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aesopian ([personal profile] aesopian) wrote2008-06-05 04:06 pm
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Shake Your Head, And Scatter Day

Prompt: Coffee break; intermediate tyl





It was a small cafe, not his favorite, and certainly not the most popular in the small city block. He didn't mind, almost preferring the near silence on the clear Saturday morning. He could see people bustling along the street through the open doorway. With half a mind, he listened to the chatter of the shop's owner and one of her regular customers. Apparently the man's sister-in-law had just given birth to a baby girl, and he was in the shop to pick up some pastries on the way to the hospital. He found a small smile twisting his lips at the man's excitement over the newest addition to his family (5 pounds and 8 ounces, and healthy as a horse).

The rest of his attention was focused on the newspaper spread out in front of him and the cup of coffee in his hand. It brought more somber news. With only a passing glance at the headlines, he delved deeper finding hints and suggestions of mafia activity. A prosperous family's sudden disappearance on a vacation, a car plummeting from a cliff-side road onto the rocky coast below, a drive-by shooting -- they were small, isolated events, horrifying enough, but difficult to connect if you didn't know the families behind them. Most were aligned with the Vongola; many of them were not. The attacks on the families were escalating but still so very subtle, and he couldn't figure out what or who was behind them.

He looked up with a smile that softened the harsh features of his face into something approaching pleasant as the cafe owner stopped by his table to pour more coffee into the empty cup. He thanked her before going back to the paper. There was a pattern here, but he struggled to find the pieces of it. He hadn't even been the first to notice it. A dozen stories clipped from the different papers spanning months had arrived in an envelope at his home over two weeks ago. A small scrap of paper asked for a meeting. There was no return address, no signature. He had mulled over the information for a day or two before relenting. There was no way to reply, but the next day, another note arrived saying simply that they would meet this weekend. He knew who he was expecting, but had no way to know who to look for or when he would be joined. So he did nothing out of the ordinary, which was probably safer for both of them.

After finishing his cup of coffee, he pushed the chair back from the small table and stood, tucking the newspapers under his arm and bidding the shop owner a good day. He headed out into the sunlit street and glad of the light weight dress shirt he had decided to wear. The still, morning air held a promise of the heat to come, and he would have melted inside a suit. Turning down the street he threaded his way against the flow of foot traffic. His size and appearance lending him the needed leverage to clear the way without too much fuss.

As he paused at the corner a woman's voice cut through the noise of the crowd. He turned, surprised to hear his name called, and was only slightly more surprised to see a beautiful blonde hurrying down the street, her eyes only on him. Her long flaxen hair was pulled back away from her face in a loose braid. Her eyes were as bright and clear a blue as the sky over head, and--

He pulled his attention away from going lower, allowing himself only to note the knee length sundress before she slipped her arm through his and pressed herself close to his side. She attracted as many stares as he repulsed, and he couldn't help staring himself.

"Ah, please forgive me. I was almost late! How silly of me. Are you ready to visit the park? I've brought a picnic for later."

He could only stare for a moment longer, trying to force his mind to function. He nodded and found the small smile easing his features much less forced than he had feared it would be.

"Don't worry. You're right on time."

The park she spoke of was only a short distance away, and he lead her there, meandering slowly along the sidewalk. She stayed close to him, hugging his arm as she bubbled with an inane flow of everyday chatter. He only half listened to her wondering at this game they played, but she didn't seem to care. Her landlady had been so fussy about the idea of her getting a kitten -- she already had the kitten, you know, why shouldn't she be able to keep it. It's not like a kitten would do much damage to her little loft apartment. It just wasn't fair, don't you think?

He laughed softly and caught himself only as he promised to speak to the landlady. He glanced down sharply, and caught the sly smile she shot up at him.

"Lancia's so nice."

He flushed, checking the street before they crossed to the small residential park. There were few people here, though there would be more as the day grew older. He led her around the small pond to settle on benches on the far side. She sat daintily and pulled out some sandwiches, and he watched her for a while before catching one slender hand.

"What are you doing?"

Wide blue eyes flashed up at him as her face pulled into a confused pout. "I'm getting the picnic ready."

"Mukuro!"

He was finally rewarded with another smirking smile. He watched in fascination and horror as the woman's lovely features rearranged themselves into a sinister intelligence.

"That's mean, sempai. I was enjoying myself. It's so rare that I get to spend time with you."

The man felt his shoulders tighten, and he forced himself to remain calm. He held up the newspaper. "There's been others. Two this week alone."

"I know."

It almost sounded like a pout, but he couldn't be sure. "Then why are you telling me and not the Vongola. Aren't you their guardian?"

The woman tilted her head as she smiled at him again. "You told them didn't you?" When the man nodded, she shrugged. "Then it worked out. What does it matter if you tell them or she tells them. The results are the same. And it's dangerous now for she and I to be in contact."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, I'm in trouble, sempai."

It took a moment to make the bright smile she flashed him and the words add up. His eyes widened slowly as what was said slowly sank in.

"But your with the..."

"I am. It's well known so it's not safe anymore. Will you help me?" A buzzing filled his ears, and he found himself nodding against his will. He swallowed as the woman beamed at him approvingly. "Good. Then I'll contact you when I know more. You'll have to act quickly when I do, sempai, so be ready."

He stared for a moment longer and then stood, walking away and leaving her there as she carefully rearranged the food for the picnic. He barely noticed a passing man call out to the woman he just left or her confused replies. The sunny day seemed unpleasantly chill all of a sudden, and he shivered, wishing for the warmth of one of his jackets.