A/N: Sorry to say, the rating's due to Badou's mouth. Apparently I'm much better at getting inside the guys in DOGS' heads than in Naoto. Probably because her thoughts would be boring. Unbeta'd.

Like The Old Movies

You know, I don't get the way the world nowadays works.

You'd think that after we've saved humanity—or whatever sick piece of it is left—from dying at the hands of some crazy fucks—no offence to Haine, who comes from that family—they'd, I don't know, give us a break? Just a little paid vacation to some breezy, sunny island (that isn't infected by some plague-virus or whatever). Lay back, put your feet on the table, sip on a fucking cocktail and let this gorgeous tall blonde (with big boobs, because I'm a breast man, to be honest) give you a full-body massage with hazel-flavoured oil (to name one). Completely naked. Oh yeah, that'd be the life.

But fuck if we're getting it. Hell no, Badou, you haven't been skewered up well enough to deserve a vacation. What's this shit about almost losing your head and an arm? You always almost lose something. Next time, try losing yourself.

Ah, fuck'em. I know that's what they're thinking, anyway. Bunch of workaholic idiots the lot of them. Tranny and Haine're all "Yeah, so now that we've eliminated the entire DOG family, how's about we get into freelance for the mob?" while Bishop's giggling some fake shit about "Repenting! Redemption! Chastity!" to his church-going sheep; meanwhile in the back, he's brandishing that creepy-ass sword of his and killing so many sinners that God should give him some place up in Heaven as a saint. Saint Bishop. Or maybe Saint Terminator, 'cause he is sorta like one, and it sounds way cooler than Ernest. Earnest my ass. Only one who's safe from this bullshittery is Nill, sweet lil' girl. Feel kinda sorry for her, poor thing, loving that undeserving bastard Haine. Girl like her, she'd be better away from guys like us (and I say guys, because Naoto's not a girl, yeah?); but then again, before Haine got her out of the shithole she was trapped in, she was worse, so who knows, maybe we are saints?

I find it funny to see how there's one, just one person that manages to wrap both Haine and Naoto around their finger with one flutter of her wings. I really think she's their angel, in a way, you know? Haine's started to quit cursing in the Church as much because it makes Nill frown, and Naoto's been coming to me to teach her how to sew, because she doesn't want to be the cause of Nill's bloody fingers. I don't think those two—Haine and Naoto—are capable of love; I mean, not the 'lay you down on a bed of roses and have my way with your body' type of love, hell no. They're more like 'so here's a wall, let's fight against it and let it turn into sex'—and hey, I've seen worse kinks, so to be honest, that's kind of hot; but anyway. What I mean is, I don't know if they'll ever meet someone who they'll be able to wake up to one morning and say "I love you, baby"—the thought of Haine saying that makes me want to crack up, or throw up, I don't know. They're just not made for that shit. Haine's ability to love was ripped out of his system with Lucy, and Naoto…well, fuck if I know, it's like she's still made of stone, even after killing her enemies. But what I'm trying to say is, even if they most likely never tell someone those three words, they do love Nill. Not in the lust-filled way—at least, I don't think so, but what do I know—but they care about her a whole fucking lot. Which makes them capable of some affection.

Sure as hell doesn't mean they'll be merciful with the rest of the world, though.

-----

Okay, so back to the merciless sons of bitches that live in this world. Here I am, two days fresh out of Mimi's improvised hospital bed, and I get hauled up to the old lady. A job, she says. Why certainly! It's not like I have a bullet-hole in my left ass-cheek that needs to heal, lady, so why the fuck not give me a job now? Spy on the new gang? Yeah, I'll do that, with a fuckin' smile.

Fuck, it's not like I complain much—wait, yes I do. But either way, a job's a job and the money pays for the vice—sorry, brother, still can't quit smoking; someone's gonna kill me one day anyway, figured I'd get ahead of them bastards. Still. They could've at least let me have a few days off before this fiasco. Oh well, a reporter's gotta go wherever he's sent.

-----

So apparently, this new gang's in the Underground. Fuck yeah, lady, you sure know how to hand out those safe and sound types of jobs. As it is, I'm not qualified to fight those bitches if shit hits the fan, so I need a bodyguard. Since Mihai's not all up and about yet—hey, we've all had bruises, eh?—I'm taking the next reliable person around.

