As The Moon Sees It
The Programmer


Italy:

The first sign of trouble was when Sanosuke did not answer his phone. Although the oaf was known for being scattered brained after one too many fights, he always made sure to pick up his cell phone. The next sign was the loud banging on the door of his one room flat. The last one, the one that sealed the deal, was a group of men breaking down his door. A few stepped in while the rest hung back, waiting. Every last one of them held a weapon they had every intention of using.

The flat was dark, its sole source of illumination coming from a desk cluttered with several computer monitors. At the desk sat a scrawny teenager, his back facing the intruders. "So this is how it's going to happen." He murmured, reaching out to his keyboard and tapping a set of keys.

"Are you Yahiko Myoujin?" The largest out of the group asked in German, his dialect particularly rough. Just his size and voice alone made him an intimidating individual. Never mind the metal baseball bat he had a death grip on. The man was expecting tears, silence, or even begging. He was not expecting a condescending snort of laughter.

The teenager swiveled around in his chair, for the first time facing the men. Being a close friend to somebody who lived in Germany presented many opportunities to learn the German language. However, Yahiko responded in Italian with, "Wouldn't you feel rather foolish if I wasn't?" He was either a particularly brave or stupid individual and turned back to his computer screens, choosing to ignore the danger that was in the room with him.

"What'd you say?" The man, clearly not well traveled or educated, snarled so viciously that the scar on his chin stretched into a pearly white streak. "Don't turn away from me, you damn kid." He growled, lumbering forward with a fist outstretched and ready to inflict damage.

In one fluid and swift movement, Yahiko spun in his chair and slapped the hand away. "Don't call me a kid." He sneered. "I'm more of a man than any of you low life pawns will ever be." His chocolate brown eyes were fixed on the whole group, disgust clear as day shining through them.

The man's face began to form red blotches as the humiliation of having a kid deflect his move set in. "You piece of shit!" He yelled, lunging forward again with a clenched fist.

Yahiko ducked, allowing the man to fly over his back from his own momentum where he then fell onto the desk. The teen had no time to congratulate himself or mourn the loss of a few very expensive computer monitors before a metal chain soared past his head in a large and lethal arc. He immediately dropped to the ground, cursing under his breath. In the blink of an eye he kicked out at the leg of the closest person and stood in one flowing movement.

When Yahiko's eyes scanned the room to take in the situation, he realized with a certain amount of dread that the other members of the gang had already formed a circle around him, blocking any chance of escape. The boy's intelligent eyes swung around wildly to keep as many of the men in sight as possible. He was tensed, ready for their next move.

There was a strong shove from behind that sent Yahiko reeling forward, unable to correct his balance in time to remain standing. The next thing Yahiko knew, a dark streak flew toward his face from out of the corner of his eyes. He was unable to stop the boot as it connected with the side of his head.

The boy's vision exploded into white before quickly fading into black. When he regained his vision, bright spots danced across the room and the laughter of the men was distorted in such ways it made his head hurt even more. Yahiko was aware that a couple of men stepped forward, but he was too far stunned from the initial kick to feel the subsequent ones. All he could manage was to let out an unintelligible sound every time a kick landed on some unguarded part of his body.

"Stupid brat." A German hissed, spitting on the floor right beside Yahiko's head.

"Hey! We have the computer." One called out from the other end of the room just outside Yahiko's line of sight.

The man with the ugly scar stepped up to the computer, fingers hovering above the keys. "Let's see if Sagara had his information straight." He chortled, slowly tapping in a password at the login screen.

Through the pain, Yahiko managed to piece together a single thought: Sanosuke set me up. The wrenching pain of betrayal coursed its way through his body, managing to steal a breath from the boy he thought he no longer had. His side protested at the violent movement, causing tears to well up in the corners of his eyes. This bit of knowledge was far worse than any injuries he just sustained.

He needed a distraction. He needed to escape. Now.

"It won't let me log in." The man at the computer glared murderously at the bright screen.

Another stepped forward. "Maybe you typed the password in wrong." Some others moved forward, all at once blurting out their suggestions, moving toward the computer and away from Yahiko.

More and more of the men standing guard over him stepped over, or on, his crumpled form in order to get a closer look at the computer that still refused to grant them access. Yahiko's heart was pounding so hard inside his chest that he could hear it in his own ears. Now. Now is the time.

Hastily, ignoring the sharp pain in his side, he pushed himself off the floor and ran out the door, dodging the hands that were trying to grab a hold of him. He did not turn back around, not even as angry shouts followed him through the hallways of the rundown apartment building.

