|A New Home
Author: colbert-238 PM
For as long as she could remember, Nori had lived with only one goal: survive. But when a simple attempt to earn money introduces a new face into her life, she's forced to rethink exactly what that goal entails. When you have something worth fighting to keep, survival takes on a completely different meaning.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Suspense - Chapters: 5 - Words: 18,705 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 05-15-13 - Published: 02-25-13 - id: 3103909
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter Three: Accepting Death
The rain had slowed significantly by the time Nori neared her destination. Following her one and only lead, she'd made a b-line straight for the docks after leaving Tatsuya's. What she found was somewhat of a disappoint. As far as she could tell, nothing in the area even remotely resembled gang activity.
Then again, it would've probably helped if she had any idea what to look for.
It was funny. All these years on the street, wandering through most of Tokyo's worst districts, and she had never once ran into the Yakuza. In fact, other than their reputation, she knew almost nothing about them. A few bad movies from her childhood came to mind, but it wasn't much to go on.
Unless these men resembled walking stereotypes, she was sure she couldn't pick them out of a crowd. That thought stopped her dead in her tracks. Until now, she was trying to stick with the crowd. But she'd already wasted half the day sleeping, so the people she had to work with was growing thin.
The longer she stayed, more and more people left the area, no doubt returning home to their families. Within the next hour or so, she would surely stick out from any of those who remained. If the Yakuza really were somewhere around here, she couldn't take any changes. This way of scanning of the area wasn't going to work.
Pulling up her jacket's hood, she turned back towards the city. Between two nearby storefronts, a nondescript alleyway looked to provide the perfect cover. As she made her way into the alley, she began to casually stretch her arms, loosening her muscles the best she could. After a moment to insure she was alone, she switched her gaze straight upward.
The building ahead of her was easily the tallest in the area. If any spot would give her a view of the docks in its entirety, it was this building's roof. The only problem was reaching it. Although, considering what she was capable of, maybe problem wasn't the right word to describe it.
A series of deep breaths, and she eyed the dumpster ahead of her with a slanted gaze. In one fluid motion, she ran forward and jumped onto the dumpster. From there, another short leap sent her feet scrambling up the building's brick wall. One final kick on the wall, and she managed to grab the outer edge of a windowsill.
The entire action happened before she could blink. Looking past the brim of her hood, she started up the building one window at a time. Once she got into the rhythm of alternating hand and foot holds, it was only a matter of time to scale the building. With one final heave, her shoes made contact with the roof.
She didn't dare venture too far. Anywhere along the edges would make her visible to those walking the street below. Taking a careful step forward, the area around her came into view over the roof's border. Over the next few minutes, she carefully looked over every inch of what she could see.
A mundane action to say the least, the docks really weren't much to look at. The area was made up of one street that stretched over a dozen blocks. Along that street, numerous metallic walkways led out into the bay, surrounded on either side by fishing boats of varying sizes. Countless wooden stands also lined the street, empty of the fisherman who would fill them on a better day.
Much to her dismay, nothing in the scene rang suspicious. As far as she could tell, this was just a city going about its business. That fact hurt when it sank in. Either Tatsuya's information was a bust, or she was missing something.
She hoped for the latter, but neither made her job any easier. No matter the problem, the only solution she could think of wasn't a simple one. She'd have to search this entire district one block at a time. If after that she still came up empty handed, than she was searching for something that simply didn't exist.
Her stomach could barely handle that last thought.
"Damn it! Watch where you're going would you!?"
Nori's skin crawled at the sudden outburst. At first she was certain the voice came from behind her, but a look around found the roof to be empty. Following her ears led her back the way she'd came. A shining red car now sat in the alley, looking ridiculously out of place as two men piled out of it.
The first man, apparently the source of the earlier outburst, immediately ran to the car's hood. "You idiot!" he yelled, rubbing at the hood with both hands. "I knew I shouldn't have let you drive, any closer and you would've scratched the paint!"
"Keep your voice down," the second man ordered. On his way out of the drivers seat, the man shot his acquaintance a raised eyebrow. "Honestly, we have more important things to worry about than your stupid car. Just get inside and grab what's left."
