UPDATE! So i just realized there were no chapter breaks in here- so sorry. it should read a lot better now. thanks
Here's my latest green hornet short. It sort of goes with my previous short, Green Tong, but can completely be read alone to. Please enjoy.
I hear the splashing before I realized what had actually happened. It wasn't him. It couldn't have been. He knew to stay away from water and I knew I could trust him to do just that. But something in my mind said to check anyway. Something told me he was in danger and something else told me I better run to his rescue before the frigid current swallowed him up and drug him to the bottom of the ocean.
I ran for the edge of the pier and thrust my head out to look into the pitch black tide of the frozen crests. I willed myself to see him. I had to see him. The cabby hat floated, unmanned beside the piling just below me. I saw one black and white gloved hand claw at the air then sink gracefully beneath the surface.
Darn it, Kato! I cursed under my breath, heaving off my jacket, chucking my fedora away and slipping out of my shoes. Why are you so chivalrous!
Before I had a chance to dive in, the Black Beauty exploded.
"Seriously, Kato, it's a Jacuzzi. It's not eighty feet deep and it doesn't have rabid sharks swirling around in it. Why don't you just take a frickin' load off for once?" I knew I was pleading with a brick wall, but I kept on it anyway. It was a slow day at the office. Axford had taken control of the latest editions for this week since my colorful alter-ego had me running extra late shifts for three weeks straight. After only half attempts at seeming interested in anything newsworthy, Mike suggested I take a breather. I was glad to do it.
If only The Hornet could be so generous.
A typical day off would involve about four hot girls, a relaxing ten hour Jacuzzi soak complete with margaritas, mojitos, and whatever else I can look cool whipping together. But as ruined as my body was with my late night gallivanting across town with Kato, I didn't want to risk raising any suspicion. And a fist-outlined black and blue bruise to my throat was a little obvious in a pair of swimming trunks.
So I was stuck in the Jacuzzi alone, watching Kato work out the kinks in his newest invention geared at giving me the edge in a fight. He hadn't given it a cool name yet. But I felt one brewing behind his eyes someplace. I invited him to take a load off more than once, but my latest attempt was having about as much an impact as the first. He wasn't buying it.
"If is wet, and is not a shower, then I think I will pass." He said through his thick Chinese accent. Sometimes I swear he reminded me of Jackie Chan. Or Charlie Chan. Whichever one wasn't really Chinese.
"I have never heard of anyone drowning in a Jacuzzi, have you?" I posed the question, raising an eyebrow. Daring, if you will, a response out of him.
"William Mitchalinko Jr. died in 2004 in a Jacuzzi." He pointed out almost instantly.
I was a little surprised he knew that. "Yeah, but he was a drunk boy-band wannabe trying to sing underwater. That's hardly comparable too—"
"And Sir John Brithrow." He retorted.
"Again, another idiot wealthy guy who thought the water was vodka."
"What about Fred Barker?"
That name I didn't know. And honestly, who kept track of all the people who drowned in Jacuzzi's in the last six years? Kato, the hydrophobic masked vigilante, that's who.
"He was killed in Jacuzzi when he accidentally fell asleep." Kato elaborated. "I think I will pass. Thanks."
I rolled my eyes at him, sitting back against the jets of the state-of-the art whirlpool design. I swear, if I kicked this baby on its side and shot off at full power it could double as a fire hose in emergency situations. It had some pretty awesome kick to it. But even as I tried to find some way to relax my sore muscles in the revs of the water jets, my mind kept drifting to Kato.
And not in some gay way you crazy pervert.
After all he'd done to try and keep me alive throughout our partnership, all the little gadgets he'd come up with and tried to show me how to use effectively, there was relatively little I could do for him. Sure I gave him a cool house to stay at and provided the entire financial backing our line of work had so far required, but still. There had to be something I could do for him to get over this water fear.
Something like teaching him to swim.
"Hey, Kato. How does learning to swim sound?" I asked off-handedly.
He shrugged, soldering some miniscule piece of metal to some other miniscule piece of metal. "Tried it once. I think you threw me in. Didn't quite work out."
I shrugged. "Awe, come on, that was like a year ago. And I didn't know you didn't know how to swim. And I could have let you drowned to, but I threw you an inflatable lobster instead. Cut me some slack!"
