Disclaimer: I do hereby disclaim all rights and responsibilities for the characters in this collection of moments... especially for the one who has a place. I doff my cap to Tensai Okamura, who's responsible for the memorable characters in Darker than Black.

Wanted and Willing

- 44 -
Join Me for Elevenses

Weeks turned to months, and Kirihara kept busy. Work was... work, crazy and consuming.

During her free time, she tackled a personal project. Books and boxes of useless miscellany crammed her modest apartment's second bedroom. Little by little, she sorted, repurposed, tossed, or sold the accumulation.

The resulting free space was small and spotless, with a clean futon in an otherwise empty closet and a glass bottle in a fetching shade of blue set upon the windowsill. In the privacy of her own thoughts, Kirihara could hear Jack's voice. "It's something like a berth," she whispered.

She had no plans beyond preparation. But the long, tedious project had been her way of admitting that Jack Simon had a place in her life—close as home, constant as trust, yet empty of expectations.

Officially, November 11 was dead, but she preferred to believe July. The MI6 agent was no more, having shed his code name. But the person who'd teased and flirted and infuriated her lived on.

Jack, whose interest she'd somehow caught.

Jack, who claimed to take pleasure in her company.

Jack, who'd personally delivered his partner home.

Jack, who had no way of knowing he had a place.

Maybe he'd never know that the interest was mutual. Maybe she'd lost her only chance to find out where her willingness might lead. But his last question lingered in her ears—not quite a promise, but suggestive in startling ways.

He'd all but declared his willingness to seek her out... but only if she wanted him.

Mutual interest. What a strange thing for a contractor to want. Jack's damning aspiration was nothing more than a glimmer of humanity, and it was only inconvenient because MI6 needed a heartless killer.

Kirihara carried a steaming mug of tea to the window and leaned against its frame, watching summer rains drumming glass and drenching the world beyond. Elevenses. Another little tradition she'd kept up.

A tiny sound interrupted her peaceful interlude, and she searched for its source.




She glanced around the empty room, then at the vase on the sill... and gasped. Frost raced across the window, etching outward in elegant curlicues, heralding Jack's arrival in an extravagance of icy flourishes.

Kirihara abandoned her tea and buzzed the entry. Several excruciating moments later, a light tap sounded on her apartment door. Her hands were shaking when she flung it wide.

Jack Simon was as he'd ever been, wearing his three-piece suit with careless ease—spoiled, flashy, smug. And here. Where he didn't yet realize he belonged.

"Yes," she said firmly.

His eyebrows arched. "Yes?"

"Yes, the prospect appeals to me."

Jack's smirk mellowed into a smile, but his tone remained teasing. "A gentleman never enters unless he's invited."

"By all means, come in."

He gave her a searching look, then lifted a cigarette. "Can you spare a match?"

"I have two."

Jack held his ground. "Are you sure, Misaki? No more second thoughts."

"I understand." She stepped aside. "Welcome home."

His lips lingered over hers, soft as a sigh, solemn as a vow. And finding her willing, he whispered, "I'm home."

End Notes: Forty-four drabbles, which is Eleven(ses) x 4(thy). So there. The final installment of this story is 520 words. Posted on November 11, 2016. If you trust my storytelling and are interested in reading original works, you'll find story news on my blog at ForthWrites dot com. Thanks for reading! ::twinkle::