Finished stroking his car, the other man nodded and disappeared into the closest building. Nori watched the remaining man light a cigarette and take a seat on the car's hood. Neither man struck her as anything special. Both had a mostly slim figure, short black hair, and despite their arguing, wore a thin smile on their faces.
'Of course not' Nori thought to herself, 'I couldn't be that lucky.'
Shrugging off the distraction, she started to turn back around. Before that motion could be completed however, something about the man below caught her eye. Just visible above the collar of his shirt, were the telltale black markings of a tattoo. It could've just been a coincidence.
After all, tattoo's weren't exclusive to gang members. But when the other man exited the building under her, carrying a sizable cardboard box in his arms, she noticed he too had more than one mark on his body. It still wasn't much to go on, but it was easier then searching mindlessly. Even if it turned out to be nothing, she could always come back here and start over.
"That's the last one," the man with the box said. With an exaggerated grunt, he heaved the box into the trunk of his car. "See, I told you this wouldn't take that long."
The second man merely grinned, putting out his cigarette on the sole of his shoe. "Yeah, only four hours. If you weren't so concerned about your precious car, we could've gotten it all in one haul."
"Oh don't start that again. I told you yesterday we should've-"
Whatever the man said next, it was cut off as they clambered inside their car. The vehicles engine roared to life a second later. Before it even started to move, Nori backed off the roof's edge and looked to either side. If the car turned right, she was screwed. The building to the right of her was barely half the height of her current rooftop.
For once, luck proved to be on her side. The car pulled out of the alleyway and made a left turn. In response, Nori took a quick breath and sprinted across the roof. The second her shoes hit the roof's edge, she pushed with her legs as hard as she could.
A split second spent in mid-air, and she hit the next rooftop feet first. The bright red car wasn't hard to keep an eye on while running, and thanks to the traffic it couldn't move much faster than she could. Every few blocks gave her a chance to catch up, which she did by jumping to one rooftop after another. By the time the car left the docks behind, her legs felt like rubber struggling to keep her body erect.
A red light gave Nori the chance to catch her breath. While keeping a constant eye on the car, she came to a dead stop and allowed herself a quick breather. She was certain a couple people had seen her, but given the recent outburst of parkour addicts in the city, most would just leave her be. Seeing someone jumping around rooftops wasn't as strange a sight as it used to be.
Once the light flashed green, she went back to work. The car didn't venture any farther into the city, which allowed her to pace herself slightly. Most buildings in this district were pretty balanced in height, and those that weren't had fire escapes she could use if she had to. That thought ceased to matter when the car came to an abrupt stop.
Pulling to the side of the street, the car's lights blinked twice as both men climbed out. The men walked side by side into a nearby building, which, judging by the neon sign above the door, was a small convenience store. As she watched from her rooftop across the street, Nori came to the conclusion that this wasn't their overall destination.
Rather than wait, she decided to continue down the street, in the hopes of spotting their real destination beforehand. To her surprise, the task wasn't that hard to accomplish. At the next intersection, the street directly ahead of her was cut off by a large chain link gate. Thanks to the stone walls around it, she couldn't see beyond the gate, but it was certainly the only thing of note in this area.
This had to be where they were headed. Any farther, and her legs would start to give out on her. In her pursuit of the car, she'd already pushed herself to her limit. Now that every step resulted in a twinge of pain, she wasn't sure how much longer she could keep going.
The men from before had yet to leave the store, which gave her the chance for a much needed rest. Leaning against the edge of the current rooftop, Nori rubbed at her throbbing legs. It didn't take long for the pain to subside.
With that out of the way, she was able to focus on her surroundings. The car had led her into an area she wasn't completely familiar with. Most of the buildings around her were clearly storefronts, although none were larger than two or three stories. Thinking back, she could vaguely remember sneaking inside some of them, but no solid memories came to mind.
Sunlight was fighting to break through overhead, unsuccessfully so. For now, the sky remained covered in a wall of grey clouds, which left the afternoon with lighting more suitable to dusk. As she watched the gray mass above her, Nori pulled down her jackets hood. Careful to keep her hair still tucked away, she turned back to check on the car.
