By Max Fauth and Rob Rutherford

Note: This takes place after Wedding Day

The days had been refreshingly quiet since Kami's return. Kami had quit her employment with Jeremy in short order, and spent her days with Aoi, helping her therapy to heal up the girl's injured leg. Aoi had lost herself in the delights of companionship, after spending so long fending off her two roommates.

All the while, Kami had refused to talk about her mission in Japan. Aoi understood the need for silence, yet at the same time sensed that something was bothering her partner. Rather than make an issue of it, she had simply let Kami be, and enjoyed their time together.

The stillness of a quiet morning was broken by a loud ringing, coming from Kami's phone. She swept it up in a single motion and strode towards the couch. "Hello?" She asked.

Jun's voice came from the other end. "Darling, good to hear from you."

"Jun dear, its good to hear from you too." Kami's expession went from relaxed confidence to one of shear arrogance. Her mouth seemed to tighten a little and her eyes narrowed. Her muscles even relaxed a bit making her appear to be slightly smaller. She looked more like Kami's twin than Kami. Aoi glanced at her with an odd expression, yet said nothing.

"You too. Although... Circumstances are less than happy," Jun replied.

"I'm so sorry to hear that. Please go on." Vivian sat down on the leather couch, leaned back and crossed her legs. Aoi studied her with a curious expression, slowly folding her arms across her chest.

On the other end, Jun let out a deep, almost theatrical sigh. "It's my beloved wife. She's... gone missing."

"She's missing, I am so sorry to hear that." Vivian gave a brief pause, "When what the last time you heard from her?"

"The night of our little party. I assumed she had stepped out for a while the next morning, however..." Jun's voice betrayed little concern.

"You mean she didn't tell you?" Vivian's surprise was as genuine as Jun's concern.

"No, tell me what?" Jun replied, her interest peaked.

Aoi sighed and wandered to the kitchenette, occaisionally glancing back at Kami.

"She was on the plane with Brian when we flew back." Vivian knew she was playing with fire now.

"Interesting... And what has your brother done with my dear wife?"

"Jun dear I really don't have the foggiest. I haven't talked with him since we left the airport."

Jun let out another theatrical sigh. "I'd.. appreciate it if you could find out for me, darling."

"Could you tell me exactly what you were wanting to know?" Vivian paused, "I don't think he was very inclined to send her back."

"Why he took her," she said. "What he's doing with her. And if you can... Bring her back to me."

"Jun dear, I'm certain his interest in her is very much the same as yours it, and that he's as willing to listen to me about her as you are." Vivian voice seethed a little.

"Dear?" Aoi repeated silently from the kitchen.

She sighed once more, and Kami could almost hear the chuckle in her voice. "Then I doubt he'll give her up at all."

"Well, that was my impression. as well. I can get you his contact info if you want. Just promise me you'll keep things nice and polite and don't make any threats." Vivian give a nice grin, "If you want to get serious about bringing her back I know of somebody who can bring her back, for a price."

"Oh?" Jun said. "Please tell."

"Lets just say that she's the best."

"You've peaked my interest. 'The best' usually means..." She trailed off eagerly.

Vivian glanced over at Aoi's reaction. The girl was watching her closely from the kitchen, and seemed to be hanging onto every word. "Let's not discuss names yet. Let's try and resolve this diplomaticaly first." Vivian chided Jun.

Jun's voice dripped with glee. "I want to make a statement. Against the vile, evil man who kidnapped my poor, defenseless wife."

Vivian sighed, "Jun dear, I understand and I'm going to work with you to bring her back home safely as soon as possible and without incident."

"Thank you, darling." There was a pause, before Jun added "I'd be most grateful," then cut the line.

"Dear?" Aoi repeated quietly, narrowing her eyes.

Kami relaxed. "It's a Vivian thing."

"What was all that?" Aoi asked quietly.

"One of the people I was keeping an eye on when I was working undercover. Her darling wife bogged off with my former boss." Kami sighed.

"*Her* wife?" Aoi said, an eyebrow raised in confusion.

"It's a money-political thing." Kami smiled.

Aoi rolled her eyes. "I'm glad I don't know."

"Since this is going on and I'm no longer getting paid, I can tell you." Kami smiled.

Aoi nodded. "Then I'm all ears."

"That was Chairman Quincy's god-daughter." Kami had a really silly expression.

Aoi screwed up her eyes, then gaped at her in surprise. "YOU WHAT?" She blurted out, unable to believe her ears.

Kami smiled. "Who was taking baths with the Empress?"

Aoi screwed up her eyes once more and shook her head. "You're right. Sorry. So go on."

"You have your connection I have mine." Kami grinned, "Let's make use of them."

Aoi shook her head. "What do you have in mind?"

"When Jun calls back we broker a contract with your boss to get the job done."

"My boss..." Aoi shook her head. "Tell me what's going on."

"What's going on? My former employer is trying to make a powerplay with jinsei using Reiko as a pawn. On the other hand Jun is a bitch.

