ON HIS VELVET FEET


Life in the mafia isn't so much a life as it is a continuous near-death experience. Eames is as intimate with death as he is with his lovers, which is to say, only as intimate as is absolutely necessary. Nonetheless, Eames has never sought anyone to protect him from death; he does it himself, and disdains the various bodyguards his father tries to send his way.

Which is why, when the quiet secretary of an otherwise unremarkable businessman grabs a butter knife and lunges for Eames's throat, the last thing he expects is for a bloody ninja to drop from the ceiling.

He's barely had time to blink before the slender, black-clad figure has incapacitated the secretary - who turns out to be unexpectedly gifted in martial arts - and has replaced the knife on the table, carefully, exactly where it had been before.

The businessman, a minor realtor with some interests in the black market, just sits there with his mouth hanging open. His name is Hawkes, and he clearly - obviously - has no notion of what has transpired.

"Mr. Eames," says the masked man, and his voice is cultured and utterly, flawlessly without accent. All Eames can see of him is a pair of dark eyes. "I apologize for disturbing your breakfast."

"No harm done." Eames sips from his cup of tea. It really is quite a marvelous blend. Not nearly so marvelous as what he has just witnessed, and there are several possible reasons for why he just witnessed what he did, foremost among them being his father. No point in being vague about it. "You're my father's, I suppose."

The dark eyes lower. "I am yours."

Well, he certainly knows how to be charming. But... "I know the names of all my things."

"My name is Arthur."

"Arthur," echoes Eames, and feels the name curl in his mouth. A ninja named Arthur. More things in heaven and earth, indeed.

There is a shuffle from Hawkes's sofa; the poor sod is trying to sink into it, but Eames, of course, has no sympathy for the incompetent. It probably shows on his face; Hawkes pales, all over, like a man facing a guillotine.

He isn't too far from the truth.

"Wh-what," stutters Hawkes, plainly realizing that he may be held responsible for the assassination attempt on Eames's life. "I didn't - I didn't - "

"But you ought to have known," Eames says, gently, "what sort of secretary you were hiring. Or do you not conduct background checks?"

"W-we do, but we didn't - who'd expect - "

Eames picks up the butter knife that had so recently been aimed at his throat. "A good businessman expects the unexpected." The scones are still steaming; he sets into them with a gob of butter.

"I'm sorry," Hawkes gibbers, face gone as red and blotchy as the tropical fish in Eames's aquarium. "Oh, god, believe me, I'm sorry - "

"May I, Mr. Eames?" asks Arthur.

"Be lenient," says Eames, wondering what the man will do - but then Arthur steps forward and, with a neat flick of his wrist, breaks Hawkes's fingers.

Hawkes folds in on himself with a breathless, agonized squeal.

"This little piggy won't go to the market," Eames murmurs, and smiles at the ninja. "I don't appreciate interference, especially in matters well within my control."

Arthur executes a wonderfully old-fashioned bow. "My sincere apologies." He bends to retrieve the unconscious secretary, and deposits him gingerly at Eames's feet. Eames is reminded incongruously of a chastened cat, making offerings of birds and rodents to a peevish owner.

Eames nudges the body with his shoe. "Is he in too bad of a condition to be interrogated?"

"No, Mr. Eames."

"And what of you? Are you unharmed?"

There is a beat of silence, as if Arthur had not expected the question. Eames can see it, in the slight widening of those eyes. "No, Mr. Eames."

"Then get out," says Eames, "and if you ever take any further actions without my direct orders, I will have you killed."

The ninja inclines his head - bows again - and vanishes. Just like that.

Eames sips his tea for another few minutes, thinking of ventilation shafts and ceiling infrastructure, and of the most efficient human body he has ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Hawkes's hiccuping, syncopated sobbing is becoming an annoyance. Eames slides his mobile phone out of his pocket and calls for the doctor.


fin.
I might write the odd follow-up ficlet, though.
Please review!