Long chapter~? I just started writing and didn't stop. Before I knew it, I had nine pages done. Foxie here hopes you likes it~! :D


Allen was pacing impatiently, and every so often he would glare at the clock to see how much longer it would be. Unfortunately, it had been 8:53 for seemingly the past two hours and he was getting jittery. How punctual would Jay be? What if this whole thing was just some kind of twisted joke? It certainly seemed like the kind of thing he would find funny. But Maggie had confirmed what he had said earlier and Allen doubted that she would lie to him. Tease him, yes. Lie to him, probably not.

Almost immediately after Jay had left, Allen had set about with dying his hair so he wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb. His hair was now brown, several shades darker than the original chestnut shade. Although his eyebrows and lashes were still the more recent snowy white shade. There was no way he was letting that sludge anywhere near his eyes. Maggie had mentioned something about permanent damage if he accidentally got any in there. And he wasn't going to pluck them all out, either. So he would just have to deal with mismatched hair colors.

He was wearing dark colored clothing, as well. The kind of clothes that would blend in seamlessly with the shadows but also would not look out of place in a crowd of people from almost any class. Allen had a navy colored hat as well; it sat low over his eyes, hiding both his scar and pale lashes. He would not go out of his way to disguise himself, as that would make him stick out even more. He would look like a nobody and anyone who passed him on the street wouldn't even give him a second glance. And hopefully, no one would remember ever having seen him.

There was no way sixty seconds could take this long. Someone must have tampered with the clock because the closer it got to nine, the slower it went. What if Jay came late? "Hurry up." Allen told the clock, which ticked defiantly back. Allen let out an agitated huff before he went to the window and slumped against the ledge. He put a hand to his cheek and watched people brazenly, shamelessly, walking into Paul's Place. Night had fallen quiet some time ago, it being winter and all, and with it came the drones. Allen pressed his forehead against the cool glass and let his breath fog his view.

When Jay's target was dead…what would happen? Were they going to destroy someone's family while bringing about the revenge of another's? What if someone from the family of the dead man hired Jay to kill his current employer? Did Allen even have a right to think this way? He was only a tool, after all. At this point, Allen doubted he would feel anything even if it was entirely fault, so why was he even thinking about it?

Morbid curiosity.

That was why. Allen wanted to know what kind of effect the death of this one person would have on the people around them. Allen had all but forgotten what it was like to be close to someone and the part of his mind that craved human contact wanted to see relationships being destroyed. How interesting it was that the most human piece of him was also the cruelest. Allen wondered if that impulse would fade with time. His goal was self preservation; to harbor such dark impulses might eventually lead to his downfall.

The town church, which was rather ironically placed across the street, suddenly started ringing its bells to mark the start of a new hour. Finally! Allen unstuck his forehead from the window and looked down at the street more intently, watching for the outline of Jay to pass under the streetlight. Was Jay going to be late, then? Where in the hell was he?

"Hey kid." Jay said at the end of the last ring and Allen whirled around. Jay was standing against the medical supply cabinet, casually loading a pistol. When had he come in? Allen couldn't have been looking away for more than five minutes! Jay looked at him and gave him a smirk. "Like the hair. Very…fashionable."

"Tch," Allen snorted. Jay was dressed similarly to him. That was a good sign; it meant Allen had made the right choice and so Jay wouldn't bitch at him about it.

"Ready to go?"

"Yeah." Allen nodded and Jay tossed him something. Allen caught it with his left hand before he looked at it and realized that he was holding a pistol identical to the one in Jay's hand. It took him a second to fully grasp what it was and he immediately recoiled in shock. "Shit!" Allen yelped and he quickly pointed it away from his body.

"It ain't loaded, kid." Jay laughed and Allen blushed furiously. That had been exactly the kind of reaction that Jay had wanted. But how could he have not reacted like that? And who throws a pistol, anyway? Allen knew that they could go off at random and that was a crazy thing to do, even if the gun was unloaded.

"I thought you said that you would be the one doing the killing!" Allen snarled. He wasn't sure what to do with the gun so he held it with both hands and glared.

"Do you really want to walk into the lair of out victim completely undefended?" That actually made a surprising amount of sense although Allen wasn't just about to go and admit that Jay might be right. "I'll teach you how to load and fire on the way there." Jay tucked his gun inside his coat and he detached himself from the cabinet. "Come on."