He put down his tools and stared at me, as if trying to read my motives. I had gotten good at interpreting looks from people. Most of all Kato. Sometimes a look was all I had to go on when the ball dropped in a serious situation. "It like, thirty degrees out. I am not going for swim in your pool."
I threw a hand in the air. "Its heated, that's no excuse and you know it. Come on, swimming cannot be the kryptonite of the Green Hornet's partner. Imagine if I were drowning in a vat of boiling water. Would you come and save me? No, because you can't swim. It's a safety hazard." I crossed my arms, daring a comeback.
He looked at me for a good long time trying to think of one. We both knew I had a point. He just had to admit to it. After what seemed like forever, he finally began to nod.
Almost as soon as I'd seen his glove break the surface another ice crested wave pummeled it back to the bottom.
"Kato!" I screamed against the driving snow and wind whipping past me. After my jacket came my vest. I stripped as much as I could to decrease the excess weight. I wasn't looking forward to a polar bear plunge, but here I went anyway. Kato's life hung in the balance.
I ran back five or six steps and swan dove off the end of the pier into the ice coated water.
The initial shock sucked my breath out of my lungs. I had the urge to suck in air. I bet that's what brought Kato down. I resisted it, swimming for the surface first to steady myself and breath. I had to get my bearings, but it was near impossible with the black of the night and the merciless pounding from the ocean waves breaking off the end of the pier.
"Kato!" I screamed into the black. I searched around frantically, wondering when a chunk of ice big enough was going to fall right on top of me and seal me in forever.
Then I saw it. The faint bubbles. The flicker of white.
I dove down and beat against the water with my arms and legs. Like struggling with a leviathan I made agonizingly slow process. I could physically feel my lips shade to blue, my nails turning purple, my eyes constricting with utter hypothermia. But I wrestled onward, downward. The two white fingers of Kato's driving glove the only beacon of light in the total abyss of the ocean current. I kept swimming for what felt like an eternity. I wondered if, when, I reached him how I could possibly get back to the surface and break through the ice.
I guess that didn't matter.
The water off the end of the pier could be as deep as forty feet. I estimated we were hitting the twenty foot mark.
And Kato wasn't moving anymore.
"How did I let you convince me into this?" Kato asked, voice completely forlorn as he stood at the edge of the pool, eyeing his worst enemy.
Who his worst enemy was, I couldn't quite tell you. It might have been the six-foot deep water, or me. We were both right in front of him. And I am so glad I had a hidden camera take his picture when he walked out of the pool house. I had him decked out in every flotation devise I could find. Swimmies, a life vest, even flippers. Why I had convinced him that the yellow duck wrapped around his waist was going to make that much of a difference, I don't know. But it was funny as Hell.
I floated in the water on my back, coaxing him over the edge. I wasn't that great of a sight to see, I'll admit. My body was marred in by various circular fists in at least half a dozen sore locals. My eye was black around the lid and a cleverly placed right hook had busted my lip just last night. I had to admit I was sore enough to just call it a day, but the chance to see Kato in a duck flotation device I just could not pass up.
I . . . I mean, the chance to teach my valuable associate the necessities of proper swimming technique kept me on task.
And besides that, we both knew very well what tonight had in store for us. Any time now and the new District Attorney B.J. Parker would be showing up at my place with a list of tonight's particular scumbags. (For those of you that don't know, the DA and The Hornet have been pretty buddy-buddy. Especially since he's dying to be a masked vigilante himself and figured out in about two seconds that Britt Reid and The Hornet are the same guy. Maybe my Asian Valet gave it away).
I'd been working a hot case with him for the past three weeks. It involved a guy me and Kato had muscled in on three months ago, a guy by the name of Pulver. He took over Chevnofsky's empire after the Hornet took him out. Ever since Pulver's been trying to get his hands on a good drug supplier. Thus far The Hornet took out a Chinese Tong, a French Canadian dirty Mounty (dude, I totally did not make that up either) and a Mexican fascist. Each time we set him up for a police take down, Pulver keeps slipping through the cops' fingers. Needless to say, this interference finely prompted Pulver to do something he absolutely never attempted before.
He gave The Hornet a call. We were to meet, tonight, at the Los Angeles Pier. If he was willing to pay up, I was willing to lift his drug trade embargo. Everyone's happy. Trouble is Kato and I had other plans for his little drug scheme and it may involve running him right off the dock with my car.
