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Harakiri

Teenage Assassins

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TEENAGE ASSASSINS: CHRONICLES OF THIRD YEAR

VOLUME ONE: HIGH SCHOOL WARZONE

 

Target One: The New Girl

 

I pumped the shotgun, a smoking shell jumping from the weapon. I stepped over the dead man, his stomach nothing but a bloody hole and moved out of the living room, into a large dining hall. I swept the weapon around the room, searching for anything moving. Sitting atop the long oak table, fifteen high backed chairs placed around it, was a fancy dinner. There sat lobster, a glazed duck, a giant bowl of rice. Candles gave the room a romantic ambiance. They weren't prepared for an intruder to come in, that was for sure. I pulled my gaze from the tabletop and then mentally slapped myself.

Under the table.

I rolled to the side as a machine gun sprayed the floor where I had been just a second before. I rolled into the wall to the side and saw who was shooting, a bald man wearing a nice black tuxedo and a pair of tortoise-shell glasses that looked small on his large head. I started running as he shot at me again, the bullets following not a few inches behind me. When I got near where he was hiding under the table I fell, sliding as if I were a baseball player getting to home plate. As I slid, I turned the shotgun and pulled the trigger. The man's head burst like a bloody pinata, brain sticking to the bottom of the table like gum.

I pumped the shotgun again and reached into the folds of my school jacket for more buckshot. There was nothing there. I had run out of ammo. I cursed, throwing the weapon aside and rolling under the table. I cried out as machine gun rounds started chewing through the tabletop, smacking into the wooden floor around me. I grabbed the headless body of the man I'd killed and put him on top of me as a shield as I took his Uzi and checked the magazine. One bullet left. I started checking his pockets and found a fresh clip. I switched the clips out just as a shot smashed through the table and entered the dead man's stomach. I threw him off me and rolled out from under the table. I aimed for the man standing on top of it, carrying an AK-47. I spent a fifth of the clip as I turned him into Swiss cheese, his body falling off the table like a rag doll.

I grabbed the AK from the table and put the Uzi in my jacket as back-up. I checked the dead man's body for any more ammo and put it in my pants pocket. I then continued deeper into the house, toward my target's bedroom.

I found myself standing in front of a grand staircase of marble and gold that led to the second floor of the mansion. It was beautiful, except for the two thugs standing at the top, machine guns at the ready. They saw me and the weapons moved with robotic precision, they had been trained to kill. Then again, so had I. My AK quickly killed one of the men, his shots going wide and his body flying down the staircase. I ran to the side as bullets raced after me, one grazing my shoulder, another my cheek. I felt a bit of blood course down my face, dripping off my jaw. I shot my own AK, the shots going wide, the man expertly dodging as if he could see the bullets in slow motion.

What he couldn't see though, was the Uzi I pulled from my jacket and started shooting at his legs while the AK shot at his stomach. He screamed as one of his knees blew out and he fell, his head smacking against one of the edges of the stairs, cracking it open. He rolled down the stairs, stopping in front of me at the bottom. He was dead, his eyes gazing into nothing.

I put a new clip in my AK and threw the Uzi away, it's bullets all spent before running up the stairs. At the top of the stairs were a pair of mahogany doors with black studs around the perimeter like the entrance to a medieval castle. I breathed deeply before kicking the doors open and sweeping the room with my AK, searching for any living thing.

There was nobody in the large bedroom. It was dark though, so for all I knew they could be hiding behind the sofa that sat to one side, or inside of the large adjoining bathroom. I moved toward the bed where I found a warm blood stain. I followed the trail of blood, my fingers tracking through it, toward the bathroom. The door was ajar. It was probably a trap, but I decided I'd jump in anyway.

I entered and swept the AK. Suddenly, the weapon was jerked from my grasp and I felt a foot connect with my stomach, throwing me against a tiled wall. I could barely see anything, all I saw was a silhouette of a person coming at me with my AK. I flailed my arms around the wall, finding a light switch and flicking it on. The whole room was suddenly bathed in illumination and I saw who had kicked me and taken my weapon. I also saw the bathtub where my target lay, dead. The fat man wore his pajamas, now soaked in the blood that had spurted from his slit neck.

His killer had been the girl standing in front of me. Her long blond hair fell past her waist, a cute pink flower in it; her eyes were large and an unearthly beautiful shade of green. She had medium sized breasts and a beautiful body. She wore a red school uniform, a white top with a short red skirt and a pair of brown loafers and knee high white socks. She was as tall as my chest, about my age. The patch that sat over the left breast of her uniform stated that she went to Tokyo High School. I looked down at my own uniform, white shirt tucked into black pants with black dress shoes. Sitting over my own left breast sat that very same patch. I'd never seen this girl at school before. Who was she? And how the hell had she beat me to my target?

She apparently noticed our matching uniforms as well. She held my AK, which had been pointing at me while I checked her out. She threw it to me, the clip having been thrown into the bathtub with the dead man. She started to turn away and I grabbed her shoulder. She suddenly moved into action, pirouetting on one foot, her other outstretched and prepared to smash into my face I dropped the AK, blocking the kick with my upraised arms. Her leg dropped. She pulled a pistol from under her skirt and pushed it against my stomach. I brought my knee up against the weapon, sending it flying into the air. She started lashing out at me with vicious punches that I blocked or avoided. I wouldn't touch her though, I felt that she wasn't a threat, she just wanted to incapacitate me so she could get away. I wouldn't let her though, she had a few questions to answer first.

The pistol fell in between us and she grabbed it in midair. Before I could do anything else she crouched and placed the pistol against my chest, aimed at my heart. She depressed the trigger.

Click.

She stood and put the pistol into the holster under her dress. "You're good." She said in a very cute voice. She didn't seem like someone even capable of holding a weapon.

"You're not too bad yourself." I replied, walking toward her.

"You let me win."

"I knew you wouldn't harm or kill me." She turned to look at me, her hands interlocked behind her back, her head tilted to the side, a huge white smile on her face. She was way to cute to be fighting.

"Is this guy your target too?" She asked, nodding toward the dead man in the tub.

"Yeah. Nagano Kojiro. I was asked by a guy who said his daughter was shot by Nagano for getting in his way in an alley. Bastard deserved what he got. Did the same guy hire you?" I asked.

"No, I was hired by the police." There were sirens approaching the building and her eyes slitted. "How about you go to your guy and say you killed Nagano? I'll go to the police and say I killed him. It was an under-the-table operation so the media will never cover the story. We'll both get our money." She smiled.

"Thanks." I held out my hand. "Zero Miyagi."

"Lily Ichimaru." She took it and shook it firmly. "I'll see you at school tomorrow then?" She asked.

Before I could answer, she ran into the bedroom. I watched her open a window and start her descent down the front of the mansion. She was good, like a ninja. I turned to the bathtub, pulling a camera from my back pocket and snapping a photo of the scene as proof of the man's death. I started to head toward the front door as fast as I could. I hated dealing with the police, I'd rather be out of Dodge before they see all the bodies.

 

 

I unlocked the door and walked inside, shutting it behind myself and kicking off my shoes before stepping onto the wooden floor. I threw my keys onto a side table and flicked on the light switch. My apartment was quiet, the only sound the hiss of the air conditioner. I pulled my school jacket off and threw it on the sofa, plopping down beside it and taking the remote from the coffee table. I turned my flatscreen on and watched anime for a little while before heading to the bathroom.

I took a warm shower and sat in it for probably twenty minutes. I had come home after talking to my client and getting my reward for the death of the old man at the mansion. He never knew that I hadn't shot the old man, it had been that mysterious girl, Lily. God, she was the cutest person I'd ever met. Her face sat on my retinas. I'd never met another assassin my age who didn't try to kill me in the most brutal fashion. She seemed to like me, I could see that twinkle in her big cute eyes.

The water of the shower sluiced down my body and I could only wonder about Lily. Who was she? Why had she become an assassin? Where did she come from? Where had she learned how to fight the way she did? So many questions that I hoped would be answered the next day at school.

I turned the shower off and pulled on pajamas. I brushed my teeth and looked at myself in the mirror. My long black hair was disheveled, my brown eyes were bloodshot, I had a small cut on my cheek and shoulder where bullets had grazed me. I needed to shave.

I took my dirty clothes to a basket and threw them inside, pulling my holster and pistols from the wrinkled school uniform. I hadn't brought any knives or swords to the mission, so those still sat in my bedroom's safe. I walked down the hall to my bedroom and stopped in front of the big green thing. I put in the six digit code and it swung open. Inside were two katanas, two wakazashi, a few butterfly knives, a disassembled sniper rifle and a whole lot of ammo. I grabbed two clips of pistol ammo and put them in my weapons. I pulled the slides and a bullet entered the chambers.

Closing the safe door, I moved to my bed and put the pistols beneath my pillow. I switched the lights off and got beneath the blanket, curling up into a tight ball. Lily's face was still burned into my retinas and I kept replaying the events of the night. I looked over at the alarm clock beside my bed. I'd get two and a half hours of sleep before I had to wake up and head to school. Maybe I should just skip school and stay home tomorrow.

That would mean missing Lily though, and I didn't want to do that. I was completely intrigued by her. I hoped that we would be able to talk at lunch or something--- unless she wanted to avoid me and pretend like the whole debacle hadn't taken place. I hoped she wouldn't do that.

I fell asleep. It was a dreamless, boring sleep. The darkness was only broken by the annoying trill of the alarm clock. I smacked the off button on the black box and threw my legs over the side of the bed. If it weren't for that girl, I would have gone back to sleep.

This was the the first time I muttered what would soon become the catchphrase of my high school life.

"Girls are trouble."

 

I took the bus to school, sitting toward the front and playing a game on my touchscreen phone. I swiped my finger across the screen as men in samurai armor came at me. With every swipe of my finger, a sword cut through them, slicing the enemies to pieces. The bus stopped in a very metropolitan part of Tokyo where my friend Ebisu stood, the dense crowds walking around him as if he were a rock in a river. His parents owned a pharmacy in this area and they lived on the top floor of the building and operated the store downstairs. He hopped onto the bus and the driver shut the doors behind him as he made his way to my seat. He sat beside me, pushing me against the window. He pulled his own cell phone out and loaded up a monster fighting app.