Haine? Well, I said reliable. So I was thinking, after the boss told me to get myself a bodyguard, who's reliable enough to spend a few days incognito with me in the Underground? Someone fearless and fierce if needed, but someone who won't do something stupid like shoot people up if they get bored. Also, someone totally not hot, because I'm there to work, not drool after a pair of tits, and—well. You know.

So I picked Naoto. I don't think she liked my decision, though the Bishop suggested that it might've been because I called her an 'unhot tranny who won't lead me down the way of sinning'—hey, I was in a Church, this vocabulary sticks with you, okay? And I was only being honest! What did she expect, a praise to her awesome, awesome skill of looking like a man in a dress? So yeah, I don't think she liked my picking her, but all it took was Nill fluttering her wings and looking up at her with puppy eyes, and Naoto said yes.

"She's got you so whipped, man," I told her. Now I know she didn't appreciate that comment, because she kicked my ass—seriously, sword smacked my ass exactly where the bullet hit! So unsexy, the bitch.

After much whining (my side), much glaring (all Naoto), and much laughing from Bishop, Nill (aw!) and Haine (idiot), I told Naoto what to pack for this week, and the deal's on.

-----

What I realize now is that Naoto isn't a statue because she's a cold, unfeeling bitch, but because she was raised this way. Like Haine was trained to be an animal in a way, or like I taught myself to smoke in loving memory of my brother. Guess it's moments like these that get you to thinking about who your friends really are. How they are. And if they're really friends.

It's our first day in this little Underground apartment. Let me clarify that, because I don't think one room, one bed, one electric gas stove and one bathroom makes this shithole room worthy of the definition "apartment". Anyway. It's our first day here, and we've talked the total of five or six words. Correction—I talked my ass off, Naoto's the one with little words. All she's done was answer yes or no when I told her I'm taking the bed—yes, she'll take the armchair, and you can call me an unfeeling bastard, but I am not sharing a bed with her! And I'm the reporter here, so I have to be well rested!—, and when I told her I'll cook, since I doubt she can do that, in exchange. We unpacked our measly little things, settled in and made the shithole a little homier.

Let me explain that too. Naoto's toothbrush and a bar of white soap is in the bathroom, right next to my toothbrush, my toothpaste, my shampoo, my razor, my… Yeah, okay, so either I'm better groomed, or she's way too modest. Not going to think about Naoto using that bar of soap on all her body, because that'd mean getting into a mess worse than I could handle. Her clothes are all neatly placed on the right side of the armchair, and her boots are on the left side: she has two dresses, the coat and— I hope—underwear and socks, and only one pair of boots—and yet they don't stink! How do girls do that? Mystery, file it under A for Aliens. I've shoved my clothes in one of the night-table's drawers, and my job gear in the other one. The scabbard of her sword is leaning on one side of the armchair, and Naoto, sitting down, is polishing the katana with care.

The silence is killing me, and I figure, hey, we're going to be in here for a while, so let's chat. It'll be like a guy's night in, but without beer, pizza, or Haine threatening to shove a bullet down my throat. So, talking. I can do that; good thing about being a reporter, or better said, the good thing about having lived with my bro is that I learned how to charm people. Yeah, I know you're saying "So where's the charm?". Well, fuck you too! I try, okay? That's more than I can say about these idiots. Except for Nill, who can't talk, and is cute while silent too.

I talk. "Who gave you that?" I ask, pointing to the sword in her hands.

Naoto looks up at me for one moment, not stopping in her job—does she realise that she's giving that sword the equivalent of a handjob? Damn—and raises one eyebrow.

"Oh, right. That Fuyumine guy, right?" I add, because, good job, Badou. Forgetting things isn't like a reporter at all. Fuck that, anyway; she talks so little that sometimes we forget she can even do it. Give me a damn crown, I'm trying! "So what was he, like, your dad or something?" I say after a long silence.

Now she pauses in her polishing, but doesn't look up at me again. "Or something," she answers, her voice sort of deep and hoarse, because she's whispering it. Must've hit a sore spot. I'm surprised Naoto has any, but hey, she's human. I think. And all humans have those sore spots. Everyone here's got issues the size of a house, so why would Mister Woman be any different?

"How'd you meet him?" I ask, and flinch a bit when she looks up sharply at me. I'm not afraid of many things—mostly—but her eyes are so cold when they stare at me, that I wish I hadn't asked.

