Paradox Key

Chapter Twelve: Typical Meeting

"Really, Misaki?" said Kanami. "You're going to pretend you don't remember the man that was buying a bra that you couldn't stop drooling over?"

"A… a guy buying a bra?" questioned Misaki.

"Drooling over?" remarked Saitou with a hint of jealousy.

"I don't remember."

"Ah stop it with the games, Misaki. It's not going to stop me from playing matchmaker with you two. You were so into the guy, you couldn't speak properly. Now where did he go?"

Kanami left to search around the bar.

"I really don't remember, Saitou. What did he look like?"

"Ah," Saitou thought for a second. "He's Chinese with black hair, dark blue eyes, and in his early twenties, but he should be about twenty-six or twenty-seven I think now. Oh, and he has a huge appetite. But you couldn't tell it by looking at him."

"Chinese?"

"That describes the guy I just poured a drink for where Saitou was pointing at," commented Kouno.

"Really, I wasn't seeing things. Thank God."

"He was a good looking man, but I don't think he was the Chief's type."

"And who…" began Saitou, as he cleared his throat, "who is her type?"

"Not you, Saitou."

Saitou looked at him wide eyed, as if trying to state, "I can't believe you just said that."

Kanami came back a few seconds later to break up the conversation.

"I didn't see him," she sighed. "I guess it wasn't him. Wow, it's been four years. Didn't you say he was deported back to China?

"Did I?"

"Ah, come on Misaki. I can't believe you don't remember. What, did someone use M.E. on you?"

"Why would someone want to erase her memory of Li-kun?" inquired Saitou.

"Someone wanted him all to herself," giggled Kanami, while chugging down a drink. Someone caught her attention at the corner of her eye. "Lucky!" She quickly finished the remaining liquid in her glass, slammed it on the table, and grabbed Misaki by the arm. "I think I just saw him by the toilets in the back." She pulled Misaki off her chair and dragged her off. "Let's catch him before you miss him again."

"Kanami!" complained Misaki.

When they reached the restrooms, Kanami looked on baffled, and said, "Where did he go?"

"Perhaps he went to use the toilet."

"Perhaps," agreed Kanami, as she entered the men's restroom.

"Kanami, what are you doing?"

"Hey, Li-kun," Kanami announced to a man dressed in a black suit with short medium length black hair.

Waiting outside, Misaki saw the man turn around wide-eyed at Kanami before the door shut. Out of embarrassment, Misaki shifted over to the wall on the other side of the female's restroom.

Kanami exited a few minutes later, spotted Misaki, and walked over to her.

"It wasn't him," she smirked. "But it looks like you'll have to do the investigation without me. I got a date."

"You're unbelieva…"

Suddenly, the lights went out. They stood in darkness for a minute before a spark of light came from the middle area of the bar, and then an agonizing scream. A few seconds later, the backup power came on. Misaki looked towards the ruckus and saw who she believed was the female Contractor at the table with her head collapsed on the table. The lady's date screamed out in horror like a girl, stood to run off, catching the attention of others around him. Saitou and Kouno hurried over to her.

"Is she dead?" a lady said next to the Contractor to her husband. Her husband went to check on her.

"Please stand back, we are police officers," informed Saitou, as Kouno checked for a pulse.

"She's alive," stated Kouno and then slapped cuffs on her.

"Where's the Chief?" Saitou pointed out. "She would have seen the spark and come over here too."

"She and Kanami are probably gossiping in the restroom."

"Off doing her own thing when we are supposed to be working. Kouno, take care of her, I'll go look for the Chief."

Kouno nodded.

Saitou headed over to the restroom and spotted Kanami chatting with the man in a black suit.

"Where's the chief?" he asked her.

"She's right…," Kanami looked to her right, and noticed Misaki was missing. "She was just here a second ago. She may have gone into the restroom. I'll check."

However, that hadn't been the case. As soon as the power went out, Misaki had immediately exited the emergency door she had been standing near with Kanami, thinking that the killer would try to escape this way. It led to a small hallway to another exit door that she believed led outside.

She heard the door open and quickly drew her gun towards it. Seconds later, the emergency lights came back on to reveal a man wearing a black trench coat, black attire underneath and a white mask with red lips and a purple lightning bolt across the right eye.

She stood stunned for a second since it had been many years since she had seen that haunted figure. However, she wasn't going to be intimidated by an imposter.