However, getting back to topic, this particular meeting place made it sort of important that Kato knew how to swim in case, I don't know, I accidentally ran him off the pier, he jumped over the rail, he had to rescue me from the pier, something was always bound to go wrong before it all went right.
So here I am, sitting in my pool watching the barely-clad Kato decide whether ritual suicide was preferable to me teaching him to swim.
"Awe, come on, just plug your nose and dive in! I swear, if you try and die—" I sat up and treaded water as I pulled over one of Kato's most hated objects. "I got the lobster." I finished, squeezing the pool floaty. "Now man up, grow a set, and jump in this pool."
I had to keep myself from bursting out laughing. With how Kato looked, shivering and covered in mid-January goose bumps standing at the edge of the water it was hilarious to think of him as something more than a prepubescent seven-year-old. At long last he seemed to gather up his courage. The same courage I'd seen cause him to beat the crap out of five goons at once. He stepped one flippered foot out into the air. The other refusing to budge. There his foot dangled as his courage threatened to wane. When at last it seemed like he'd chicken out. When his body started vibrating with visible terror, and a cold thick sweat caused his heart to race like an adrenaline junky, when I thought the fear would swallow him up forever—
DA Parker opened the sliding door behind Kato. The door was quiet on its track, but the DA most certainly was not. "What in Heaven's sake are you doing?"
His appearance so unexpected, his voice so loud, and the state Kato was in all caused my little Chinese friend to leap nearly three feet straight up, move forward into thin air, turn like a cat attempting to right itself, and hit the pool water back first.
Then, he panicked.
Flippers flew left and right, his body twisted until he was face-down, the buoyancy of his vest slipping to his waist and keeping him upside down in the water as his flippers kicked the air desperately. And eruption of bubbles testified to his horrified screams as his arms splashed without use. The DA, scared out of his mind about what he just caused jumped into the water, fully clothed, and helped me up-end Kato. He came out, coughing and sputtering and heaving his chest for lack of oxygen. Together the DA and I paddled him to the concrete and lifted him out.
"Holy Hannah! What was that all about!" the DA yelled, pounding Kato's back furiously.
I was working at yanking his floaties off to alleviate Kato's sense of claustrophobia. His teeth were chattering uncontrollably, his coughing hadn't stopped, and the DA was hovering with concern.
I decided to move the party inside. After we affirmed Kato was indeed going to live, I filled in the DA on exactly what two grown men had decided to do pool-side in the middle of January. He got a big laugh out of the whole thing, but I think Kato right then started planning some way to ruin my life.
I don't know how I made up the couple feet difference between us, but I did. I grasped the only part of Kato I could, the longest two fingers of his gloved hand. At first I slipped the glove off, threatening to lose him again to the tide but my other hand shot out and down and pulled him closer again. I moved up to his wrist, then his elbow and finely his chest. It was like lifting an anvil underwater in a Looney Tunes episode. I ripped his jacket off to lighten him then drug him up, up, up through the water and awful current toward the surface again.
He wasn't helping me any. He wasn't moving, he definitely couldn't be breathing. And he was scaring me. It seemed to take me no time at all to rise up to the surface, to break over the ice crust that was quickly forming, then falling apart with each crashing wave.
I took my first good breath and forced Kato's head over the water's surface. His head just lolled back down. Unconscious or dead, I wouldn't find out yet.
A wave crashed down directly over head. We were pushed back, under the pier. I tried to spin my body, to gain control in the ripping current but I knew I was growing sluggish and cold.
The word hypothermia kept pumping through my skull with every thrum of my heart.
It was monotonous and draining. I struggled to find purchase under the pier, something to hold onto. But the piling acted like an unstoppable force. The crushing water rose and foamed, carrying its chunks of ice and walloping me, back first, into a piling.
Temporarily stunned, I felt my grip on Kato loosen as the wave strove to tear us apart.
"So that's the big plan? Just waltz up in their and put a gun to the guys head?" Parker's voice had an edge of disbelief in it. I didn't like it.
"Well, I didn't imagine there would be much "waltzing" involved. After all, I didn't end up The Green Ballerina. How would anyone take me seriously if I started "waltzing" all over the place. Do people even still know how to waltz?"