"Is this important?" she asks after a while, tilting her head to the left. See, that pisses me off! I'm making an effort to strengthen the inexistent bonds of our friendship, and she's just pushing sticks in my wheels.

So I snap: "You know, forget it. I'm just trying to get to know you better, since we're gonna be here for a long time, but if you're so private that you can't even answer a few simple, innocent questions, I should give up. Man, talk about trying to friend you, tranny."

There's silence, and I think, shit, I think I've blown it. But whatever, I can live without Naoto fucking Fuyumine as my bestest friend in the whole wide world. I've Haine, and at least he has a sense of humour. Sort of.

"He taught me how to live," Naoto whispers after five minutes, back to her sword polishing; it's so quiet I almost miss it, but she answered!

I wonder what else he taught her, and open my mouth, but she cuts me with one hand in the air. "I'm not the one you're investigating," she says, then points at the window. "Your targets are there." So, I guess that's our talk for the day, huh? Oh well, work calls.

-----

Second day. Bored as fuck. I've written about one paragraph's worth of article, but I know it won't be published anywhere. This is more like a report for the boss-lady, you know? I just make it sound pretty, because I learned to be this way.

It's getting hot in the Underground, which means that up there, it's summer. Maybe Bishop's taking Nill to the beach. Maybe Haine's sulking under an umbrella, all red from the sun. That image makes me laugh out loud, and it also makes Naoto look up from her book.

An awkward pause ensues, and I break it with "What're you reading?"

"Poe," she answers.

I groan, "Really optimistic stories," I tell her, then lean back against the bed's board. "You need a funnier book. Something to make you laugh" I say, then suddenly wish I could see that happening. Weird.

"It's the only book I have," she explains, then goes back to reading.

You know, I guess that's the thing about Naoto. she talks only when necessary, and only what necessary. And she may not be the sanest crayon in the box, but at least she doesn't kill people for fun. I feel kind of sad for her, though. I mean, what sort of childhood did she lead? "Naoto?" I call, then stand up from bed, and go to where she's at. I grab the book from her hands, and don't cower—really, I don't—under her glare. "How about we talk for a while?" I ask; today, I'm going for a nicer approach. Mark my words, I'll get her to talk yet!

"Why?" she asks.

"Because there's nothing else to do?" I offer, and then follow her pointed gaze to her book in my hands. "Aside from reading," I say, and toss the book on the bed. "C'mon, we've known each other for months now, but we don't know each other. And we're sharing a room, and I figure since you ain't gone yet, you're gonna stick with us for a while longer, so why the hell not, okay?"

She analyzes me with those cold eyes of hers—they don't look as cold from up-close, just black; endless black—and leans back into her armchair. "Alright," she says, and I almost ask her to repeat that, then give it to me in written.

Hell yes! I sit down on the floor, and light a smoke. Not that I care much about this, but I look up at her, and ask: "Does this bother you?"

She shakes her head. "Fath—Fuyumine used to smoke, sometimes," she says, which in Naoto language probably means she loves it.

"Want one?" I ask, holding the pack up towards her. Now this is an offer I've never made to anyone--not even the hot, tall, busty blondes in the bars—but I figure, if we're gonna have a heart to heart, let's be comfortable. It surprises me when Naoto actually takes a smoke from the pack. Because I always thought she didn't give into those vices.

She holds the thin cancer-stick under her nose, and inhales, then places it between her lips and leans in. "Fire," she orders.

"Right, course," I answer, throat suddenly dry, and light her cigarette and try not to focus on how hot her mouth looks with my cancer-stick in it. "Did he smoke often?" I ask, taking a drag myself. Oh, I needed that.

"No," she answers, holding the cigarette between two fingers like a fucking lady, and looking at it with bemusement. "No, he didn't. It wasn't a vice, it was an occasional pleasure," she explains; she's talking more right now than in the last few weeks I've known her, but I'm not going to stop her. Let the woman talk. And smoke. "Fuyumine used to say 'vices make you weak'. I guess that's why he only smoked once a week, maybe twice if things were going well. He hung out in a lot of bars, though, if he went out on a job or…wherever he went, so his coat always smelled like cigarette smoke." Her other hand's fiddling with the coat.