"Freeze, police!" she yelled.

He seemed to be as surprised that there was someone in the path of his getaway: especially a cop.

"You're the last person I wanted to run into," he growled. "Out of my way!"

"Put your hands over your head and surrender, or I will shoot," countered Misaki.

"Get out of my way or I will kill you."

"I seem to be the one at the advantage. I will shoot you before you can run out that door, or come after me."

"It seems I have no choice."

He ran towards her, having Misaki fire. The bullet bounced off his coat, surprising her and then knocked the gun out of her hands. He grabbed her to pull her tight against his muscular body with the coldness of his mask against the back of her neck that sent a cold shiver down her spine.

"You look so beautiful tonight, Misaki," he whispered. Misaki cringed from him using her given name. "I would love nothing more than to take you away from all this, but it's just not the right time. Please forgive me for everything I have done to you, and everything I may have to do."

"What are you talking about?"

"Remember!" he said, as he sent an electrical shock through her to knock her out.

Her body fell limp to have him cradle her in his arms and laid her down gently against the wall. Hei wanted to take off his mask and kiss her sweet lips since he never got the opportunity after remembering the time they had had together. However, they would have company soon.

The door to the bar opened to have Saitou walk through it with his gun at the ready. He flinched at the sight of the haunting mask, but relinquished it for the woman he cared for and feared.

"Back away from her!" Saitou ordered.

Hei raised his hands, so that Saitou wouldn't get trigger-happy around Misaki.

"Please take care of her!" said Hei.

He rested his hand on a power box switch, sent a surge through it to knock out the power and left through the back door. Saitou ran for the back door, exited it to look around the back alley, but didn't see any trace of the man.

"Just like the real one," he commented to himself, as his mind contemplated what had happened. "A GHOST!" he yelled, scaring himself.

Trying to shake it off since Misaki needed him; he went back into the bar to check on her. He put his hand to her neck, and let out a breath of relief that she was alive.

XXX

The next day, Hei woke up next to his supposed girlfriend. When he had gotten home, she wanted to talk to him, but he didn't know where to begin.

He told her he was tired and needed some sleep. They could talk in the morning.

Wanting to break it off and not be cruel about it, he thought about telling her he didn't love her anymore and for her to leave. It was true since his heart belonged to someone else.

However, he didn't want to mess with anything from this world in case he was able to make it back to his.

The first thing Hei needed to do was locate his restaurant. He checked, but couldn't find an address on the Internet or in the phone book. In addition, there weren't any other restaurants with the same name as his in Tokyo. He had tried to call the restaurant to ask for directions, but nobody was answering. Perhaps it was too early in the morning and he didn't serve breakfast there.

Mao appeared at his window moments later. Hei went to go open it. Once again, he had to ask Mao for his help.

"What do you want, Mao?"

"Madame O wanted me to tell you she has another job for you. She'll meet up with you later at your restaurant.

"Fine."

"Speaking of your restaurant, why haven't you left yet?"

"Ummm…. About that… I…"

"Don't tell me that bump on your head made you forget where your restaurant is at too?"

"Umm, I know it's in Shinjuku."

"Fine." Mao sighed. "I'll take you there. Just don't go and threaten to electrocute me when I come by looking for scraps."

"I promise I'll just threaten to cook you."

"You're very considerate," frowned Mao.

"Thanks."

"What will you ever do without me?"

"Eat in peace," Hei replied.

A few minutes later, Hitomi awoke. She stood up and walked over to Hei to hug and give him a kiss. Hei didn't react in the least to her affection.

"You're different," she commented. "You're not the same. I hope nothing bad has happened."

"It's nothing."

"You know you can talk to me about anything."

"I'm all right," he assured, and then exited his apartment with Mao walking out behind him.

He closed the door behind him and as he turned around, there stood a middle-aged man in his late forties with a shaggy brown beard and hair, wearing military green pants and a green tank top.

"AH HA!" he yelled. "So it is your cat, Li-san!"

"Hmmm?" he questioned with a puzzled look.

The man quickly snatched Mao by the head, lifted him up, and spat, "I said no pets!"

"He's not mine," Hei replied with a smile.

"This cat has been scrounging through our garbage and making a mess," the man continued, as Hei realized he must be the landlord. "I've been staking out the place at night trying to catch him. He's been crafty and dodged every bb-gun shot I fired. I'm going to tie him to a pole in the back and have some target practice with him." Mao tried wiggling free the man's hold. "Say your last words to your pet!"

