A/N: Hello, everyone. I'm so sorry it took so long for me to update. I assure you I haven't forgotten about this fic. Every so often, I pull it up on Word and tap out a few paragraphs thinking "hey, I should update, shouldn't I?" and occasionally a page or two comes out. Like now. I'm not gonna promise that I'll update again soon, but I will promise this…someday I'll finish this fic. It's all in my head. It just needs to be written. As usual, C/C is wanted and accepted. Thank you very much for reading. It means a lot.

Chapter Five: Musings and Conversations

After the confrontation with Venom, Millia had snapped at the nearest waitress to inform Ky that she was returning to the Headquarters. She felt bad, of course, for being so crass with the poor girl, but she was far too miserable to apologize. All she wanted was to shut herself away somewhere without any possibility of intrusion, and at the moment, all she had was her chamber in the French manor.

Without returning the salutations of the many guards around her once she made it there, she climbed the carpeted, marble staircase, strode angrily down the decorated hallway, and entered her chamber. After she slammed and locked the doors behind her, she threw herself upon her mattress and buried her face in her pillows, closing her eyes tightly in a vain attempt to quell the sudden throbbing in her temples. She pointed her toes, and concentrated on the sensation of her calf muscles stretching.

At least I have something to live for.

The words echoed tauntingly in her head, like some cruel mantra, and the mere memory of them made her cheeks grow hot with shame. She was angry with herself. She was angry for letting her temper get a hold her, in a public place and in front of Ky, who despite his attempts at informality was still her employer. Not only that, but it frustrated her to no end that she was allowing Venom's words to perturb her so.

Let it go, the Voice of Reason whispered urgently. He's said worse.

At least there was truth in that.

A sharp knocking at her door interrupted her thoughts. Millia nearly growled with aggravation, but settled for a deep frown that made her appear years older than she actually was. She should have at least informed the sentries that she wished to be left alone, before shutting herself in.

"Yes?" she called, her voice even and betraying none of her inner turmoil. "Who is it?"

"It's Ky."

Damn it.

Millia clenched her left hand into a tight fist. It was downright idiotic of her to leave Cloudberry's restaurant like that. She had abandoned her responsibilities. This was probably the end of the line for her.

But, she thought in retrospect, did she really care? Did she honestly mind that she was most likely fired from a hopeless, fundless corporation such as the International Police Force?

No.

No, she didn't.

"Am I needed?" she inquired tiredly, not bothering to apologize for her actions.

There was a brief pause. Oddly enough, Millia made no attempt at guessing what it was he was doing or thinking about. She just…she just didn't care.

"No, you're not needed. I just wanted to know if you were all right, is all."

What?

Oh, this was strange. For a moment, Millia had no idea how to react. Was he joking? If he was, it wasn't a very funny jest. Normal employers didn't want to know if their employees were all right. Zato sure as hell didn't. In fact, he was quite the opposite and condoned emotion of any sort. But, then again, Zato didn't exactly fall under the "normal" category. And one had to lack emotion, to be part of the Assassin's Guild.

"I'm fine," she said lamely, flustered. She was caught off-guard, and she didn't like it. She especially didn't like why he was beating around the bush. Why wasn't he just firing her already?

"No you're not," he said. "If Millia Rage loses her cool in front of people and slams a man into a table, she's most certainly not fine."

"Who are you to judge me?" she snapped, before she could stop herself. She immediately regretted the statement as soon as she said it, but thankfully, Ky didn't say anything in reply. Had she struck him silent? She raised her head up from the nest of pillows and peered curiously at the closed door as if she had the ability to see through it, to him.

"I'm sorry," she said. "That was rude."

"Oh, it's not a problem," Ky replied. "I was actually hoping you'd start ranting at me, really. You know, get your problem off your chest? Want me to come in? We can talk."

Millia narrowed her eyes. No…he wasn't serious. He couldn't have been serious. Rant at him? If he was serious, he was mad.

"That's not necessary," she mumbled.

"I think it is, though," he replied, very much to her frustration. "Because if I'm guessing correctly-and I believe I am-you're sitting in there by yourself, sulking and trying to find ways to blame yourself for your own emotions."

She was struck silent. He couldn't read minds, could he?

"That's what I thought. Now, if you want me to stand outside here all night, I will. But I'm not leaving you alone until you tell me what's wrong."

The implications were horrifying. Millia jolted to a sitting position.

"You're joking," she said.

"Nope," he replied.

"You ought to be joking," she said in response, her voice dripping with threat.

"I know," he said, calmly. "But think of it this way. If you insist on keeping the doors shut, it'll almost be like talking to walls. Just…the walls will talk back to you."

She sighed. If it weren't so high up, she would have contemplated jumping out the window. But, as she couldn't, and as she was in no mood to try to find some kind of escape, she merely surrendered.

"Very well," she muttered.

"Good," Ky said. "Now…what's wrong?"

Was he really being that blunt? Millia cringed. How was she possibly supposed to answer that quickly? There were so many things that were wrong, she had no idea where to even start.

"I…" she said awkwardly, and trailed off.

"Who was that man?" Ky asked softly.

Now that was easier to answer.

"Venom," she nearly whispered. "We were close once, in the Assassin's Guild."

She swallowed hard. "That was a long time ago. Our master, Zato..."

He was listening to her.

The realization made her cringe, and her voice trailed as she regarded the closed door in front of her. He hadn't gone away, but he wasn't interrupting, either. And he was definitely there. It wasn't just instinctual knowledge borne from years of being an assassin, either, she just knew.

She couldn't finish her sentence. She was far too perplexed. Why did he care?

"Am I fired?" she asked instead of continuing.

There was another silence, this one decidedly shorter. And then…he laughed.

Even as Millia bit down hard on the insides of her cheeks to suppress succumbing to embarrassed idiosyncrasies, she couldn't help but smile, at least a little bit. There was something vibrant about his laughter, a surge of youth and vivaciousness that she couldn't help but appreciate.

"Of course you're not fired," he said. "I couldn't afford it even if I wanted to."

She raised her head up from the pillows slowly, and just as slowly, she crept off the bed and tiptoed stealthily towards the door, her hand twitching, hesitating at the handle. Should she open it? No. That would be unpractical.

"Mr. Kiske…" she began.

"Yes?" he queried.

Her facial features softened, the worry lines in her forehead and around her eyes fading away, revealing the visage of a beautiful young woman.

"Goodnight," she said.

"Goodnight, Miss Rage. If you need anything, let me know."

Retreating footsteps.

Millia closed her eyes, letting her fingers run over the door, focusing her entire being on the texture of the wood.

"Maybe I should take you up on that," she whispered.

Silence. She turned the light off and went to sleep.