XXX

"Take a deep breath and keep your hands steady." Jay instructed and Allen raised the pistol and took aim at the tree Jay had indicated. "I said steady."

"This is steady!"

"You're way off target kid, lock your elbows." Allen straightened his arms and clenched his hands more tightly around the gun. "Loosen you're grip a bit." Jay said and Allen undid his last action.

Jay had taken Allen just outside of town and into a small forest where he had talked Allen through loading a gun then lit a candle to inspect the work. Allen had been told to load it over and over again in the dark without any more instruction on Jay's part until the teen was satisfied with his progress. Allen had complained about wasting time until Jay had told him that he had deliberately allowed time for basic training. Jay said that it would be incredibly stupid to take Allen anywhere without at least giving him some training. Now, he was making Allen practice his aim but thus far, Allen hadn't even been allowed to pull the trigger.

Allen straightened his back and let out his breath while he carefully looked down the barrel of the gun to make sure it was perfectly aligned. His eyes flickered to Jay, who was standing just to his right and he felt a surge of frustration. Would it kill Jay to tell him if he was doing it correctly? Allen grit his teeth and looked back at his target. Were his shoulders straight enough? He rolled them back experimentally but he couldn't tell. He had never fired a gun before; if there was a kick back would he dislocate his arm?

"Fire," Jay said suddenly.

Without giving himself time to slip out of his current position, Allen squeezed the trigger and let a bullet fly. The kick back wasn't as back as he thought it would have been but Allen still drew back his hand and held the gun to the right of his face. The bullet had landed on the tree, although it was several inches off from where Allen had wanted it to land. Allen didn't know if that was good or bad, he had been off target but it was also the first time he had ever fired a gun. Unsure, Allen blew out the smoke from the top of the barrel before he turned to look at Jay.

The teen's face was still unreadable but Allen was sure he didn't see disappointment. There was no approval either, though, so Allen took that to mean he had once again done exactly as Jay had expected. He needed to stop doing that; it was getting to be incredibly annoying. Either Allen was too predictable or Jay had too much experience with reading people. It was most likely the later. Jay didn't even seem interested in Allen anymore; instead he was just going through his coat.

Eventually, Jay flipped a pocket watch out from within his jacket and he frowned at it before he snapped it shut and blew out the candle. It was the night of the new moon and there was a thick cloud cover so Allen had to blink rapidly as he tried to get his eyes to adjust. "We need to go, it's almost time." Jay said and he began walking through the woods, stepping only just loudly enough for Allen to follow.

"Time for what?" Allen asked then he realized how stupid that question was. What the hell were they doing? If he said 'it's time', clearly he meant that it was time for them to go kill.

"I've been studying the target's movements for the past two months. In thirty minutes, he will retire to his study and work for several hours. Before he comes in, we need to be in position." Jay explained. "Now be quiet, we don't want to be found out." Allen glared at the back of what was probably Jay's head before he began to tail after him. Since it was what he wanted, there was no point in arguing.

XXX

The house was monumental. It was a mansion connected to the outside world by only a waving road, which the two had tactfully avoided, and was virtually self sustaining. Apparently, their target dealt with teas, namely importing them in to sell to other rich nobles. Who could possibly be angry about that was beyond Allen but he was awestruck by the house. Who needed that much space? What did he do with all of it? It was mind boggling, Allen could never imagine owning so much that it would require a house that large.

There was a walled gate around the property which Jay had to practically fling Allen over before he vaulted over himself with far more grace. He had scarcely even given Allen any time to pick himself out of a rose bush before the two were off.

They had slunk through the gardens; careful to avoid stepping anywhere the light from the windows could reveal them as well as on anything that might give them away, until they got around to the back. Their target's office was on the bottom floor and it was quite expansive, much like the rest of the house. There was a desk and a high backed chair with its back to the window. But it was clearly empty. "He's at dinner now," Jay breathed. "We need to get in and hide before he gets done in roughly seven minutes."

"What about guards?" Allen asked in the same hushed tone. Jay ushered him to the window and he slipped a knife into it and waggled it around until it clicked open.

"No guards, he lives here with his daughter and their servants. Economic troubles." Jay hopped up onto the window ledge the stepped easily into the room. With far less grace, Allen clambered in after him and landed in a heap on the floor.

