Forgot the cut. Sorry guys!
As Ran left the temple in the ensuing confusion, he was lost in thought.
There should have been no reason for a second contract to have been taken on out on the man who had asked his opinion, unless they were aiming for someone else. Even if they were, most of the others were small fry, and could have been taken out in other ways. Making a mark like that was very much a useless exercise. And they had spared him, so unless they wanted him to go and carry tales (which he would not) it seemed likely that someone new was in the game and thought to one-up the female assassins. There had been no word about any new start-ups though. Even if they were, they would have to be suicidal to take on the female assassins without making a move on any of the smaller ones. Not even the Gang Lords dared to mess with the women.
Still, if that were not the answer, then what was?
“I hope your business was worth forgoing dinner. I had a wonderful time in Shinjuku,” a man got to his feet from where he had been leaning against the tree. He wore a black shirt, open at the neck, with fitting black pants, carrying himself with a debonair air. This was further intensified with his good looks; short black hair with a casual, devil-may-care style, dark eyes and a firm jaw.
“Ah, Lance-san. Forgive the distraction,” Ran turned to the man and bowed, “But yes, the business has been concluded, and not to my liking,” Ran’s tone, while meaning no disrespect, also asked Lance not to ask. He took the hint.
“So, where shall we have our supper?” Lance seemed to have dropped the topic immediately.
“Let’s head down to Roppongi. I haven’t shown you that area yet, have I?”
By the time they hit Ropponggi, the clubgoers were heading out and home. As the two men walked through the streets, they drew some stares and a lot of giggling from the girls. Lance smiled devilishly at some of the ladies they passed, while Ran merely shook his head at that. Despite his Casanova persona, he was not one to take women to bed easily. At least not now. Ran knew that it had been a different story not too long ago. Still, it was good to see his friend smiling again. The past few times it had not been easy.
Ran led them to a small sushi bar hidden among the many new clubs and modern amenities to be found in the ridiculously expensive district. The name of the bar was just, “Rogues.” The door tinkled as it slid open to reveal a traditionally decorated bar with seats all around the counter. A man stood behind the bar cutting various fishes and other sea delicacies as patrons chatted. The bar was nearly full, with all but two seats taken. Most of the customers were also female, looking fresh from the clubs. Female chatter filled the bar.
The chef came and took their orders at the counter, while his two daughters served the rest of the female guests. Cups of steaming hot green tea were put in front of them barely moments after they sat down, and in no time at all, the food was served in front of them. As they began to eat, Ran and Lance did not speak much, each was concentrating on their meal. The chatter slowly died as the girls began heading home, some with a smiling man on their arm. When Ran looked up after a while, he found the bar nearly deserted except for him and Lance. Still the chef did not make any move to close the bar. The chef smiled at Ran when he caught the man looking at him. Before the chef could say anything though, the slide door opened and a cheery, “Good evening, the usual please, chef-san!”
The two women who came in were dressed much the same as the clubgoers had, though the similarity of their clothes also suggested that they were probably workers of some sort. Both wore hotpants, with ankle-length boots emphasising the length and muscle of their legs. Sleeveless shirts tied at the waist over shiny, skintight tops were complemented by large earrings. Their hairstyles were also similar, with one girl having her hair in an elaborate ponytail but a short fringe covering her forehead, while the other had hers up in a ponytail, but with two locks falling, framing her face. Ran watched them as they spoke to the chef and his daughters, displaying an easy familiarity and warmth with the chef and his two daughters.
“Good evening, Mayumi-chan, Naoko-chan,” the chef’s daughter greeted the girls with a friendly smile and put two steaming cups of hot tea in front of them as her father prepared their food. It seemed that instead of eating sushi, the girls seemed to prefer eating heavier foods like ramen.
“Arigato, Maya-chan!” the two girls replied, picking up their cups.
“You were late today, girls,” the chef said. He placed two large bowls atop the counter, which the girls helped themselves to.
“Bleh,” the one who had the forehead fringe replied. She began eating the noodles without caring that they were hot.
“Clients,” the other replied, sipping the soup noisily.
“Onee-san, I’m done at the back! Can we go home now?” the younger of the two sisters came from the back. Maya, her sister, bowed towards the two girls and left the counter.
“Father! We’ll be heading home now!” Maya left the counter. Their father looked up, and for a moment, worry crossed his face. Everyone caught it.
“If you don’t mind, Uncle, I can walk them home. It’s not too far,” Forehead Fringe replied.
“It’s late, Mayu-chan,” the older girl replied.
“She lives around that area anyway, Maya-san, and it’s not going to be too far out of her way. Besides, no one messes with a Harajuku Rose,” her companion said in between mouthfuls.
“But Naoko-chan…” the younger sister protested.
“Aniki will meet me halfway, moi chibis,” that more than anything proclaimed that the other girl was not a native Japanese.
“I’m done. Thank you for the meal, uncle,” Mayu said, standing up. She rummaged in her purse and took out some money, putting it on the counter. “See you tomorrow, Naoko!” Mayu bowed a little to Naoko, who turned in her chair and did the same. Mayu’s bowl was not quite empty but more than half was gone.
The chef watched as Mayu, Maya and her sister took their leave. Ran and Lance watched them go as well, noting that for all their differences, the three could probably passed as sisters. When the door slid close, Lance asked Ran, “What’re the Harajuku Rose?” Although his voice was low, the answer came from across the bar.
“We’re dancers at the club Harajuku Rose, that’s all,” the girl who was left slurped up her noodles and then collected the two bowls, “It’s just that anyone who picks a fight with a Harajuku Rose is generally asking for trouble,” she put them back on the counter, which the chef accepted, and then she took the towel on the counter and wiped her place down. Once that was done, she put her chair and Mayu’s on the tabletop, which led to both men realising that they were the only ones left in the bar. “See you, Uncle!” she bowed towards the chef and then went off.
At the discreet cough by the chef, Ran and Lance quickly finished their dishes up, and then headed out.