"My brother smoked," I say, and look at the cigarette as well. "Guess it started like a ritual for me. Like, learn to live without him by remembering him this way. If I get lung cancer or some shit, it'll be like my bro's saying 'hi' from the afterlife, so I really won't give a shit. Might even be happy about it. D'you smoke often?"

"No," she says, and takes another drag that shows this isn't her first time smoking. But she's definitely not an expert. "I have other ways to remember him."

I don't say anything else after that, because I don't want to screw up this melancholy state of mind we've got going; and Naoto, she looks calm like this. A short while after, she points to the window, and it's back to work again.

-----

Third day, and I don't even bother with formalities. I just hold the pack in front of her, and wait for her to take one. She does.

"I'll be on the roof," I tell her, and exit the apartment to let her change.

It's hot like hell down here, and the streets are quiet at night—or is it day?—and all I can think of as I sit down on the rooftop is the way the drops of water were drying off on her skin. She just had to take a shower, didn't she? I was fine with sharing the room, sharing the bathroom, fuck, even sharing cigarettes was okay, but why does she have to act like a girl now? Who the hell sent her to the bathroom to get clean? Sure, it's hot outside and cold showers help—I might need one myself—but now I've this dilemma, see?

Naoto's got a lot of scars on her body, either made by bullets or swords, which explains why all her clothes are so unrevealing and ungirly; but she came out of the shower wrapped in a towel and no socks on her feet. Fuck me. Naoto's a woman. Yeah, she's still a tranny deep down, but looking like she did just now, all innocent and girly has me stumped. This is like getting a hard on after seeing Haine in the shower or something. Not that I've seen Haine in the shower, or gotten a hard on because of him. All straight here, guys. Seriously.

It takes a few minutes for me to calm down. Two cigarettes, and a few times hitting my head against the all do the trick. Then, Naoto joins me on the rooftop, closing the door behind her quietly. She's as silent walking as she is everywhere else. Could creep next to you in bed and you wouldn't notice until your throat was slit. Dangerous woman, seriously.

She sits down next to me, and I notice her smoke's already lit and half-done. And that she still has no socks on. Her legs without the boots on are endless. I'm a breast type of man, I think to myself, and switch to looking ahead.

"He trained you, right?" I ask her after a while, lighting up the third cigarette.

"No," she answers, and stubs out the smoke on the asphalt under us. "I taught myself by watching him. He wouldn't teach me, he said he was a bad teacher. I guess it was logical. I managed to live on my own will, he'd only helped; it made sense that learning how to kill him should be my own job as well."

"Whoa, wait, kill him?" I ask, sitting up straight. Is that how Naoto treats the people she cares about? Because if it's a yes, someone hide Nill!

She leans back against the building's wall, and looks ahead with a lost expression. "I thought he was my parents' killer for a long time. I wanted revenge."

"But he wasn't, right? It was that Campanella bitch."

"People make mistakes," she says, and the corner of her mouth lifts up in a small smile. Kinda like those smiles that break your heart. "He never intended to correct mine."

So her adoptive mentor, father, whateverthefuck, let her grow up with the impression of being the killer of her parents and the cause of her amnesia. Well. "Damn. You sure got into a weird group," I say, and offer her another cig.

She takes it, and looks at me with some sort of amusement as I light her cigarette. "I guess I still do that."

We don't talk much after that; just listen and try to hear the wind.

-----

On the fourth day, we go out. It's not a date (I don't think Naoto even knows what that is), but we look a bit more decent than the first days, because today we're spying on the leader of the gang. Mission, mission. Remember that, right.

The supposed restaurant we're in is dim-lit and on the surface, actually, so we can feel the breeze when it blows. Or maybe it's the air conditioning. Everything's artificial in this world; sometimes, even love is.

A couple attracts less attention, I told Naoto when I took her out. She's wearing her usual dress and boots, but for some reason, she doesn't look as threatening. It takes me a few seconds to realise what's missing. "Where's the sword?" I ask her, leaning over the table to make it audible only to us.

"Home," she answers. I want to ask if she's crazy, leaving it there like that, but I realize that no-one in this place would be crazy as to steal a sword like that. Naoto'd chop them to bits with only her eyes if they did it. Also, it shows that she's taking my job seriously too, not bringing the sword and not attracting others' attention. I'm still fine with it, because I've a small gun hidden somewhere, just like I'm sure she's got a knife hidden somewhere too. Maybe in the place between her little heart and the edge of that scar.

