A really nice manor – Toshiya stared at the trees already for over thirty minutes. Still, nothing. No lights, no cars, no movement at all. Sighing again he slid on the park bench, nervous. What if they had already spot him, creeping around, lurking here without even doing anything? His father had been right, he should have started smoking or something. A reason to go out, to stick around for some time. Something that you can share with someone, a simple treat. But Toshiya had always disliked cigarette smoke and hated it when his father came home from one of his business meetings and reeked from hard liquor and cold cigarette smoke.
So, the more irritating and frustrating it was, as a stranger passed him, a strong cloud of fresh cigarette smoke fogged his sight, made him squint his eyes. The irony…
Pressing the air out through his nose, Toshiya blinked against the smoke and tried to stay calm. He wasn’t here to get into action right away, but he could have a bit more action. Paperwork had damned him behind the table anyway for the past months and he was by now already old enough to go on missions by himself. He was no child anymore as much as his mother plead him to stay in the house. As long as the murderer of his father was out there alive, Toshiya wouldn’t sit still for one day. All he had done the last years, was working on figuring out how to kill him.
He knew everything he needed. Where he lived, where he worked, who worked close with him, what kind of arms he got, the security system to the manor.
But one thing, he didn’t know, hadn’t taken in account.
“You smoke?” there he was, again. That stranger from just earlier. Toshiya looked up at him, squinted his eyes against the bright light of the street lamp.
“No?!” he shot back repellent and then let his gaze wander off again, followed the trees of the avenue.
“You should… if I may.” And with that the other man sat down right next to Toshiya, fuelled his frustration even more. He was on a mission and wanted to observe at least! Angry and disturbed by the intrusive behaviour, Toshiya crossed his arms over his chest, tried his best to ignore him. But that guy was really not being easy with him.
“Look-“ – “No, YOU look!”
Dark brown eyes stared back at him, almost pitch black without the street lamp. Furiously huffing hot air out of his lungs, Toshiya leaned forward on his knees and pressed his hands together.
“Get lost!” he growled lowly, wanted to have a bit peace of mind. Nevertheless, that other one apparently wanted to bug him even more. Taking another cigarette from his pack, he leaned back on the bench, lit it slowly. As if he had all time in the world. And it made Toshiya even angrier.
Taking in every so insignificant motion, he sat there and watched Toshiya. A young man, a few years younger than him probably. Still a child, soft features, too much emotions painted in his face. Impatience.
“You won’t see anything tonight.” He spoke lowly, blew some more smoke into the cool night air.
“What?!” anger and impatience, so clear in his voice, that a chuckle crept over his lips too.
“I’ve been watching you for the past half hour already. Don’t get me wrong, pretending to go out for a phone call is nice, but loud and very conspicuously!”
It was an easy trick to flee from unpleasant situations but not for long time observations.
“Tsk… and what do YOU recommend? Smoking a fag that’s done in 3 minutes?” Toshiya shot back, turned around to face that stranger. Had he ever seen him before? He had prominent, flashy tattoos on his hands where the cigarette lighted up, he’d recognize them.
“Cigars do the thing for about ten minutes? Or, simply, a book. Not an ebook, too bright and not so easy for your eyes to switch.” A mocking tone in his voice fuelled Toshiya’s anger even further. He wanted to scream at him, shove him off the bench. But, he was no teenager anymore, where he had done this so often with his brothers when they mocked him about girls or not hitting the centre of the target during training.
“A book? At night?” Toshiya deadpanned him and felt fooled by him. Grinning again, he laid his head in his neck and blew the smoke up in the air, letting the street lamp shine on his face. Of course, park benches were near lamps.
“Or enjoy lunch time here, to not make it so obvious!” and with that he left again, the cigarette butt pressed underneath his boots as he walked off again.
It bugged Toshiya, so much, that he got up and stepped forward a few metres only to hear his shoes squeak too loud: “Hey! You can’t just throw that down on the pavement!?”
