Disclaimer: I own no part of LH, but Sean and Jimmy are mine.

Chapter LXVI: The Mouse Will Play

Benjamin Franklin once said, "The only sure things in life are death and taxes." While we can do little more than delay the former, we all must appease our respective national and/or regional governments with the latter until then. This means that, throughout our adult lives, we require jobs as a means to support ourselves.

There are some people lucky enough to truly enjoy their work. Such people include Playboy photographers, Nintendo Power game counselors and, in some cases, the landlord of a girls' dormitory. For the rest of us, that leaves menial, tedious and usually boring jobs in office buildings, various kinds of restaurants and so forth, but they are roles that need to be filled for the world to function.

Another aspect of one's chosen career path is the sheer legality of it. Some occupations are cut and dry in this regard, like prostitution and dealing in drugs. However, there are those professions where the line is not so finely drawn. In cases such as these, it's all up to the perception of the general public to determine if it is right or not.

--- Monday, 2/28/2011 12:55 PM

"I can't believe this is actually happening," Kitsune thought as he walked the streets of Tokyo. She wore a semi-casual outfit, her purse slung over one shoulder. By all appearances, she was on her way to a date, but this was not the case. Instead, she was looking to further her journalism career.

Two days before, by random chance, she happened to meet one of the more prevalent NFL players of the day. Taking a shot in the dark, she requested an interview with him. Against all odds, he accepted and a time and place was quickly set. Even now, she couldn't believe her luck.

By the time she neared the coffee house in question, she had gone over a list of possible questions countless times, but that line of thought briefly vanished when she caught sight of her subject. (A/N: I will not be referring to this athlete by name, as there's no telling if the person I name would even have a career at this time.)

"Ah, Miss Konno," he said, standing up from his seat and shaking Kitsune's hand once it came within reach. "You're right on time."

"I was surprised you agreed to do this," Kitsune said, sitting down across the table. "After all, I would have figured this to be the last thing you wanted to do while on vacation."

"I don't mind at all," he said. "Besides, I'd take a one-on-one interview over a press conference any day--especially one with such a beautiful woman."

"Flattery will get you anywhere," Kitsune said. With that, they sat down, ordered their respective drinks and the interview got under way.

By her own admission, many of the questions Kitsune were asking seemed a bit clichéd, but given such short notice, she could do little better. Despite that, the fact that the athlete across the table showed no sign of irritation encouraged her. One question in particular referenced to the team he played on, which was barely a month removed from winning the Lambardi Trophy. "What do you think it will take for the Texans to win another championship?" (A/N: Wouldn't it be really weird if this--or anything else in my story for that matter--came to pass? And no, the Texans are not my favorite team. If I wanted to go that route, I would have said the Raiders instead.)

As the jock proceeded to give the typical answer--work hard, don't make costly mistakes and so on--Kitsune caught something in the corner of her eye. Entering the coffee house was none other than one Jimmy Lynch. With purpose in his step, he made his way to the table in the far corner.

Already seated at that table was a woman who was definitely not Motoko. She wore a business suit and had her red hair was styled just as formally. For his part, Jimmy wore a business-casual outfit not dissimilar to what Kitsune herself wore. The two immediately began conversing with one another.

"What the hell…?" Kitsune thought, a myriad of questions spawning from that one scene, but she quickly brought her attention back to the matter at hand before she was found out--the worst thing you can do during an interview is to be caught with your head in the clouds.

In all, the interview lasted the better part of an hour. Ever since her possibly incriminating observation though, Kitsune had different questions running through her mind. Who was Jimmy talking to? What were they talking about? Why were they doing it in the first place? Did Motoko know about this?

While it would have been easy enough to make accusations at the first opportunity, she has seen too many instances where people (those of which shall remain nameless) overreact over trivial and inconsequential events. No, she would wait until she knew what she was dealing with before deciding to act.

During all of this, Kitsune was glad she thought of bringing a tape recorder to the interview. After all, being as mired in her thoughts as she was caused her to miss a good portion of what the athlete across from her was saying.

When the interview eventually drew to a close, the two shook hands once again and went their separate ways. At some point during the train ride home, Kitsune found herself contemplating her tape recorder. Her fellow passengers might have thought it a tad odd, staring at something as though it held all the answers, but in this circumstance, that may actually be the case.