"Ow!" He whined as Jay closed the window. He had a sore on his elbow now, and he rubbed it as he got to his feet. He needed to become for athletic, he was fairly strong for a kid his age as it was but he still needed to be far stronger and faster. So he wouldn't need Jay to help him anymore. Jay smirked at him before the latch went back down and all evidence of the break in vanished.

"Get in the closet by the door." Jay breathed and he shoved Allen along. He slid slightly on the polished hardwood floor and he had to take a step forward so he wouldn't fall again. "Wait until you see me move. Then come out and watch the door and tell me if anyone's coming, got it?" Allen nodded once before he slid across the waxed floor and to the closet. There wasn't anything in it but a few boxes in the back so Allen had more than enough space to sit comfortably.

What must it be like to be rich and just stick empty closets into walls for the hell of it? Briefly, Allen fantasized about having that much money but he quickly decided that he would have no need for it. Having money drew enemies to you, and was the reason why this tea-dealer was going to die. It was a whole new drug, and Allen didn't like the idea of getting mixed up in it.

Allen slid the door shut behind him and he sat down awkwardly before peering out through the keyhole. Jay was looking pointedly from behind the desk and Allen could have sworn that he could see through the door. It was kind of creepy, to say the least and Allen wanted him to break eye contact. "One minute left." Jay mouthed and Allen nodded, even though Jay could not, in actuality, see the action.

Then Jay stepped back and he seemed to melt into the shadows. Even knowing exactly where he was, Allen still couldn't distinguish him from his surroundings. I need to learn how to do that. Allen thought as he pressed his eye closer to the key hole. Jay had just vanished! There had to be a trick behind it, all Allen needed to do was to figure it out. If it was skill, then Allen just need practice. That's all there was to it.

Allen slowed and quieted his breathing until he could hear the blood rushing in his ears. He didn't want to draw any attention to himself and hyperventilating would undoubtedly get him noticed. If the job failed because of him, he had no doubt that Jay would hang him out to dry and not give it a second thought. Oh the joys of being around people you could trust.

There was the sound of a door handle being rattled, almost right next to Allen's ear and his heart started pounding even more fiercely. He was right next to the door and the sound was being amplified, he knew that he wasn't in danger at the moment but he still felt frightened. What if the tea-man needed to get something from the closet that Allen was hiding in? The door to the office swung open then was shut again and Allen shrank away from the keyhole and flinched as a shadow passed by. But the closet doors did not swing open and Allen was not discovered. Instead, the sound of shoes on wood moved away from him until they were at the desk.

By the time Allen worked up the courage to move back to the keyhole, he had already sat down in his fancy chair and most of his body was hidden. From what Allen could see, the target was a middle aged man with dust colored hair and had skin so pale that Allen would look dark compared to him. Did he ever go outside without someone else shading him? Allen shook his head and squinted out the keyhole. What would an assassin be doing in this situation? Carefully, Allen pressed closer to the keyhole and tried to study the man's movements.

His head was down and he was writing something down on a piece of paper. The only thing on his desk that could be used as a weapon was the small bonze globe on the corner although Allen had no way of knowing what might be hidden on his person or under the desk. Was that something Jay had found out about before? Must have been. With a frown, and wishing that he could have a larger and closer peep hole, Allen tried to figure out if there was anything else that needed to be analyzed.

There was a bell in easy reach of his hand. For calling people? Jay had said that there were no guards so maybe it would be for servants? Yes, must have been. Unless it was a decoration. Or was he over thinking it? Allen bit the inside of his cheek as he tried to figure out what he should be thinking about. What should an assassin be thinking about as they closed in for the kill? Gah! What the hell was Jay doing? Why hadn't he moved yet?

Allen stared intently at the place where he had last seen him and mentally told him to get on with it already. Waiting here, this close to the kill, was worse than any other anticipating Allen had ever experienced before in his entire life. It would be the first time that Allen had ever willingly helped kill another living person. When he had killed Mana, that didn't count. Allen didn't know what he was doing and he hadn't wanted to hurt him. Both situations would inevitably result in a corpse but there was a world of difference between the two.

There was a flicker of movement in the shadows and suddenly Jay was there, gun pointed directly at the back of his head. The man didn't even notice and Jay suddenly made eye contact with Allen before he jerked his head to one side. A symbol for the phrase 'get out here'. With an almost disturbing flood of relief, Allen reached into his coat and pulled out the gun before he shoved open the door and attempted to jump out. Unfortunately, he just tripped over a box and fell flat on his face with a loud thump, hitting his sore elbow once more.