"He's not mine. I don't care what you do to him."

"He walked out of your apartment."

"Did he? I didn't even see him. He's sneaky."

"You're out of here. Make sure you're packed up and out of here by the end of the week."

"Ummm…"

"No, you do not get this month's rent back." Hei sighed, as Mao reached his paws up and began scratching at the man's face. "Ouch!" he yelled letting go of Mao. Mao ran off with the landlord chasing him. "Hey, get back here."

Hei walked over to sit on a bench and waited for Mao to return so that he could guide him to his restaurant.

Five minutes later, Mao came back, running past Hei while yelling, "Hurry up, this way! He's still on my tail!"

Hei stood as the landlord approached him. When he was a few feet before him, he stuck out his foot, and tripped the landlord to have him fall flat on his face.

"Hey, what's the big deal?" he demanded.

The landlord began to stand, but before he could, Hei stepped on top of him and sent a brief electrical shock through his body to knock him out.

Mao came up seconds later, and breathed out heavily, "Thanks, Hei."

"I didn't do it for you. I didn't feel like running."

Mao looked at him hurt, but shook it off and led him to the train station.

An hour later, they arrived at his restaurant.

It was similar to the Homerun House. Walking in, he saw a couple of his employees working, but no signs of any customers. Mao snuck under the tables while heading towards the kitchen in the back, trying not to be seen by the employees.

Why had no one picked up the phone earlier? He pondered more on how it could be so empty, considering how great a cook he was. It better not be business hours yet or someone was going to pay.

"Boss!" yelled a thin petite girl who was sweeping the floor. She was dressed in blue jeans and a gray short sleeve shirt, had short brown hair with red highlights, and an oval face. Hei recognized the girl's voice as the girl he had talked to yesterday. "Is that you?"

"Yes."

"Damn you're attractive. I never noticed before because of the stubble. Hitomi make you do it?"

"Umm… No."

"How are you feeling?"

"Better," he smiled. I tried calling a half hour ago. Where were you?"

"Oh, I'm sorry boss. I thought my shift started ten minutes ago. Did you need me here earlier?"

"Eh… No."

"I picked up the banner yesterday," she informed.

"The banner?"

"Yeah. The Grand Opening banner and the flyers we're going to hand out."

"Oh, those." That would explain the lack of customers.

"It's too bad you were sick on the first day we opened. Or, we were going to open."

"Yeah. I'm sorry about that."

"Not a problem, boss. But you're better today, so we can get cooking, right?"

"Yeah."

"Good. Then I'll have Aoi hang the sign and send out the flyers."

"Ah, why me?" inquired Aoi, a twenty-three year old thin man.

He was average in height, wore black pants, a black shirt, and had long black hair with purple highlights. He had five piercings in each ear including a nose, eyebrow, and lip ring.

"Because there will be no dishes to clean up until we get some customers."

Aoi sighed. Hei smiled and then left to check out his kitchen.

When he entered the back, the first thing he saw was Mao sitting in the middle of his white ceramic tile floor wagging his tail. He gave him an angry glare that stated, "Why the Hell are you in the Kitchen?"

"Don't look at me like that. I led you here. You owe me a meal."

Hei went over to his cook top, grabbed a wok hanging on the pot rack above it and then turned to smile devilishly at Mao. Mao's eye's widened in hysteria as he quickly ran out of the kitchen.

"AHHH! You again!" screamed Haturo. "Cats are not allowed in here. They can get hair in a customer's food. SCRAM, BEAT IT!"

Mao could be heard screaming as it sounded like Haturo had grabbed him and threw him outside by the tail.

Hei smiled to himself.

Xxx

Misaki sat at her desk cleaning her glasses as she pondered on the fake Black Reaper incident she had. He was by far one of the best imposters she had seen in awhile. They usually dressed in black street clothes and wore a ski mask with the name BK-201 painted across the top of the ski mask in white paint. One person had gotten close, but the coat was too short and the mask was missing the lightning bolt and red lips. Another one had no coat and had long hair.

She had to admit, when she saw the figure standing in the doorway, she had felt a bit of nostalgia hit her and wanted to take him down as much as the real Reaper. He even had the same build, hair, and his voice… his voice was very close too. His close proximity made her want to play out one of her fantasy dreams she had of him. A fantasy she would never admit to anyone, not even to herself.