"C'mon Zero! Get off that stupid game and let's battle monsters!" He looked over at me for the first time since he got on the bus and noticed my vacant gaze, my rather unruly look. I hadn't run a comb through my hair or shaved; I had just thrown on a crisp uniform and a concealed shoulder holster with a pistol and a pocket for my butterfly knife. I had then ate a bowl of ramen and watched a game show.

"You look like hell dude."

I took a look at Ebisu's clean appearance; not a dimple on his face, not a hair on his chin. He looked completely opposite me. I just groaned and looked down at my phone, muttering under my breath.

"Thanks."

Ebisu grabbed my shoulders and shook me. "What do you spend your whole night doing man? I can tell you've been up all night! Is there a girl? Or do you have a hangover? Look at that cut on your cheek!"

Well, his first guess about what I was doing was pretty on target. There was a lot more than a girl to the story though, but that's the only part that sticks out. I wasn't going to explain anything to Ebisu though. Saying I met a girl would just make him explode with questions that I had no answers to. Nobody (at that time) knew I was an assassin, so I really couldn't explain every problem I had.

The bus stopped once more and let a couple giggling girls on before it made it's way toward Tokyo High. The golden disk that was the sun rose steadily as nine fifteen approached, when the bell for first period classes rang.

 

My briefcase was slung over my shoulder as I made my way into homeroom. A bunch of people were standing around, playing games on their cellphones or texting. A few were studying. Ebisu had already made it to the class and he patted me on the back as I made my way through the throng of students in uniforms, toward my desk in the back corner, against a window that looked out on the track. Ebisu followed me the whole way. I threw my briefcase on the desk and sat down, resting my head down on my case. Ebisu sat on the desk beside me.

"Dude, why are you always so sleepy? You'd think you'd learn to start going to bed earlier."

"Shut up." I muttered, my eyes closed tightly.

The bell rang and everyone moseyed to their seats. I sat up groggily as the door to the class slid open and the teacher, Mr. Kisuke, strode inside. Following close on his heels was a girl wearing a red uniform, with long blond hair with a pink flower in it and cute green eyes. The face that had been etched into my mind for the past few hours.

Lily.

"We have a new student today, she comes from Osaka." The teacher announced. I saw that all of the guys in the class were ogling her body, their mouths salivating like predators, their eyes wide. She didn't seem to notice, either that or she didn't mind. She swept her bangs out of her eyes as she stood before the teacher's podium and introduced herself.

"My name is Lily Ichimaru. I'm pleased to meet you all and hope we'll all become good friends." She bowed and allowed a peek at her cleavage. Every guy in the class dropped their jaws. I even dropped my jaw, she had a nice rack, that was for sure.

Mr. Kisuke looked over the room and motioned toward the empty desk next to me. Maybe this empty desk that had sat like that all year was a message from God, that he was waiting for her to fill the spot so she could sit with me. In front of me sat Rei, who had a huge crush on me but we rarely talked. She seemed to be really shy. Behind me was the wall, which talked to me a lot more than Rei did.

Lily sat down in the empty desk and looked at me, a huge white smile on her face like the one that she had given me the previous night. I had a strange feeling that we were going to be put together at some point for something. I had an odd feeling that as two assassins in the same high school, competition would be stiff. Maybe we'd be hired as a duo at points. I didn't like the fact that another assassin was in my territory, but I thought that it may work out. If we work together, maybe we'd get to know each other and maybe we could date---

"ZERO! PULL YOUR EYES FROM LILY'S CHEST AND LOOK AT THE BOARD!" Mr. Kisuke screamed, smacking his ruler against the podium over and over until I looked away from Lily. I wasn't actually looking at her breasts, I was just spacing out. I guess that was a pretty lame excuse though.

Lily didn't seem to mind and actually giggled when the teacher yelled at me, her cute hand touching her cute lips cutely.

I sat through class, half paying attention until the lunch bell rang.

 

I opened my briefcase and pulled a bento box from it, ripping it open and starting into the assortment of sushi in one of the compartments. A few people stayed in the classroom to eat, most streamed out of the class. A few of the men tried to approach Lily but when they saw her turn to me and pull her desk closer, so that her body was just inches from mine, they assumed that she was with me. They walked away, ready to tell the whole school that Zero Miyagi was dating the beautiful new girl.

Lily didn't appear to have a lunch so I held my bento box out for her. Lily grabbed it and took my chopsticks from my hand, picking up a sushi and popping it into her mouth. She took a sip from my juice, using the same straw I used.

Maybe she really did like me. Either that or she didn't believe in cooties or germs.

She passed my food back and smiled. "Thank you Zero."

I finished the last piece of sushi and returned the smile. "You can have the rice if you want." I put the chopsticks on the box and passed it to her. She ate wolfishly, as if she hadn't eaten in a year. She finished the rest of the box in just under a minute. She wiped her mouth and smiled for what had to have been the hundredth time that day. Suddenly, she had me in an embrace. I was sitting, she was standing. Despite our major height differences, my head was still shoved against her breasts. They were like soft fleshy pillows of soft fleshy---

I felt all my blood rush to my waist. That must have explained the fact that I was woozy, that I could only think one sentence: "This is nice."

She let me go and I fell out of my seat, to the ground. She knelt down, giggling cutely. She helped me back to my seat. I am so damn obvious. I was lucky my nose wasn't bleeding like a fountain. A boner was less obvious than that at least.

Lily sat down again and my heart beat against my chest harder than ever.

"I really like you Zero. We should join forces sometime."

The bell rang, lunch was over. The students came pouring in, all the men staring at me and then looking at Lily.

The day went by fast, and by the time the final bell rang I was pooped. I decided that the best way to clear my mind and to wake up was a long walk home, maybe grab a coffee with my newly acquired monies.

Thus, I did so. I got home about an hour and a half after the final bell and had downed a whole large cappuccino. I was feeling pretty alive. I unlocked my apartment door and closed it behind myself. I kicked off my shoes and hopped onto the wooden floor. I threw my keys on the side table and my briefcase onto the sofa. I took my jacket off and threw it into the dirty laundry basket. I pulled my shoulder holster off and put my pistol onto the coffee table. I turned toward my hall to go to my room and pull on some pajamas when my eyes widened. I lost my balance and tripped over the sofa and onto my briefcase.

Standing in the hall was Lily. She wore my pajamas and one of my T-shirts, the clothes clinging to her.

She yawned and moved toward the sofa. "You look surprised." She said.

"What---why---dur---um---what are you doing in my home?" I finally stuttered out.

"Oh, I climbed the pipe up the side of the building and got in through the window. You should lock those you know? I was pretty sleepy so I put on some PJ's and took a nap in your bed. Hopefully you don't care."

"But you broke into my house!" I stammered. "How'd you find my house in the first place?"

"I followed you last night."

I shook my head. "No, no, no! You can't just stalk me, invade my house---"

"Sleep in your bed?" Lily interjected. "I can tell you're just play acting. You don't mind my being here. I came here because you seemed like someone I could be friends with. I have no home or family in Tokyo and I felt that you might let me stay here." Her eyes got very bright, tears brimming around them. God she was good. She clasped her hands together. "Please Zero. I'll do chores and I'll help you in your jobs and everything! It'd be like we're married or something!"

She sat down on the sofa, facing me. She grabbed my hand and interlocked her fingers with mine.

"Please?"

How could I deny a face like that? She was playing me like a fiddle though, doing everything that would make a man let a girl do anything.

"Only on the condition that you help around the house, don't kill me, and work with me on contracts. Not go commando and take over the job. If you're living with me we can divide the funds but you can at least let me have most of the money for bills and finances."

She nodded.

"YAY!" She jumped up. She hopped on top of me and I swear my ribs cracked. Her hair tickled my face, her boobs threatened to cave in my chest. Thankfully her legs were spread like a Y down my waist, my excited blood sausage unnoticed by her. We stared into each others' eyes for a few seconds before she put her cheek against mine.

Sure she had beat me the previous night at combat, sure she had stolen my kill, and sure she was a rival assassin on my turf, but a mutual friendship (or whatever the hell this was) would be to both our benefits.

She pulled herself from me. "What's for dinner?" She asked.

Well, it would definitely be different having a girl living with me, but I felt that we would get along fine and I also felt that this girl might be the one I was waiting for, the girl I was meant to be with. Or maybe that was the longing of a guy who never dates because of his profession. Since she knew what I was and was one herself, it would be a lot easier to be with her.

She put on one of her school uniforms and I took her to dinner at a little pub. We got to know each other a bit.

We came home, watched anime and we went to bed at a decent hour.

"Where are you going to sleep?" I asked her as she yawned, having taken off her school uniform and put back on my ill fitting pajamas.

She got into the bed beside me and rolled under the covers. I could feel her back against my chest, her body curled up tightly.

I fell asleep and got eight hours of sleep for the first time in months.

As I slept I dreamed of happy things.

 

Something I wished I would have understood before all the [cabbage] hit the fan was that girls are trouble. I understood they were trouble before the [cabbage] hit the fan, but not to what extent until it was way to late.


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Target Two: Contract

 

When I awoke the next morning, I was staring straight into the sleeping face of Lily. I jumped a little, not expecting that. Her cute, sleeping face was level with my beat up, awake face. She didn't snore, she just expelled short breaths. Her hair stuck up in a few places. I then pulled my forehead from hers and found that she had me in an embrace, apparently positioning herself like this when I fell asleep. Her body was against mine, I was hugged to her like a child hugs a teddy bear. I didn't dislike it in the least, it actually felt really good having such a warm body tight against mine. My problem was with the fact we barely knew each other. How could she just fall in love with someone in a little less than a day, jump into bed with him, and hold him like this through the night? It was almost as if we had known each other before at some point; either that or she stalked me or was trying to get me liking her so she could stab me in the back and take my turf.

I just couldn't believe her capable of something like that though. That might have been the hopes of a desperate man in the arms of a beautiful assassin girl, or it might have been my intuition. Either way, I was falling for this girl. And I knew I would keep falling until it was too late to pull back. I liked her and I just had a feeling that she wouldn't do anything to harm me. If she wanted me dead she would have killed me in the mansion the other night. Instead, she left me alive. She even told me her name in the middle of the site of a murder. Assassins don't show any sort of comradeship toward each other, that's sort of the point of being assassins: you're a lone wolf.

