little bet, on the side, yes? Over time, you might have many chances push me to places I thought never to fall to... to actions I never thought to take... or allow... no? It is a risk I am willing to take, if your evidence is solid, yes?” She raised one eyebrow then shifted her stance again. Now her body language relaxed, and became graceful flow again as she settled down and rested her elbows on the table, hands clasped to one side as she peeked at him around her forearms.
“Let us play a game, yes? I have told you, there are some hard limits to what I will do to satisfy you, and I have told you that nothing you can do will make me pass those... but I am a performer and an actress, you know... there is much that comes before those lines, which would make me deeply uncomfortable, or hesitant, yes? Things which I am not willing to do... but which I may still, if the reward is proper. I have not told you exactly what the hard lines are... and you know that if you cross them, you will get nothing from me... but I wonder how close to those lines can you press without pushing me too far... no?” She smiled for him and shrugged. “The game need not even remain confined to this question room, if you are mindful.” With a shake of her wings, her expression became serious again.
“I will start with the question you wanted me to ask, because you wanted it so truly, yes? Then we can reach further... who was paid and what did they do with the funds you gave them? I suspect you are implicating miss Bank, but maybe I am mistaken. Information. Evidence. Proof... and your request.”
She didn't have too long, Pirouette knew that. If she was lucky, and NightMan caved in, there might be some time that Disappearance was occupied getting his information, but it sounded like AppraisalMan had far more to offer her than anyone else had yet realised. Even if she couldn't get everything out of the creep right now, if she was fortunate, it might be enough to form the foundation of a new connection.