(Based on characters and situations from "Witch Hunter Robin", created by Hajime Yatate and Shuko Murase.)
After the collapse of the Factory and disappearance of Administrator Zaizen, the STN-J continued its operations much as before, but with a few significant changes. Under Chief Kosaka, witch hunts were no longer conducted with orbo, but rather with tranquilizer rounds fired from conventional guns (and also hollowpoint slugs and armor-piercing rounds for especially pesky witches); and the captured witches were no longer taken to the Factory, but rather to a special psychiatric hospital for observation and rehabilitation if possible.
Nonetheless, a pall continued to hang over Raven's Flat because of the apparent deaths of Robin and Amon in the collapse. It was not until a month later that the pall lifted when a new replacement hunter arrived at Raven's Flat, and the hunter proved to be Robin.
"Robin!"Karasuma said. "Where have you been?"
"I was in Europe with Amon," Robin replied. "He felt it was best we lay low until we could tell if it was safe to return."
"Is Amon coming back too?" Sakaki asked.
"I don't know," Robin replied. "He said he would join me later, but first he had some work to do for Solomon HQ."
"We've been trying to reestablish ties with Solomon HQ," Michael noted. "Does it have something to do with that?"
"I'm sorry, I don't know. Amon didn't tell me very much."
Doujima considered all this information, then gave Robin a very sharp look.
"So," Doujima said, "just what exactly were you two doing all that time you were together?"
Robin blushed, but declined to answer directly.
"Nothing," Robin said, with a slight smile. "Nothing worth talking about, anyway."
o x o x o
In fact, Amon was not in Europe at all, but rather back in Tokyo as well, conducting the last mission he ever planned to conduct on behalf of Solomon HQ. Having returned to Japan secretly, Amon was now watching the activities of his former colleagues covertly, gathering evidence that would (hopefully) convince Solomon HQ that STN-Japan was back on its feet and ready to be taken back into the Solomon fold. This wasn't work that Amon especially relished, but Amon's esteem for Father Juliano was such that he would not decline this last mission. Nor would he take it lightly, for he knew that some STN-J personnel (especially Sakaki and Doujima) could be lax in their field work, and he duly reported their blunders when he observed them.
Amon had another motivation too, though, which was darker and not so noble. Amon had tried to remain detached and professional as he moved with Robin from city to city in Europe...Milan, Paris, Brussels...but one night in Belgium he had come dangerously close to stepping over the line. They had been lying together in the single bed in the loft of an old house in Brussels when Robin began playing with his hair and caressing his face; Amon knew better, but he drew Robin closer to him, kissed her, then climbed on top of her...
If it weren't for the glimpse of Robin's cross he caught just then, he might have gone further. However, Amon contained himself and slept the rest of that night on the floor. Afterward, Amon was cold to Robin -- much as he had been when they first met -- and Robin was deeply hurt and confused by that. She loved Amon and desired to have him love her too. But in Amon's mind she was still a child, and he knew if he wasn't vigilant he would not be able to stop himself a second time. Amon loved Robin too, but many factors conspired against him telling her so; in addition to Robin's age, there was the fact that she was a craft user -- one step removed from the witches he despised -- and also the fact that he had promised to be her watchdog and guarantee that her powers didn't get out of hand. Only a detached and objective person could be a watchdog, and thus Amon could not let Robin know how he felt.
Still the feelings were there, and thus Amon relished the chance to watch Robin from afar after she returned to Japan. Amon told himself that he was only performing his mission, but he soon became obsessive, following Robin wherever she went, even when she was off-duty. At first Amon drew a perverse kind of solace from Robin's apparent sadness and loneliness, which seemed to confirm that she needed him at least as much as he needed her. But then one day he saw Robin with another man -- a man who met her in front of her apartment, put his arm around her and embraced her -- and he was furious. It would have been one thing if the fellow were even remotely well-groomed, but he was dressed in dirty jeans and a T-shirt, with tattoos all over his lanky body, and he had a mangy mop of hair that looked as if it hadn't been washed for years, if ever.
As Amon observed the two of them from the roof of a neighboring building, squinting into the eyepieces of his high-powered binoculars, one thought burned in his brain:
How dare he touch my Robin!
o x o x o
"Thank you, Iwamura-san," Robin said, as the lanky man put his arm around her. "I really appreciate you accepting my commission."
"Oh, you know I could never turn you down," Iwamura said, giving Robin an affectionate embrace. "You're so sweet!"
"You should be careful hugging me like that, though," Robin said with a smile. "One of your boyfriends might get jealous."
"A risk I shall have to take. So, are you ready to go to my studio?"
