I can't call Ryan, Mika thought abruptly, fingers a hairsbreath from the buttons and phone cradled in her hand. Ryan was being watched, and whoever was watching him knew about her, and knew she knew. That was likely why ninjas had been knocking at her door. Not that she was complaining, but if she couldn't call Ryan- oh.


Well, she could call him.

Her fingers flew over the proper keys, and she fed the machine a few more quarters from Raizo's waiting hand. She decided not to question why he knew she needed more. He probably wouldn't have told her, and if he did, she wasn't entirely certain she would have understood. But the voice on the other end of the line made her feel better.

"Moshi moshi?" Sleepy, but mostly sober. Awake. Mika felt her heart soar with hope.

"English. Kento?" Raizo gave her an indiscernable look. Patiently, Mika ignored him, hearing her cousin shift- distant, and a bit older then her, but willing to believe, to listen. He had to, he'd promised.

"Mika? Are you okay?"

"Actually I could use a little help." That was the understatement of the year, but Mika didn't want to worry him. But she was surprised when worry and caution gave way to crisp, clear I'm coming.

"Where are you?"

She gave him the address Raizo specified, and was told he would be there in five minutes, don't keep me waiting long, and be careful.

So Mika was not surprised to see the broad-shouldered Chinaman leaning against a wall waiting for them, eyes closed, and she knew Raizo had hesitated a half-second, like any sane person would when they saw the mountain of a man Kento had become. His hair was long, a Chinese knot-and-braid, and black as night moments after sunset, like the deep color of his hanfu. She curled her fingers into it, buried her nose in his scent, of coal and freshed turned dirt, and clung to him. Feeling safe; wholly, utterly so. She hadn't realized how scared she had been. But Kento was stiff under her touch, tense, wary. He'd never recipicated a hug, but he'd never been so...

Mika pulled back, followed his gaze and understood.


"This is my cousin, Faun Kento," She introduced, even as she let go of silk. Raizo stood, stiff like a cat on the prowl, twelve feet away. Surely Kento couldn't be that intimidating to a ninja? "Kento, this is Raizo. He's a ninja, and needs our help."

Kento dropped deep blue-purple eyes to catch her gaze. "Do you trust him?"

No questions of her sanity. Just acceptance, for which she was grateful, but even still... Ten years her elder, and not even a bat eyelash. Which she had hoped for, but hadn't really expected to get, and to get it confused her. "He saved my life."

Which made him frown, in a way she didn't really understand, but he didn't say anything. Not to her. "Ninja, huh? What Clan?"


Kento made a noise. Mika wondered what he was thinking. "One of the Chinese Nine? Damn, Mika, when I said big I did -not- mean this."


"Not here. To open, indefensible. How much gas is in your car?"

"Just filled up...Kento?" Kento was stalking off the way they'd come. Why? What had she missed?

"Come on. I'm driving. There's some things you need to know. And when did you start smoking?"

Mika gaped. And swore she saw Raizo smile.