Sakuya returned to the Hôtel de Crillon satisfied with the day's shopping, but tired enough from carrying everything she'd bought that she retrospectively regretted declining Meiling's offer to come with her. It was, after all, her job to carry the heavy things. Then again, Sakuya hadn't actually intended to buy an entire ham, but the price had just been too good to pass up.
Loaded down with a weighty string bag in each hand, she crossed the lobby, already thinking about what she would do with the provisions she'd acquired. Although small, their suite's kitchen was very well-equipped—far more modern than the facility she had to work with at home, of course, but also thoughtfully designed and efficient—and she'd been having fun exploring the various wonders she could perform with its mysterious newfangled conveniences. The experience had given her a new sense of anticipation for the electrical update Meiling and Gryphon had planned for the mansion.
She was just about to step aboard the elevator, still half-lost in thoughts of baked goods and ham presentations, when a sharp, peremptory voice barked,
"Hoi! You there! Maid!"
At first, Sakuya didn't register that the voice was addressing her. Not until it came nearer and repeated its challenge did it occur to her that she hadn't taken the time to change into street clothes before she went out a-marketing today, and so there was every chance that the maid being so sharply addressed was in fact herself.
Pausing, she turned and saw a well-dressed man of indeterminate middle age striding toward her, his face pink with outrage.
"What do you mean by using the lift?" he wanted to know, and then with heavy sarcasm, "Did the bellmen neglect to show you the servants' stairs? This convenience is for guests of this establishment, not the likes of you."
Sakuya arched one grey eyebrow, setting down her shopping carefully so that the bags wouldn't fall over.
"I beg your pardon, monsieur," she said calmly, and then, before he could reply, she went on in exactly the same unruffled tone of voice, "I fear you have mistaken me for someone who gives a damn what you think."
This casual impertinence so startled the man that he couldn't think of a response for a few seconds. While he stood there, his jaw working in silent fury while his face went steadily redder, Sakuya slipped her right hand into her apron pocket and closed it around The World, while her left reached discreetly for an argument somewhat more pointed.
"Wh—wha—now see here!" the man finally burst out. Thrusting a finger in her face, he demanded, "Who is your master?! By heaven, he'll hear about—"
Sakuya had had just about all she wanted of this, but just before she would have pressed the stem of The World and commenced making the red-faced gentleman's afternoon more interesting, a quiet but penetrating voice asked from behind him,
"Is something wrong?"
The man wheeled, clearing Sakuya's sightline as he did so, and she saw that Flandre had entered the lobby and come up behind him. She stood there now, furled parasol hooked over one forearm, with a brightly colored stuffed animal tucked under that arm and her head cocked inquisitively.
"Mind your own business, little girl," said the man, more than a bit pompously. "I'm busy; I have to remind this foul-mouthed slattern of her place."
Flandre's face went still, almost devoid of expression. Reaching up with her free hand, she slowly and deliberately unhooked her dark glasses from her ears, then removed them, fixing her unamused scarlet eyes on his.
"You'll do no such thing," she said softly, tucking the glasses away.
The man blinked at her, the flush draining out of his face. "I, I'll do no such thing!" he insisted, jowls quivering, as if outraged by the very suggestion that he might.
"Get out of here," Flandre went on, never raising her voice, her flat gaze boring into his soul.
"I'm getting out of here," said the man positively, as though it had been his idea, and without another word to Sakuya, he stormed out of the hotel in a huff.
Flandre watched him go, then turned back to Sakuya and burst out giggling.
"That was fun!" she declared. "Are you OK, Sakuya?"
"I'm fine, young mistress," Sakuya replied, abandoning her preparations for action and picking up the shopping instead. With a slight smile, she said, "Thank you for coming to my rescue."
Flandre snorted cheerfully. "Your rescue, nothing," she said. "I was saving that gentleman a stabbing."
"I wasn't going to stab him," Sakuya objected. "M'lady would never forgive me for causing such a scene. We'd probably have been thrown out of the hotel."
"Then why were you reaching for a knife?" Flandre wanted to know, her eyes now twinkling with merriment.
"I might have been about to cut his braces," Sakuya admitted, and Flandre laughed gaily as the lift arrived and they stepped aboard.