It was of him swinging into her apartment through the balcony, grabbing her to spin her around, taking off his mask, and kissing her passionately.

Misaki shook her head from those images and thought about the imposter again.

The most shocking part was when she had felt him use electricity. More than likely it could have been a stun gun. She did not see him highlight in blue at all when he had a hold of her.

Moreover, what did he mean by remembering? None of this made any sense. Not to mention Saitou and Kanami's comments about this Li-kun guy whom she had no idea who he was.

Was someone playing a trick on her? If they were, it was not funny.

"Are you ready to go shopping?" she heard Kanami ask. Startled, she looked up and put on her glasses to see her friend standing next to her. "Or should I let you finish your dream about BK-201?" she teased.

"I'm not…"

"You've stayed up late countless of hours watching his star before it fell two years ago. When you give that face, I know who you're thinking about."

Even if Misaki kept her fantasies to herself, Kanami still knew that she had liked the man. On the other hand, perhaps it was because she never gave up pursing him, even till the end.

"Are you paying attention to me, or are you kissing BK-201?"

"W—what! No! No way! I'm just finishing up this report."

"Finishing? Finishing what? If you're not daydreaming about BK-201, let's go."

Kanami grabbed her arm.

"But I really have to finish up…"

"Give me your keys."

"My keys? It's not in walking distance?"

"No it's in…"

"I don't have time, Kanami."

"Make some," finished Kanami, pulling her away from her desk and out of the office.

Kanami had taken Misaki shopping in Shinjuku for hours. The first thing she did was make her buy a new outfit and put it on for the rest of the day. As Kanami continued to shop store after store, Misaki stood waiting around for her in a set of blue jeans and a white v-neck short sleeve blouse.

Towards the end of the day, Misaki was carrying three of Kanami's five bags from various clothing and shoe stores. Misaki hadn't found anything she liked, mostly because she wasn't in the mood.

"Come on, Kanmai, can we go get something to eat now?" whined Misaki.

"One more place before I take you to this nice restaurant that I know you'll love."

Misaki sighed.

As they walked a little further down the street, they were greeted by a young average height man wearing black pants, a black shirt, and had long black hair with purple highlights giving the appearance he could be in a rock band.

"Hello ladies," he smiled. "Would you like to try a free sample?"

Seeing that their hands were full, he held up a piece of meat on a toothpick by Misaki's mouth, gesturing for her to take it.

"Smells delicious," commented Misaki. She looked around her surroundings to see she was in front of a restaurant and took one. "Umm… Yum!"

He held one up for Kanami who politely accepted and tried it, which made her eyes light up.

Taking in the scent of the restaurant, Misaki's stomach growled.

"Come on Kanami, let's eat here first, and then we can go to your last store after."

"All right. But there are three more stores I want to go to."

"Kanami, I'm on duty!"

"You're fine. There haven't been any calls and you haven't had a break in ages."

"This isn't what I consider a break," mumbled Misaki.

They entered the small restaurant to be met by a young petite lady. "Welcome. Just the two of you?"

"Yes," replied Misaki.

"Just take a seat anywhere."

The small restaurant only had eight rectangle tables that sat four people, but six of them were filled with customers. One table needed to be cleared.

Misaki and Kanami went to the unoccupied table by a window in the front corner. Misaki was amazed that this table was open because of its beautiful view of the street. Misaki took her seat closer to the door facing the kitchen, and Kanami sat across from her.

"My name is Hotaru. I'll be your server," said the young girl, as she set a couple of waters and menus on the table. Misaki and Kanami grabbed the menus and browsed through them.

"It smells so good in here," remarked Misaki.

"If that sample was any indication of the cook's skills, we'll be in for a treat," Kanami added.

Hotaru came back moments later, took their order, and returned to the kitchen. Five minutes later, they were served.

"Wow, that was fast," they said in synch.

They dug into their food. At first bite, their eyes lit up in surprise.

"This is so delicious," Kanami commented. "Wouldn't it be nice to go out with someone who cooked this well?"

There she went again, always thinking about guys.

"Can you just stop it? I'm not here to go guy hunting with you."

"He's probably not good looking anyway. All the good looking men I've dated can't cook this excellent."

"Kanami!"

"Hey, have you ever fantasized about BK-201 cooking a meal for you?"