He needed a place to hide. Immediately.

(-)

Japan:

All day long Megumi was running back and forth throughout the entire bureau building. Most of today's paperwork came from reports over the man previously known as Aleksandr Jakov. The reports all had consistent stories of how the unfortunate man had managed to find his way to the roof and, due to heavy intoxication, fell to an untimely death. The papers that didn't concern the Russian were about one of the bureau's main programmers who was in need of a temporary holding point.

At one point during the day, Megumi's cell phone went off. She had heard it ring once, glanced at it to identify the number before promptly turning it on silent so she could continue with her work uninterrupted. By the time Megumi was ready to go home for the day, her cell phone was flooded with voice messages from an irate Kaoru.

"Megumi. Pick up the damn phone."

Beep.

"I have very good reason to believe that someone is after me."

Beep.

"You know, this is classified as an emergency."

Beep.

"If I die, you are not welcome at my funeral."

Beep.

"For your information, I don't like your secretary. She's too uptight. Not exactly that understanding. Either…"

Megumi snapped her cell phone shut and slipped it into her long coat's pocket. Sighing, she stepped into the elevator and selected the bottom floor, eying the blinking numbers above her. Three… Two… She counted to herself. As the doors opened to reveal the front lobby, Megumi immediately caught sight of Kaoru who was busy sending glares in the direction of the front desk clerk.

Heading across the foyer, high heeled shoes announcing her approach, Megumi discreetly caught Kaoru's eye before walking out the front door of the bureau. Remembering that one of the messages was about Kaoru being followed, Megumi knew direct contact in such an open space was unwise.

Outside, cars drove by, honking at pedestrians who walked out in front of them. The sounds of everyday life in the city surrounded Megumi, but she took little notice. She continued down the sidewalk right outside the bureau, absentmindedly taking turns at intersections when she saw it fit. Distance was what mattered, not necessarily location. Not once did Megumi look over her shoulder, nor did she need to in order to know Kaoru was still tagging along at a safe distance.

A very small, well known bus stop came into sight and Megumi found herself walking toward it, waving at the bus that was just beginning to pull away from the curb. There were few places to sit when Megumi stepped on the bus so she grabbed one of the dangling handles and looked out the window. The bus lurched forward before continuing at a slug's pace down the road. As it began to gain speed, the roar of the engine drowned out all noise in the shuttle.

"Who's been following you?" Megumi asked, keeping her head down so other passengers would be unable to read her lips clearly.

Behind her was the rustling of clothes and then a quiet, "I never said I knew who it was." Kaoru turned her back to Megumi so onlookers would only see the two of them as complete strangers sharing a bus ride.

"Don't answer your phone and don't call anyone." Megumi whispered, just loud enough for Kaoru to hear. She felt the bus slowing down and knew that there was another stop shortly ahead. Quickly reaching into an inner pocket of her coat, Megumi pulled out a card with neatly handwritten inscriptions on it. Again there was another lurch from the bus as it came to a stop to let awaiting people on and off. Using the lurch as cover for her action, Megumi brushed backs with Kaoru and pushed the card into her jean pocket.

As people began to swarm onto the bus, Megumi let go of the handle and fought her way off the bus, stepping out into the cool evening air.

Stay safe, Kaoru. She prayed to herself, hailing a cab over to take her home.

(-)

Kaoru stayed on the bus for a few more stops before getting off. She followed the simple instructions on the card and eventually found herself standing in front of a door to an apartment on the top floor of Tokyo's most prestigious condominiums. According to the last bulleted note, the key was at the end of the hall, taped to the underside of a potted plant. It only took a minute to find it and unlock the door to the apartment.

It was dark, but Kaoru was able to make out the basic layout of the room and came to the conclusion that it was rather larger in size. She stepped further inside, closing and locking the door behind her. Automated lights turned on when she took yet another step into the room. Kaoru's blue eyes drank in her surroundings as they adjusted to the sudden change of lighting.

Never had she expected her safe house to have a fifty two inch flat screen or a party bar. What was even better was the large display of various weapons on the back wall. Where had Megumi placed her exactly?

Curious, but above that, tired, Kaoru went to seek out a bedroom where she could finally get some sleep. The ride over here had been long since an abstract route was taken to ensure any pursuers were shaken off Kaoru's trail. Now, three hours after having talked with Megumi, the moon was high in the sky and Kaoru's body was protesting any further movement.

