I'm back, and I still think it goes without saying that I only own Nikolas, everything else is the property of Frank Miller.

It was hot. Hotter than hell and so humid that it seemed like he was changing his socks every other hour. They were marching, again. Their orders were pretty clear, cause trouble wherever you can and don't get caught. Every guy knew the deal, screw up and the government forgets that they sent you there. You went rogue, end of story. Still though, they got mail and supplies like anyone else.

He didn't even know why he had agreed, Auntie was getting worse and Marv had gone off the radar, again. They needed the money, that's what he kept telling himself. These jobs paid the best, and it got Marv his damned pills and kept his saint of a mom someplace safe. Her eyes were getting worse, and at the very least, he would make sure that she was in an upscale home back home.

They were getting close to where one of the higher ups liked to frequent. File said, 'he likes them young'. It was enough to put his guts in a not. Taking out the sentries outside had been no problem; their blood was staining the ground before they even knew they were dead. Getting inside, he saw the manager. She must've worked her way up from being one of the girls. She knew what they were there for. Hell, she'll probably be going through the guy's pockets after they leave. She just pointed to the only hook missing a key and walked out the door. "Thirteen," he checked to make sure the 1911 was loaded. Perfect.

He took the lead, always the lead, had to do something to show he earned the bars on his arm. He could hear a man laughing, correction, cackling when he got to the asshole's room. Bastard was tying his pants back up when he slid the door back open. It wasn't much of a fight really, an execution more than anything. One shot to the back of his skull, and then two to his chest. Take no chances. He scanned the room and saw her. She was twelve, maybe.

She was terrified, and in pain, he could see the blood on the sheets, and he wished that he would have made the bastard suffer more. Digging through his pockets, his eyes pop when he pulled a gold coin from his pockets. He didn't know what kind it was, but she seemed to, at least, that's what her eyes said. "You want this?" She met his gaze with a frantic nod. He through it, and didn't miss the whimper of pain as she dove for it. He turned away when he saw the bruises on her thighs when she dressed. "Go home." Again, a nod and she limped from the room.

Digging into his pockets, he found the dented can and unsurprisingly, it was bone dry. Ignoring the feel of what could now be called coffee grinds in his mouth, he reached down and pulled the bastards tags off his body and turned, but not before spitting onto his corpse.

They had to start moving before his boss starts to wonder why he isn't coming back. Wiping the sweat out of his eyes, he wandering back downstairs and signaled them to move out, the money was worth it, but it was still too damned hot.

He blinked the sleep out of his eyes and groaned at the stiffness in his back. The room was even colder, but that was no surprise since they were in October. He needed to get a new window, and finally had enough money to pay for it. Clearing Kadies and tolerating ladies night was filling his pockets faster than the government ever did. He wandered over to his bathroom, and actually had cause to smile when he entered. Sure, he had to look at the damned pink curtain, but he had his white towel, his can of shaving cream, and he knew his soap was behind that curtain.

The water helped to get the dream to leave him. He hated those pills, "Take them and the dreams will stop son, you won't have to worry about blacking out again. Bullshit." Stepping out, he made his way to the sink and saw that his eyes were getting worse. They looked tired, beaten. He noticed his hair was growing again, double zero on the sides and three on top. No it was more like three and five up top. That needed to change; his stubble didn't do much for his assessment either. His shave helped though, made him seem more human. When he heard his door squeak open, he didn't panic. His nurse was here to make sure he took his pills like a good little boy. "In here china doll," the click of her heels was the only signal that she gave before the door opened.

He didn't really expect her to actually come in, and the worst part was when he felt his face heat up. Damn it, he was Nikolas Fucking Hartigan! He had stared death down so many times that they were on a first name basis. He had been hit on by every working girl in Old Town, and he was blushing like some kid the first time in the back seat of his parent's station wagon. "See something you like?" He was proud when his voice came out even.

It didn't help his blush though when her eyes went from his face, to below his face and then back up again to his eyes. He knew that his body wasn't exactly pretty, spending time getting shot at isn't the kindest to one's complexion. The one he wished she didn't see though was his side. Guy had come at him with a linoleum knife, a fucking linoleum knife. He didn't even think it was that bad until the medic told him that it had nicked his kidney. "Well?"