"Jun is... Quincy's goddaughter, right? And Reiko's the girl on the plane with you and him, right?"

"Right." Kami acknowledged.

Aoi placed her hands over her face and groaned. "Oh, how do we get mixed up in this?"

"Considering Jun just gave me a call, we already are." Kami smiled.

"And you want me to get Shion to take back Reiko from Jeremy, right?"

"No I want you to get Shion to accept a contract from a Jensei exec."

"Why?" Aoi asked. "I mean, if she wants Shion, can't she hire her through normal channels?"

"We are normal channels." Kami smiled, "The real lucerative contracts are given out not through normal chanels, whatever they are, but through people they know."

Aoi sighed once more and reached for her mobile. "Let's wait until we know she wants to do it," Kami said.

"Alright..." Aoi nodded grimly.

The next day passed in a rather uncomfortable silence. Aoi found herself more and more concerned by the situation they were suddenly embroiled in, while Kami had become more tight-lipped than before. Aoi found herself wandering alone through her apartment the following morning. There was no evidence that Kami had gone out, yet no sign of her. Nodding to herself, Aoi made her way down to the gym.

Her hunched proved correct. As she walked in, she saw Kami working out on a practice dummy, brutalizing the thing with a clearly angry scowl on her face. Aoi leant herself against the bench where Kami's towel waited and watched her silently. At length, Kami noticed her presence, threw a couple more strikes, then paused to catch her breath.

"You alright?" Aoi said. She reached down for Kami's towel and held it out to her.

"I'm getting ready to arrange for a bitchy associate of mine to hire the Empress, probably to do something nasty," Kami replied. "How do you think I feel?"

Aoi sighed. "You don't have to do it."

"I don't have to, but if I don't she'll just find somebody else." Kami snarled. "Besides, I think all parties involved are being just plain stupid."

"You included?" Aoi asked with a faint smile.

"I already tried reason, there's nothing you can do once somebody has made up their mind to not listen."

Aoi handed her the towel as she leaned against the practice dummy. "There's got to be some other way," she said, but her tone betrayed her uncertainty.

"The best options would be for me to present the offer to the Empress and have the Empress turn it down, just on the basis that it's beneath her." Kami sighed.

Aoi looked up at the ceiling and smiled. "Say you did."

"I'm not going to do that, not to this person." Kami looked Aoi in the eye, "Bullshit like that will cut it with her about as far as it would with the Empress herself."

"Fine," Aoi said, turning away. "Do you want me to present the case?"

"Sounds good to me." Kami turned and hit the dummy, her score registered closer to normal.

Aoi sighed, shaking her head. "I'll need the full details, you know. Who, where and..." She trailed off, looking Kami dead in the eye. "Why."

"It involves a nasty political marriage gone bad."

"Continue," Aoi said sternly.

"There marriage was arranged and one of the participant is an unwilling participant, and the other one is a real bitch. And neither of them are willing to be reasonable or coopertive with each other. "

"So... The unwilling one ran away, and now the bitch wants her back, right?"

"Right, actually I'd say they're both bitches, it's just one is aggressive and the other one is passive aggressive."

Aoi covered her face with her hands. "So why help her? Why not just let the other girl be?"

"Because walking away from the agressive bitch would be walking away from an opportunity similar to you walking away from the Empress."

Aoi shook her head. "But if this girl doesn't want to be with her, just handing her over isn't right."

"Right, its not a matter of right and wrong. If I don't help out now, somebody will come for her and I will probably loose the opportunity to make a real difference later."

Aoi stared at her. "I can't believe it. You're trading someone's freedom for an opportunity?"

"Somebody's freedom? If these girls would bite the bullet and learn to be reasonable they would have the kind of freedom that you and I can only dream of." Aoi could only wordlessly shake her head. "The bitch I'm talking about is Chairman Quincy's god daughter, and next in line for his position. And the self-declared victim is the daughter of Retsu Takashi, CEO of Jinsei's Japanese division."

Aoi ran a hand through her hair blinking in surprise. "So she ran away from her corp father making her do something she didn't want. Sound familiar?"

"I know, this girl didn't exactly do this on her own, she had the help of my former boss." Kami then growled a little "Besides this girl is of legal age, she doesn't have to run away."

"Lucky her! At least somebody's giving her the chance you got!" She shoved Kami away with both hands, her face red with anger. "And now you want to turn her in? Should I just haul you back to daddy?"

"Sure, I'm legal age now so there's nothing he can do except bluster." Kami snarled back, "Shall we go and visit him? I've learned to stand up for myself, this girls is just being passive agressive and getting other people to do her fighting for her."

"Not everyone has the chance to learn like you did. Not everyone is like you!" She shoved Kami away again. "Some people need to be protected!"

"Don't you see, when somebody else comes after her I wont be able to help her at all. If I stay close perhaps I can make a difference."
"You mean it's better if they take her first?" Aoi shouted out loud. "I don't believe you!"

"Do you think I actually want them to take her?" Kami bristeled back.

"Then protect her from them!" She yelled "Don't try to moralise it! Damn well help her!"