The first door Kaoru opened revealed a well furnished bathroom. Kaoru gazed longingly at the deep tub, but decided that her bath could wait until morning. She was much more successful in her search with the second room she chose, gratefully discovering it to be a larger bedroom. Not waiting to turn on the light and get situated or even undress, Kaoru walked to the bed and fell onto its soft covers. She was asleep in a matter of minutes.

Half past four in the morning, Kaoru awoke to the sound of loud banging on the front door of the apartment. Grogginess pushed aside, she got out of the bed and headed into the main living area to where the display case of weapons stood. The pounding on the door continued, shaking the door with its force. She would need to pick a weapon she was familiar with.

Her eyes landed on the smooth wooden surface of a bokken. Kaoru snatched it up into her hands just as someone began to yell through the door.

"Open up!"

Quietly, Kaoru walked up to the door, bokken steady in her grip. She peered through the peep hole and spotted a disheveled teenager, his arm crudely wrapped in what appeared to be a bath towel. He stood before the door in a state of agitation. He reached up with the arm that was not in the makeshift sling and once again banged on the door.

"I know someone's in there." He shouted, unafraid of having anyone hear him. This floor only had one other condo rented out, but he beyond caring about any attention he might be drawing to himself. "I need to get inside."

Kaoru silently unlocked the door and stepped back. The teen pushed open the door just as soon as she had unlocked it and quickly turned around to put the locks back in place. "Shit." He murmured, uninjured hand still resting on the door's handle. The lights in the apartment stayed off, but his eyes became quickly adjusted.

When he turned, he came face to face with the tip of Kaoru's bokken.

To the best of his abilities with one wounded arm, he lifted his hands into the air to show he meant no harm. The weapon didn't move an inch and Kaoru's eyes only narrowed in suspicion.

"Megumi sent me." He stated, sure that was probably the only thing that would convince the woman to allow him the time of day to explain his sudden appearance. When the bokken did not move, he continued. "I needed a place to stay and she gave me this card," he spoke quickly, eyes grimacing as he bent to the side to retrieve an item from his front pocket, producing the same card Kaoru had been handed earlier, "but the key wasn't in the right place so I knocked on the door." He finished, holding up the card in front of him.

Kaoru looked down at the shorter boy. He had ink black hair and dark, tired brown eyes that were set within a tanned face covered with bruises and cuts. He was young, probably no older than fifteen, Kaoru judged. "I don't believe you." She challenged with a hard voice.

He gave an exasperated sigh. "Look, lady. I don't care what you do or do not believe at the moment." He growled as he slapped some bangs that dropped in front of his eyes out of his face. "I just got the hell knocked out of me, as you can clearly see," he motioned toward his arm, "and just got off a long plane ride from Italy. I would like to get some sleep and was told I could get that here."

Cautious, but more convinced of his sincerity, Kaoru let the bokken's tip drop from the teen's face. "You don't sound Italian." She remarked off handedly as she turned to head back to the room she came from. "Let me make something clear before you try anything foolish… See this bokken?" She asked, lifting the weapon up the slightest bit. "I know how to use it. Well." Her eyes flashed with a silent threat before she finally left the younger one to his on devices to find somewhere to sleep.

(-)

Kaoru shortly found out that her nerves were wide awake and refused to let her sleep, especially when after she heard the boy call and then talk to someone named Sagara. She couldn't hear most of what was discussed as his conversation was short before he angrily hung up, however she managed to hear the words 'betray' and 'computer' used repeatedly before the apartment finally fell silent. Kaoru found herself listening attentively for any noise coming from the other room. There was a slight rustle of blankets being rearranged and then a quiet hiss of pain.

Concerned, but still wary of the stranger, Kaoru pushed aside the idea of asking him if he needed any help with anything. His story had yet to be verified and although Kaoru generally liked to believe in the better half of man, she found herself tensing with any sound he made. For a few minutes an edgy stillness hung over the room as guilt gnawed away at her insides, demanding for her to speak up. Kaoru gave in as soon as she heard another groan of pain.

"Are you alright, kid?"

"Don't call me a kid, damnit." The younger of the two snapped back.

"Well you are one, aren't you?" She answered back, annoyed.

"Well, I don't go around calling you ugly even though you clearly are, do I?" His voice was just laced full of biting sarcasm.

Ignoring him, Kaoru rolled over onto her other side under the soft sheets. "How mature of you." She sighed. "Good night, kid." She called out, finally closing her eyes.

"Don't call me a kid, ugly!"


Well, that's all for this chapter. No big cliff hanger here. Does anybody else have a hard time uploading things? Half of the breaks in my story don't show up... How bothersome.

Luv,

K