Chapter 05

Fuji arrived at the Purple Marz at 11:45, the busiest time of night for the seedy brothels that Sora preferred to make her base of operations.

He had to admit it was a smart business move. Only people who moved in the highest circles in the underground had any idea where she was. No one else would think to look for an infamous female assassin in the middle of a brothel.

But it was also going to be the hardest one to get into. Legality was an issue. There was three years left before he’d reach 20, the age of majority in Japan. Fuji grimaced. As long as the grunts Sora had hired to guard this location were ones he was familiar with, there wouldn’t be a problem.

But that was an issue itself, because Sora never used the same rotation of people when she moved bases. It was the best way to keep herself safe. She never gave her grunts any reason to distrust her, and so never gave them a reason to betray her.

There were four men in front of Fuji. Two of them were middle-aged and disgustingly overweight. They must pay well, Fuji decided. There was no other reason the girls in the brothel would agree to sleep with those men.

One of the four was young, probably barely past his own majority. And he was nervous. Fuji could tell by the way he kept rubbing his palms on his pants, his fingers clutching desperately at the fabric. A virgin, he thought. Or he’s worried about sullying himself by violating his own moral code. Probably the former.

The last of the four looked to be about 28. He was well dressed. A doctor? Lawyer? Fuji wondered. In any case, the man was coming to a brothel because he worked long hours. Fuji doubted there was anyone at work the man found interesting, so the brothel was where he found all his satisfaction.

Fuji smiled. He wasn’t desperate like the men in front of him. And he hadn’t come to the brothel for sex. That had to be a rare occurrence. It put him in a good mood, seeing that there were people who were much worse off than him. After all, he had two lovers. There was no way he would go to bed lacking satisfaction.

The nervous man was turned away at the door. From what Fuji overheard, it was because he’d forgotten to bring his id. The man had blushed crimson and hurried off. Huh. Maybe he hadn’t been past his majority. The other three were admitted entrance without trouble.

Fuji smiled as he approached the bouncer. The man occupying the position had shoulders twice as broad as Fuji’s and stood a foot and a half taller. He raised an eyebrow at Fuji’s approach. “Let me see your id, kid,” he said.

“Saa,” Fuji said, lifting empty hands to the bouncer. “I’m afraid I’m not 20 yet. But I’m not here for the services.” Some of the men in line behind him snorted. He swore he heard one of them yell, “Go home, kid!” but he tuned it out.

The bouncer rolled his eyes and jerked his thumb towards the empty side of the street. “Get lost, kid,” he said.

“I’m afraid you misunderstand me,” Fuji said, letting authority fall into his voice for the first time. The bouncer was a grunt. Being stopped here would be worse than pathetic. “I’m here to speak with Hayashi. We have an appointment.”

The bouncer snorted. “Sure. That’s what they all say. Get lost.”

“No,” Fuji said. “I’m not moving from this spot until you let Hayashi know that Fuji Syuusuke is here to see her.”

“Sorry, kid. None of our women take on appointments with minors.” The bouncer narrowed his eyes. “Now get lost.”

Fuji folded his arms over his chest and planted his feet, snapping his eyes open. “You have one minute to tell Hayashi that the Bleeder is here to see her. It’s undignified, but I’ll resort to violence if I have to.”

The bouncer gave him an incredulous look before he laughed and waved it off. “You’ll just get hurt, kid. Go home.”

Fuji gritted his teeth. He hated it when people didn’t take him seriously. “Thirty seconds,” he said, ignoring the jab.

“I’m not telling her, kid. You’re wasting your time.” He leaned around Fuji. “You there, got your I.D.?”

The man behind Fuji flushed as he fumbled for his wallet. “Yes,” he said. “Here it is.” He reached past Fuji to show it to the bouncer.

Fuji was fed up. He grabbed the wrist of the man who had reached around him and snapped it in one fluid motion, ignoring the man’s scream as he realized what had happened. The man was in so much pain that he crumpled to the ground, blocking the space behind Fuji. “I believe,” he said, eyes focused on the bouncer, “that I warned you.”