The grin on his face was the only bright spot that Toshiya could make out so late at night, in the darkness of the avenue. Was this man messing with him on purpose?
Going back again, the stranger passed Toshiya, slowly, dreading.
“You’re really making a fuss out of this. Now we’re being watched.” He whistled, bowed down to the small stump and went over to a manhole cover and tossed it in one of the tiny openings.
“Good job.” The grin was gone within a second. Something dark and, dangerous if Toshiya would let his emotions speak, gloomy was coming off him. Ducking down, he was even smaller now, he passed Toshiya and sped up until he was almost merging with the darkness.
How did he figure out that they were being watched?
Clicking his tongue, as he already stood there and was too giddy to sit down, Toshiya turned around and walked straight in the other direction. Just away from that weirdo.
Speeding up rather unintentionally Toshiya found himself at the end of the avenue faster than he wanted to. The trees were slowly dancing in the faint wind, it was dark and silent. Too silent all of a sudden.
“You really can’t watch your back, right?” cigarette smoke, a hot breath against his neck that sent an ice cold shiver down his spine. The sudden grip on his shoulder made Toshiya gasp for air. With a strong hold and a precise movement Toshiya got turned around, faced another direction. Those black eyes from before were now staring past him, were too close, too cold.
“Fuck, let me g-“ before the sentence was finished an automatic gun pressed itself on Toshiya’s shoulder, the trigger got pulled. Not even the faint recoil made the other flinch back. It was only until Toshiya grabbed for his hand and pulled it away, twisted the wrist so he could get a hold of the gun. But before that could happen he sank down with an exhausted huff, stinging pain set in and spread from the stomach area.
“Are you serious now?!” the stranger asked in a rather mocking tone as if he were a teacher and watched his pupil doing the same mistake after just explaining it.
Moving fast, turning the bowed down body with him, he faced another direction, stepped in front of Toshiya. One more, they were usually in teams of three.
“Where is that fucker…!” he murmured more to himself, turned around and looked at the trees, the cars next to them. But there was no one around, not in a good enough angle to get him. Or that brat next to him, who was now coughing and straightening himself.
“Who the fuck are you?!” Toshiya asked angrily, watched his surroundings now too, pulled out his gun. Thank gods, he always opted for taking something with him when leaving the house.
“I go by-” there he was, ON the tree. One last shot, that got silenced by the muffler on his gun, he focussed on Toshiya: “Kaoru.”
“Ugh… no, I mean what are you doing here!” Toshiya sighed, was fed up with the whole situation. He was fine just until that guy came across the street and passed him, mocked him.
“Helping you out apparently…!” he chuckled as answer and turned around again, ready to walk up the avenue to hunt down some more henchmen that were lurking in the dark corners around the manor.
“I don’t need your help!” speeding up to go on par with Kaoru, Toshiya charged his gun, watched the surroundings carefully. But what didn’t slip his eyes was the look the other gave him.
“There’s one over here too…!” Toshiya grinned, went straight up the avenue until he was close enough to get him, earning a “nice shot” from Kaoru, who walked next to him, had watched the henchman desperately reloading his gun to get them.
“The whole fucking avenue is full of them, a real plague!” Kaoru grinned and got a sheepish smirk as answer. Now, that evening had taken a turn, quite a pleasant one actually.
“Three to one. You better catch up!” he chuckled lowly. Turning around swiftly his experienced eyes spotted another one behind a vending machine and sent him off flying with a loud crash as he hit the metal built too.
“Purpose?” – “It’s still early, I don’t mind a little game.”
Where was that brat? Did he really disappear after leaving him bleeding? Kaoru suppressed another huff, released the grip on his arm. Just a graze, a shot in the dark. He had left his back unattended for not even one second. That was probably why he preferred staying in the back, doing the contracts and meetings. Even if he displayed himself to his business partners or others, street fights still weren’t his domain.