The man's head snapped up and behind him Jay shot and exasperated look. "Who the bloody hell are you?" The man demanded. Jay was giving him a 'what kind of moron are you' look. Truth be told, Allen was far more frightened by Jay's expression than anything the target had to say. Speaking of the target, the man's eyes widened in understanding. "You're a thief!" He yelped as Allen picked himself off the floor.

Well, he was close, but not spot on. Must have been a reasonable assumption to make when a kid jumps you, Allen doubted that anyone would think that he was out to kill them. There were many ways he could work that to his advantage but that wasn't at the top of his list right now. Not being arrested and found with a loaded gun; that was at the top of his list at the moment.

Suddenly, and quite predictably, the man reached for the bell but Allen raised the gun even faster. He still held it in both hands and wasn't sure about if it was in the right position but he looked positively lethal. "Move and you die," Allen growled. He wasn't sure if he could pull the trigger on another person yet but Jay had said that he would be the one doing the killing. There was already a gun on him, Allen was just making him aware of the threat.

There was a short pause while the target stared at Allen before his fingers inched away from the bell. Very slowly, he raised his hands slowly and his eyes were almost comically wide. It looked like he was slowly beginning to comprehend the danger he was in and Allen gave him a Jay-like smirk. The target still had no idea that Jay was right behind him, ready to kill at any second. "Calm down, Sonny." He said soothingly. "You don't have to do this. You can take what you want."

"What we want," Jay said suddenly. "Is your life." The man stared to whip his head around but Jay pressed the gun under his chin, pointing up and he grabbed one of his wrists in the same movement, effectively immobilizing him. He gulped and the cool metal brushed against his Adam's apple as Jay dug it further into his flesh. Jay looked pointedly at the door and Allen lowered his gun before he moved to the door and cracked it open.

"What?" He whispered horsey. "You…you're just children!"

"Not quiet." Allen snorted and he peered out the opening but his comment went ignored. Damn, was everything in this house fancy? Why were there so many decorations in the hallway? It was just a hallway! "Maybe if he sold some of this junk he could get a bodyguard." Allen muttered. What kind of screwed up logic did these people have?

"Kid, don't go trying to make our job harder." Jay mock-scolded and Allen looked back at the two of them. No one was coming, anyway and if they did Allen would hear them. "Common sense isn't these people's strong suit." Jay mocked.

"What do you want?" The man repeated and his voice trembled with fear. He was standing up now, although he was still much shorter than Jay.

"I told you, we want you dead." Jay said condescendingly, almost as though he was speaking to a small child. Although he spoke to even Allen with more respect than that so Allen took that to mean that Jay thought this man was beneath him. Idly, Allen wondered if he found this entertaining or if there was some other reason for him to drag it out. Why not just pull the trigger and get out? Jay made eye contact with Allen again and smirked and Allen frowned. Was he trying to give Allen a step-by-step or something?

"Daddy!" A happy voice down the hall suddenly shouted and all three people whipped their heads in the direction of the door. Out of all of them, only Allen could see the girl with dusk colored hair and glasses flouncing down the hall with a goofy grin on her face. She's my age. Allen realized. Were the hell are the servants? Shouldn't they be doing, I don't know…doing servantly things for her? Why's she here? "Will you read me a story tonight, Daddy?" She yelled again. She was closer now, and Allen had recovered from the initial shock. If she comes in here I'll have to grab her so she won't alert the house. That was the logical course of action. That was what Allen would have to do.

"Not tonight, Lexi!" The man shouted. Allen shot Jay a worried look but the teen had an unreadable expression. Allen found himself hoping that the girl Lexi would turn back and go. But the girl did not listen to her father, she just flounced fasted. With a barley suppressed sigh, Allen stepped back and waited for the inevitable.

"You promised!" She laughed as the doors flew open. It took only a second for her to notice Jay but, by that time, Allen had grabbed her at the base of one of her pigtails and he pushed the gun to her temple.

"Anyone makes a sound and she dies." Allen said calmly. The girl whimpered and tried to pull away but Allen just pulled her pigtail roughly. "This is a gun," he informed her and she froze. Allen assumed she was making some kind of terrified expression but, as her back was pressed to his front, he had no way of knowing for sure. He felt Lexi shaking but he did nothing to loosen his grip. She was now a hostage and it would be stupid of him to let her go.

