Hidden Thorns

Hidden Thorns

Chapter Five

By Bottou-chan

Author's Note: I decided to portray a more serious Neon than I usually do. ;o) For the first time in a while, she's not going berserk from being around a certain rasta-braided freak. (Yeah, it was tough, not mentioning him. ^_^) But, due to the nature of her work, this fic is rated R. If you skip Ch. 4, it's just PG or PG-13. Comments?

The next day, I was in Kurei's study. I handed back the photos of the former Oonishi Eisaku. "Mission completed," I said unemotionally.

Kurei looked at me from behind his mask.. "Hn."

It was a prod for additional information.

"It seems that someone had planted a bomb… there was quite a nasty hole blown in the side of the building. The counting-room was directly beneath the room we were in, so the members of the Oonishi gang probably think it was an attempt on the money, rather than on Eisaku's life."

"I shall send a letter to disillusion them, then," said Kurei, nodding his satisfaction.

I hesitated. "If you do that, you'll probably lose Kinjo," I said delicately. "It wouldn't be much of a stretch to deduce that both I and Kinjo were responsible."

"He's served his purpose," shrugged Kurei, slipping the photographs into a folder.

I opened my mouth as though to speak, and then closed it. It wouldn't do to argue.

But Kurei knew my feelings, anyways. "You're too emotional, Neon," he said dryly. "It's your shortcoming. You need to distance yourself from what goes on around you, so you are not unduly influenced by others."

I bowed my head. "Yes, sir," I murmured dutifully. I tried to be good at following his example, but there were times I failed. Especially times where he was concerned.

I wondered how someone as perceptive as Kurei could not know.

"Crush the weak," he advised. "Use them. Step on them. Kill them. But don't let them become your own weakness." He leaned back in his chair. "That's something my mother told me," he added, almost reflectively. "It's very true. I've never forgotten it."

I nodded obediently. Was he actually reminiscing in my presence? Or was he merely passing on information?

Obviously, he wasn't feeling verbose enough to continue the conversation. He gestured for me to leave. As I reached the door, he seemed to remember something.

"Oh yes—I need you to get with Raiha tonight. There's something I need him to show you."

My hand froze on the doorknob. I had little doubt as to what kind of instruction I was to expect later on. It gave me a sinking feeling, though… he was so cavalier about it.

Was I just a weak tool to be used until I was to be thrown away?

Obviously so. But I loved him… why didn't he… why couldn't I…?

"Yes, sir," I murmured obediently, and left, shutting the door gently behind me.

I was a fool.