Author's Note: Well this is my first City Hunter fanfiction. I hope my readers enjoy it. :)
I do not own City Hunter or any of its characters.
Thank you to everyone who reads/follows/reviews this. It is always appreciated.
Story note: In Japan, it's usually the women who give out chocolates to the men they are interested in on Valentine's Day. Plus, chocolates are often given out to celebrate other relationships like friendships or out of obligation to those to whom they are indebted.
Yumiko Takeuchi leaned back in her office chair with a contented sigh. It hadn't been easy, but she was convinced that she had finally found the perfect match for her latest client: a career woman who had recently expressed an interest in finding a husband. Yumiko had little doubt that the man she had chosen would eventually end up walking down the marriage aisle with her client and the thought of that made her happy.
She began to gather up her papers while switching off her computer. The day had been a long, but satisfying one, and Yumiko was ready to pick up something to eat and relax at home. She contemplated what take-out place to visit while she straightened up her office and continued to think about it after turning out the lights in her office and walking out into the crisp night air.
Suddenly, a flash of light at the corner of her eye caught her attention. She whirled around to see a car speeding toward her, a vague shape behind the wheel. Yumiko gasped and jumped to the side in the hope of dodging it. She landed hard, scraping her leg, but managed to escape otherwise unscathed. She watched as the car continued to speed away while other pedestrians gaped at the sight.
'It's them…it's them again. I know it,' Yumiko told herself as she pulled herself up into a sitting position on the sidewalk.
'I have to do something….but what?'
The next morning, Kaori Makimura took her daily stroll to the blackboard at Shinjuku station to check for potential jobs. Recently, she and Ryo had managed to help a couple of well-paying clients and while they were not exactly flush with money, they were not in debt either. As a result, Kaori had initially planned to turn down any offers from female clients for a while.
As she walked by, she happened to notice an ornate display of color in a store window. She stopped to look at the hues of pink, white and red that framed various displays of heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolates. Valentine's Day was coming soon, and many shops were increasing their advertisements for it.
Kaori's eyes lit up as she admired the intricate confections displayed and imagined that they all probably tasted as good as they looked.
'So pretty,' she thought to herself. 'I wish I could get some for myself.'
Kaori stared for a moment and sighed silently. The status of the bank account made it impossible to spend too much on things like chocolates for Valentine's Day, unless she wanted to have to worry about things like the food budget or Ryo's monthly allowance. She took one last longing look before walking away.
Still, the sight of those chocolates did not leave her mind. She had already planned on giving some of her friends like Miki and Umibozu, and Saeko and Reika some small gifts of chocolates as a way to express her appreciation for their friendships. But Ryo required a different approach.
Kaori entered the subway and weaved through the crowds of people there. Despite the frustrations that Ryo often brought to her life, Kaori could not deny the feelings she had for him in her heart. For the past four years that she had worked with him, she had been too shy to do anything more on Valentine's Day than attempt to make him a lavish meal before he decided to go out for an evening of drinking and dancing at the local bars and clubs. This year, however, would be different.
One of their clients had expressed a desire to grant an extra favor to Kaori along with the fee that was paid to show their gratitude for the job she and Ryo had done. It had taken a while, but eventually she was able to come up with a request: to receive some lessons in working with chocolate from a confectioner skilled in that area. The client had found it to be an odd request, but had managed to connect Kaori with a young woman who was a rising star in the Tokyo confectionary community.
Kaori let out a rueful smile as she walked. The lessons had not been easy. The confectioner was a patient, kind-hearted woman, but Kaori struggled to perfect the techniques she was taught and had despaired at how tasteless and misshapen all of her chocolates would turn out. Then one day, the confectioner gave Kaori a piece of advice.
"Kaori-san, when working with this chocolate, try to think beyond the measurements, the ingredients and the methods. Let your hands be guided by love: love for your family, love for your friends, love for the one closest to your heart. When your actions are fueled by love, it will show in the results. No matter how clumsy you might think your technique is, the love will be seen and tasted in the chocolates."
From that point on, Kaori approached her lessons with increased fervor. There were plenty more failures along the way, but soon, she noticed that even her simple chocolates had an elegance about them that was not there before. Kaori focused on not only the love she had for those in her life, but on the romantic dreams and hopes that she had carried with her for years. Each piece came to represent an errant wish that she held in her heart, each attempt became a chance to reflect on those wishes and dreams.
By this point, she was now confident that she could finally complete the project she had had in mind when she started these lessons: to make a gift of homemade chocolates to give to Ryo on Valentine's Day. She had begun to make each piece earlier this week, but the process was painstakingly slow due to her desire to make sure that every chocolate not only tasted good, but looked nice as well. She would be done in a couple of days, and Kaori was giddy at the prospect of surprising Ryo with a gift like this.
'Maybe he'll stay home and we could have dinner that night,' she thought to herself. 'After all, there is no way that he could not be impressed with my chocolate making technique.'
Kaori scanned the blackboard and her eyes immediately darted toward the 'XYZ' scrawled toward the center. She then wrote down the brief note that accompanied it.
'Urgently need your assistance. I will meet you Fruit Parlor Café at 3:00 pm tomorrow. Yumiko Takeuchi.'