"Good boy." Jay said and he gave Allen a disturbing Cheshire grin. "But I think it's time you learned another lesson." He looked down at the intended target and finally pulled the trigger. Brain matted, bits of skull, and blood shot out of the top of his skull and his eyes rolled back in his head. Jay let go of him and he collapsed into a bloody mass on the floor. Allen flinched at the bang but he was more relived that Jay had finally finished toying with him.

"EAHHHHHH!" Lexi screamed and even Allen winced at the high pitched noise. Although, he could not blame her for making it. Allen had once screamed like that too and although that time had long since passed, he did remember the feeling. "DADDY!" She shrieked. Lexi tried to move forward but Allen just held her even more tightly. Her father's body was hidden from sight but Allen knew that he was a bloody mess. She would see it soon enough, anyway.

BANG.

Allen blinked.

There was a smoking gun pointed at him.

That had been the sound of a gunshot.

Jay looked serious, for once.

Of shit.

Allen's finger's wrapped around the girl's hair ribbon as he tried to sort through the scattered mess that the second sound of gunfire had left him in.

"Listen up kid," Jay's sharp accent cut through Allen's thoughts like a hot knife through butter and his mind began to work once more. "We never leave any witnesses."

Lexi had gone limp. She was only standing because Allen was still holding her up by her ribbon. She was too heavy for that, however, and the silk ribbon slowly came loose and she collapsed onto the floor in almost slow motion. Allen held up the ribbon and noticed that it was lavender. It was a shade that complemented her dusty hair.

Allen looked down and saw that Lexi had a hole in her chest and blood was pooling around her.

"Someone heard that, we need to go." Jay said. Allen stayed where he was, still holding the ribbon and looking down. There was no blood on him, how had that happened? There hadn't been blood on Jay, either. If they left the scene covered in blood then it would be a dead giveaway. Jay had been very tactful. "Kid, we need to go." Jay said and Allen's mind suddenly returned to him.

His head snapped up and the light of understanding had returned to his eyes. He jumped easily over the corpse on the floor and ran to the window that Jay had reopened and he scrambled out of it with Jay just behind him.

There were no guards in the house, leaving was just as easy as entering.

XXX

Allen had said nothing the whole way going back to Paul's Place. He hadn't even put up any sort of protest when Jay took his gun back. It was, after all, his gun and Allen certainly had no rights to it. Allen wasn't in shock and he wasn't afraid. He was just trying to figure out how he felt. He had held a girl his own age hostage and threatened her father with her life then left her body like it was nothing.

It was nothing, Allen didn't care about her. He didn't feel anything. Should that worry him? No, not anymore. If Allen was still trying to be 'good' then yes, it should have but that was no longer what he wanted to do. So Allen should be worried about why he felt so…empty?

Allen watched Jay work open the rusty latch on the backdoor until it finally gave. The door swung open and Allen was blasted with a wave of heat, noise, and odors. It was only in the blast of heat that he realized how cold he felt and he craved to be in the warmth. He took a step forward to enter the throng but Jay put a hand down on his shoulder and he was forced to stop. Allen wondered why, he just wanted to walk upstairs and sleep. He had the strangest feeling of detachment from his body and Allen wanted to sleep and avoid the emotional minefield he was in danger of walking into.

"What?" Allen asked as he looked up at Jay's face. There was no concern or pity in his features but Allen had expected none.

"Mr. Roper will give you the day off tomorrow. When I am paid, I will give you a portion of the money." Jay said. That seemed fair, he wasn't sure he would be able to drag himself out of bed for another week so a day off was nothing to bitch about. The fact that he was going to be paid made the vacation seem even better. Realizing that the teen was waiting for conformation, Allen nodded and Jay let him go.

Without another word, the young assassin turned around and walked down the alley, displaying none of the fading-into-shadows abilities that Allen knew he was capable of. There was another lesson, never use your abilities until they were needed. Being a show off would only put him in danger. Allen yawned then he slipped inside, closing the door after him. He weaved through the crowd, ignoring all the overly friendly woman and angry drunks.

It wasn't until he was alone and undressing in his room that Allen realized he still had her ribbon. And it was only then, alone in the dark and without anything to keep up the barriers he had built in his mind, that Allen was frighteningly close to the verge of tears.


D: I didn't think that Allen would be totally heartless right away so... I had some troubles deciding how Allen should act here but I'm happy with what I did.