The DA held up his hand to stop my rant. "Yeah, yeah I get it. Poor word choice. But honestly, Britt, what are you going to do? This is the fourth time you've had a shot at this guy and each time his slimy little self squirms right out of it. They're calling him the Louisiana Slipper in your news paper for crying out loud."
I shrugged. I thought the name was catchy, and the guy was from the Bayou. "Honestly, B.J. I don't know. All I know is Kato and I have this last opportunity to shut this guy down once and for all. We can't let him get away again. Four kids, four of them died just yesterday on the stuff he's cooking up with the limited supplies he's got left. Pulver's cutting it with every nasty drug he can come up with to enhance his stock. If we don't stop him now there is going to be more bodies, and it'll be on The Green Hornet's hands."
Parker shook his head, slowly from side to side. He didn't like the set up any more than I did. But then again I was not giving him the options I normally afforded. Usually he was one step behind. Five minutes after I went in, the police sirens were wailing. This time was different. This time I didn't want help, and I did not want the cops moving in on my bust. We knew how dangerous Pulver had become.
"I don't like it." Parker said. "I don't like it one bit. But what can I do about it. We both know he's guilty as sin itself. But, Britt, do me a favor. If there is some way you can gift wrap this guy and leave him at my office, then do it. If you can't, then do me the favor of letting me know before it turns up on the front page of the Sentinel in the morning. Is that a deal?"
I agreed and we shook hands. By now Kato had just walked back in. his hair was still wet from his partial brush with death. He still looked a little angry at me, but his eyes lost the death glare he normally reserved for the cronies we went up against.
"So, what's the plan, boss?" he asked, toweling his hair back.
"Tonight, Kato, we are going to be winging it." I said triumphantly. My smile did not inspire a sense of support.
Pain rocked through my shoulders where the pier smashed me like a mallet. I sucked in a breath, ripping against the current to drag Kato in front of me again. I looked around desperately. But before I could plan a way of escape the merciless ocean pounded us into the pier again. My back wasn't going to take much more of this before it decided to split in half.
And Kato was still not breathing.
Not allowing myself to reconcile the fact I was towing around a dead body, I worked for some kind of reprieve.
Then I saw it.
I didn't know how I was going to reach it, but I just had to. For both our lives I had to. A single ladder dropped into the ocean about thirty feet ahead. I could just barely make out the rusted metal rungs jutting into the water. But how to get to it? The ocean was sucking us out and smashing us back into the huge pillars all at once. Whirlpools of ice threatened to drag us right back to the bottom if we traversed them too weakly.
For the first time in over a year as The Green Hornet, I was scared out of my mind. I adjusted Kato in my arms and weighed the options which were steadily decreasing by the second.
"Ease out onto the pier." I said quietly, as if anyone could hear us in the armored Black Beauty. "I want that flame thrower lined up to make him BBQ on command."
Kato grinned and nodded his approval. The two of us were feeling the stress of working so long to get this guy nailed. Tonight all that could finally come to an end.
"Are you getting out? To see him?" Kato asked, his voice equally low. The Black Beauty rolled out over the deck of the pier, coming closer and closer to the edge. Their a single man, clad in black, stood waiting for us.
It was Pulver himself.
"I think so." I said, serious as death.
"Just stand to left. And I will shoot him with rockets on right." Kato surmised. Always a steady thinker.
"Sure thing. But if this goes bad, Kato, I need you to mow him over the pier with this wicked frickin' car. Just make sure the car isn't recoverable afterwards." I set my fedora, then reached for the door handle.
"OK, Boss. You got it." Kato whispered as I stepped out into the night.
Snow had started falling before we left the house. Now the last time I saw snow in LA was, let me think, never. This winter was colder than a witches' pointy little hat (hah, got you there didn't I?). Ice flows had started on forming in all the inlets, causing a mighty big headache for shipping business's everywhere. Not to mention all the socialites rushed indoors so their implants wouldn't shrink. The water beneath the pier was vengeful and titanic all at once. Icebergs literally jostled for position over the crashing, cresting waves as they slammed like a sledge hammer into the bottom of the pier.
Pulver was smiling. He leaned against a hand rail, allowing me the perfect opportunity to imagine pushing him right over the ledge and be done with it. I discretely held up two fingers to Kato, our signal for him to hold on, not fire, let me here the scumbag out. Either way I continued to stay on the left. Far left.
