Livid, irate smiles pasted over depthless anger. Words spat in haste, daggers sharpened with precise poison and impeccably aimed tips. I made my living off of these.

You see, I'm an assassin.

Living on the streets, one has time. Time to learn to flip, to fight, to defend. Otherwise, your survival is certifiably failed. You're dead in the water: stringy, bloody prey bouncing over the jaws of predators. That wasn't going to be me – not Shade. I gave myself that name.

Usually I get called up in the middle of the night from my apartment. It's an old mansion, abandoned by its previous owners. Falling in on one side, the rest was usable.

My clientele were specific. One person, a method if they pay more. I accept all jobs. I've gotten better – I almost got killed on my first job, an elderly heir to a coal fortune. Tonight, the eve of midnight sent its shivers down into me. I lit the fireplace with some stolen matches. I had the oddest feeling that I would be called up tonight on my stolen cellphone, so I put on my work outfit. It was all black leather, skintight for maximum blending in the nighttime. Sure, I did daytime jobs, but rarely and only when the pay was particularly good. So my "work outfit" was primed for night. Sure enough, my phone vibrated as I stared dully at the fire.

"You Shade?" the voice on the other end asked. It was a deep voice, but it sounded smooth and young. I hadn't had a call from someone this age before. How old was he? Seventeen?

I shrugged it off. If he paid well, I ate next month. "Yeah, I am. You got a job for me?"

"In a way."

"Look, buddy," I said, rolling my brown eyes, "I've not got time for games. Give me the details and the amount you're paying and they'll be gone by dawn."

"Where's your place? I want to discuss the deal first." He responded firmly. I sighed into the phone. This was probably his first hirable assassin. I expected high pay with the antics he was pulling.

"The old Sundarn place. You know where that is?"

The voice huffed, as if insulted. "Yeah. I'll be there soon. It's close to my house."

"Whatever." I said, hanging up. I leaned back on my bed, a canopy Victorian-looking piece of furniture laid with an old, dusty set of blankets. Didn't matter to me as long as it was warm in the winter. The massive fireplace on the other wall offered heat when I really needed it. I heard a thump, the unmistakable noise of the brass knocker on the front door. Was he here already? I jumped up, forgetting to lace my knee high combat boots. Tripping over the laces, I opened the door to see a young man about three years older than me – so seventeen. He was notably handsome, a few inches on my 5' 10" , mussed up brown hair, and rich brown eyes. His hands were in his pockets. He was obviously cut, muscles impossible to hide under his thin jacket.

"Shade?" he said, peering downwards at me a bit. I shrugged, ushering him inside and shutting the door.

"Yeah?"

"You're….young." he observed disdainfully.

I spun to face him, my finger pointing. "Doesn't matter if I'm good at what I do, is it?"

"You should be in the orphanage."

"No, thanks. The streets are a better option. Besides, I've seen more than those kids." I spat. It was true. He smiled at me, a beautiful thing despite the circumstances.

"We're in the same business, Shade. I'm Rex." He introduced. I waved off his handshake.

"Good for you. Now what's my job?" I demanded.

Rex raised an eyebrow, as if it was obvious. "Being the other half of my team."