As Robin walked with Iwamura, she was once again astounded by her good fortune; she had wanted to give Amon something meaningful as a gift when she saw him next -- something that would let him know how she felt about him without embarrassing him -- but she was at a loss until Doujima introduced her to Iwamura at a party at her home. Despite his shabby appearance, Iwamura was both kind and discerning, and he was instantly fascinated by Robin's enigmatic and timeless beauty.
"I've never seen anyone quite like you," Iwamura had said to Robin. "Will you let me paint you?"
"Me?" Robin had asked. "But I'm not beautiful."
"Of course you're beautiful!" Doujima had said, framing Robin's face in her hands. "Isn't she beautiful, Iwamura-san?"
"Yes," Iwamura had said. "Let me make you a proposition; if you let me paint you, you can keep the canvas afterward. You can even give it to your boyfriend if you like."
"But I don't have a boyfriend..." Robin had said, before noticing Doujima's amused look. "Doujima, what have you been telling Iwamura-san?"
"Well, you can always give it to Amon," Doujima had replied. "I'm sure he'd appreciate it."
It seemed crazy at the time -- the thought of sitting for a portrait -- but Iwamura eventually convinced Robin to give in; it turned out that Iwamura's studio was not far from Robin's new apartment, so she stopped in several times after work to watch him work on other portraits, and was fascinated to see how he observed the most subtle nuances of detail in his subjects. It wasn't long before they were good friends, and Robin finally agreed to let Iwamura paint her -- on the condition that she be allowed to pay him. Iwamura reluctantly agreed, but Robin wasn't aware that the 50,000 yen he charged her was much less than the typical cost for one of his portraits.
o x o x o
For days, Amon watched Robin leaving her home to join Iwamura; he would come to meet her after work, they would walk together to his studio, then they would spend hours together in his studio...
Amon soon learned everything there was to know about Iwamura from his sources on the street: 36-years old, Kenji Iwamura had recently become a darling of Tokyo's art crowd with his stylized portraits, but his heart was decidedly in the gutter where he'd come from. The son of a Korean prostitute and an unknown father, Iwamura had spent most of his teen years in youth detention facilities, and later graduated to adult prison after being arrested for heroin smuggling. Supposedly he found religion in prison -- as well as an aptitude for art -- but Amon's sources said he still made most of his money selling drugs, often to the children of the very clients who paid 100,000 to 300,000 yen for his portraits.
But what in the world did he want with Robin? He was known to be homosexual, but maybe he swung the other way as well...
Day after day,a single thought simmered in Amon's brain: somehow this vermin had seduced Robin, and there was no telling how he might be hurting her. When Iwamura and Robin met in local restaurants, Iwamura smoked and drank openly in front of Robin, so it wasn't hard to imagine what the sleazy Iwamura might be doing with Robin in his studio: maybe he started off by introducing Robin to hard liquor, then introduced her to marijuana, then worked his way up to his favored heroin...
Finally, one day, Amon could take no more of wondering what this degenerate creep was doing to Robin. While Robin was still at work, and Iwamura was out of his studio, Amon broke into the studio with an eye toward finding the stash of drugs that Iwamura almost certainly kept there...
o x o x o
"This should be the last sitting," Iwamura said to Robin, as they approached the front door of his studio. "'About time,' you're thinking, right?"
"Actually, I've enjoyed it," Robin replied with a smile. "I can't wait to see what the finished picture will look like."
"I know I won't want to part with it," Iwamura said, "but I'll still have the studies I did for the main painting to remember you by."
"Well, it's not like we'll stop being friends," Robin said. "I have so few friends, I like to look after the ones I have..."
Iwamura nodded, and was just about to reach for the door handle when Robin stopped him.
"Wait," Robin whispered. "There's somebody in there."
"Are you sure?"
Robin nodded; she had seen a shadowy figure moving through a window as they approached, and her craft was tingling too, the way it often did when a witch was nearby.
"Get back," Robin said to Iwamura, pushing him back from the door. "Let me handle this."
"Shouldn't you call for backup or something?" asked Iwamura (who only knew that Robin's work was somehow government-related).
Robin responded by putting a finger to her lips, suggesting that Iwamura keep quiet, then slipped through the door and into the interior of the studio.
Immediately, Robin was appalled; whereas Robin respectfully took her shoes off when she entered the studio, the intruder had kept his on and tracked dirt all over the hardwood floor. But what was worse, the intruder had rifled through boxes of Iwamura's art supplies and knocked over unfinished paintings like some kind of petty thief, showing no respect for the artist whatsoever. Even before Robin came to the main studio where her unfinished portrait sat on its easel, her blood was burning was anger; the intruder was still in there, she knew, and she wasn't about to let him go unpunished.
