Disclaimer: I do not own Black Lagoon.

Note: This is a work of fiction. You may find names here that exist in reality, but, if ever, they are purely coincidental. Mostly, elements of this story came from my imagination.

Part 1: Blood Festival

Chapter 1: Reload

Rock had changed. Walking briskly down one of the most crowded streets of New York City, in his business suit, eyes behind thick-rimmed, rectangular glasses, he looked like some politician. It was already seven-thirty. He needed to be in Mr. Robins' office at eight. He glanced at his watch and realized how late he already was. He ran through the crowd, cursing.

It was eight-o-five when he arrived at the Crest Bach Tower. He kept running until he reached the lobby. When he was there, he stopped for a while, looking around to find an available elevator. He saw one filled with people in business attires; some looking at their watches, reading broadsheets. Others were impatiently waiting for the door to close. He needed to catch it.

"Here goes nothing," he muttered. Then he sprinted towards the elevator.

The doors of the elevator started to close.

"Shit!" he hissed.

He increased his speed. Fortunately, before the doors closed, he managed to insert his arm between them. The doors parted. He forced his way through the passengers. He settled at the back.

He looked around. Everyone was indifferent to him. That was the business world, alright. Mind your own business. Actually, he was getting tired of it.

Some seconds later, the elevator reached the thirty-second floor.

He jogged his way to Mr. Robins' office. He passed through the "Prairie", as he affectionately called it—the area of desks, flat-screen monitors, balding men, and scowling women. Some workers greeted him, but most of them ignored him, especially the ones who coveted his position. He didn't care. Being lucky is seasonal. It was his season. However, it was now rapidly ending. Like today, if he didn't come up with a great alibi, his head would roll out of the building.

He reached the Office of the CEO.

"Alright, time to steel myself." He opened the door and entered in.

There was a man. The man's head was bald on top. The man was fat—and short—like Mr. Penguin in Batman. Geez, they look alike, Rock thought.

The man swiveled around, put his elbows on the desk, put his hands together, thumbs to the tip of his nose, and sighed.

"G-good morning, Mr. Robins," Rock said.

"Mr. Peter Lane," Mr. Robins said. "You are fifteen minutes late."

Rock could only sigh.

It was two in the afternoon, now. Rock had finished his tasks for the day faster by two hours. After the headache-inducing lecture Mr. Robins had given him, his brain had worked unusually faster. Now, he was planning to go grab a bite. He had yet to have lunch. He had deliberately missed it to show that he had been sincere on making it up to his boss. He started for Okinawa, his favorite restaurant. It was Japanese.

Rock walked in the little establishment that was situated in the "inside," a place no normal corporate guy would go into. There were a lot of customers, as usual. Seventy percent of them were Japanese, no children allowed. (Except when you have money. When you pay for it, children are not children.) Sixty percent of the whole were men. The remaining forty were women obviously attracted to him—he always saw the same faces, watching him as he walked to his seat. He walked by Omura, the bouncer who always had his katana on his belt.

"How are you, Omura?" he said.

"Fine," Omura snorted.

"Good."

He went to a table that was far from the window. He ordered a bowl of ramen, as usual.

Out on the street, a pretty, blonde girl was running. Her blue eyes reflected terror. The right sleeve of her dress had been torn, the side of her mouth was smeared with lipstick, and she had no shoes. While she ran, she simultaneously looked behind her and searched for some place to hide. She was obviously tired.

People she passed by just looked at her. No one wanted to care. Some even had contempt thrown at her. (Hey, a slut is running from her customers, again. Look! Look! ) It couldn't be helped. She looked like a prostitute with her attire.

She reached the crossing. The red light for the pedestrians was still on. She wished she could flick a wand at it and turn it green. She almost cried at the idea. Nervously, she peeked a glance behind her—not a sight of her pursuers—then back at the signal light, again.

"Come on, come on," she said, as she stomped at the pavement. She glanced behind her once more. Suddenly, her eyes widened. The two black men who had been pursuing her were already near. "Shit!"

"Fuck! There's the bitch!" she heard one yell.

"Holy…come on!" said the other.

The girl couldn't wait any longer. She took the right corner. When she reached another corner, she turned towards it. There she found the Okinawa restaurant. Her face brightened up. She rushed inside the small establishment.

Panting, she looked around. The place was filled with people, but only two heads cared to turn in her direction. Even Omura didn't mind. She looked for a table. Nothing was available. All had already been occupied. She tried another swift sweep. At the corner most part, the place far from the window, she found a table only a man was occupying. The man with the glasses looked kind. She decided to approach the table. As she came, the man slowly raised his head. She was astounded at how young he looked like despite the glasses and the suit. He looked like her age. And cute, she thought.

"Excuse me, can I sit here?" she asked.

The man hesitated for a while. Then he said, "Sure. Help yourself."

"Thank you."

While watching the man eat, her stomach grumbled. The man glanced up at her. She looked away, blushing.

Rock continued to eat. However, he didn't stop on observing her. Torn sleeve, smeared lipstick, and a restless expression—she surely was in an unfavorable situation. He decided not to get involved.

From the corner, Hidoshi, the over-all manager, came to his table.

"What is your order, ma'am?" Hidoshi asked.

"Uh…nothing. I'll leave soon," the girl said.

Hidoshi grimaced. "You're just here to kill time?"

"I'm sorry. Don't worry, I'll not be long."

"We accept beggars here as long as they have money. Sorry, this place is no waiting place for people who have none. Omura!"

The girl panicked. "Please give me even ten minutes!"

Omura came behind her. The big, emotionless man grasped her arm.

"Oh, please, mister," she pleaded, "even only for a while."

"No. This is business. You are disturbing my customers with your appearance. You don't have money so our policy can't protect you. Omura, throw her out!"

"Please, mister, just for ten minutes! I'll leave immediately afterwards. Please!"

"No!" Hidoshi waved at Omura to go on. Omura started to pull her away.

Rock got irritated by the commotion. "One bowl of ramen for her, Hidoshi. Let her go, Omura."

Hidoshi's expression changed in an instant. "Now, that's better. Omura, let her go."

Omura promptly obeyed. He let the girl go and walked back to his post as if nothing had happened. The girl just stood crying where Omura had left her.

"How about you, Mr. Lane?" Hidoshi asked, grinning.

"Just get the goddamn food, okay?" he said.

Hidoshi panicked. "Y-yes, yes, Mr. Lane! Hey, one Okinawa ramen! Make it fast! Y-you'll have your order soon, sir. Excuse me." He walked away, hastily.

Rock sighed. "Please, miss, have a seat."

She didn't move. Why would she? She should not trust anyone so easily. She didn't know what this man was planning. What if he asked for something in return, something like—

Her thoughts were interrupted when the man suddenly stood up. She wanted to step back but she couldn't. He was emitting a strong gravitational pull towards her. The hairs on her body stood up when he held her hand. She was sure she was blushing, so sure about it she wanted to snatch away her hand and shrink in embarrassment. Her heart was making her throat dry. Oh, God, she wanted to faint. Who was this man? How could he make her feel like that? Could he be the devil? The king of deception?

As she was being led by the stranger, she got into a conclusion. Yeah. This was what my grandma used to tell me. When you are feeling uneasy with a stranger, look behind him. Make sure there is no tail. If there's none, then you're in a state called infatuation.

To be continued…