What surprises me, though, is that she called the shithole apartment we've been living in "home". If that's home-like for her, I don't want to know where she's been living so far. Actually, I do; we only see Naoto when she drops by the church, yeah, but we don't know if she's got any place to live. For all we know, she could be sleeping under bridges—not that we have those. "Hey," I say, leaning back from her and taking a drink from my glass. Scotch. She's with the untouched wine glass, I'm the manly one here. And she still looks like she's wearing the pants. Oh, fuck her. "Hey, where've you been sleeping?"

She looks at me; this is routine already, I ask, she looks at me. "Are you concerned?" she asks, the corner of her mouth lifting up in some smirk.

"Nah, just curious," I wave it off. Maybe I am, a little, concerned. If she's been sleeping on the streets, I've a free bed back home, and--yeah, or she can take my bed. Another drink. Mission, mission!

"Our old place," she answers, and I understand she means hers and Fuyumine's.

"Isn't that like sleeping with the skeletons in your closet?"

She shrugs, and fingers the side of her glass in a bored fashion. Girl's a pro when it comes to spying it seems. "It's better than the streets, and free."

"You mean you're broke?" I ask.

"In a way," she answers, and takes a sip of her wine to mask that smirk at the double-entendre. If she just made a joke, the end if nigh. I swear.

"I've a spare room," I offer, taking out a cigarette from my pocket.

"Why?" she asks, a few minutes later.

I'm dying to play smart-ass with her, and answer 'because it's empty', but if this is the road to development, then I might as well take it. "Better than sleeping with the skeletons. Until you're not broke anymore, if you want; you can occupy it."

"Why?" Again.

"Because…friends help each other out, you know?" I answer, taking a drag.

"Ah. Are we …friends?" she asks, setting the glass on the table.

I take a moment to think about this. Are we? I doubt anyone in this world is friends with someone. We've allies, enemies, acquaintances and family; but friends? I'd call Haine my friend, yeah, because we've known each other for a long time, we work well together, and if the bastard ever kicks the bucket, I'd be sad as fuck. Saying goes that you only know you need something, love something, when it's gone. Guess it's the same with friends, at least in this place. But would I be sad if Naoto left? No more temptation wrapped up in a towel, no-one to share smokes with (hate sharing, really), no silent, statue bodyguard, no more staring at her mouth, and definitely no more sewing lessons.

Yeah. I'd miss that. "Yeah," I answer at last. "I mean, we're not enemies, that's sure; but we're better than allies, I think."

She seems pleased about the answer, because her mouth draws a smile. Here we go, God! Call me Jesus, I just did a miracle: Naoto is smiling. At. Me. "Good," she says, and looks down at her plate. Our omelettes've gone cold, I bet.

"You should do that again," I say before I can help myself. She looks at me with confusion, and I specify: "Smile, I mean. You look warmer. I bet guys wouldn't run away from you then. You'd get a boyfriend, if you did it more often." I'm trying very hard not to be jealous of the lame fuck who manages to catch her.

"I don't need a boyfriend," she answers.

"You don't start relationships because you need, you do it because you like someone," I tell her.

"I don't need a relationship. They hold you down, and—"

"And what? Where else do you need to leave to, that's keeping you from trying to grow roots here?" I interrupt, stubbing out my cigarette and lighting a second.

She glares at me, probably because I made her rethink her emo plan. "The target's leaving," she says suddenly, and stands up. I leave cash on the table, take a last drink from my glass, and follow her to the door. She turns right before we leave the restaurant, and says: "I don't like anyone."

I'm momentarily speechless, but not stupid as to forget to follow her. So we ninja our way down the dark streets to the even darker Underground. We're walking a few streets behind the leader, when Naoto suddenly pushes me into a dark alley. "They stopped," she whispers, somewhere in the vicinity of my neck.

Oh fuck, isn't this cliché? What now, a wild make-out session to make the bad guys think we're really a couple? As if having her pressed against me isn't bad enough, kissing would be… Hey, I wonder if she even knows how to kiss. There's a slight breeze, and I catch a waft of the soap on her skin; I remember her words. I don't like anyone. "Pity."

"What?"

"That you don't like anyone," I whisper, and because I'm a guy, and deep down, I'm a bastard when horny, I press my hand over the low of her back.

"I don't need to," she clarifies, after another silent pause, then pushes herself away from me, and looks around the corner. "Okay, let's go."