For a second, her heartbeat increased to an abnormal pace. The car was no longer parked outside the convenience store. Before she had the chance to panic, a flash of red caught her eye down the street. As she exhaled a sigh of relief, the car turned straight for the gate across from her.
The car stopped within inches of the gate. Nori didn't wait to see what happened next. A fire escape along the back wall served as her way down. Reaching the sidewalk, she walked quickly across the street.
With her head aimed at the ground, and both hands hidden inside her pockets, it wasn't likely she'd raised any suspicion. To the people walking by her, she was just a normal girl out for a walk. That thought almost made her laugh. If any one of these people knew what she could do, they certainly wouldn't find her normal.
A block between the gate and herself, she ducked into yet another alleyway. The closer she got, the more the knot inside her stomach tightened. She'd done enough jobs to know she was doing this wrong. The smart move would be to wait until later tonight, when the darkness could aid in keeping her hidden.
But when she thought of going a fourth day without food, waiting was no longer an option. All she wanted was to get this done, as quickly as possible. It was that mindset that fueled her actions. It wasn't smart by any means, but it did keep her motivated.
Taking a left at the end of the alley, she was met with the stone wall that surrounded the area. What was behind it she had no way of knowing. One thing was clear however: the men she followed here weren't ordinary citizens. This had to be the right place, she couldn't push herself much farther.
A series of deep grooves in the wall made it a cinch to climb. At the top, she poked her head over the wall. When her eyes took in the area ahead, her heart dropped inside her chest. Beyond the gate was a construction site alive with activity.
The sight alone nearly made Nori lose her grip on the wall. 'No' she thought, 'I wasted all this time for nothing. I have to get back to the docks and-'
That thought was interrupted by a familiar shade of red. Along the bottom left of the walled off area, the car from before had just entered a large warehouse. The building's garage sized door closed behind it, but not before Nori got a quick peak inside. Her heart instantly rose back to its regular position.
Inside the warehouse, barely visible from this distance, was the distinctive gleam of a freshly shined pistol. Seeing that should've made her consider turning around. Instead, her resolve was stronger than ever. Unless she was missing something, guns in a construction site seemed a tad fishy.
Vaulting over the wall, she dropped down behind a large stack of girders. Aside from the occasional worker scattered about, the area looked clear. When the opportunity presented itself, Nori made a run for the warehouse. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed one worker gaze in her direction, but she managed to reach cover without being noticed.
Pressed up against the warehouses side wall, she started around the building in a low crouch. As she rounded the corner, a faint voice slowly rose in volume. Following the voice, Nori was led to the middle of the rear wall, where a grime covered widow allowed her to peer inside. Not much was visible, but what she could see was more than enough.
The two men from before were both pressed against the side wall. Two hulking fists held them in place, the fists owner blocked by a wooden crate. At first, she hadn't recognized the men as the same she'd trailed here. From the rooftop at the docks, both men had come off as relaxed and carefree, joking back and forth with a smile on their faces.
Here, those characteristics could not describe either.
The two men were obviously scared shitless. Both were shaking wildly, and their skin had gone from a slight tan to dead white. Watching them, Nori felt the knot in her stomach tighten. The Yakuza were supposed to be fearless killers, these two looked more like frightened puppies.
What kind of man could possibly make them act this way?
"I'm sick of excuses!" a deep voice screamed. "I gave you two one job! To clear out the old safehouse as quickly as possible, and it's taken you three days to complete that task! And when I ask for a reason for this obvious failure, all I get is some bullshit about your car!"
Neither man spoke, too busy shaking to offer any sort of reply. After a short silence, the angered man simply continued his verbal assault. "Every other group was finished the day I gave that order!" a deep sigh followed that outburst. "The way I see it, you two have proven to be the weakest men at my disposal. That's not a title you want to wear, trust me."
Both men were suddenly dropped and fell to the floor on their knees. "You have one more chance to prove your worth" the angered man said. His voice, while lowered in volume, was no less intense in tone. "Do not disappoint me."