Lily awoke, her big green eyes flicking open, her petite, cute mouth attempting to stifle a yawn. Her attempt failed and as she yawned, she squeezed me tighter to her. Jeez, she was strong for a girl her size. She blinked a couple of times at me before she blushed. She let me go and rolled over, sounding embarrassed.

"I'm sorry about that. I used to have a stuffed animal I would sleep with so I always hugged it. Hopefully you don't mind."

I chuckled. "It's alright. You kept me warm."

She rolled over to face me again and I smiled at her. It was an involuntary twitch of the lips that my inner assassin told me I should not have done. Hell, my inner assassin was telling me all kinds of things about what I was doing. Telling me how stupid I was for not killing this girl on the spot the moment she walked into my house.

That inner assassin voice came from my father, and I tried my damnedest to suppress it. I am my own type of assassin, I'm one of those romantic types that you read about in novels and manga. I'm the type that wasn't specifically built to kill. I just have a knack for it.

I went to the kitchen to make scrambled eggs while Lily stayed in my room and changed into her school uniform. I felt well rested for the first time in God knew how long. My eyes weren't streaked with red, my mouth didn't have that muddy taste that you get when you barely get enough sleep. I felt I might actually shave and run a comb through my hair for the first time in a while.

I took the eggs off of the stove and dumped them onto a plate. I set them on the coffee table in front of the sofa. I sat down and grabbed the laptop from beneath the sofa, flipping it open and going to a biochemistry message board. This forum had been dead for---well, forever. That's why I used it for contact with my clients and how a few got in touch with me. I didn't hand out how to contact me to everyone, a very select few knew, but they did refer their friends to me sometimes. And a lot of people in higher positions knew of me as well. I opened a topic for energy conservation and found that someone had replied. There was but one post, but it was a very important post.

 

I really love the sea, especially at high tide at Tokyo Pier on a sunny Friday afternoon.

 

Today was Friday. Tokyo Pier was a few miles from the school, but I would be able to walk there. I turned on the television, flipping to a twenty-four hour weather channel. It would show when high tide would be today. I shut the laptop off and shoved it beneath my sofa as Lily walked out, stretching and yawning. She plodded over to the sofa and grabbed the plate of eggs, chomping hungrily. I wasn't all that hungry for whatever reason this morning, so I had decided I'd wait till lunch to eat.

I looked over at Lily and noticed she had brought a uniform out for me. I thanked her and started to change. She didn't seem to mind. I needed to see when high tide was or I was screwed and my reputation would be severely impacted.

As I pulled on my jacket the meteorologist gave me the time I needed to know.

5:04

That left me an hour and four minutes to get from school to the pier. Hopefully I would be able to make it, hopefully nothing got in the way. I went to the coffee table and grabbed my shoulder holster, and my pistol.

Wait, I had left my pistol out here? It wasn't under my pillow? What the hell was wrong with me? I was losing my touch. A girl came into my life and suddenly I didn't have a care in the world! She would be the death of me, said the voice in the back of my head. I pushed it away. No, she would benefit me. This new contract will prove it, we'll work together on whatever the job is.

The voice in the back of my head called me a [developmentally delayed].

I went with Lily to the bus stop. We both carried our briefcases and on the way there I picked up a bento box at a convenience store for Lily's lunch. She happily took it and stuffed it in her case and we continued to the stop.

The bus stopped and we got on together. Everybody eyed us. It was official now, everyone would think we were a couple. She sat next to me in my usual seat. Even the bus driver looked at me in awe, as if I was a totally undateable shut in or a social pariah. Let them think what they wanted, what's the worst they could say? I had a totally hot girlfriend? Ouch, that hurt.

When Ebisu hopped onto the bus, happy as usual, he skipped to my seat and stopped dramatically, turning to look at Lily. He then looked over at me and I waved. His face said it all, what is that guy doing with a girl like her? He walked away without saying a word.

 

School was the usual. I sat with Lily during lunch and all the guys stared at us the whole time. When the final bell rang, we packed up and headed out together, going for the dock. As we walked out of the school yard, past the gates, I noticed that the sun was disappearing behind dark clouds. I felt my hair ruffled by the wind. A storm was brewing. Being on the docks would probably be the worst place to be during a storm like the one I felt was coming, but the client wanted to meet there. Thus I pushed forward, not caring what the weather had in store for me.

At five o' clock we made it to Tokyo dock. The tide crashed against the dock and I watched as ships rolled around in the waves. At the edge of the dock was a man sitting, holding a fishing pole. Lily looked at the crashing waves and cried out as one crashed close to us and the water sprayed her. She grabbed my hand and I felt a warm sensation run through me and a realization hit me.

She was scared of the sea. She was scared of drowning.

I held her hand tightly and turned to her. She hugged me and I didn't know what to do. So I stroked her hair like you do a scared child and told her she could stay away if she didn't want to be close to the sea. She grabbed me harder and said she'd only go if I went with her. I went toward the fisherman, hugging Lily as close as I could.

The fisherman looked at his wris[bleep]ch and reeled his line in, setting the pole beside his chair. As I got closer I noticed that the chair was actually a wheelchair and the fisherman was not a fisherman but a very famous person in politics. Chairman Ieda turned his wheelchair toward us and smiled an old, tired smile. He tapped his watch.

"You're just on time. Exactly what I would expect from Japan's best assassin. Who is your friend?" He asked, raising one of his big white eyebrows. "Can she be trusted?"

"Yes sir." I replied, holding out one of my hands for the chairman. With the other, I held Lily tightly.

"Is she an assassin as well?" He asked as he pumped my hand harder than you would think a man of his age and physical condition could.

"Yes sir, she's pretty damn good as well."

"I'm glad then. I didn't know the best assassin in Japan would take a partner. But then again, every man eventually needs to take a partner no matter his walk of life." The chairman turned toward the sea and I stood beside him at the edge of the dock with Lily clinging to me tighter than ever. The waves crashed, and rain began to sprinkle. I heard thunder rumble out at sea.

"This job is not particularly sensitive, but it wouldn't be good on my part if the public knew I hired you to do this job as you could imagine. To tell the truth, I got approval from the Prime Minister to ask you because he had no idea what to do. Getting the police to do this job would be impossible because we cannot link this man to any illegal operations, but we know he is doing illegal things."

"Who are you speaking of?" I asked.

"I am speaking of Akira Minatsuki."

"The ambassador?" I asked, stunned.

"The ambassador and Yakuza lieutenant. Have you heard about that man who died in his mansion the other night? It wasn't publicly broadcast but the funeral is going to be huge and there were quite a few internet articles about it."

I looked at Lily and we both shared the same stunned look.

"That man was the Oyabun of the Minatsuki Yakuza family. He was it's head. With the death of it's leader the family is out for blood. But the family is also falling apart which means it is the perfect time to take out the ambassador and blame it on family in-fighting. The man goes to Los Angeles constantly to consult with the Yakuza in America. He is involved so deeply in illegal transactions and deals. He smells of blood."

"And you want him dead." I looked at Lily once again, both of us understanding the situation. We had killed a Yakuza Oyabun unknowingly. We had stirred up the hornet's nest.

"In this briefcase beneath my wheelchair is 80330000 yen.(1 million US $)" The chairman tapped his thigh. "We also have a list of known hideouts, known places owned by the Yakuza. I have to tell you, this family is diligent. The people who mess with them are always known to disappear. Just yesterday a man was shot in a back alley. He apparently was found to be connected to the murder of the Oyabun."

I shared a look with Lily again. The person who employed me the other night had been shot for doing so.

That meant that they had to have some sort of connection. That meant that there was a possibility they knew about us. Or more likely me.

[cabbage].

The chairman looked over at us, what appeared to be a couple, clinging to each other. He smiled. "Another 240990000 yen (3 million US $) upon completion of the job. I'll contact you." He turned around and stuck his hand out again. "Thank you Mr. Miyagi. You're doing your father proud."

I shook the hand and watched the chairman go, taking his fishing pole with him. I then stooped to pick up the briefcase and started for the shore as lightning streaked over my head. I took Lily as fast as possible and we eventually got beside a seaside road. It was quiet, no cars, no people. The rain was getting heavier. The chairman was nowhere to be seen, probably in a van with a lot of security.

The bus stop was just ahead and I took Lily to the glass box. We sat on a bench beneath the glass awning and checked the schedule. We had twenty minutes to wait before the bus would come by. Twenty minutes alone, in the rain.

At least, that's what I thought before five men approached the glass box from behind. I saw them in my peripheral vision and instantaneously understood that they meant ill. One was smacking a baseball bat against his ankle, another held a lead pipe over his shoulder. I could see bulges in all of their jackets where firearms were concealed, and I noticed that one of them was wearing a large overcoat, probably to conceal a sword.

Lily sat staring at the sea across the street. I couldn't tell if she noticed our unhappy friends or not. We were had, the Yakuza had found us somehow. Maybe they had known that the government were suspicious about their boss and followed the chairman, seeing something out of the ordinary. Or maybe that guy who hired me the other night talked before he was killed.

The glint of a pistol in my peripheral vision, one of the men had quick drawn, and I instantly grabbed Lily's shoulders and threw us to the ground as bullets shattered the glass box. I grabbed for my pistol under my shirt. Lily rolled from beneath me and pulled a pistol from the holster beneath her own shirt, checking the clip and the slide quickly before using the bench as cover and blind firing.

It was too late though, we were overrun.

One of the Yakuza smashed her hand with the lead pipe with a disgusting crunch. She screamed and the pistol fell from her hands, clattering to the ground.

I threw down my gun and ran at the man in a rage, hopping onto the bench, kicking out at his face. He brought the lead pipe around and I dodged it deftly, jumping onto the ground to meet my attacker. He came at me with blow after blow. I dodged them all and ran into him when I saw an opening, pushing my shoulder out like a football player's tackle and throwing him to the ground. I pulled the lead pipe from his grasp and started beating it into his head, cracking his skull like an egg.

"YOU...DON'T...HIT...LILY!" I cried, hitting his head with every word.

I looked over and saw Lily was being taken by the Yakuza with a pistol. I then saw the other three surrounding him. He put his pistol to Lily's head and the man with the overcoat grabbed the briefcase.

"You've [bleep]ed with the wrong people kid. Big time." The man with the pistol said, stroking Lily's face with the barrel of the gun. "I bet there's a nice place in Hell for you girl, probably with your name and everything."