As a precaution, Robin turned the corner with her craft already displayed: a dancing ball of fire between her upraised hands. But it wasn't a witch she found in front of her portrait, but rather Amon.
"Amon...?" Robin said, dispelling her craft. "What are you doing here?"
Amon did not answer, however; after a fruitless search of the studio, he had come upon this portrait several minutes before, and he was still too stunned to move after all that time. Thoughtful and pensive, Robin's green eyes gazed out of a portrait brutal in its honesty -- recording the minor scars and blemishes of a teenaged girl's face -- but beautiful and graceful as well, revealing Robin's true self in a way that even a photograph could not. Even Robin, who had not seen the picture this complete yet, was astonished by what she saw.
"I've been watching you," Amon said (still facing away from Robin); "I thought you were in danger..."
"Danger? From what?"
"Iwamura is a bad man," Amon said with a hollow voice; "didn't you know?"
"Was it you who knocked over all these paintings? Why?"
"I was worried about you," Amon said in a small voice. "I thought you were in danger..."
All at once, Robin understood what was happening; she had had a feeling she was being watched in recent days, but she had put that down to the persistent paranoia that was natural for a hunter. Now she realized the truth, though; Amon, who had treated her with such coldness in Europe, and spurned her gestures of love,was now stalking her in Japan!
"Amon," Robin said, in her own small voice, "this was supposed to be a present for you..."
Amon continued to look away, and Robin felt the rage grow inside her once again.
"Damn it, Amon!" Robin said, enveloping her entire body in flames; "look at me when I'm talking to you!"
Before Robin even knew what was happening, a wall of fire poured forth from her body, lifting Amon off the ground and sending him flying face-first into the portrait on its easel (which collapsed) before sending him crashing into the far wall of the room. Amon was stunned by the impact, but fortunately he had the presence of mind to realize his coat was smoldering a moment later and took it off. Robin's portrait wasn't so lucky, though, for the canvas was now on fire, and already flames were devouring the image in its center.
For a moment, Robin thought the portrait was lost; still surrounded by flames, she would only compound the damage if she approached the canvas. But then Amon fell upon the portrait, smothering the flames with his coat, and Robin fell to her knees beside him as she dispelled her power once again.
"Amon," Robin said, with tears pouring from her eyes, "I love you. Why are you so cruel to me?"
"I don't know," Amon said, after a long moment. "Perhaps I'm just a bad man."
Robin's hands balled into fists, but the impetus to destroy was waning in her now; when she struck Amon on the back with her fists a moment later, the blows were more of frustration than of anger, and she soon collapsed atop him, shuddering as sobbing wracked her body.
It was thus that Iwamura found Robin and Amon a moment later; drawn by the commotion inside his studio (and the smell of fire), a horrified Iwamura fully expected to find his studio demolished when he came inside. However, the only significant damage was to the portrait now lying underneath Amon.
"Robin!" Iwamura said. "What happened? Who is this guy?"
"Pardon me, sir," Amon said, after a long moment, "but I'm...Robin's boyfriend. I believe this portrait was meant for me."
Iwamura lifted an eyebrow.
"Well, you're a little old for Robin-san, aren't you?"
"Perhaps," Amon said, finally rolling over underneath Robin, then lifting into a sitting position with Robin in his arms. He then glanced at the portrait -- which was torched all around its fringes, but otherwise intact -- and spoke to Iwamura again.
"Robin's portrait seems to be damaged," Amon said, "but I would still like to keep it if you're willing to part with it. Would 300,000 yen be enough to compensate you for the mess I've made?"
Iwamura smiled, and moved to pick up the portrait.
"I think I'd be willing to let it go," Iwamura said; "it was meant to be yours, after all. However, I wonder if you could do me a favor if I let you have it."
"Perhaps you could be nicer to Robin. She really is a very nice girl, after all, despite all she's been through."
"That's certainly true," Amon said, looking down at Robin. "I'd venture to say a man like me isn't worthy of a girl like Robin."
Robin looked up at Amon, and a long silent moment followed as they looked at each other. Iwamura, in the meantime, scooped up the picture and took it into an adjacent room to clean it up, leaving Robin and Amon alone together.
"I think I'll have to make amends with Iwamura-san later," Amon said; "but in the meantime, might I walk you home, Robin-san? And perhaps tomorrow we can both go back to Raven's Flat together."
Despite her tears, Robin managed a half-smile and nodded. A moment later, she pushed herself to her feet, then Amon stood, slipped his singed coat back on, and put an arm around Robin.
"I guess I'm not very good to you," Amon said, "am I?"
"No," Robin said, "you're just you. But you is good enough for me. You is all I've ever wanted."