“You’re a bastard, but it’s not my business what you do to people outside this club,” the bouncer said. “I’m only paid to keep the people inside safe. He wasn’t inside.”

Fuji ground his teeth together, frustrated. He turned to the people behind him. “Anyone who tries to get into this place before me will suffer his fate.” He nodded at the man crumpled at his feet. Then he turned back to the bouncer. “I have no problem breaking the wrist of every single man who tries to gain entry here until you tell Hayashi that I’m here to see her.”

The bouncer scowled. “I can’t leave my post,” he said. He raised his voice. “And I can’t protect customers who are outside the establishment from lunatics.”

Fuji had to admit that he was slightly impressed. The bouncer wasn’t backing down and he wasn’t apologizing to potential customers. Purple Marz was an underground base. It wasn’t wise to seek services at such a place and the bouncer had no qualms making that clear. “And I’m not leaving until you find a way to tell Hayashi that I’m here.”

The bouncer didn’t seem to hear him, though, as he turned his body to whisper to someone inside. His face was obscured by the door, though, so Fuji couldn’t make out a single syllable of what was being said.

The bouncer straightened up, finished with his conversation. Right when he did, the door opened. And Fuji found himself staring into the face of Cayeni.

Cayeni recognized him immediately and threw the door open. “Syuusuke! I haven’t seen you in ages!” He closed the door behind him.

Fuji nodded. The last time he’d seen Cayeni had been back in America. “Why aren’t you stateside?” He didn’t like the man, but he was good at his job. Fuji just found him too enthusiastic.

“Hayashi insisted she needed my help here.” Cayeni took in the scene outside the door. “Your handiwork?” he asked, nodding at the man crumpled on the ground. He had passed out from the pain. The rest of the men had fled.

“Aa,” Fuji said. “Your bouncer won’t let me in.”

The bouncer shifted, uncomfortable. “He isn’t old enough,” he said.

“No, he’s not,” Cayeni agreed. “But he is Fuji Syuusuke, Iwao. He doesn’t follow the same rules.”

Iwao shrugged his shoulders. “He looks like a kid to me.”

“He is a kid,” Cayeni said. “But he’s dangerous. Don’t make him wait next time, hmm?”

“Hai,” Iwao said. He took two steps forward and sank into a formal kneel. “Gomen nasai, Fuji-sama.”

The icy rage that had built in Fuji’s chest began to dwindle. Iwao wasn’t an idiot, he had lacked information. “Aa,” Fuji said, then switched his attention to Cayeni. “I assume Sora is expecting me?”

Cayeni winced. “She is.”

The door swung open again, revealing Sora in a green mid-thigh, v-cut satin dress. “Syu-kun, I’ve expected you. But to use my name like that is so unbecoming. I have half a mind to turn you out.”

Fuji gritted his teeth and bowed from the waist. There wasn’t a single person he would kneel to. “Gomen nasai, Hayashi-san,” he said. “It has been a frustrating evening.”

“Ok then,” Sora said. “Let’s go upstairs and begin our negotiations, shall we Syu?”

Fuji winced. He shouldn’t have used her given name. She was worse than him when it came to holding a grudge. “As you wish, Hayashi-san,” he said. “I do hope you’ll forgive me for the mess I’ve made.”

Sora glanced at the unconscious man and wrinkled her nose. “Next time you need to frighten my help, feel free to be violent with them. That poor customer didn’t deserve your wrath.”

“He did,” Fuji said. “He tried to cut in line.”

Sora laughed. “You haven’t changed a bit. So tell me, how was your visit with Tayumi? He is still your point of contact, isn’t it?”

“Saa, now that would be telling.” Fuji traded light banter with her all the way upstairs, conscious of the bouncer’s incredulous stare. Though amused that he’d shocked the man with his familiarity with Hayashi, he knew he was in for a long night. Negotiations were never pleasant.

Chapter 4     Chapter Index     Chapter 6

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