He was busy staring at Lily's tear-stricken, pained face to notice my butterfly knife in my hand. He was too busy to notice me throw it at his neck. Lily was much shorter than him, the knife had no chance of harming even one of her blond locks.

The next words that came out of the gunman's mouth were garbled as he choked on his own blood. It spewed from his neck, from his mouth. The knife's hilt stuck from his throat like Excalibur in the stone. He clutched at it, dropping his weapon and trying to pull the knife out, but before he could even lift it a centimeter from his neck, he fell over dead.

And I came jumping over the body and kicking out at the face of the nearest Yakuza. Lily sat on the ground, still crying and I swore I would not let any harm come to her. I felt it was my job. I punched the Yakuza in the stomach, doubling him over. I kneed him in the face, breaking his nose. I broke his leg with a well placed stomp against his ankle. I then used him as a human shield as his samurai buddy pulled his sword and sliced at my back. The Yakuza men stared at each other, and then the one in my hand fell into two pieces. I let his top half go and ran at the samurai, rolling under one of his cuts and landing on top of the man with the pistol. I found his pistol and felt a crushing blow against my stomach. The man with the baseball bat was about to strike me again when I blew his head off. I turned the pistol to the samurai but the sword cut the pistol in two.

Where the hell do you buy a sword like that? I wondered.

I grabbed the butterfly knife in the throat of the gunman but it was lodged in real well. The sword was about to strike me down and I wondered if this was how it would end.

Lily stood and held a sword of her own in her good hand. She had concealed it in the back of her uniform (how you conceal a pistol and a sword in a girl's uniform I have no clue) and held it pointed at the last remaining Yakuza.

"You won't hurt Zero."

The Yakuza laughed. "Isn't this cute? An assassin couple fighting for their lover. It's almost too cute to be true." He laughed heartily, as if he thought he were in some sort of comedy. "I guess you'll both go to Hell together. Till death do you part, eh?"

Lily ran at him and the man parried her blow deftly, pulling back and starting a flurry of movements too fast to follow. Lily blocked every blow with just one hand though. I was in awe at her ability. Not one swipe of the sword, not one attack was not blocked by her, the swords issuing a shower of sparks upon contact. With every thrust, parry, and slice Lily got deeper and deeper past the samurai man's defense, cutting bits off his coat. After a full two minutes of hacking and slashing, the two swords met, Lily and the Yakuza just inches from each other, the swords crossed and forming an X. They pushed as hard as they could, but I knew Lily would not be able to win a match of strength.

I rolled over, grabbing the hilt of my butterfly knife that was lodged in the throat of the dead man. I pulled with all my might, the thing sliding out in an explosion of blood and gore. When I turned, crouched, I saw Lily's good arm was outstretched, the samurai having pushed her hard enough that she was about to fall. I then saw the flash of the sword as it started to fall, ready to slice her arm off.

I was there in an instant, and my knife parried the blow, sending me to my ass. The samurai looked at me with both shock and awe evident. I must be crazy. Before he could think any more I lunged, shoving the butterfly knife in his stomach and pulling upwards, his stomach tearing sickeningly. His sword came down toward my head, but Lily was up, her sword lifted high and parrying the blow. I pulled my knife out of his stomach, and he screamed as I kicked him right in the giant gash. His guts started to spill out of the cut, his intestines collecting on the ground like rope. He grabbed for them, but it was futile. He fell face first into a pile of his own internal organs.

I was gasping for breath. The rain was pouring same as it had been for the past twelve minutes since we had left the dock. I grabbed our weapons from the ground, covered in blood and gore. Our uniforms were pretty bloody as well. I grabbed the briefcase. Hugging Lily to me, I decided we needed to find a clothes store where we could somehow hide, getting rid of our bloody clothes and buying new ones.

I quickly checked Lily's arm. It was not broken, thankfully, but it was sprained. She wouldn't be able to use it for a little while.

"Can you run?" I asked her.

"I think so." She gasped out.

She was tired and in pain and there was no way in hell I was going to make her run to a clothes store that was about a mile away. I was in much better condition, and so I picked her up, cradling her in my arms as if she were a princess and I the brave knight, and started running through the rain slicked streets of Tokyo, toward the closest clothes store I knew of.

It took about twenty minutes to get there. I could have run a mile in about seven and a half minutes, but with Lily in my arms and navigating the back alleys and the darkest places possible so nobody would be suspicious, it was much tougher. When we made it to the glass double doors of the place I set her down, my arms throbbing in pain. She's not fat, but she's about a hundred pounds and I wish I wouldn't have done the princess thing and would have instead opted for piggy-backing. Then again, with her arm the way it was---

The glass door slid aside and we entered as inconspicuously as possible. I noticed a security camera pointed about a foot ahead of us, so we moved left toward a section of new clothes. We carefully made our way through the clothes and toward changing rooms. On our way, we picked out something to wear. There were only a couple people in the store so while Lily changed, I sneaked to the shoes section and got a pair for each of us. When I returned to the changing room I threw the box of shoes over the partition so that Lily could put them on. I then moved into the room next to hers and put on my attire. Black jeans, a white shirt and a black jacket, with a pair of black skate shoes. I made sure my uniform did not touch my new clothes and was properly disposed of in the garbage can inside of the room. Lily did the same.

When I came out, I carried the trash bag with me, the strings tied together. I put it next to the front door, behind some clothes so nobody would see it. Lily came out doing the same. She looked amazing in a cute pink summer dress with a pair of black heels. I'd find her a flower for her hair on the way home, after we get her hand wrapped up. Maybe we could stop off for dinner together since we had a ton of money to blow.

We went to the front desk, the tags still on our clothes. The person at the counter looked at us suspiciously.

"Our old clothes were dirty and disgusting and we would have been embarrassed to be seen in them so we threw them away in the changing rooms. We didn't think it would be an issue as long as we left the tags on the clothes." I said with as much of a smile as possible.

The clerk just shrugged and rang us up. The briefcase had been washed off in the rain as we ran, Lily had held on to it. I had to throw away our pistols on the way to the store though, disposing them in the trash. I had extras at home and could order some more any time.

I pulled some money out of the case and handed it to the clerk, careful not to let him see the amount inside. He took it happily, gave me the change, and we pulled the tags off our clothes as we made it to the front door. I looked behind us and saw that nobody was paying attention. Lily told me that it was clear outside. We picked up the garbage bags and burst out of the store, heading around the corner to a big dumpster and dumping our school clothes.

We stopped at a small clinic down the street and got Lily's arm wrapped up. We left after about fifteen minutes. I made sure to tip the doctor well.

A few buildings down and across the street, I saw an apparel store. Maybe we would find some umbrellas and a flower for Lily's hair there. We made our way over. I got us both an umbrella and I got a pretty pink flower for Lily. She hugged me and thanked me for everything. She seemed happier than ever but the tears she cried didn't seem to be of joy, they seemed to be of sorrow.

It was the second night in a row I'd gone out for dinner with Lily. It was also the second night in a week I'd been fighting Yakuza. It was also the first time I realized that I was falling in love with Lily. The voice in the back of my head yelled at me, but I couldn't hear it. My eyes were riveted on the beautiful girl who sat across from me, eating her dinner wolfishly. The contract wasn't on my mind, that could be held off for later. Right now, all that mattered was Lily.


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Target Three: Substitute Teacher

 

I wasn't known to drink a lot of coffee; in fact I was known for quite the opposite, I drank more tea than was good for me. Not that it mattered to anyone what I drank, but that Saturday night as Lily cradled her bandaged hand in my bed, attempting to sleep and I sat on the sofa with a news report on the TV and a coffee table littered with files in front of me, I noticed a huge decline in my small coffee supply. It was approaching three in the morning and I was tired after all the fighting and running. My brain wasn't functioning properly at all, and half of what I read instantly disappeared from my brain. The pictures were about the only part of the files that would stick. I really should have been going to sleep and worrying about it the next morning but I wanted to know what I was up against and wanted to know where to hit. For all I knew, I could have an opportunity the next day to snipe the lieutenant and not have to deal with a house full of irate baddies like when I went to kill his boss. I wanted to take any opportunity I could, God only knew what fate would have in store if I didn't end this as soon as I could. It was bad enough the Yakuza knew of me. Hopefully if I take down another of their leaders they will be reeling too much to worry about me.

It was about five in the morning when I finally shut the files and headed into the bedroom. Lily was asleep. She wore a pair of my pajamas again. I promised myself I'd buy her some clothes before the weekend ended so that she wouldn't have to wear my large pajamas and could wear something other than a school uniform outside. I felt like a father somewhat, but I also felt like a husband. Living together, sleeping together, spending almost every minute with each other.

I got into bed beside her, careful not to move her hand or do anything else to it. She was facing me and I, for whatever reason, put her arms around me so that she was hugging me, and I put my own arms around her to hug her. Hopefully she wouldn't mind when she woke up.

I fell asleep wondering what would happen between us; the contract not even penetrating my thought stream. Everything was about Lily now. The voice of my father echoed in my head. "You're an idiot. This will be the death of you."

"[bleep] you Dad." I replied. I could hear his groan and could feel his anger at my harsh words. I've never understood how my father sits in the back of my head. Is it his ghost? Or is it just a part of my conscious that has taken the voice and stance of my father because of how great he was at his job? Was it supposed to be telling me how to be the greatest assassin, perhaps even surpassing my father? I don't know. Nonetheless, I ignored it as I fell asleep.

In my dreams I saw my family. We were all together, kneeling at a table with tea before us and bowls of rice. I sat at the head of the table, my father opposite. He was watching me with hawk-like eyes. My grandfather sat to my left, my mother to my right. They all looked at me suspiciously. Actually they looked behind me.

I turned and there was Lily. The only problem was, she was nailed to a crucifix, blood gushing from where she had been impaled to the wooden thing. She cried, screaming sometimes. She was stark naked. I tried to stand but I had no control over the dream, it was just happening.

I understood the message of the dream before I was lifted from the ground as if by magic and placed on the crucifix where Lily had been. I was nailed to it, screaming the whole time. The person who was nailing me to it was Lily, who resumed my place at the dinner table when she was done. I was crying, and nobody was looking my way, they were all staring at their meals.

It was a dog eat dog world. Either I got rid of Lily, or Lily got rid of me. The message of the dream was clear in my mind when I woke up, Lily shaking me vigorously.