The chat Jimmy had with the mystery woman was held in low voices that prevented her from listening in. Also, for obvious reasons, she was unable to concentrate enough to lip read. All of this meant she had almost no clue as to what was going on; something that can easily frustrate her, but that's where the tape player came into play. While her ears were unable to pick up anything, there was a slim chance that the microphone on the recorder did.

This, in turn, brought up another in an already long list of questions in the fox's mind. Provided that the information was actually there to be had, how was she supposed to extract it? She wasn't about to risk both upsetting her dormmates and blowing out her eardrums by turning it up really loud. That's when it hit her; there was, perhaps, one person who had the means to help her--all she had to do was ask.

Before all that however, there was more important business to take care of. As soon as she returned to Hinata-Sou, she went straight to her room to prepare the article she would send it out not only to the Japan Times, but also American publications such as the New York Times and Los Angeles Times in an attempt to get her name out there.

Once all that was taken care of, after a brief break, Kitsune grabbed the tape recorder and headed up to the third floor. More specifically, she was going to the inner sanctum of one Kaolla Suu. School had already let out for the day, so the only concerns remaining were the gaijin's willingness and/or ability to help. Kitsune was well aware that this was not a sure thing, but that wasn't going to stop her from asking.

Without a moment's hesitation, Kitsune knocked on the door. She thought this alone was pretty brave, since Suu's room has been designated more or less off-limits. After all, there's no telling what sort of experiment you might be interrupting--or become a part of.

"Yeah?" Suu asked from within. Her voice sounded somewhat distant, which didn't make Kitsune feel any better.

"Could you help me with something real quick?" Kitsune asked.

"Sure, come on in!"

"Does she really expect me to just walk right in?" Kitsune thought incredulously. Then, a smirk appeared on her face. "Heh. Might as well; I've gone this far."

Before she could change her mind, Kitsune opened the door. She had barely crossed the threshold before shock brought her to a halt. This was completely understandable, since a black sports car was the last thing she expected to see. Next to the car was Suu, who looked more like a mechanic than anything else right then. The term "grease monkey" seemed all too appropriate. "She must have been underneath it when I knocked," Kitsune thought, remembering her muffled tone from earlier.

"What can I help you with?" Suu said, bringing Kitsune back down to earth. "And please close the door."

"Oh, sure," Kitsune quickly said, doing as she was told before getting to the reason why she was there. "There may be something in the background of this tape. I was wondering if you could enhance it or something."

"Sure, no problem," Suu said. "Just let me get cleaned up first. It'll just take a minute." She went over to what would have been the closet had this been a normal room. She opened the door, but stopped short of going through. "Oh, and one more thing," she said, turning back to her visitor. "For your own safety, don't touch anything while I'm gone."

"You don't have to tell me twice," Kitsune muttered after Suu took her leave. Considering this might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, she took the time to scan her surroundings--once you got past the car, there was indeed a lot to see. Various monitors and consoles lined the walls on both sides. As if that wasn't enough, a metal platform was installed halfway up the wall, which made room for even more electronic paraphernalia. The purpose and function of such an impressive display of technology could only be speculated by those on the outside.

Kitsune was so awed by it all, she was caught completely off guard when Suu returned. "Alright, let's get down to business!" Suu announced upon her arrival, now wearing a white lab coat. "Surprised?" she asked, noting her elder's expression. "Not what you expected, is it?"

"Not really," Kitsune said. "I would have thought it would have some mad scientist décor or something."

"It used to," Suu admitted. "I guess I just grew out of it. Maybe it was a phase I was going through. Alright, now where were we? Ah, yes…" She walked across the room, towards a clipboard hanging next to the door. On it was a list written in a language Kitsune didn't recognize. "Let's see…" Suu muttered to herself as she scanned the list for a few moments. "Here we go: Audio Transector, 4C."

No matter how many times she sees it, Kitsune has always been amazed by Suu's feats of acrobatics. This time would be no different, as the young inventor grabbed onto the platform from below and vaulted herself up and over the railing. Fortunately, there was a ladder nearby, so Kitsune could follow without risking serious injury. By the time she reached console 4C and pulled up a chair from neighboring 3C, Suu was already booting up the system.

"The cassette?" Su asked. Promptly, Kitsune handed over the tape, which was quickly inserted into a slot in the machine; one of a half dozen, covering a wide range of media storage devices. The design of this sector came as a result of a brief pastime Suu had of taking apart her favorite music piece by piece. "It'll take just a minute."