"That why I want you to present the job to the Empress and let her turn it down." Kami then snarled, "And just how long do you expect me to protect her?"

"No. No dammit, I won't. I won't do it for you."

"Fine, I but I don't babysit people who don't listen to me." Kami said icily.

Aoi stared open-mouthed at her. "Babysit?" she asked, incredulously. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"That's exactly what I mean." Kami replied, "Both of these girls are spoiled rich brats. Neither one will take one hint as to how to deal with the other one. And everything has to be their way."

"So why get involved at all?" Aoi yelled out, staring up at the ceiling.

"I'm trying to get uninvolved without making any long term enemies." Kami's voice was quite calm. "And I'm hoping that being connected to them will lead to opportunities that don't involve babysitting BS."

"Uninvolved without making enemies?" Aoi stared at her coolly. "Just how are you involved in this, anyhow?"

"I really shouldn't say." Kami looked like she really wanted to tell.

"Tell me," Aoi said, the anger clear in her voice.

"Damn it, you know I don't talk about jobs." Kami was actually starting to sound frustrated.

"Then don't get me involved in them!" Aoi yelled back. She turned on her heel, ready to stomp out the door.

"Fine, I'll make an exception since jobs don't follow me home." Kami waited for Aoi to turn back around.

Aoi stood by the door, her hand on the handle, ready to leave. Without turning, she said "Go on."

"It was my job to make friends with Jun when I was in Japan." Aoi merely waited for her to continue. "I'm not going to go into further detail about that." Kami sighed, "But Jun reminds me of the kind of prick I used to kill in the zone, just on general principle."

"Then she married this other girl, who ran away," Aoi said quietly.

"The other girl was the bosses target. He was going to seduce her, bug her computer, and the to break into Jinsei."

"So why's she calling you up to sort out her problems?"

"Jun is calling me to sort out her problems, because Jun wants her for the same reason my boss does."

"No, why *you?*" Aoi asked. She glared at Kami over her shoulder.

"Because I told Jun that my boss was really my brother, and she had my number."

Aoi let out a deep sigh. She closed her eyes, and turned back to the door. "You slept with her," she said, as if stating fact, rather than asking.

"Is that the issue?" Kami replied.

"I want to know," Aoi said quietly.

"You think I actually like that bitch?" Kami responded.

"You're not answering my question," Aoi said, her voice wavering.

"That's right, because I don't like to think about what I had to become to stomach and get along with her."

"You did," Aoi said flatly, and opened the door.

Kami walked over to Aoi. "Ever do or become somebody you dispise?"

"I turned my back on that," she said. She sniffed loudly, trying to hold back her tears.

Kami reached out to hug Aoi. Aoi shook her off, yelling "Don't touch me!" She turned back to face Kami, her face distorted in anger and sorrow, her eyes moist with tears.

"That's another reason why I left. When I'm in situations like that I can't turn my back on it. It's like the persona completly takes over."

"That's just a cock-and-bull excuse, and you know it. You've never tried!" She bellowed in rage, surging forwards. Her fist clenched, as if preparing to strike.

Kami casually stood her ground. "I haven't? Then why haven't been sleeping with April or Miki?"

Aoi raised her hand to strike, but stopped suddenly. As if in a daze, she turned to look at her own fist. Her body shook with a sob of indrawn breath, then she turned and fled.

Kami took a deep breath and calmly followed Aoi as she headed upstairs to their apartment.

Without looking back, Aoi stormed into the apartment. She siezed her jacket from the chair she'd slung it over.

"Wait!" Kami called out. Keeping her face hidden, Aoi retrieved her wallet and pistol from the jacket. "Would you wait a few minutes!?" Kami was still frustrated. Aoi kept her back to Kami, and slowly shook her head.

"Why is it you get to indulge yourself by getting upset and irrational, and I always have to be cool and rational!" Kami's frustration was starting to really show.

"Why don't you ever feel anything?" Aoi screamed out. She shoved Kami away and broke for the door, tears streaming from her eyes.

"I do!" Kami screamed "But you want me to be Kami all the time!"

"I don't!" Aoi turned back. "I don't want Kami! I don't want Silver." Her body shook as she broke down into tears. "I just want to know Evelyn."

"How do you know? I'm not sure that I even remember who Evelyn is." Kami's voice trembled a little.

"Please... I just... I need some time," Aoi said quietly.

Kami walked over to Aoi, then swallowing, "Don't leave me."

Her body shuddered as she shook her head. "I can't stay. Please..."

Kami put her arms around Aoi. "I need your help dealing with this."

"Please let me go," Aoi whispered.

"So you're going to push be as far as possible then run off because you can't deal with it?" Kami said softly.

"I just need to think. That's all," she said in a whisper. "That's all."

"Fine." Kami said with a sigh as she released Aoi.

She screwed up her eyes, gasped out "Thank you," between her sobs, and turned to leave. Kami just stood there, swallowing and slowly regaining her composure. Sobbing, Aoi departed.

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