"Ah, The Green Hornet." His southern Louisiana draw pulled out. "Fan—tastic timing as always. Your driver must be some kind of demon to blast 'cross the night like that." He made a half-hearted wave at Kato behind the wheel. The Black Beauty roared angrily in response.
I chuckled a little to myself.
"Well, shall we ta business?" Pulver said nonchalantly. I was getting a little sick of him.
"Fine. Let's get right to the part where you start paying me, and the drug dealers of the USA start pouring into the city at your whim. Long as I get my cut I don't care what you start peddling." I said gruffly.
Pulver nodded. "Couldn't 'ta spected anything beside it." He picked up his briefcase and set it on the railing. In the headlights of the Black Beauty I could distinctly see him flip the lid and the flash of green that was placed snugly within. I took a quick look at one stack of hundred dollar bills. I flipped threw them like a stack of papers on the editor's desk. Then I replaced it in the briefcase and closed the lid.
Pulver indicated the briefcase. "Whatcha asked for in't it? Quarter of a million fresh and prime for the pickin'."
"Seems like it, doesn't it?" I asked. I held the briefcase in the green light of the Black Beauty. Then I did something Pulver probably never expected. I took the case and chucked it over the side of the railing where the ocean swallowed it instantly.
The drug lord was thrown off balance, his eyes piercing and ugly as they flashed red. "What are you crazy!"
I snaked a hand forward and grabbed him by the collar, drawling him close under the brim of my fedora. My breath hit him full in his frozen face. I kept my voice gruff, growling out. "I'm not a fool, Pulver! You think you can trick me with your monopoly money, you're not smart enough to be of any use!" I hit tossed him into the railing, his head smacked against the side with a heavy thunk of metal on bone.
I knew his goons were out their waiting. A contingency plan like every other time he'd been allowed to get away. This time I was ready for that. So as Pulver pulled the gun I knew he'd hidden, Kato propelled out of the Black Beauty. His nunchuck wedged the gas pedal down.
I kicked the gun sky high and landed a gut punch. Pulver countered with a cross to my chin, but I ducked beneath it and shoulder him into the railing. He kicked up into my ribs and pulled a knife.
Kato was a blur of movement. As Pulver's men poured out of the various shops and attractions lining the pier, Kato took them on instantly. One kicked him back into the open drivers door or the Black Beauty. He grabbed the upper door jam and launched forward, both feet first into two men at once. He rounded on a third, delivering a bone crunching sucker punch. Two Hornet darts flew from some invisible position and cut into the throat of a fourth goon.
Others came down on Pulver and me. I was doing everything I could to keep Pulver in the lane of the Black Beauty as she careened toward us. The cronies were firing their 9mm in hopes of bringing me down.
I extracted my Hornet Gun and dropped them both with one shot. Then I walloped Pulver sideways with it. He went spinning. He fell back, hitting the railing but facing forward. The blow threw me off balanced and I hit my knees. The Black Beauty rolled on. That's when I realized I was not quite far enough left to avoid the car myself.
I was going to be killed with my own car.
"HORNET!" Kato screamed, rushing to my aid. He grabbed be by the back of my jacket and tossed me up and backwards. I hit the boardwalk just inches from the back tires. As I turned and looked up I caught a glimpse of Kato, his jacket hooked to the open turret on the hood of the Beauty, go over the edge after Pulver.
I knew he rigged the Beauty to blow. I knew it was the plan all along. But losing Kato was not what I intended going into this. I launched myself at the railing in time to see Kato break free. To watch as Pulver hit the water with the full weight of the beastly car falling on top of him. Would Kato survive the shockwave as the Black Beauty exploded?
I had no time to wait. I knew Kato couldn't swim. I knew he was going to die if I sat here and did nothing. So I began to strip and steeled myself for my coming plunge.
The Black Beauty exploded before I hit the water.
"HORNET! HORNET! WHERE ARE YOU!"
Did I imagine the voice? Was it really true?
Hell yeah, it was true! Only B.J. Parker would be on a pier in the middle of the night calling on the Green Hornet to show himself.
"PARKER!" I screamed back, swallowing a mouthful of seawater. I was clinging to Kato with one arm, the other wrapped tightly around the wooden pillar.
A flash light hit the water. The DA shimmied down the metal ladder gingerly, scanning the water surface for us.
"Hornet? Where are you?" he called.