"Zero! Are you all right?" She asked once I had come to. I stared at her for a moment. Was she really evil? Was I really in any danger from her? Should I take my dreams as dreams, or should I take them as something oracular, a glimpse of my future?

I thought of the people at that dinner table. My grandfather, a famous sniper during World War II. My father, one of the greatest assassins to ever live who had worked with both the Japanese government and the American CIA at points. My mother, who had raised me till I got to high school and then disappeared without a trace leaving me with the money for an apartment rental for ten years, and enough to buy food for a year.

All the people who had left my life, all my loved ones who had ceased to be. They all were trying to communicate to me.

I heard my mother's voice as if out of nowhere.

"Do what you think is right. Love who you want to love. Take life one step at a time and if this girl who you are falling in love with does turn out to be nothing good, then do what you must when you find out."

It was the last time the voices spoke to me for months. My brain was finally quiet.

I hugged Lily harder than I've ever hugged anyone. I wouldn't let her go, she was all I had. If she did betray me, I would never forgive her.

 

I had always found clothes shopping to be extremely boring, but for whatever reason Lily made it exciting. Maybe it was my hyperactive sex drive that I wished would settle down before Lily noticed. I assumed she did notice though, but I didn't want it to be too obvious that I was ogling her every time she came out of the dressing room in a new dress or skirt or pair of pants or blouse. I bought a ton of clothes for her that lazy Sunday afternoon, and she suggested that I get myself some clothes or get myself something. I was spending more money on her than on myself. It was true, but it just seemed like the right thing to do. I did need some nicer clothes for when we went out to dinners or when we hung out, but I never really cared. Jeans and a T-shirt had been fine before I was with Lily.

We ended up shopping for me. Lily stood outside of the dressing room, ogling me as I came out in all forms of clothing. She was good at picking out a style or an item of clothing that would work with anything. I ended up walking out of the store with quite a few new clothing items of my own.

We spent the rest of the day at home, doing nothing too exciting.

 

At school the next day we walked into the classroom to see a substitute. The man was tall, lanky, maybe early twenties. His hair was sticking up in places and he wore round glasses that looked rather silly on him. He eyed me like my family in the dream Saturday night. I took my usual seat and Lily took hers. Everyone stared at her bandaged hand, wondering what had happened. People who asked were given a simple answer: she tripped.

The substitute was actually a pretty good teacher, he seemed to understand the material better than Mr. Kisuke. He would intersperse jokes and wisecracks throughout his lectures about history and math and literature. I actually liked him, I would have preferred a teacher like him over a teacher like Mr. Kisuke with no sense of humor who seemed like the archetypical strict instructor.

The lunch bell rang and everyone stood as fast as they could, heading toward the school's roof or the lunchroom. A couple girls stayed behind and I noticed one was Rei, the shy girl. She seemed to move to the opposite corner from her desk in front of me. I could have sworn she was watching Lily and myself, but that could have been nothing.

I shared a bento box with Lily again that day, watching Rei carefully. She peeked over her shoulder at me then quickly looked back when she noticed I was watching her. When I turned back to my lunch, I noticed that the substitute was staring at me. He was fiddling around behind the teacher's desk with a briefcase, and I instantly wondered what the man was doing. He looked suspicious, playing around in his briefcase while watching me. And he knew I noticed him, yet continued to stare malevolently.

I looked over at the group of girls huddled in the back, looked at Rei, who appeared to be watching the teacher. I didn't feel right in this classroom. I felt like there was something bad about to happen. I looked over at Lily and I knew she had the same feeling by her hesitant eating. She was a ravenous eater, there was no way she'd start eating slowly unless something was bad.

I then noticed she was reaching toward her skirt, where her shirt was tucked into the waistband. I really knew something was bad now. She kept a knife beneath her skirt and her pistol in a shoulder holster under her shirt. It wasn't the most convenient place, but that's where I kept mine too. I didn't want to be caught in school with a gun.

The tension in the room could be cut with a knife.

"Zero Miyagi can I see you real quick?" The substitute asked.

I shook my head. "Sorry sir but I am in the middle of doing my homework." It was an obvious lie, but I really didn't feel comfortable going up to the desk.

"I'll send you to the principal's office if you do not come up here." I heard malice in his voice, and I instantly knew he was an enemy.

He stood and held a pistol in his left hand, the briefcase in the other. I saw a muzzle flash and slipped from my seat as a bullet whizzed overhead. The girls in the back started to scream and run away. Rei got up nonchalantly and walked away as if this were a regular, everyday occurrence.

Lily stood, somehow having procured her pistol from her shoulder holster. She started shooting at the substitute but he ran out of the room, into the hallway and into throngs of screaming kids. Lily helped me up and I pulled my own pistol from my holster and looked at Lily. She nodded and shot the window beside my desk and jumped out.

When she nodded, I was thinking that meant we were going to chase him together. But apparently that meant she was jumping out of a second story window and into a bunch of bushes while I went to chase the substitute down the hall of screaming kids, wondering what plan Lily had. I hoped she hadn't landed on her hand bad. Then again, I also hoped she hadn't landed on anything bad. That jump through the window was pretty damn suicidal, I probably wouldn't even do that. And I've been known to do some pretty stupid things.

I took a turn down the hall, pushing students out of my way. The substitute shot into the ceiling, making the kids scatter. I did not fire a single bullet, this guy was reckless. He could accidentally kill someone and break the one rule to assassination that you followed closely: kill your target and anybody around him/her carrying a weapon, but never a random civilian.

The substitute pushed through the gym doors and I was right behind him. He crossed the gym, which was clear of kids. He started shooting at me as he tried to get to the exit doors. I shot back, but our aim was off from running so hard.

He got through the exit but was immediately faced with Lily who tried to shoot him. Somehow, she missed; probably because of the fact she was holding the pistol with her broken hand. He smacked her across the face with the butt of his weapon, sending her to the ground. I caught up to him and he turned just as I shot, the bullet passing by the skin of his cheek, blood streaming from the cut. He tried to shoot me but I was too fast, sliding to the side as three bullets escaped the weapon.

He ran again, I shot and it blew out his shoulder. His arm flew around like a ramen noodle. He didn't drop his pistol though, just grabbed his wound with his other arm and ran.

I slid next to Lily, her face contorted in pain.

"Are you alright?" I asked, grabbing her head and holding it up.

"Yeah." She muttered. "I'm an idiot."

"You're not ambidextrous?" I asked. Most assassins learned to shoot with both hands.

"No. I thought I might be able to shoot him. He's too damn fast. Go kill him." She tried to get up but fell back down. This wasn't the girl who beat me the first time I met her, this was someone completely different. Someone so much weaker, so much more vulnerable. I had a lot of questions about this though. She seemed to be suppressing her power. Playing more of a weaker role compared to me.

Or maybe she had just gotten the drop on me at the Oyabun's mansion. It had been dark and I hadn't expected her to be there.

I chased after the substitute teacher, police sirens in the distance.

 

I saw him get in a car and I saw him drive away. I looked around and found a Vespa scooter on the side of the road that a guy was about to hop onto. I ran at him and pointed the gun at his chest. He dropped his big bowl of a helmet and his eyes were filled with fear.

"Don't kill me man!" He cried.

"I'm commandeering this Vespa." God, I never thought I'd say that. I didn't even bother to grab the helmet as I hopped on and turned the keys that were already in the ignition. "I'll bring it back sometime soon!" I cried as I drove the thing down the street, chasing the black Lexus up the road about four blocks. I could see it as I was on a hill, but it was going to be tough catching up on a scooter.

I weaved in and out of traffic deftly, people slamming on their breaks, punching their horns. I waved at them and got closer to the Lexus by two blocks. It turned left. I found a gap in oncoming traffic and drifted through the gap as cars came at me, horns blaring, hopping onto the sidewalk and scooting past pedestrians wondering what the hell was going on.

I took the turn and suddenly found myself ducking as bullets pierced the building beside me. I heard the rev of two motors and noticed two leather clad bikers on motorcycles chasing beside me. They must have been lookouts or back up for the substitute; either that or the Yakuza were faster emergency responders than even the police.

I got back into traffic and pushed the Vespa as fast as it would go. I saw a red light up ahead and cursed. I heard the motorcycles to my side and one of them weaved into traffic right beside me, his Uzi aimed at my head. I grabbed the Uzi and moved my head back as bullets whizzed past my face. The traffic beside us was stopped, we were heading straight into an intersection. I saw a bus coming by and cried out as we headed straight into it.

I turned sharply to the side, the motorcyclists arm in one of my hands, my other hand on the handlebars. As I turned, pushing the break, the cyclist smashed into the bus. I let go of his hand as he was thrown to the ground as the bus went by, half his body smashed to pieces.

I got off the Vespa (I promised to give it back to the guy, but whatever) and pulled the bad guy's intact motorcycle up. I hopped aboard and started driving through the intersection toward the Lexus when the other cyclist started shooting. I could feel the bullets whiz by my head.

I was speeding up to about a hundred miles per hour. I saw the second cyclist get beside me. He was aiming at me. [cabbage], [cabbage], [cabbage].

I had no idea of how to get out of this one.

The Uzi missed and the bullets cut through the cars around us. I saw the bad guy reload one handed and had an idea.

I pulled my clip from my pistol. I knew I had no chance of hitting him at this speed and I didn't want to risk killing a pedestrian. I got close to the cyclist and threw my clip into the front wheel of the Yakuza's motorcycle.

It caught and the wheel stopped it's spin. The back wheel was still going. The motorcycle flew into the air, end over end. The cyclist copied his motorcycle's dance, flying through the air and landing atop a small car with a crunch. He died instantly.

I pumped my fist. That was pretty damn cool.

I weaved through traffic and saw the Lexus ahead. It was stopping at a park. Maybe he thought I was dead or maybe he didn't know he was still being followed. I pushed the bike faster. The substitute walked into the park, carrying himself rather awkwardly. I then noticed about five Yakuza on a bridge that crossed a small duck pond. So that was where he was going.

They all carried machine guns. I knew how I was going to end this quickly, but it seemed rather suicidal. I was going to need a lot of new school uniforms before this job was over, I was certainly ruining them. I had never fought the Yakuza before, I never knew how powerful they truly were.