A shrug. All he got was a shrug and then she stepped back to close the door. He was surprised by how much it actually hurt. Turning back to the mirror, he took three quick swipes and was finished. He was digging through the hamper he had found on the curb, and selecting what he thought was the cleanest, pulled them on. He noticed the rusted hue on his wife beater and realized it was her make shift bandage from a month ago. She had taken it with her when she left, but a few days later, he found it clean and folded on his chair.

She was in his chair when he came out, the yellow bottle in her hand. Shaking out two, she stood up, and with a raised eye brow, he understood the command. Open your mouth and behave. He swallowed, but she still ran her hand against his throat. When she turned to leave he could help but say something about before. "Why did I get a shrug, when a while ago you called me 'impressive'?" Her answer was a one fingered salute and a closed door.

It wasn't much of a surprise when he saw Roark's campaign signs outside the hardware store. When the last one had burned down, they called it political sabotage that, a competitor had burned down the stand to try and beat Roark. That suited him just fine, if they wanted to go after someone else fine; it just meant that he was able to keep off the radar. He wasn't ready though when the bastard himself decided to make an appearance.

"People of Basin City, I stand before you as a humble man," liar. "I am grateful that the people of this city each time they decide that they want me to lead their city," bullshit. He wasn't surprised that the sheep of this city were starting to gather. "I am here asking for your support again, I promise that I will do what it takes to keep the monsters off of our streets," his blood started to boil when huge banners of Marv and John appeared behind him, each blaring "Rapists" and "Killers". "I swear to you now, that I will continue to keep these evils out of our city. I will make it my personal mission to make sure that no one suffers the loss that I have." He was impressed that the man was actually able to squeeze out a few tears, much to the enjoyment of the masses.

"Disgusting," he forgot the mirrors and walked away to the sounds of people cheering for the monster on stage. He needed to get away, before he did something stupid. Sure, he was willing to die, he had thought about it for a long time, and if he died killing the bastard that ruined his family, he was fine with that, but now wasn't the time. He would be dead before he could even get a hand on him.

"Something bothering you?" He had rounded the corner, and Gail was standing there, almost like she was waiting for him. She was sporting what he thought of as her 'civies', black leather jacket, black jeans, a black tee, and unsurprisingly, modest black heels. Granted, the only thing modest about them was that they were less than two inches. He gave a nod, and she fell into step beside him. He reached into his pocket, and loaded his lip.

"Roark was there today," he turned and saw that she was struggling with her lighter against the wind. With a huff, he pulled her close and had the lighter burning in his hand when he felt the point against his groin. Looking down, he was unsurprised to see the four-inch switch blade pressing into his jeans.

"Sorry," she closed the blade and slid it into her coat pocket. "Force of habit," she leaned into the flame, and he was surprised that she actually appeared embarrassed by what had happened.

"Forget it," they turned and it seemed like they were back at their building. He stopped and did his customary sweep of the curb before heading to the door. He had a TV now, but wouldn't mind finding a clock of some kind there. Only finding trash, he turned and found her waiting on him. When he got to her, she continued to wait, until he took the hint and opened the door for her.

The elevator ride up was quiet, but she seemed to know what he was thinking. "I know you want him to die, but are you sure that that's the best idea?"

"He killed my family, and his family killed yours. Why should he deserve to live?" The door opened at his floor, and when he started to leave, he heard her voice yell from behind him.

"Better the devil you know than the devil you don't."

He found himself staring out his window from the chair, when his door opened again. He knew she was behind him and started to tap his should. "Yeah Miho?" Turning, he saw her point to the window, and back to him. He got the message though; it was time to go to work. She followed him til he was out of the building and on his way to Kadies. When he turned back, she was already gone. He still wasn't sure what to make of her.

Wendy, she was easy, she was the boss, the queen of Old Town. Wendy was the one who looked after all the girls, made sure they had a place to stay, and behaved themselves. In some ways, she was almost a mother figure. Gail though, she was the older sister. She made sure that the girls were safe, and kept themselves safe. Miho though, he just couldn't figure her out. A part of him wanted to call her an enforcer; after all, he had seen first-hand of how deadly she was. And yet, she was also the one who was making sure he took his pills and left for work on time. He just couldn't figure her out.

Kadies was busy for a Wednesday. The old transvestite was constantly running back and forth with beers and shots. The thing that bothered him though was sitting in the corner nearest the stage. He recognized the guy from this morning. He had been at the campaign getting signatures and donations, but now he was panting over Nancy. He became a real bother though when he decided to grab the blonde and pull her into his lap. "Hands," the man's arm was between his hands. "Off," he twisted and felt the bones snap. "Nancy," the man was crying when he heard the gun go off.