As the computer analyzed the tape, Kitsune found herself wanting to spark up a conversation to help pass the time. Besides, something has been bugging her from the moment she entered Suu's room. "What's with the car?" she asked.

"I finally started customizing my dream car," Suu answered. "I can hardly wait to get it out on the road."

"Do I want to know what kind of stuff you installed on it?" Kitsune asked.

There was a slight pause before Suu responded. "I doubt it."

"I figured as much," Kitsune said. "How are you going to get it out of your room?"

There was a blank look on Suu's face. "The same way I got it in, of course."

"Ask a silly question…" Kitsune thought, rolling her eyes.

"Okay, it's done," Suu said, getting back to the matter at hand. "Now, what exactly are you looking for?"

"Jimmy," Kitsune blurted out, cursing herself immediately thereafter.

"Jimmy?" Suu asked, a confused look on her face.

"No sense in holding anything back now," Kitsune thought. Given the circumstances, withholding information would only hinder her efforts. "When I was out doing my interview," she explained. "I saw Jimmy talking with some woman. I want to see if that tape picked up their conversation."

"Shouldn't Motoko be here for this?" Suu asked. "This sounds like something she should know about."

"Only if my suspicions are confirmed," Kitsune said. "I don't want to bother her if this turns out to be nothing."

"I see what you mean," Suu said. "She certainly wouldn't want such gossip going around, especially if it wasn't true. Alright, where on the tape did their talk begin?"

"About fifteen minutes in," Kitsune said. She made it a point to remember that bit of information.

Suu went a little ways past where Kitsune said and began sorting out each individual wavelength and comparing them to a sample of Jimmy's voice already on file--something Kitsune didn't bother asking about. Even with such technology at their disposal, their task would not an easy one, as they were quick to find out.

"…No match," Suu said, disappointedly.

"That makes a dozen so far," Kitsune muttered. "I'm beginning to wonder if this is nothing but a wild goose chase." From the start of this whole endeavor, she was openly aware of this possibility. At the same time, there was no telling how long it would keep nagging at her should it come to pass.

"There's still some I haven't tried yet," Suu said. "But they may be so weak, I may not be able to get a clean match."

"We've gone this far," Kitsune said. "Might as well keep trying, if only for the sake of completeness."

"I hear that," Suu said, hardly one to give up. "Analyzing the next sample…" Suu's hands flew across the keyboard, performing actions Kitsune could barely follow, even after watching it so many times already. "And… it's a match!"

"Really?" Kitsune asked. "Are you sure?"

"There's no doubt about it," Suu said. "Alright, now we're getting somewhere. By observing the tempo, I should be able to pick out the other half of the conversation." It took a little bit of searching, but she was able to do just that. After enhancing the audio, this was what they heard:

Woman: You're late.

Jimmy: Sorry; traffic was a mess. We could easily have done this over the phone.

Woman: I prefer to do business in person. Do you have a problem with that?

Jimmy: I'm here, aren't I?

Woman: Indeed you are. Let's get started, shall we?

Jimmy: Before we do, I want you to understand what will be taking place here. If you have any second thoughts, say so now, because you will not be able to back out once I begin.

Woman: I understand completely. Now, at what time do you want to do this?

Jimmy: Given that the place is open during regular business hours, I was thinking about going around midnight. Is that alright with you?

Woman: Actually, I would prefer to do it at 11:00, just to be safe. This is not meant as an insult to your… abilities.

Jimmy: None taken.

Woman: Regardless, I want to be absolutely sure you have enough time to go in, do what you have to and get back out.

Jimmy: Sounds fair. 11:00 it is, then.

From there, the two went about hashing out the details, but by that time, Suu and Kitsune had gotten all the information they needed. "Wow," Suu said. "If it was anybody else, I might have thought something like this would be pretty cool."

"Yeah, no kidding," Kitsune muttered. What had begun as suspicion of adultery just became something much more serious--either that, or there was a serious case of innuendo going on. Either way, there was a certain swordswoman who needed to be informed. "Suu, will you go get Motoko?"

"Why me?" Suu asked, somewhat confused by the fox's request. "You're the one who first discovered this whole thing."

"Yeah, but who is she more likely to believe, you or me?" Kitsune asked. She was all too aware that, no matter how a person may change, their reputation may still remain the same--and hers wasn't exactly the kind that people would put their trust in right away.

"I see what you mean," Suu said, getting up from the chair. "I'll be right back."