After that final threat, a series of heavy footsteps concluded with a hard slam. Nori jerked back, feeling her pulse quicken, but quickly regained her composure. The two frightened men, now alone, stood back up and dusted themselves off. Their voices were too low for her to make out, but she could still see the fear written on their faces.
She was about to leave when the two men moved away from the wall. On a table in the far corner, a small black safe practically called out her name. Studying it for a moment, she was able to call up the exact model from memory. Given a minute or two of silence, the safes contents were as good as hers.
Backing off once more, Nori pulled on the window in front of her. No such luck, it was locked from the other side. She could always break the glass, but that would definitely give away her position. For a moment she was stuck, until a casual glance upward easily solved her problem.
Her eyes set on a small window near the roof, she took a few steps back and ran straight towards the wall. The old building offered plenty of areas to grab, and climbing it was actually easier than she expected. Once she reached the window, things got a little more complicated. Struggling to keep her balance was hard enough, and the broken window didn't help improve the situation.
Shards of glass stuck out no matter where she tried to grab. Eventually, the arm she was using to keep attached to the wall began to shake. Biting down hard on her bottom lip, she grabbed hold of the glass and pulled as hard as she could. The window swung open, but not before the glass had cut deep into her palm.
Every impulse she had told her to cry out. Her hand felt like it was on fire, staining her sleeve with blood as a strange warmth overtook her body. Along with the loss of blood, a slight dizziness also made itself known. So much so, that her vision began to blur as she clambered through the open window.
Inside, she found herself on top of the rafters that lined the ceiling. Below her, the two men from before were busy sifting through crates along the left-hand wall. Identical crates took up most of the room, some stacked as high as the rafters. The one man's car sat by the main entrance, and was, for some reason, minus a mirror on the left side.
Nothing else in the warehouse struck her as important, but that may have been the blood loss talking. Several minutes had already passed, and it didn't seem like her vision was clearing up. Half of her surroundings were a blurry mess, and her strength (which was already drained from hunger) now felt nonexistent. Fighting to keep her balance on the rafter, she carefully pulled out the knife in her pocket.
The blade was rusted from years of use, yet given time, it managed to cut free a single sleeve from her jacket. Nori then wrapped the sleeve around her palm, tying it tightly to insure no more blood left her body. In no hurry to try her luck in reaching the safe, she decided to wait a few minutes before proceeding. When she was certain her dizziness had subsided, she continued down the rafter towards the front of the room.
Unfortunately, she only made it a single step. After that, the sight directly below stopped her dead. A third person, seemingly unconscious, sat motionless in a small metal chair. Bound and gagged beyond all recognition, the person lacked a single visible feature. If it weren't for the slow rise and fall of their chest, Nori would've guessed they were dead.
It wasn't until that moment, that the seriousness of the situation fully hit her. She'd mocked Tatsuya about getting in over his head, but she was no better. One false move, and she could be staring death in the face. Her life was far from perfect, but she didn't want it to end anytime soon.
There was no sense dwelling on it now. Her decision was made, poor though it may be, she had to see it through. Turning around now would be just as dangerous as proceeding. When she thought about it, she'd rather be shot than starve to death anyway.
That cheerful thought (somehow) gave her the strength to continue. Keeping her eyes on the two men, Nori dropped from the rafter onto a stack of crates. The crates shifted slightly under her weight, causing her a momentary loss of balance. Another leap sent her feet first to the ground.
Hidden between a wall of crates gave her room to maneuver. Along the right edge of the crates, the safe sat tauntingly close. The left however let her see not just the two men, but also the pistols strapped to their waists. Both men were still looking through crates, talking in a light whisper she was unable to make out.
It was obvious the men were still shaken. Their skin was just now regaining its color, and neither could hold back a constant twitch as they worked. Whether that would help or hinder Nori's progress remained to be seen. She knew all too well what people who felt threatened were capable of.
Making sure to stick close to the crates, she started for the safe across the room. About halfway, a series of fast footsteps forced her back behind cover. If memory served, the man who approached her position was the owner of the car. As she pressed up hard against the crates, the man stopped one step away from the corner.