In the middle of the chase, a thought slips in my mind. I wonder how it'd be if Naoto needed someone. I'd try to say that I didn't walk home with a hard on, but four days with just Naoto changed some things. Among them, my ability to call her tranny and mean it.

-----

Fifth day. Nothing. Heat's so bad that I've decided shirts are for sissies, and am displaying my manly chest in front of Naoto. Not that she's looking, because she probably doesn't need lust. Frankly, I think this self-imposed-forced asexuality is pissing me off. The way her hair's sticking to her skin because of the heat's making me wonder of how it'd look splayed against a pillow.

Naoto's discarded her shirt too, which doesn't seem to please her, but what can you do against nature, huh? She's in her white cotton top, and I can see the difference of colours between her skin and the scar. I wonder. How many troubles has that scar caused her? Does she wear it proudly? No, probably not. I don't wear mine proud, either.

I've written a few other things in my article, but mostly now, my notebook's full of other type of notes. Plans. Possibilities. How would Naoto react to a kiss? How would she react if I licked her neck? I should probably not write this shit anymore, because just thinking about it makes me need another cold shower. I also have a list of 'Why This Job Looks Like Something Out Of A Lame Movie'.

Alleyways. Alone in a room with a girl, whom I just realised, is hot. Nothing interesting has happened in five days. Which means that either we're going to have sex soon, or someone's going to die on the seventh day. I'm going with the first option, because I like that better than dying. Or her dying.

I look up at her, and find her polishing her katana again. The room smells of that oil she uses on it, and she's so concentrated on this job that she hardly notices when I go for my camera. I focus on the way her eyelashes almost touch her cheeks from this perspective, on the way her scar is visible, and the way her mouth is pursed. And click. A picture.

She looks up at that, and I let the camera drop on the bed before bringing my hands under my head. "Why're you always hiding that?" I ask her, hinting towards her scar with my head.

"It's not something I'm proud of," she answers, sliding the katana back in its scabbard.

"You should be. 'S proof you're alive, isn't it? Who else would have a scar like that and be alive at the same time?" I say.

"Then why do you wear your patch?" she asks, and crosses her arms. Oops. Caught.

I turn the projectile in her direction. "Can't be that ugly."

"Scars are not beautiful," she snaps, and her tone is as cold as the steel she wields in battle—oh fuck, I'm a poet now. I blink, and notice that I've hit another sore spot. I wonder what's the story behind this issue, but the atmosphere's too gloomy for me to press it.

"You know what you need?" I suddenly boast, and stand up from the bed. "You need to laugh. Have you ever laughed? I don't think you've ever laughed," I tell her, and in three steps am in front of her armchair and pulling her up.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm going to tickle you," I tell her, and plant my hands on her waist. Tickling. Tickling. Right, I should do that, but. Thin waist. "You're too skinny," I blurt out.

She's blushing. Hah. Another miracle—and tomorrow, gents, ladies, I'll turn water into wine and get her to say 'I love you'. Her cheeks are slightly pink, and she looks absolutely adorable. Makes me want to hit myself for thinking of that word in the same sentence as Naoto, and also makes me want to kiss her.

She pulls away from me with a look that says 'tickle me and die', and says "And you're too loud."

And here we are. Standing in front of each other, stare-down contest fully on, and all I can think of saying is: "You can take the bed tonight."

-----

Did I forget to mention? Just because she took the bed didn't mean I was going to sleep in the armchair. Yeah, yeah, call me a mysoginist pig, but would you sleep in a chair? As opposed to sleeping in the same bed as Naoto, I mean. Course you wouldn't. So shut the fuck up. World's full of critics, all of them hypocrites.

So, sixth morning. I wake up in the same bed as Naoto—it took very little to convince her to share it ("I'll stay on my side, you stay on yours", to be honest)—and the first thing I notice is that we didn't stay on our sides. We migrated to the middle, like birds, and somehow ended up pressed against each other. Her legs are wrapped around mine. Funny, I thought a ninja like her would be alert to these sort of things. Guess I still don't know her. The second thing I notice, and hope she doesn't, is that I've another hard on.

Sixth day, ladies and gents. We haven't had sex, which means that tomorrow, one of us is going to die. I hate these movie scenarios. Too predictable. Or rather, they should be, but with Naoto, you never know.