"Stop it."

"Come on. How about breakfast with nothing on except his white mask."

Misaki wanted to hit her friend but she found herself visualizing the scene as she went on.

"He makes a promise that he will remove the mask only if you eat everything that he makes."

"That shouldn't be hard, considering how much I eat," noted Misaki, not believing she was playing along with her friend.

"Exactly! So when you do, he comes over and grabs you by the arms, removes his mask, and kisses you passionately."

"I'd rather be kissed by a stranger."

"Knock it off. I know how much he intrigues you. You can't hide it."

"I don't want to talk about it anymore. Let's just eat."

"Fine." Misaki started chewing down her food faster, but Kanami's words had made her start fantasying other places she would have liked to have the Reaper instead; like cuffed to her. "Can't get him out of your mind now, can you?"

"Stop it!"

After they finished their meal, Misaki walked over to Hotaru to ask where the restroom was. She didn't need to pee, but needed to calm her mind from the thoughts Kanami was putting in it.

"Just down the hall," she informed, as she pointed to the small hall that she had exited with food.

"Thank you," Misaki replied, and then headed down it.

She noticed a door in the back and headed to it. Opening it, she entered and saw a man with black, medium length hair, black pants and a white shirt standing by a urinal. The man looked over his shoulders dumbfounded, as she gasped in surprise. They stared at each other for a few seconds.

"I—I'm s—sor… sorry!" she exclaimed, and quickly left to stand against the wall breathing heavily.

She couldn't believe she had made the mistake of walking into the men's restroom. However, she looked up at the door to see there was no sign.

Seconds later, the door opened to have the man exit and, surprisingly, stopped in his tracks to look at her, as if she somehow had startled him again. He didn't move or say anything while Misaki gazed into his beautiful, piercing midnight blue eyes that seemed to melt her heart. Now she really needed to cool down.

They were intoxicating, making her feel as though she was floating on clouds lost in heaven, until a dinging noise from the kitchen caused her to snap out of her daze.

"My rice is ready," he said to her.

"Umm… Wha…?"

"The buzzer that startled you. I'm sorry about that." She noticed he was wearing a chef's apron.

"Oh, you must be the chef."

"A – a…ah, yes," he stuttered to say.

"Your food is amazing."

"Ah… Thank you!"

He looked at the bathroom door and sighed.

"I'm sorry about that," he sighed. His focus shifted to a piece of paper on the floor and picked it up. "I should have had Aoi tape the sign up better. I still need to get it replaced."

She continued to stare at him, neither of them moving from the bathroom.

After what seemed like minutes, but it had been seconds, the cook said, "Eh… I'm sorry," while holding his hand behind his neck. "The ladies room is right here."

He smiled and showed her a door that was perpendicular to the men's restroom. Misaki snapped out of her shock and then smiled uneasily at him.

"A—ah. Th—thank you," she babbled.

Entering the bathroom, she headed over to the sink to turn on the cold water. She took off her glasses and splashed her face a few times to calm her nerves, and then found the need to use the toilet. A couple minutes later, she exited and walked by the kitchen door to see it was propped open. She noticed the cook's eyes on her as he stood in front of a stainless steel cook top stirring a big pot, which she believed was his rice. Averting his eyes from her, he went to throw some chopped green onions into a wok.

So much for Kanami saying he couldn't be good looking since he could cook, she thought.

Before she walked out of the hall, he called out to her.

"Misaaa… miss," he hesitated, in English. Misaki thought he was going to say her name at first, but wondered how he would know. Was she wearing her badge? "Umm…" he paused as if he had forgotten what he was going to say to her. "I was…"

Misaki wondered if he was trying to apologize again. It felt weird since she should be the one apologizing.

He seemed to shake off his thought, and said, "Thank you! I hope you will come back."

"I'll have to come back," Misaki smiled, making him return it.

She went back to her seat, and as she returned, she noticed a window to the kitchen was opened. The Foreign Affairs woman spotted the cook eyeing her again, but he shifted his attention back to his work like before.

Maybe he wasn't trying to apologize, but found her attractive and was trying to ask her out. She would say yes, but only if he worked up the nerve to ask her.

"Are you listening to me, Misaki?" Kanami asked, as she looked to see where Misaki's attention was at, thinking it was a group of guys sitting in front of the cook's window. "So which one?" she whispered to Misaki.

"Which one what?"