I turned onto the sidewalk into the park and went as fast as I could toward the bridge. The substitute turned and saw me. The five men on the bridge cried out as I hopped off the bike, into some shrubs to the side of the walkway. I screamed as brambles and branches cut into me. I saw the motorcycle fly across the sidewalk on it's side, a rain of sparks following it as it moved at seventy miles per hour toward the substitute. He screamed as he was thrown into the air, his legs severed from the rest of his body. He smacked into the sidewalk hard enough that his head burst open like an egg. The motorcycle continued toward the bridge, smashing into one of the Yakuza who suffered the same head trauma as his friend upon impact with the bridge.

Four more to go. I tried to shoot them with my pistol, but suddenly realized I had thrown my ammo clip into the wheels of the second cyclist's bike. I quickly reloaded and got up. I was sore all over, I had no hope winning this fight.

I ran, which was more like a slow jog, as bullets passed me, cutting through my uniform, one smashing into my thigh, throwing me to the ground. I screamed. I looked around at my surroundings, knowing this would be where I died.

I then saw the gas tank of the motorcycle. I noticed all the Yakuza crowded around the bridge.

I took aim.

Click.

I looked at the slide of my pistol.

It was jammed. It was [bleep]ing jammed!

I mouthed a silent prayer to whatever God there was as my life ended in a brilliant white explosion.

I looked up to see an angel kneeling over me amidst fire and smoke and screaming burn victims. I looked at the park and saw the Yakuza, some missing an arm, some a leg. I saw a pin in the angels mouth, saw her face was bruised, her arm bandaged.

"Lily." I hugged her very weakly.

"We'll get you to a hospital Zero."

"Why did you have a grenade?" I asked. "How did you find me."

"To answer the second question, I followed the path of destruction. To answer the first, I carry one in my briefcase in case things really go south."

I smiled. "Don't go through windows like you did. You make me worry."

Her lips twisted into a mischievous smile. "Who's the one lying on the ground with a bullet in his thigh and a bunch of dead bodies all over?"

I was about to grab her and kiss her then and there when she moved to pick up my legs and someone picked up my shoulders. I looked up to see Ebisu hauling me toward a Jeep. "What are you doing here?" I asked.

"Helping a friend out. Holy [cabbage], Zero you have to tell me what you are. Everyone in the school knows that Lily and you are different."

I was taken to a nearby hospital before the police showed up at the crime scene. The police eventually found out I was the one who had been the cause for the Yakuza death's, but the chairman must have intervened before I could be thrown in prison or questioned.

I spent a few days in the hospital. A couple people from school showed up, all of them with questions that I just couldn't answer. I couldn't tell the world my profession, even my few friends.

 

One night I awoke and saw a girl with medium sized black hair, medium sized breasts, a good figure, cute purple eyes, and a school uniform come in during curfew. The treatment ward was shut down for the night so the patients would be in relative quiet. I saw this girl in the window to my room, staring back at me before shutting it and hopping away.

I looked at the bedside table and saw a vase with roses inside. No name or card or anything came with them.

Rei. What the hell had she been doing here?

I looked over at the roses. I noticed something beside them I hadn't seen the first time, concealed by the darkness. I pushed the vase aside and grabbed the object.

A .50 caliber sniper bullet with a heart engraved on it's body as well as at the tip. Was this from Rei? Or maybe from Lily?

I put it under my pillow so the nurse wouldn't see it and went back to sleep.


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Target Four: Chocolate

 

I came out of the hospital five days after I entered. My hospital bill had been paid by the chairman, who had left me a flower and a note of encouragement. He was happy I was okay, he was happy with what was taking place and also sad that violence had to take place at the school. He had paid off the police force and was happy to keep my identity as secret as possible. I had spent another two days in the hospital afterward, each day being met by friends from school who had questioning looks in their eyes, wondering who or what I was. Ebisu came by daily, always holding back questions and just striking up light conversation. Lily also came by daily, every day squeezing my hand gently and telling me how she was holding up at my house.

The day I left it was raining violently. Lightning streaked from the heavens, thunder boomed like the drums of God. It was as dark as midnight and it was only noon. Ebisu came by with an umbrella. We left the hospital together, getting into his dad's Mercedes. Ebisu had a license but didn't have the money to get a car yet. He drove his father's car when he needed to, but took the bus most of the time. I got in the passenger side and we headed through the streets of Tokyo.

My leg was doing well, but I still had a bit of a limp I was told would go away in another few days. I had bandages all over my body, on my arms, on my back, a few on my face. I looked a bit like a mummy. Of course, Ebisu was a stark contrast, not a cut on him, not a haggard hair on him. He was perfection. It was no wonder he always had a girl clinging to his arm while I had skin hanging from mine. I didn't hate him for it, I just hated his lifestyle. Or, to tell the truth, was jealous of it. He lived carefree, he lived with a family making a good amount of money at a job that didn't have to do with bullets and guns and swords and killing. I had always felt that I was pushed into my job by my family, not by my own choice. It was an alright job, but sometimes I felt just like the people I killed, scum. But my being a scum was typically justified.

Ebisu stopped the car beside a curb in downtown, next to a sushi joint we would go to for dinner every once in a while. Ebisu looked over at me, the only sound the rain pelting the car. His face was stern, his words just as serious as his voice.

Tell me truthfully Zero, what the hell are you?

I was about to get out of the car and walk home when he grabbed my arm forcefully and pulled me back. I turned to him, malice in my eyes. This is none of your concern.

You were running through the [bleep]ing school with a pistol! Everyone knows about it. They know about Lily too. Tell me man, I'm your best friend. Why can't you tell me?

I stared into his eyes and spit the next words out like a curse. I'm an assassin. You happy now? I get paid to kill people. Currently, people are apparently being paid to kill me because I've gotten myself into some deep [cabbage] that you have inadvertently gotten yourself into by being around me. I felt demons rising from me, my father. He was taking over. You're going to die because you've interacted with me and you will die for knowing.

Ebisu stared at me with the same stern look on his face. He cocked his fist and sent it flying, smashing into my jaw. I didn't even cry out, just went for my shoulder holster---

It was too bad I wasn't packing heat.

You've messed with the wrong person Ebisu. I muttered. You're going to regret this for the rest of eternity.

Are you threatening me? He asked.

I pushed my father out of my head. I pushed the assassin away and left the car as fast as I could, limping onto the rain slicked pavement. Ebisu stared at the steering wheel, his mind in overdrive. My own was as well. Ebisu knew, and he also knew I was insane. Great, my best friend knew my secret, he would probably be in the crossfire at some point because of this.

Ebisu got out of the car and came around, grabbing my arm and taking me into the sushi place. There's more to this than you're letting on. You're not acting like yourself. Explain everything to me. I'm your best friend man, through thick and thin. If I die for being your friend, then so be it.

I suddenly felt my heartstrings pulled by some imaginary force. Christ, I didn't deserve friends like him. In that one moment I understood how broken I truly was.

We were taken to a table where a blond haired girl in a school uniform with a purple flower in her hair and green eyes sat. She looked at me, and her eyes did not betray how much worry she had for me. She stood and hugged me, careful of my bruises.

It felt good to be in the embrace of Lily again. I would never have let go if I could.

Ebisu never mentioned anything about my occupation or about my problems the whole meal. We actually had an enjoyable time. Ebisu seemed genuinely happy that I had found a girl like Lily, though he still didn't understand we were not dating.

For all I knew, though, we could be but neither of us had admitted it.

We all went to my house afterward for a few hours of video games and television before Ebisu decided to head home. I walked him to the front door. He pulled me outside of the door and shut it, leaving Lily inside. He shoved me against the door and stared at me hard.

Yesterday in school, Rei was talking about you. She seemed really worried. I think you should talk to her. I'm not suggesting you get rid of Lily, I'm just saying that you are really goddamn selfish and there are a lot more people who care about you than you'd like to believe, including me. I'm not prying into your life because I like getting into people's business, it's because I don't want to see you get killed. You're my best friend dude. With that, he turned and left me in the hallway of the apartment complex to think over his words.

I punched the wall beside me. Now everyone knew, now everything was going to hell in a hand basket. Now my friends didn't trust me, now people wondered about me. It would be the death of them. I was the reason people were going to die. I was selfish. I was a [bleep]ing idiot.

Rei. If there were anyone I wanted to know more about it was that quiet girl. She liked me a lot, yet wouldn't talk to me. The way she acted during the shoot-out at school was rather odd as well. It was almost as if she were used to shooting. I had seen her in the hospital too, I knew it was her. I needed to talk to her sometime. She was as much a mystery to me as I was to everyone else.

I cursed myself. I might have been acting like a pessimist but in my line of work, people who knew about me got killed or taken hostage or any other of a million options.

I returned to my apartment and into the arms of Lily. Tears streaked down my face. I was a broken man. The only person who could mend me was Lily, she was my closest friend, she was the only person close to me at all.

I had to take down the Minatsuki family. No matter what. I couldn't risk anyone close to me being killed.

 

I realized I was selfish. I realized that I had been killing for money and nothing more. I had spent my whole life since my my parents left killing for myself. Now, I had someone to fight for, and I felt I wasn't ready to protect her. Look at her, her hand was still bandaged. Look at me, I looked like a [bleep]ing mummy. I never thought of myself as sentimental, as emotional. But now that the consequences weighed down upon my head, I saw that it wasn't just my life on the line now. All my friends, and the person I loved, would die.

I spent that night in bed with Lily, clutching at her. We'd been together for more than a week and every day I fell for her more and more. She put her cheek against mine and her hair fell across my face. She was warm, she felt good. She whispered in my ear, her voice sweet. It's OK. I'll always protect you. She hugged me tighter. I came to Tokyo expecting to be gunned at by everyone like I was in Osaka. It's how my father died. When I met you in the Oyabun's house and you didn't shoot me when you first saw me I knew that you were different. You weren't cold blooded. I thought I might try to trust you. It turns out, you are the nicest guy I've ever met. During that fight with the Yakuza at the bus stop. You screamed when you killed a man, you said not to touch me. It's the first time anybody has ever protected me. You barely knew me and you protected me like a sister or a girlfriend.

The tears were not falling now, I listened to Lily intently. My cheeks were flushed but she couldn't see it in the dark of the bedroom.

I don't ever want to see you hurt Zero. I never want anybody to hurt you and I never want to hurt you. Because you are the only thing I've got, you're the nicest person I've ever met. I've only known you for a week and you've done more for me than anyone.