"Here!" I replied.
The light flicked to us as another colossal wave hit. I was dislodged this time, pushed closer toward the ladder before the riptide of the frozen ocean threatened to yank us back to sea. But the DA seemed to have been ready for that. A rope appeared from a place I couldn't explain. He tossed it perfectly to me and instantly I wrapped my free arm at least a dozen times.
"Go! Hit the gas!" the DA called up to the pier.
Like we were shot out of a rocket, the rope dragged us out of the water, over the railing, and spilled Kato and I onto the weathered boards of the Los Angeles Pier. I gasped and coughed, working against the cold to command some control over my muscles. Kato lay dead beside me.
I willed my body up. My hands beating down against his stomach in a last ditch attempt to eradicate the water from his lungs.
Parker was over me instantly. This time he didn't ask questions, he just acted.
First Kato was spun onto his back. The DA pounding the life into his lungs and the seawater out. When he seemed satisfied in the amount he had extracted, he flipped Kato over and listened to his chest.
He started chest compressions not a second later.
"Mr. Reid?" a small voice came from behind me.
I was shaking uncontrollably. The cold cut me to the core. My adrenaline was firing like electric eels under my skin. My breath was raspy and shallow.
Lenore Case, my brilliant secretary placed a blanket over my shoulders and began to rub the warmth into me. She didn't look at Kato. She couldn't.
I wasn't taking my eyes off him.
"Come, come on, Shong-di." I whispered between stolen breaths. "Don't—don't ddddie on mmeee."
The DA kept pumping.
Kato ad turned blue. I wondered to myself if he was blue already. Blue was a funny looking color on him. Made him look like a blowfish. Blowfish are pretty deadly. I never ate a blowfish. I'm kind of hungry. When's the last time I ate. What time is it? Is it day light yet?
Why am I so cold?
"Parker! Parker it's Britt, I'm losing him!"
"You are such a baby! Seriously, I mean, just get over it already! Jump in right now, or I will push you in!"
"No. Never again! I have had it with you're crazy wet and wild adventures. No more, all right?"
"What? You going to be like Superman and his kryptonite now? The Green Hornet fears nothing. But you, maybe you scared of everything."
I gave Kato an evil look. The same evil look I used so very often when destroying the careers of the criminal underworld. On Kato, it had the relative affect of a gnat telling the Space Shuttle Atlantis to move over.
Kato was treading water in the deep end of the pool. My pool. The same pool he had come to fear his entire stay at the Reid mansion. He was in this pool, swimming like a frickin' Olympic athlete. And there I was playing with his new toy for me, the Hornet Sting, and refusing to go swimming. Actually, I was a little terrified of it.
"You are a baby." Kato continued to needle me. "Waaaah, Waaaah."
"Hey!" I pointed the weapon at him, inspiring the look of sudden fear I had wanted to see. "I almost DIED of hypothermia for saving you. Give me a break."
Kato shrugged and backstroked away, as far from the Hornet Sting as he could possibly be.
About three minutes after I passed out on the pier, the DA brought Kato around at last. Then there was little else to do but stripped the two of us to nothing, pick up my hat, mask, and coat then load us into the DA's car to warm up. It took about three days to really warm up from our peaceful brush with death and now, day four Kato was swimming like a fish and I'm the one chilling pool side.
Beside me Parker was chuckling to himself. He was enjoying a cup of Kato's famous coffee and so was I. Apparently, Kato had called the DA and told him of our location in case something dire should befall us. Casey was there at the time the call came in so her keeping out of the matter was next to impossible to accomplish.
That little explanation aside, I decided to try out the newest toy in our rolling arsenal. I aimed the Hornet Sting at the closest thing I could find. Which was, not surprisingly, the pool.
Seeing the look of inquisition in my eye, Kato lunged out of the way to find himself a degree of safety. He pulled himself out of the pull just in time to avoid the pulsing shockwave that erupted from the black tipped collapsible baton. The poor inflatable lobster did not survive the deadly blow of the Hornet sting. It literally imploded.
Along with all of the water in the pool.
I looked over to Parker, nodding my approval.
He whistled through his teeth. "Nice." He said. "Wish we could get something like that on the Force."
I snickered a little. "Yeah, sure you would. But Kato's not out for loan. I need him right where he is."
Kato grinned. "Hey, it worked! The first time too!"
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