"Of those guys do you like?"

"None."

"Then who's got your attention?"

"EH?"

"You weren't paying attention to me when I asked you if you liked the clothes I bought today and your face is flushed."

"Eh?"

"So which one of the cute guys has got your attention?"

"Umm…. none of them."

"Liar."

"It's the cook, okay. I think he likes me."

"Oh?" she smirked. "And I thought someone didn't want to go out guy hunting today, hmmm?"

"It's not me, okay. He keeps staring at me."

Misaki looked up at the window, as he averted his eyes from hers. She held her stare and caught him looking back up at her, which caused her to blush a deep red color, and turned her attention back to her bowls of ramen.

"It looks like it goes both ways." Kanami smirked, and turned around to get a look herself, but saw the window closing. "Shoot! I didn't see him. Is he cute?"

"Umm… he's all right."

"Really?"

Kanami stood, as if to check him out and play matchmaker. She didn't even know what he looked like.

"Kanami, no!"

"He just made you blush. I just want to see what he looks like."

Hotaru came up moments later.

"Is there something else I can get you ladies?" she asked. "Some dessert perhaps?"

"Just the check," said Misaki.

"Is your cook the dessert?" chimed Kanami.

"EEEEHHHH!" Hotaru looked at her stupefied.

"She's just kidding," replied Misaki, trying to laugh off her friends comment. "Just the check."

Hotaru smiled and walked off. She came back moments later with her check. Misaki handed over her debit card to pay for it.

"I'm just going to use the toilet," said Kanami, and walked back down the hall. Misaki's attention shifted back to the window to see it was cracked open and the cook eyeing her through the small opening.

For some reason, she wasn't freaked out by him. He had this astonished but shy look to him. However, at the same time, she had this uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. Like she had seen those eyes before, but couldn't remember where.

Kanami walked out of the hall moments later, making Misaki believe that she didn't need to use the toilet, but tried to sneak a peek at the cook.

"Darn, the door to the kitchen was locked." She looked at the window to see it was closed again. "Seriously, what does he look like?"

"Come on, Kanami, let's go."

Misaki grabbed her purse and headed out the door. Kanami followed behind, but took one last glance at the kitchen window.

Hei watched Misaki exit his restaurant. When he saw her in the hall at the bar, he had felt a sense of adrenaline and anticipation that he may have to win her over again. However, as she stood before him in the hall, all he felt was uneasiness.

She didn't remember him.

He could only imagine what it was like for her with him not remembering all the time they had spent together. It was more than heartache, it was excruciating pain, as if his blade had been stabbed in his heart thirty times by Izanami and Misaki was not there to mend it.

All he wanted to do was pull her tight against his body and kiss those warm, intoxicating lips, but he could not.

A tear escaped his eye.

Hotaru came in the kitchen moments later, as he wiped away the tear.

"Umm, boss, are you all right?"

"I—I'm fine. I'm still just a little under the weather."

"Should you be cooking?"

"I'm fine. Did you need something?"

"There were two ladies in here just now. The lady with the darker hair left without her debit card."

Hei's eyes lit up. "Really?"

"I'll see if I can find her number on-line, or even an address, and let her know she left it. But if they call looking for it, I'll have it in the register."

"All right. Um, let me know when she comes back so I can offer her my apologies."

"Umm… that isn't necessary. I can…"

"Just let me know."

"Okay, boss."

XXx

Kanami and Misaki went to two more stores. At the second store, Misaki had eyed a yellow hat while Kanami was in the changing room. She tried it on, admiring herself in the mirror, and decided she wanted to buy it.

Kanami came out putting all ten clothes she tried on back on the return rack.

"I didn't like any. Are you ready to go?" Kanami asked.

"Sure, but I want to buy this hat before we leave."

"Oh, let me see it on you." Misaki modeled it for her. "I love it."

Misaki walked up to the register and handed the hat to the cashier. The cashier started to ring up her order as Misaki fished in her purse for her wallet.

She pulled it out and started looking for her debit card. However, after surfing through all her cards, she couldn't find it. Misaki dug around in her bag with the same result.

"My card is gone," she said, frustrated. "Do you have it by any chance?"

"No, you never handed it to me."

"Well, check to make sure."

Kanami looked through all her stuff.

"No, I don't have it. Where's the last place you remember having it?"

"The restaurant we just ate at."