Exhausted Kaoru sank back down again, hid his body behind the car tyre. The street lamp was out, probably a newer clan member that was still inexperienced when it came to shootings. But Kaoru was glad, that one had been following him too close for his liking. Wiping off the blood from his hand in the black jeans he usually wore, Kaoru grabbed for the cigarettes in his jacket. There was silence, owls and other animals were active. So, he got everyone?
Slowly Kaoru put the cigarette between his lips, lifted the lighter up. Somewhere, down the street, a soft thud was making his ears twitch. There were more? Rolling the cigarette between his lips Kaoru got up, held his gun tight to his body. There were not so many spaces to hide, no fast escape routes around the manor. He knew the underground system here too little for crawling down a manhole and disappearing into the drainage system. This was something he was good at when he was a young boy, had started out in this business. Some of those old ways were still the same, he used them ever so often to hide or temporarily store his stuff. But this area? There had been construction companies coming up a few months ago, some workers from India and Korea, not really his league.
Peeping from behind the car Kaoru heard rustling and then saw a tall figure falling down from the iron gate that span around the manor. Quickly he squinted his eyes, tried to figure out if it was friend or foe. Or, at least if it was that brat or another henchman that was trying to kill him.
“Fuck – “ there he ran, past him. His whole body shown in the street lights. Like a damn rabbit running in front of a car in the head lights as they were guiding the way. Two shots on the pavement, close to his feet. Growling out in frustration Kaoru got up on his knees and watched where the other one was hiding and aiming at that young man. Another shot against the concrete and he showed himself from behind a truck – Kaoru’s chance.
What he hadn’t taken in account were the other four men that were following now and running towards him. Or rather, the one that still ran in the lights.
“Fuckin fool!” Kaoru whistled and shook his head. Turning around in an instant he jumped up from behind the car and got lost in a side street, following the avenue until he caught up to the other one. Rushing past vending machines, showing his own silhouette, Kaoru crossed the streets and grabbed for the shirt he was wearing, pulling him into the darkness of yet another side street.
“Wh-!” Kaoru pressed his hand on the other’s mouth, shoved him back into the small gap between two brightly lit vending machines. Kaoru had always been a master at hide and seek, his brothers had never found him and it often happened that he had sat in his hiding spot for hours until it was time for dinner or bed time.
Another muffled growl tried to flee Toshiya’s mouth. His heart was still racing, he needed air and the hand pressed on his mouth smelled like smoke. Disgusting.
“Shut it, kiddo!” Kaoru hissed lowly, pressed himself against the other’s chest to let both their bodies merge into the darkness as their pursuers ran past them. Toshiya lifted his hand that wasn’t squeezed behind his back against the cooling pipes of the machines, and tried to push the smaller one away from him, unsuccessfully.
“Stop it, will ya!” Kaoru hissed again at him. Suppressing a huff that was about to creep over his lips as his wound hurt badly by now, getting squeezes and pulled at, Kaoru turned his body around, shoved the other one further back, making him gasp for even more air as he released his grip around the mouth.
“Let go of me!” he whispered, tried to calm his breath and listen to the surroundings. The pursuers wouldn’t come back, not for now. Toshiya squeezed his hands, opened and stretched his fingers again to calm down, but only to feel something sticky on his right hand. Lifting it up curiously, his hand stroke over Kaoru’s back and side, made him flinch for a second. Too close, too fucking close. And his breath was too hot on his neck, smelled too sweet and like coconut.
“What… the heck..!?” Toshiya had lifted his hand up enough to spot dark blobs on his fingers, sticking, warm. Blood.
“Are you – Did you got shot?!” his voice overturned involuntary, made Kaoru shrug his shoulder. He could take care of this scratch later, when he was back home or at least in some area where he wasn’t being pursued and shot at by around 50 men that wanted to see him dead.
“Hey, man… K-Kaoru, yeah?!” Toshiya tried to turn him back to him. The streets seemed empty, the last ones had run off in the distance, searching for them on the other side. Or cleaning up the bodies of their colleagues.