Speaking of Naoto, since it's my last day alive, I take advantage and observe her. How many guys will be able to see her sleep like this? How many guys will wake up with her sleeping next to them? I hope the answer will be either none, or just me. Stupid answer, I know. I mean, I don't have the hots for her, and—

Oh, fuck that. I do. Let's drop the denial, cliché movies are full of denial with the protagonists, anyway. I have the hots for Naoto, because tranny or not, quiet, statuesque, silent and irritating, she's like a mystery waiting to be solved. Another pathetic cliché, but it fits, so whatever. She's not my type at all. She's silent, independent, not obnoxious and not loud, and she's not blonde or busty. Her hair probably needs a lot of conditioner, and her skin's not soft because she's not a soft type of girl. But her legs are long and shaped like a sin that's trying to turn me into a leg type of man, and her mouth asks for rough kisses or a cigarette between them.

I admit that yes, I want to see her laugh, I want to see her need someone, and I like seeing her flustered. Maybe it began when she turned up dressed in Nill's Lolita dress, or maybe it started here, in this little room; but there you have it. Guess I've never been a tough guy, like Haine (or Naoto, heh), and I like the company of people. I like people needing me, too. Call me pathetic, call me a sap—actually, don't; I'll kick your asses—but I want to stay like this for a lot longer.

Which of course, means that it's time for Naoto to wake up. In a lot of aspects, she's like a cat. From the way she moves when she's fighting, to how she only comes to you when you don't need her, down to the way she waked up. Stretching against me, from head to toe, deep breath, and opens her eyes half-way. From here, they're not cold or endlessly black. They're just eyes, but it still takes me a moment to look away.

"Uh," I start, trying to figure out how to explain that we're pressed against each other like this.

Naoto blushes again, and quickly slips out of bed. I'm aware she's out of the room when she closes the bathroom door behind her; and I realise that I'm an idiot. This girl's never going to need anyone, ever. She doesn't know how to.

The rest of the day's shitty from thereon.

-----

"You know, according to old movies, and because today's our last day on this job, we either have sex, or I'm going to die," I tell her on the seventh day, right in the morning, when she's fresh out of the shower and thankfully clothed. Or not so thankfully, now that I think about it.

"What?" she asks, flustered up like she is when people hint at her asexuality, or how she's a tranny, or… come to think about it, she usually gets flustered because of me. Hah, I win.

"Nevermind," I tell her, taking a drag out of my cigarette, and writing one line in my notebook. I can make Naoto fluster. And she looks good like that.

"You're not going to die," she tells me, and I smirk and look at her without taking the cigarette out of my mouth.

"Does that mean we're going to have sex?" I drawl, and duck when some flying projectile is thrown at my head. Turns out it's her Poe book, which makes me laugh out loud, and close the notebook before telling her "You seriously need to get a sense of humour."

"I have one," she says after a while. "I just—"

"Don't need to use it? Yeah, yeah, just like with your heart, huh?" I finish off for her, waving her off with disinterest.

She doesn't answer that question; instead, she sits down on her armchair and polishes her sword again, making me wish I was that damn sword, 'cause she sure as hell pays it more attention than any human. Except for Nill, maybe.

"Hey, Naoto," I call over, half an hour later. "Do you hate me?"

"No."

"Do you dislike me?"

"No."

"…do you like me?"

She doesn't answer. I look at her expectantly, only to topple into a strange expression on her face. I wonder if this is her Deep In Thought face, or her Confusion face. "Well?" I insist, and she quickly answers:

"I don't know."

I guess that makes sense. I doubt she's like a guy like that in her life. I mean, let's face it, Naoto's pretty complicated, and her childhood hasn't been exactly full of make-up and sleepovers. Maybe I should let Mimi talk to her one day, see how that goes. I wonder what things she taught herself with Fuyumine, aside from not caring. Aside from being thick-skinned, silent and deadly, I'm not sure what else she is. I know she's kind, if it concerns Nill; and I know she's not a bitch, because she did help me and Haine out on many occasions, but really; what goes through Naoto's mind? What makes her heart beat faster? Is she like Haine, driven by bloodshed? Or nicotine? Does she like silence?

Would she kill me if I kissed her?

That's like one of those thoughts that'd get you in a load of trouble if you say it aloud, so I'm glad that for once, my mouth is shut. "We should pack," I tell her, lighting a cigarette and heading towards the window.