Turning, he saw Roark standing at the entrance, holding a smoking revolver by his side. "What's the problem gentlemen?" The words were kind, but his eyes weren't. He could see that they were angry, whether it was at him or the man on the floor, he wasn't sure. A flash of movement caught his eye, and he saw Kadie pulling Marv and John's pictures off the wall.

"Senator, I was doing nothing!" Nikolas turned and saw the man cradling the limb in his good hand. "This animal just attacked me!" He chose to ignore the animal comment, and just looked at the man he hated more than anything with what he hoped was an innocent face.

"He violated one of the golden rules of Kadies," he pointed towards the bar, and everyone looked up at rule number three. "You can look, but no one touches Nancy. This," he lifted the man by the scruff of his neck and shoved him towards the door. "Man decided he was too good for the rules. But no one is too good for the rules, are they Senator?"

Those eyes seemed to question him, but the gazed hardened on the broken man in front of him. "Is this true James?" The only answer he received was a stuttering no. "I apologize Mr.?"

He fought against the rage inside and again reminded himself that he was unarmed while the bastard still held a gun. "Nikolas, sir."

"Nikolas, I apologize for my employee's behavior." He pulled his wallet out, and Nikolas saw he pull a full nights wages out. "Please, give this to the young lady, with my assurances that James will be properly reprimanded for what happened here tonight." It took all his will power to not crush the man's hand in his own when he reached for the money.

"Thank you sir," he folded the bills and ignored the pleas as the man was led out the door. He had passed the bills to Nancy when he heard the faint pop of a gun from outside. Nancy didn't disappoint him when she pulled a lighter from off the bar and held the bills over the flame. She had style, but it was different from his. He would have spit on them before shoving the cash back into the bastard's pocket.

He left the bar, and he couldn't help but keep thinking about Roark, the man did give Nancy some cash. Granted, she didn't want it, but still it was a gift, and when someone gives you a gift, you should give them something in return, at the very least a thank you card. It didn't take him long to figure out just what to give the man. It would be unique, he knew that much, and it would still send the message clearly enough. "I'm coming for you Roark." It would take most of the night, and a little bit of luck, but he was sure that he could pull it off.

When he finally crawled through his door, the sun was already up. No one was moving around though, so he was grateful. At the moment, he just wanted to take a shower, wash off the grime, and crash into oblivion on his mattress.

The shower was over quicker than he wanted it to, but it was burning his skin it was so hot. He didn't even bother to pull anything on when he fell onto the floor. Just as he was on the edge of consciousness did he realize she was there. He just didn't care that she was sitting in his chair watching him. He just raised a hand in a feeble wave and let it drop back to the padding. He was asleep before she moved and stared down at him.

Miho was many things, a killer, a spy, a lover, but most of all, she was a watcher. She had been following this man ever since he had stepped into Old Town, and he still seemed to hold her attention. She didn't know why that was, but something about the man intrigued her. She had seen how he killed men who seemed to hurt people, and how he didn't accept charity unless it was forced onto him, but yet he held the most stubborn pride and arrogance she had ever seen.

He seemed to enjoy teasing her with his words, but she would be lying if she said that she didn't enjoy doing it right back at him. He was a riddle that a part of her wanted to figure out. Right now though, she wanted to know where he had been all night. She had followed him to the limits of Old Town, and when he finally came back, he was covered in powdered stone and exhausted. She was even surprised now, as she sat down beside him while he slept, maybe his dreams wouldn't be so bad tonight?

James didn't come into work that morning, and it bothered Bobbi. They were the only ones who opened the stand, and he wasn't there to help. She knew where he was though, probably back at home nursing a hangover. But, it did surprise her when she saw a box on the stage addressed to the Senator. It was crudely wrapped, and about two feet long by a foot wide. She figured it was probably a few baked goods, the wives of his supporters were always sending something over. She normally didn't open packages that didn't belong to her, but she knew that this one time, it would be alright.

When she opened it and saw two faces, one heavily mangled and the other with a jaundiced hue. She could tell the colored one was the late senator's son, but the other, the cardinal ring jammed into the eye socket identified it as the man's brother. A part of her knew that this was why she shouldn't open packages addressed to other people. Everyone else in the area figured that out from her scream.

Like I said, I'm back. I will continue to update, but the chapters may be slow coming. Still I hope everyone enjoyed, feel free to leave a review.

Take it Easy,