Her small left hand wiped a tear from my eye and grabbed my own left hand, locking our fingers together. She then used her bandaged right to push my head against her's. We kissed for what felt like an eternity, an eternity that I wish had truly gone on forever.

When she pulled from my lips, she was just inches away when she muttered words that would stick with me forever. I love you Zero. I want you to be with me forever.

I love you too Lily. And I would like to stay with you forever.

Our lips locked again and we fell asleep in each others' arms, our bodies held together tightly, our faces against each other.

Lily loved me.

I loved Lily.

We would be tested, but one thing that would never change was that we were deeply in love. The moment we said we loved each other, our fates were locked.

There were two girls who would try to stop it and take me, there were multiple bad guys who tried to kill us, but it never ruined our relationship. My father's voice disappeared, he finally found some solace I guess, saw that his mistrust was all wrong.

Lily and me were broken merchandise who killed because we had nothing else. If we had died before, nobody would have cared, including ourselves.

Now, we had a reason to live and we had a reason to quit being assassins and live a normal life.

If only it were that easy.

 

The next morning we decided not to leave the bed. We decided to lie together in our arms, our lips meeting. It didn't go past that, we were smarter than that. We talked about our lives, we talked about why we had become assassins. We found out that we were pretty much exactly the same, we had the same motives in life, and we found that together, we would be able to cope. We decided that as soon as the mission against the Yakuza ended, we would quit being assassins and live together in solace.

It was the first time in my life I was truly happy. It was the first time in my life when I didn't feel like I was in a linear corridor that I just had to follow to survive. Now, I felt I could open a door off that corridor and do what I wanted.

 

That night, we went out for dinner. It seemed to be a regular occurrence, but it wasn't like I couldn't afford to do it. I decided that in honor of our officially being boyfriend and girlfriend we'd go someplace really fancy, someplace where we would have to dress up. Lily wore a beautiful white dress with black heels and I wore a black suit and tie with loafers. We looked like two sophisticated people.

The restaurant was all marble and tiles and people in suits. The kind of place I wouldn't be caught dead in if not for the fact I were celebrating something. We were led by a waiter with a French accent to a booth and a waitress stopped at the table, getting our drink orders. Soon enough, we were getting steak on a big platter with baked potatoes and green beans.

It was the best meal I had had in a long time. When Lily and myself were done scarfing down our food, the waitress grabbed our plates and asked about dessert.

Lily instantly perked up. Do you have chocolate? She asked.

Mmm-hmm. We have a chocolate fudge volcano.

I want one of those! Lily said.

And you sir?

I shook my head. I'll take a bite from her plate.

The waitress smiled and left us alone.

Zero? Lily asked.

Yes?

There are some unfriendly looking people coming in.

I looked over the top of the back of my booth and saw who Lily spoke of, five guys in nice suits with shaved heads and tattoos reaching up their necks, some with tats on their faces. They looked like thugs, sophisticated thugs. Yakuza.

Do you think they followed us? I asked.

No. I think they're here for a completely different reason.

I looked where Lily did, craning my neck over another row of booths and toward a circular one in the back corner.

Sitting in the red plush booth, a glass of wine in his hand and a woman at his side, was Akira Minatsuki.

Our target.

I grabbed for my pistol. This was the perfect opportunity, a classic case of right place at the right time that I knew I should take advantage of. I stood from the table, yanking my pistol from it's holster. Lily grabbed my arm and pulled me down to sit beside her.

Do you think now is the best time? There are five men there, including Minatsuki.

I can take them. I said confidently.

Lily put her palm against my cheek gently, against one of the bandages on it. She pointed at my arm, at my stomach, at my whole body pretty much. I was covered in bandages.

You're in no shape to fight. She told me. I don't want you to die.

I won't. I hooked a thumb at my chest. I will never die. Not as long as I have you.

She grabbed me in an embrace and kissed me passionately. We didn't pull away until a few minutes passed and the chocolate volcano arrived. The waitress smiled at us as we disengaged and I smiled awkwardly back.

I decided that maybe it wasn't the best idea to fight in my condition. Maybe we could tail Minatsuki and find his base or his house. His house hadn't been on the list of places he frequented that I got from the Chairman. Maybe he moved around constantly so as not to get caught.

As we dipped our forks into the giant blob of chocolate a man walked beside the table. He was trying to appear as inconspicuous as possible, but I saw the Yakuza look over at us. I saw the small twist of his lips into a smirk. I saw him reach for his pistol.

Mine was already out, as it had been since I stood. I had it sitting on my lap as I made out with Lily and while I ate. It blew his head apart before he could even grab the grip.

There were screams from the patrons and the swift movement of the Yakuza in the back corner table getting up and pulling weapons from their jackets and their pants. Lily's hand was still bandaged, though she was recovering quite quickly and the doctor had said she could take the bandages off in about a day. She couldn't shoot left handed, so she stayed at the booth, eating her chocolate and watching me as I went to kill Akira Minatsuki.

Boom. One more Yakuza fell as I made my way around the row of booths and toward the corner. I ducked under the partition between the booths as pistol shots flew by. I looked over my cover and blind fired at the corner. Somebody screamed in pain and I heard the distinct breaking of glassware against the floor.

I looked over at where Lily had sat. She was gone. I saw a blur heading out the door. I also noticed that the chocolate volcano was missing from the table.

At least she was away and couldn't get hurt.

I turned the corner of the booths and was facing the corner booth. The only thing there was a dead body, and a man struggling on the floor, his stomach shot. He had smacked against the table, thus the breaking glass.

I shot him again and looked around the corner of the row of booths, down another straight-way. On one side was the other side of the row of booths I had been using as cover. On the other was a bar with a tap and different imports lined up on shelves.

The four remaining Yakuza were making a run for it. Akira Minatsuki was rushing like a bat out of hell.

I ran down the straight-way and shot one of the men in the back. The others started shooting from behind their backs, blind firing. They got out of the restaurant and onto the street.

I chased after them. A crowd was forming and police sirens were wailing in the distance. Minatsuki got into a limousine and the car rushed away. I looked around for Lily.

She rode up to the curb in a black Mustang. I got in the passenger seat as she smashed her heel against the gas and took us down the street and toward the limousine.

Where'd you get---

Borrowed. She quickly answered as she dug her fork into the remnants of the plate of chocolate volcano that sat on her lap with one hand and drove with the other.

She must really love chocolate---

I inserted a fresh clip into my pistol and pulled the slide.

You know what happened last time I was in a car chase? I asked sarcastically.

It won't happen again. I'm at the wheel this time. And I'm not quite as suicidal as you. She smiled at me.

Says the lady who jumped out of a second story window! I smiled back.

Lily was right on the limousine's tail. She looked at me and nodded at the long black car. Get on it. We can take him out!

I looked back and forth from her to the limo. I then opened the passenger door and climbed on top of our borrowed car. Lily stayed at a steady pace, as did the limo. I hopped onto the top of it with a thump. I heard the men inside scrambling.

I cried out as gun shots penetrated the top of the car and whizzed by me. I used the trajectory of the shots to shoot two of the remaining three Yakuza dead. Now, only one survived, along with Minatsuki.

Before I could do anything though the limo abruptly stopped and I fell backward, right into the windshield of Lily's car. My back impacted it painfully and turned the windshield into a spiderweb of broken glass. I heard Lily cry out and stop the car.

She got out and grabbed me, pulling me from the windshield and into her embrace. I could barely move, I felt paralyzed. She kissed me and tried to get me to move.

I couldn't, I felt like taking a nap.

That was stupid of me to tell you to do that. I'm sorry Zero! She hugged me tight and tears streamed down her eyes. Please don't tell me I've hurt you.

I looked up at her and smiled weakly. I just wanted to be held by her. I wanted to be next to that warm comfort of her body.

She returned the car and paid the man for the broken windshield. We took a cab home. I told her in the cab that I was fine, I needed to rest.

I spent the rest of that night in bed getting taken care of by Lily. Feeling gradually returned to my body as the night progressed. My back would feel like [cabbage] for a while though.

Lily lay next to me later that night and hugged me tight as usual.

 

The girl watched through the sight of her sniper rifle and felt a pang, a throbbing in her heart. Butterflies flew in her stomach and her mind was filled with thoughts of what could be if only she saved him from Lily, saved him from her before she killed him. She knew the Ichimaru name, she knew of a certain Ichimaru in Osaka. Her daughter had been sent to kill Zero Miyagi and the girl with the sniper would not have it.

She decided she would get to Zero and discuss everything with him, make him see reason. Make him fall in love with her so that she would have the man she always loved and Zero would be safe from that lying [bleep] Lily.


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Target Five: Dinner With Rei

 

Minatsuki-san!

Why aren't they dead?

Sir, there is no excuse. We keep getting defeated by these...these children!

Know that this is the last straw. If they are not dead by the end of this week I will have your head.

Yes sir. We plan to destroy them while they are at school, but this time with the whole family. Not just one man.

Do not fail me.

 

I stared out the window beside my desk blankly, my textbook open before me but otherwise untouched. Whatever Mr. Kisuke was lecturing about fell on deaf ears, I could care less. My back had healed, I could move again. Most of my bandages were off except for a few of the deeper cuts on my face. Lily hadn't come to school today because she wanted to rest after taking care of me for the whole weekend. I apologized but she told me not to sweat it. She wanted to keep me happy like I did to her. Returning the favor she called it.

God, I was lucky to have her.

The lunch bell rang and I stood up and started toward the door. Rei stood from her desk in front of me and stayed in front of me, unmoving. I couldn't get past her.

Excuse me Rei.

I swear I heard her call me a bastard under her breath. But that could have just been my imagination.

She sat back down and put her head on her desk. I walked by. When I looked over my shoulder I swear she was crying.

Of course, the first person I run into on my way to the roof is Ebisu standing outside of the door to the class, arms crossed, foot tapping the floor.

You're a bastard Zero.

Now what did I do? I asked.

I saw how you treated Rei. She's [bleep]ing crying in there. She has been more worried about you than anyone and you blow her off. You should go back there and talk to the girl.

I was taken back to that night at the hospital. I dug around in my pocket and found the fifty caliber bullet with the hearts that I had been carrying around for a while now. I didn't think that was Rei, but what if it was? Maybe I should talk to her.

What's that? Ebisu asked, pointing at the bullet.

I explained to him and he looked back into the classroom at the girl crying at her desk. He looked back at me and raised an eyebrow.