After Suu left, Kitsune just sat there in complete silence. From her crossed arms and the intense look on her face, you could tell the gears were already turning in her head…

--- 10:30 PM

Those who happened to be out and about that night would have seen Jimmy ride by on his motorcycle, en route to the Tokyo business district. Most would not have thought anything of it, but there were those who knew what he was up to and had made it a point to keep track of his movements. Despite the skills he possesses, Jimmy was completely unaware that he was being actively monitored--and there was only one way that was possible.

"How did I get talked into this?" Sean muttered to himself from roughly 300 miles away--straight up.

"Stop complaining," Kitsune's voice said through the headset he wore. She, along with Suu and Motoko were stationed in the inventor's room, where they received the images from Sean's telescopic vision. "I know you're upset about us interrupting your little exploration, but this demanded immediate attention. Besides, the moon won't be going anywhere any time soon."

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Sean said. "Just be glad I've been coming up here, or else Jimmy might have suspected something." Considering the magical output required to conjure up the space capsule and escape Earth's atmosphere, it was practically a given that Jimmy was well aware of the 37 launches performed to date.

"Just don't lose sight of him," Kitsune said. "I don't want to waste this chance to catch him in the act."

"I certainly hope you are wrong about this," Motoko said.

"You heard the tape," Kitsune said. "What else could he be planning?"

"I just find it hard to believe that he would commit such acts," Motoko reasoned.

"He's done it before," Kitsune countered. "Right in this very building, in fact."

"Don't remind me," Sean muttered.

"I share his sentiment," Motoko said. Indeed, being turned into a cat and the events that spawned from it were not easily forgotten, though that did not stop Motoko from trying. "In any case, this is a different situation."

"Different how?" Kitsune asked.

"Jimmy is being hired to go to a business and commit theft--something I could never condone."

"So, you saying it's alright as long as the business isn't the Hinata-Sou Girls Dormitory?" Kitsune asked.

"I did not mean it like that; I--"

"Then what do you mean?"

It was then that Sean cut in. "As much as I would love to hear you two argue, we have a situation up here."

Two pairs of eyes instantly looked toward the monitor (Suu never looked away.) to see that their target had entered a parking lot and come to a halt. "It's about time," Kitsune said. They watched as Jimmy got off his bike and removed his helmet, and they barely had time to recognize the ninja outfit he wore before he took to the shadows.

"Switching to Infra-Red," Sean said, the image on the screen becoming tinted immediately thereafter. This way, they were able to continue tracking Jimmy's movements as he made his way an additional block and a half before stopping at one office building in particular.

"Here we go," Kitsune said as Jimmy approached the building's entrance. "The show begins." With seemingly little difficulty, Jimmy opened the lock and gained entry.

"Adding X-Ray," Sean said. With his announcement, his vision turned purple by the combination of the two enchantments. With them, everyone was able to watch as Jimmy made his way through the office building, either neutralizing or bypassing every security measure that stood in his way.

"Well, he's good at what he does, I'll give him that much," Kitsune muttered. Motoko was thinking along similar lines, but given the circumstances, she was not about to say so out loud.

After a while, it became apparent that Jimmy's path through the building was not a random one, as he quickly found a safe located on the tenth floor of the twelve-story structure. Upon cracking the safe, he found it filled with cash and other assorted items. After taking what valuables he could carry, he covered his tracks and made his way up to the roof. Getting down to ground level like only a ninja can, he returned to his motorcycle and drove off into the night, all without alerting anyone in the immediate area of his presence or actions.

"Okay," Kitsune said. "He should be back within half an hour. That'll give us plenty of time to head over to his house and surprise him. Now, how should we go about confronting him…?"

"We will not be doing anything," Motoko said, her words catching everyone by surprise. "I will do this myself."

"What are you talking about?" Kitsune asked. "I was the one who told you about this whole thing, remember?"

"Yes, and I thank you for that, but your involvement will no longer be necessary. Jimmy is my boyfriend and I will deal with his actions my own way." She turned her gaze to Suu. "I assume you have been recording this?"

"Of course," Suu said. "I'll have a DVD made for you in no time." She suppressed a yawn. "In the morning."

Motoko nodded and took her leave of the inventor's room. She started to make her way to her own quarters, but was stopped halfway there by someone placing a hand on her shoulder. "Yes, Kitsune?" Motoko asked without turning around.

"Are you sure you don't want to be a part of this investigation anymore?" Kitsune asked.

"That is what I said," Motoko said. "I was not trying to mislead you."