Picking up a single crate, the man then turned back. "Hey" he said in a (slightly forced) casual tone, "you know what's in the safe?"
"Don't want to" the other man answered simply.
"I bet it has something to do with our new friend." Near the end of his sentence, Nori distinctively heard a hard thump, followed by frantic coughing. "Well...he's alive whoever he is. You know something we don't buddy?"
"Stop goofing around!" the other man said in a stern tone. Too focused to switch sides, Nori listened to the conversation while once again starting for the safe. "It's stuff like that that gets us in trouble to begin with. Lets just finish up here so we leave before he gets back."
"Just getting some payback for my car. We're almost done anyway, keep your panties on."
Silence was all that came in response. Nori could hear her heart beating as she approached the safe. With her hand an inch away from the lock, a sudden sharp pain pulled her backwards. Falling flat onto her back, she was instantly met with a pair of intense green eyes.
"Well well" the man said teasingly, his hand wrapped tight around the bulk of her hair. "Look what I found."
In response to his friend's voice, the other man offered a casual peak over his shoulder. Nori was pulled up onto her feet, given a clear view of the pistol barrel staring her in the face. Her struggle to get free only resulted in a hard strike to the back of the head. The quick jolt of pain nearly knocked her out cold, but she fought back any impulse to scream.
Her vision was back to a blur, and her head thumped wildly as she fell to her knees. Between this new blow, and the blood she'd lost from her cut, it was all she could muster to keep her eyes open. Her body refused every order she gave it, even when two blurry masses walked up to face her.
"Not bad" one man offered the other, "at least this should put us on better terms with the boss. You think we should wait for him to deal with her?"
"And risk another episode? I don't think so." The other man, having sheathed his pistol, pulled it back out and aimed for Nori's head. "I'll finish up here, you can get rid of the bo-"
"You two make me sick."
The words came out before Nori could stop them. Standing back to her feet, the unbridled pain flowing through her continued to grow. The pain was easily enough to knock her unconscious, but all it really accomplished was fueling her anger.
"Talking about death like it's nothing" she continued. For every word that left her lips, her disgusted tone grew even more intense. "You could kill me right now, and not lose a moments sleep tonight. Is that right?"
Equally confused, the two men shot each other a raised eyebrow. After a shared shrug, the armed man raised his pistol once more. "You got a point to make sweetie? I have a lot of work to get done."
A bloodied hand holding her side, Nori met the man's eyes with her own slanted gaze. "Death is more painful than you can possibly imagine. People like you, who can take a life without a seconds hesitation. You're the only ones who truly deserve to experience that kind of pain."
The change in the rooms pressure caused both men to take a step back.
"Would you just shoot her already?" the other man said. Fear was evident in his voice, despite his attempt to hide it. "Bitch is starting to give me the creeps."
Although he nodded in reply, the armed man looked a little disturbed himself. But that didn't stop him from raising his weapon a third time, and immediately pulling the trigger.
What happened next caused both men to turn white simultaneously. Nori closed her eyes, seemingly accepting of the bullet that flew towards her. That is, if the bullet would've made it that far. A split second after it left the pistol, the bullet veered off to the right, finding its home in the wall behind her.
"What the hell!?" both men asked, blinking their eyes in shock. The armed man took aim and let loose three more point blank shots. Like the one before them, all three shots harmlessly hit the back wall.
After the final shot, Nori opened her eyes. For every step she took forward, the men took one back. "I don't have the time to deal with idiots like you two."
With that, she closed her eyes once more. In the time it required to blink ones eye, both men went flying into the wall behind them. Hitting with two satisfying thuds, neither got back up once they slid to the floor. Her eyes open, Nori looked down at the two men. They weren't dead, which was certainly more than they deserved.
This wasn't how she wanted things to play out, but at least now she could work in peace.
As if on cue, a slight movement caught the corner of her eye. Turning on her heel, she instinctively pulled the knife from her pocket. A second later, she stowed the weapon. After everything that happened, she'd forgotten about the person tied up a few feet away.
"Damn it" she said, making her way across the room. "This job is starting to become a real pain."