Tell me what happens after school. He patted my shoulder. Good luck bud.

Yeah, thanks. I walked back into the classroom and headed over to Rei. She was cute. She had long black hair that she usually tied up with ribbon. Her eyes were violet. Her body was nice and her voice was one of those ultra-cute voices that shy girls tend to have.

I sat down next to her and scooted close. She looked up at me and wiped a tear from her eye.

I was crying about---my cat died. She said in a barely discernible voice.

I frowned. I know what this is about Rei. I pulled the fifty cal from my pocket and put it on my desk. This is yours, isn't it?

She looked at me with wide eyes. How did you---

I saw you leave the hospital room.

Her eyes wandered downward, as if she were defeated.

So now you know---

You're an assassin? I asked.

Essentially. I'm a sniper.

That explained the bullet. It was what were used by most sniper rifles.

What do the hearts mean? I asked.

She started pushing her index fingers together. Um, well---

A pause.

I love you Zero! She blurted out. I've watched you for years! I really was hurt when you rejected me when the bell rang. I was really sad when you were in the hospital.

This is like a [bleep]ing anime. I'm now in a love triangle. Which usually turns to violence.

I didn't need anymore stress.

Please come to my house. Let's have dinner tonight. She bowed. Please. I want to get to know Zero-san.

I couldn't let her down. I'd already ignored her for years. I might as well take her up on her offer. What's the worse that could happen?

Stupid question, I know.

 

Ebisu met me outside the front doors of the school when the final school bell rang. He threw his briefcase over his shoulder and padded along beside me toward the bus. He smiled at me, a big white annoying smile. He was up to something.

So, what happened with Rei?

I let out a sigh. She wants to have dinner tonight. At her place.

Ebisu looked at me with shocked eyes. Did you tell her you and Lily---

No. She apparently has been in love with me for years. I didn't want to deny her and feel like a complete [wagon].

How are you going to deal with it though? What if Lily finds out? We mounted the steps of the bus and found our usual seats.

I'll be truthful. She'll understand. I never told her about Rei being in the hospital room. I actually had never mentioned Rei to Lily. I hoped she would understand. It was just dinner. I wouldn't take it any further. As cute as Rei was, I wasn't going to let her take advantage of me and ruin what I had with Lily in the process.

Love triangles never end well. Ebisu muttered.

I looked over at Ebisu. What's to say I love Rei?

He looked over at me. You may not love her, but guys don't go to dinner with girls they don't like.

I'm---

You're not trying to be nice. You like her. If Lily weren't around you know tonight would be going way beyond munchies.

I had a feeling that Rei would try to push it further. She seemed innocent enough, minus being a sniper, but those innocent types are usually the insane ones. I didn't even think she knew about me and Lily. Though she probably did.

I had a really bad feeling.

The bus lurched to a stop in front of Ebisu's parents pharmacy and he slapped my shoulder. Good luck. Tell me what happens tomorrow morning, eh? He winked at me. I groaned.

[bleep] my life.

 

Lily gave me a suspicious look before smiling widely.

I guess I'll have to find something to eat myself.

I'm sorry. I'll make it up to you.

Lily hugged me tight and kissed me softly.

I don't want to find out you are doing something weird with Rei-chan.

I won't, I swear. It's just dinner.

I had this niggling feeling that Lily would be watching the whole ordeal. More than likely through the scope of my sniper rifle. I could feel her mistrust of Rei and didn't blame her. After everything that had been taking place, she might as well err on the side of caution. I wasn't quite as mistrusting though, I couldn't think of Rei doing anything bad.

 

Rei had given me her address during lunch period. She apparently lived alone, her parents living in America and sending her money to get by. She lived in a shabby apartment building, the outside walls of the place falling apart, ivy growing up the sides. If it weren't for the lights in the windows, I would have thought the place deserted.

It was getting dark, the stars twinkling above my head, the sun disappearing on the horizon behind me. I walked to an old wooden door set into the side of the apartment complex and entered the lobby. A lady of medium height with waist length black hair and wearing a kimono bowed to me politely. I bowed back. I noticed she was sweeping the hallway carpet. She looked too young to be the owner of the place, she had to only be twenty-four.

Welcome. I believe Rei-chan was expecting someone? The lady asked.

As a matter of fact, I was coming to see her.

She's upstairs, the first door to the left.

I thanked the landlord and headed up the stairs and stopped in front of the first door to the left. I raised my hand, curled my fingers into a fist, was an inch from contact with the wooden door---

Rei opens it and jumps on me, throwing me to the floor of the hallway. Her thighs are spread around my waist, her chest juts toward me, her face is right over mine, her hair cascading from her head and tickling my cheeks. She is still wearing her school uniform, so I get a good look at pale white thighs. I feel my little soldier saluting and try to think of something that would make it go back to parade rest. Wherever I looked though, I saw something that I couldn't help but salute.

Before she could do anything to me, I somehow managed to roll out from under her and stand up. I dusted my clothes off and helped Rei up. She looked at me seductively before grabbing my wrist and leading me into her apartment.

It was even smaller than mine. Actually, it was the size of my living room.

It had two rooms, a bathroom and a kitchen/bedroom/living room/dining room. She had a low table in the center of the small space lit by a couple light fixtures in the walls. Her cot sat in the back corner of the, um, cozy space.

I looked over at the small kitchen area that sat next to the door. Two cabinets, a fridge, a sink and a stove. She had a microwave hooked up and placed on the very little amount of spare counter space. Sitting on the stove was a wok full of vegetables and what looked like cut chicken.

I hope you like stir fry. She said as she grabbed my uniform's jacket and pulled it off of me, throwing it to the floor in a pile. I felt her press her cheek against my shoulder. Her hands started massaging my shoulder. You can take a seat at the table. She grabbed my hand and led me to the table. I knelt before it as she grabbed the food. She put the stir fry on two plates along with some rice. She set the plates on the table and then ran to the wall, flicking off the light switch. I could see absolutely nothing and wondered what was going on when a small flicker of light appeared in front of Rei's face and moved to the wick of a candle she had put on the table.

Once again, I asked myself what I had gotten myself into.

I picked up my fork and was about to stab into a carrot when Rei held a wine bottle up and two glasses with long necks. I raised my eyebrow and tilted my head. Um, what are you doing Rei? Better question, who the hell sold you that?

She looked at the bottle and glasses then put them behind her back and smiled. I was saving it for something like this.

The candle is already overdoing it Rei. I said in between bites of the food. It was good, surprisingly good. I appreciate everything, especially your good food---

You really think so? She asked, blushing.

Yeah. It's great. What I was trying to say though is that you know about Lily and myself. We're kind of---

I know about you and Lily. I know more about Lily than you do. She's not good for you Zero. She's going to kill you. But Rei will take care of you just like this forever. I'll protect you from Lily.

She moved the candle to the floor beside the table and got onto it, crawling toward me, her cleavage jutting brilliantly. I hadn't even finished an eighth of my plate when she grabbed me and threw me to the ground, straddling me.

It was a repeat of the hallway scene, only this time she was lying on top of me instead of hovering over me. I tried to get away, but part of my brain was numbed from the sudden pleasure as my little soldier saluted.

I tried to fight it. Fight the urge.

 

Private Miyagi! What the [bleep] do you think you're doing? Sarge asked, his big sunglasses totally worthless in the relative darkness of the warzone.

I stood before a flag pole waving the pink flag. I saluted it, standing at attention and unmoving.

Sir, I cannot stop saluting the flag.

Well stop!

Sarge, I cannot look away, nor can I stop saluting.

If you do not stop saluting the pink flag I will have to beat some sense into you.

Sir, that would only make me explode.

 

I was pulled from the war zone by a sudden kiss from Rei. Her lips locked with mine and the kiss was more passionate than anything I'd ever felt my whole life. Not even my kiss with Lily had been like this. Maybe it was because Rei was on top of me, but it just felt so much more like a caring kiss. So much more like pent up love was suddenly being released in a single kiss.

I don't know why I returned it. I don't know why I didn't pull away. If Lily found out, I was so screwed.

Rei pulled away, her eyes wide. She fell on top of me and started to hold me tight.

I will protect you from Lily. She's going to kill you.

How do you figure that? I asked.

Do you not know of the Ichimaru family in Osaka?

No.

The Ichimaru's are assassins. They have always served as the executives of a corporation known as Shadow.

So? I wasn't catching on.

Shadow are the people responsible for every major assassination in history. They are the enemies of every government. They killed John F. Kennedy. They killed Lincoln. They sent their daughter to Tokyo to stake out ground. To kill any opposing assassins so that Shadow could move in.

Wait a second. How do you know so much?

Easy---I killed Lily's father two years ago.

What the hell? What was going on? What was I suddenly in the middle of?

I was given orders by the Prime Minister himself. I was to kill Lily's father. And I did. I killed him right in front of her. Nothing ever got out about it of course, Shadow covered everything. Nonetheless, I know that Lily is evil Zero. She wants you dead. And I will protect you from Shadow, from Lily, and from the Yakuza. Because I love you.

She moved to my lips for another kiss. So this was Rei. She was still somewhat shy, she still stuttered a little, she still had a soft voice. But she was just like me. An assassin; there was no difference between my profession and that of a sniper. Minus the difference we kill a person.

Lily. Was she really from this Shadow organization?

I was confused. Rei's mouth met mine when she suddenly kicked her foot toward the candle. The flame disappeared and I felt her rolling me across the floor. Glass shattered and I heard something thump into the floor.

Lily is trying to snipe us!

She's trying to snipe you! I screamed as I felt something warm and soft against my face. Rei's breasts. Oh God, what was I in the middle of?

Rei got off me and I heard some beeps, some things getting slid aside. She grabbed me and helped me up from the floor.

I'm sorry Zero, but you'll be a liability awake.

Wait, what?---

I felt a karate chop to my neck. I passed out into Rei's arms.

I dreamed a pleasant dream of what would have happened if Lily hadn't started shooting. In dreamland I also realized I hadn't finished dinner and I was starving.

 

Rei carried Zero toward the owner of the apartment's car. She had let Rei take the car when Rei lied that Zero had hurt himself and needed hospital attention. She drove off as fast as possible. She had a safehouse, an abandoned warehouse by the docks that she would use for the night to get away from Lily. And if that lying [bleep] showed up, she would kill that blond [bleep] and take Zero as her own.


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