Letting out a sigh that Kaoru had held back for the longest, he slouched his shoulders, lifted his hand to press it on the open wound again. Blood kept seeping through the fabrics, dampened his shirt down to his elbow where it left a cold trace.
“Did you get shot?” now Toshiya’s voice was clearer, louder, more serious than concerned. Kaoru rolled his eyes at the obvious question. So he got blood stains on his fingers apparently, and now? He cared or what?
“First time seeing blood?” he shot back with a light joking voice.
“This ain’t funny! You need to get it patched up!” Toshiya insisted, making Kaoru almost blurt out laughing. But instead, he kept quiet and turned his face around to offer the younger man a tired smirk: “You wanna play nurse for a little scratch or what?”
Their breaths had calmed down, no one came back hunting them down. No one had seen them squeeze in this too small gap between two vending machines that kept humming in the soft nightly silence. A bit exhausted and tired Kaoru lifted up his gun, two bullets. He emptied it, recharged with a fresh magazine. After some minutes passed Toshiya too reloaded his gun, kept switching his focus between the street and that stranger in front of him.
With an exhausted huff Kaoru turned to the side, facing the manor behind the tree curtain. Leaning against the machine he let his head rest against it too, swallowed a few times. Empty, his mouth was dry, he wouldn’t even have liked to hit a blunt now. There was something calm, comforting, spreading from him. Something that made Toshiya calm down and relax a bit. The situation was close to getting out of hand as he just jumped over the iron gate and stormed off.
“And now?” he asked after some more minutes passed and nothing happened. Pitch black eyes darted over to him, pin pointed him against the pipes without even touching him. This was not just a street fighter or some small gangster with whom he had accidently crossed ways. The ash blond hair fell in his face, hid a part of his eyes. A gloomy aura radiated around them now. Both men had reloaded their guns and now, that they weren’t hunt down by someone else, there was no need for a truce between them.
“I’ll go my way and you go your way?!” Kaoru arched an eyebrow, was surprised by that childish question. What should he do after that shitty evening. His jacket was torn, he probably needed some treatment and definitely needed a good night rest.
Still staring at Toshiya, as if he wouldn’t trust him, and he really didn’t very much trust a child that ran around in bright light, being followed by some henchmen, Kaoru stepped away finally, let the bright neon light from the vending machines lit up his face before he stepped aside and disappeared from Toshiya’s sight.
There was nothing, not a single noise. And it made Toshiya shiver like on the coldest winter nights when he couldn’t find any sleep, even with five blankets around his body. Gasping for air that he badly needed from being so tightly squeezed together in this small space, he closed his eyes for a short moment. But the tension didn’t go away in that short moment as a body pressed against his chest again.
“Nevermind! That ass has sent out some more of his underlings!”
“Kaoru!” another gasp, the name of the stranger fleeing his lips like a prayer in an unattended moment. Glancing over his shoulder, the other man squinted his eyes and watched Toshiya closely: “Yeah?!”
“We’re … well…” Toshiya blabbered, took some breaths to figure out what he had meant with “more underlings”.
“A bit in a … uh… suboptimal situation!” – “Oh you don’t say…!”
Fuck, Toshiya bit his lip. He was talking too much, not thinking hard enough about an escape route. If there was one, an escape route would mean going out from their little hiding.
“We need to hide… somewhere else than here!” he bluntly said, hoped that Kaoru had an idea. Somehow, they were in this misery together, and Toshiya wouldn’t leave this place as corpse.
“Obviously!” Kaoru sighed with a mocking tone, tried to concentrate. He knew a few ways, knew a few tricks to distract the henchmen.
“How good is you ai – nevermind…” With that Kaoru stepped out on the street again, pulled on Toshiya’s shirt as strong as he could with his wounded arm. Stomping right up to a manhole, Kaoru twisted, pulled Toshiya behind him and then shot at the vending machines.
“Lift that up now!” without objecting in anyway as he usually would, Toshiya lifted the metal cover and slid it aside. Just enough for a body to fit in.
“In?” – IN!”