"Well, it's got to be there. Let's call them and see if someone found it."

"Good idea." Misaki pulled out her phone and started to surf the Internet for the phone number. "Um… Do you remember the name of the place?"

"No."

"Me neither."

"Umm…. Ladies… can you stand aside so I can wait on the next customer," mentioned the cashier.

Misaki and Kanami looked behind them to see some angry faces.

"Sorry," uttered Misaki while bowing. Kanami pulled out her card and went to pay for her friend's hat.

"Kanami, you don't have to…"

"This is the first thing you spotted by yourself. There's no way we're leaving it behind. You can pay me back later."

The cashier took Kanami's card and finished ringing up their sale. When he was done bagging the hat, Kanami took her card and the two left the store.

"Let's just head back there," commented Kanami. "It's not that far away."

"Come to think of it, I never waited for the cashier to return."

"The cook got you a little flustered?" Kanami smirked.

"Kanami!"

"Look at the bright side. You'll get to see him again. You should ask him out."

"No, I'm not. He's not my type."

"He's not as dark and mysterious as BK-201?"

"Maybe I should so you'll stop teasing me about BK-201."

"Will not happen." Misaki shook her head. A minute later, Kanami finished with, "You should have a three-some."

"You're impossible."

Kanami smiled. Misaki pulled out her iPod to listen to Gackt while they walked back to the restaurant so she wouldn't have to listen to Kanami. While Vanilla played, Kanami gestured with her fingers the numbers 2-0-1 repeatedly and pressed them to her lips. It made the walk feel longer than it should. Ten minutes later, they arrived.

"That looks like the place."

Misaki nodded

"Li's Kitchen?" Kanami questioned. "He isn't your Li-kun, is he?"

"My Li-kun?"

"I swear, Misaki. Someone must have used M.E. on you. I can't believe you don't remember him."

"Well, I don't."

"I guess I'll have to identify him. What a coincidence if it is. He had gotten you all flustered and you don't even remember him. Ah, that would be priceless. Then again, if it was him, he would have called you by your name."

"Well, he didn't, so I don't think it was him. I'm sure there are tons of other men in Japan named Li."

"Not too many since its Chinese," she teased some more. "You said he kept staring at you."

"Drop it, Kanami. Let's get my card back," Misaki finished, as she opened the door to the restaurant.

Hotaru recognized them, walked over, and greeted, "Oh, Kirihara-san. I'm sure you're here for your card. I'll go get it."

Walking behind the counter to the register, she opened it, pulled out the card and handed it to Misaki.

"Thank you," said Misaki.

"I'm sorry it took me so long to give it back to you. We only have one phone line and have to plug the card reader into it in the back. Not to mention, it is really slow."

"Oh, it was my fault for leaving so quickly. I don't know what got over me."

"I do," mumbled Kanaimi. She then asked louder, "Is your chef still here? Li, is that his name? I never got to thank him for the delicious meal."

"Ah… yes, and no, he's not here. We were a little busier than we thought we would be today so he had to go to the store to pick up some more ingredients. He should be back any moment if you want to wait for him."

"We can wait," mentioned Kanami, as she went to sit at one of the tables.

"I can't," insisted Misaki. "I really need to go back to work. I'm sure I'll be back to see him again." She opened the door.

"Misaki," yelled Kanami, as she ran after her.

"Thank you," said Hotaru. "And please come again."

Kanami ran out the door behind Misaki, as a lady with blond hair, a red dress and sunglasses entered. Misaki did not see the devilish smirk she gave her.

"Misaki, I was going to ask him out for you… WAIT!" Kanami could be heard yelling before the door closed.

The blond-haired lady went to sit where Kanami had sat. Hei walked back into the restaurant a few minutes later. He noticed the blond woman and frowned. It was a good thing she was the only one in the restaurant in case his temper had gotten a little out of hand. Walking over to the table, he set the groceries down and sat across from her.

"Your first day; how exciting!" she exclaimed, smiling.

"What do you want?"

"I'm disappointed in you, Hei," informed Madame O. "I paid you half up front to kill her, but you only knocked her out. Now the police have her. You'll have to make it up to me. I have another job for you."

"What?"

"I need you to take out someone."

"Who?"

"Police Chief, Misaki Kirihara."

To be continued...

xxx

AN: I had written an alternate scene with Hei and Misaki's first meeting. You can find it over at my journal if you're interested.