What a shitty job. No suspense, no action, not even one bullet being shot. Makes me wonder if it was some sort of vacation, or if it was some sort of journey for self-discovery. If lady-boss does it again, next time she should send us somewhere cooler. I realise I'm calm, and relaxed, and have forgotten all about whining about how my ass hurts from the wound. Used to be something I did constantly before this week.

For good times' sake, I let out a: "My ass hurts," under my breath, and lean my forehead against the glass with boredom.

Then, something amazing happens. A distinctive noise resonates in the room. Distinctive in that it is very unique. A snort, then a strange little noise than makes me snap my head in her direction and ask: "Did you just laugh?"

Naoto looks flustered over this, or maybe embarrassed, but the truth is there. She laughed. It suddenly feels like all these days in this shithole've been worth it. I made her laugh, which makes me grin, and cross the room. One two three, and I kiss her. And if she kills me, I won't mind; her lips are soft, and it's the quickest, shortest, most chaste kiss I've ever given, but when I pull back, both our faces are flushed.

Her mouth forms an 'O', and she's speechless—nothing new there—but she looks cute and girly, and I lean down again, and kiss her again. This time I make sure it lasts more than one second, but it's still tame. A brush of lips against lips, because I doubt she'd be ready for a French kiss—but later, oh yes, later—; and when I pull away, I bite on her bottom lip, just because I can, and grin again.

She doesn't kill me. She just stands up, skirts around me, and closes herself in the bathroom. She stays there the rest of the day, and I smoke cigarette after cigarette; until it's evening, and our shift is over. Time to head home, and let the next reporter come substitute us.

-----

You know, I feel sort of cheated out. I mean, if this really were an old movie scenario, we'd have either one romantic goodbye, or one romantic night together. And I'm not a highly romantic type of guy, but I've to admit that living with Naoto from hereon after, it wouldn't be bad.

Maybe a few more kisses and I could convince her to sleep with me. I wonder what Bishop would say. Or Haine. Or even Nill, if she could talk. Fuck, to be honest, I wonder what Naoto will say about it; since it's been a day since we got paid and each went to our own homes.

This makes me wonder if she's back to sleeping with the skeletons in her closet. If she is, I wish I knew where she lives so I could go there and haul her out. Girl finally laughed for once in her life, for God's sake. Can't have her go back to her personal hell.

Guess I'll ask Bishop if he knows tomorrow.

-----

I don't like being woken up in the middle of the night. Hell, I don't like being woken up from my beauty sleep ever, but someone's knocking at my door, so I grumble and cuss—and stub my toe on the low table—as I go to open it. This better be worth it, I'm missing out on an awesome dream of What Could've Been.

"What the hell do y—oh," is my reply, and then I freeze when I see who it is. Protagonist of my dream, standing in front of my door with a back over her shoulder, and her katana on her back. "Hey," I rasp out, and wish for her not to look down towards my waist. Thank God, Naoto's not that type of woman.

"You said I could stay here," she says.

"Yeah," I tell her, and let her in. she steps inside, and lets the bag drop somewhere near the door. I wonder if this is Naoto's way of needing someone. I'm glad she's not acting like a cat this time; she came just when I needed her to.

"You asked if I liked you," she says, turning around to face me.

I push the door closed, and we're surrounded by darkness. This is surreal. "Do you?" I ask. Say yes. Please, say yes.

"…probably," she answers.

"What the hell's probably?"

"I've never liked a guy. So I'm not sure how it is," she explains, then walks over to me.

I stare her down, then ask: "If I kissed you right now, will you mind?"

"No."

"Would you like it?"

"Yes."

"Fair enough." And I kiss her.

-----

She doesn't take the free room. Somehow we end up in my room, and this time, she doesn't leave my bed when we wake up in the morning. We didn't sleep together in the sexual way, but I'm fine with that, strangely enough. Just to be allowed to see her at her most vulnerable is a privilege; besides, we both feel the chemistry there. Just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it won't; and I can be patient.

I don't know if she knows how to love someone; she's still far from saying those three words, and I don't know if I want to be the one she says them to. But I like the fact that I can make her need something; it makes me feel like I have her, and that's something beautiful. I don't know if this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, or if we're only looking for trouble.

But if she's willing, I am too; I guess we'll wait, and find out.