Kitsune's eye twitched. There were few things she hated more than being out of the loop on anything going on around her, and being snubbed after all the effort she put forth really got under her skin. However, she also knew how stubborn Motoko can be at times and she figured the swordswoman would not be swayed on this matter. "At least tell me what his excuse is when you confront him."

"…We shall see," Motoko said after a couple moments. "Goodnight, Kitsune."

With that abrupt end to their conversation, Motoko and Kitsune went to their respective rooms for the night, leaving Sean to wonder if he had been forgotten completely.

---

The week progressed as normally as could be expected. Sean and Suu went about their daily business as though nothing was going on. Meanwhile, Motoko bided her time, waiting for the right opportunity to make her move, her inaction driving Kitsune crazy from the suspense. Thankfully, she would not have to wait very long.

Friday morning, Motoko went over to Jimmy's house under the pretense of doing some sparring. In doing this, she secretly hoped to bring up his indiscretions without it sounding random. However, when she arrived, she found her lover getting into his car--wearing a suit of all things. When asked, he said he had to go to a business meeting and would be gone until late that afternoon. As Motoko watched him pull out of the driveway, she considered this latest bit of information. By the time he was out of sight, she had an evil grin on her face.

--- Friday, 3/4 5:49 PM

As soon as Jimmy pulled into the garage, he knew something was amiss. "Hmm," he thought out loud. "This should be interesting." Grabbing his suitcase, he got out of his car and entered his house proper, making his way to the living room, where he knew a certain someone was waiting for him.

"Hello, Jimmy," Motoko said, leaning against the back of the couch.

"Hello yourself," Jimmy said. "How did you get in here?"

"I have my ways," Motoko said. There were many words that could describe the way she grinned just then. Friendly would not be one of them. "Of course, you know much more about being sneaky than I do."

"Where are you going with this?" Jimmy asked. "If this is about me breaking into Sean's room, I--"

"No," Motoko cut in. "I am referring to a more… recent event."

Jimmy arched an eyebrow. "How recent?"

"Earlier this week," Motoko said. "Monday night to be exact. If, by chance you have forgotten…" She reached into the folds of her gi and pulled out a DVD. "…I'd be happy to remind you."

Needless to say, Jimmy was surprised. "How did you find out about that? For that matter, how did you get me on tape?" he asked, though he already had his suspicions.

"I believe there are more important things you should be concerned about," Motoko said. "Like which body part I will be removing as punishment for your transgressions." For added effect, she rested a hand on the hilt of her sword.

"Now, Motoko," Jimmy said, now starting to get worried. "Don't do anything hasty. Let's be rational about this."

"Did nobody tell you?" Motoko said, still grinning. "I have a history of irrational behavior, especially when it comes to males suspected of delinquent behavior." Normally, she would never bring up such a thing, but she felt it would work to her advantage in this case.

"If you'll just let me explain, I'm sure we can come to an understanding," Jimmy said.

"I'm listening."

"When I first moved to Japan, I hadn't given much thought to a job, but while I set up my security system, I had an epiphany--I had just found my calling. From there, I started advertising my services in various business circles."

"This still does not explain why you broke into that office building," Motoko said. "Why not just ask for the layout or something?"

"I do, but it doesn't quite compare to me seeing it for myself," Jimmy said. "And before you ask, I plan everything out with the company before I do anything."

"So the woman you were talking to wasn't an accomplice?" Motoko asked, still somewhat skeptical. "She worked for the company?"

"Exactly," Jimmy said, not bothering to ask how she knew about that. "In fact, I just came back from a meeting with that very company, where I've been submitting my ideas."

"You know, you could have told me all of this a lot sooner," Motoko said.

"I could have, but I wasn't sure you would have approved."

"It is better than finding out this way," Motoko said. "And I believe it is time you were punished for hiding this from me." With that, she grabbed Jimmy by the collar.

"Hey, hey, can I change out of this monkey suit first?" Jimmy asked as Motoko half-dragged him out of them room.

"We can have it repaired when I am done," Motoko said. When she looked back, Jimmy saw Motoko's smile get more sinister than it had been, if that was even possible. "Now, I do not want to hear a word from you unless I say so, am I clear?"

"Yes, ma'am." As Motoko led him towards his home dojo, Jimmy couldn't help but wonder what the swordswoman had in store for him--and whether he should be dreading it or not.

End of Chapter LXVI

Please R&R and let's hope I get the next chapter up in less than a year.