Adrenaline kept pumping through Toshiya’s veins, made him sink down against the dirty wall. Concrete, cold and damp. The humidity was too high, made it hard to breathe properly for the first few minutes.
Kaoru came crawling down after closing the cover with his last energy reserves he still had. Standing next to Toshiya he blinked a few times, gave himself a bit time to adjust to the darkness. It was a different kind of darkness than in the night sky. There was no moon, no lights from vending machine, houses or streets lamps throwing shades. It was a pitch black, consuming darkness.
“We should get going. They’ll probably follow us down here. Maybe from another entry.” Kaoru stated after taking a few more breaths, checking on his arms. It stopped bleeding at least, for now.
“I have no clue down here to be honest…!” Toshiya wailed, pressed a hand over his mouth as he heard so much insecurity in his own voice. The soft, mocking chuckling coming from the other man didn’t help in any way to make his situation better. It worsened it and Toshiya started to regret going out tonight. It was a stupid idea, they all had been right anyway. Hunting down Kyo was the worst idea he could ever get into his mind. And now he was sitting in some sewage system, in the middle of the night, a stranger, armed, with him.
“It’s gonna be alright… Just come up, keep going!”
The sudden light and harmless tone in Kaoru’s voice sent a shiver down Toshiya’s spine, but it also made him get up on his feet and put one foot in front of the other, following the other man into the tunnels, deep in the sewage system. The sounds of water flushing in other tunnels was comforting, drowned out the silence between them. By now, Toshiya was too tired and worked up to talk, or ask him why he was there.
“Up?” the abrupt stop and question made Toshiya flinch back and almost ran into Kaoru. Nodding and humming he stretched his arm out to grasp for the wall and a ladder, found the metal rods too fast, almost crashing his wrist against them with too much force. The metal was too cold in this damp and warm air, too sleek and different in his hands. Going first, Toshiya got up the ladder and lifted the cover, peeped out cautiously. It could be a road with heavy traffic, even if it was in the middle of the night.
“Looks okay?” there were no cars in sight, no traffic light indicating a rather busy street. The surroundings looked old, lost a bit, kind of abandoned, but in a good state. Maybe also just newly built but not finished.
After lifting himself up on the surface again, Toshiya stretched and took a closer look. He hadn’t been here before, didn’t see any street signs, no lights from neighbouring houses. As he heard a heavy huff, supposedly suppressed, he looked back at Kaoru, who was sitting on the edge of the manhole, lifting up his legs and slowly coming up on his feet. He looked like swaying – blood loss.
“Hey, uh, I hate to say it bu-“ – “Then shut it.”
Kaoru knew exactly that he wasn’t in the best condition to keep going. If they would have been followed, they would have been fucked, really fucked. And it wasn’t even the fact, that Kaoru was slowly running out of new magazines for that night, but rather the fact, that his wound was making him tense up, kept him from being focused.
Getting up now and staring at the surrounding buildings Kaoru spot a familiar architectural type. Of course, now he knew in which direction they had been wandering. Aiming straight up to the tall flat complex Kaoru got out of his jacket and put the half full cigarette pack in the back pockets of his jeans. He wouldn’t need a torn jacket anymore, so he wrapped it up and gave himself the memo to burn it down by tomorrow morning.
Fed up by that stalling and ignorant manner Toshiya caught up to him, almost wanted to lay his hand on his shoulder to make him stop, but opted against it. Kaoru was wounded, in pain, and armed, not the best combination to approach someone who was still a stranger.
“This needs serious treatment!” he urged him as he saw the extent of that “scratch”. There was a large ripped patch of fabric hanging from the shirt, showing more inked skin, shredded and torn apart even worse than the black material. Throwing a dead stare back over his shoulder, Kaoru shrugged it off and kept going up to the flat building. Toshiya, being a persistent little brat, didn’t let go and followed him of course. Somehow Kaoru knew that he wouldn’t get away that easily from him, that this wouldn’t be their last encounter.