A woman. No doubt about it,' Kaori told herself. 'That name does sound vaguely familiar…Where have I heard it?...Still, we're definitely passing on this one.'
Kaori started to walk away, but then stopped in mid-stride. All of her musings on the chocolates she was making had reminded her that she had realized last night that she actually needed a few more supplies in order to finish her project. These supplies were not as expensive as these deluxe pre-packaged chocolates were, but they still would not be cheap, and she worried that acquiring them could damage her careful budget.
'But…I wouldn't have to worry about that at all if we had a job right now,' Kaori reminded herself. 'Even if it's a modest paying job, I could get what I needed and we would have some extra money to put aside…I might even be able to afford to make an even more elaborate meal on Valentine's Day.'
Kaori's shoulders slumped and she trudged out of the subway. Handling Ryo when their client was female was a job in and of itself, but Kaori remained resolute in her decision. She would endure her partner's antics and make sure that things ran as smoothly as possible.
Even if that involved numerous applications of her one hundred ton hammers.
The next day, Kaori and Ryo Saeba were walking over toward the Fruit Parlor Café….or more accurately; Kaori was walking while Ryo was practically skipping along.
"It's almost Valentine's Day," Ryo grinned. "And what better way to celebrate than by getting some mokkori service from a beautiful woman."
"Ryo, that's not what we are being hired for," Kaori said through gritted teeth. "She probably needs protection for some criminal or help in finding someone."
"Oh, of course, of course," Ryo nodded. "But after all of that is done…."
Ryo's voice trailed off and he began to laugh to himself. Kaori shook her head. She knew that there was no way to dissuade him from fantasizing about possible attempts at lechery, but she hoped that she would be able to keep him in check for the most part this time.
They soon arrived at their destination and went inside to sit at one of the tables. The two of them ordered sodas and sipped at them while they waited.
A few minutes later, a beautiful, petite woman with sparkling eyes and long hair made her way to the table. The woman blushed a little as she approached.
"Excuse me," she said quietly. "I…I left a message: XYZ." Kaori barely had a chance to open her mouth before Ryo was on his feet, pulling Yumiko close to him.
"Say no more," Ryo intoned in a serious voice. "My name is Ryo Saeba, and I promise to protect you." Yumiko's blush deepened.
"Um…Saeba-san…." she began.
"But first we need to discuss compensation," Ryo added.
"Compensation?" Yumiko replied. "Oh…oh of course. I am sure that I can pay you a generous…."
"What I want goes beyond mere money," Ryo interrupted.
"Beyond money?" Yumiko repeated. "I don't understand." Ryo began to laugh, his features twisting into a wide grin.
"I need you to pay me with the currency that only exists between a man and a woman," he said, his voice losing its seriousness and becoming higher pitched in tone. Yumiko pulled herself away from him and took a step back.
"Saeba-san," she gasped. Ryo leapt up into the air with the intent of pouncing on her.
"Yumiko-chan!" he called out as he floated closer to her.
Kaori immediately stood up from her chair. There was a flash of light in her hands and suddenly an enormous hammer appeared in her grasp. She brought it down as hard as she could onto Ryo, firmly planting him into the floor.
"This is why I have to pass on female clients!" Kaori bellowed at him. "Idiot!"
"Sorry, sorry," Ryo groaned as he struggled to crawl out from under the giant mallet that had pinned him. He slowly made his way to his feet and slinked back down onto his chair. Kaori then put on her best smile and turned to face Yumiko.
"Sorry about that," Kaori said. "Let's have a drink and you can tell us about the job."
Several minutes later, the three of them sat at the table and finished their drinks before Yumiko spoke again.
"About three weeks ago, I started getting these phone calls," she said. "They would threaten me in awful ways and then hang up. I thought it was just a prank, but the calls kept coming and then they became more frequent. Then I felt like I was being followed. But…I never saw anyone, so I thought at first that I was just jumpy because of all the phone calls."
"But something else happened, didn't it?" Ryo asked.
"Yes." Yumiko said, bowing her head. "I forgot some papers at my office one evening, so I went back to get them. When I got there, I found out that my office had been torn apart: papers scattered everywhere, some of my furniture ruined. I thought it was a robbery, but then…."
Yumiko took a deep breath and then looked back up at Ryo and Kaori.
"Two days ago, I was walking home and someone tried to run me down in their car," she said. "I know that it has to be the same people….the same people who have been calling me, following me and who trashed my office. I…I don't know what they want or what to do."
"You could try the police," Kaori offered.
"No," Yumiko said, shaking her head. "I told the police about all this when my office was vandalized, but they insisted that it was just a simple burglary. I even told them about the car and they still think it's just a coincidence. No…no the police can't help me." Yumiko leaned toward them.
"Please," she said. "Please help me. I will pay you anything you want." Ryo reached over to take one of her hands into his.
"Don't worry," he said, his voice calm. "We'll take care of this." Kaori blinked at his tone before smiling again.
"That's right," she chimed in. "We are experts at this sort of thing. You can count on us."
"Thank you," Yumiko smiled. The three of them stood up and walked out of the café.
"First things first," Ryo said. "We need to stop by your office and see if we can discover what exactly these men might have been looking for."
"That makes sense, although I am not sure if you will find anything," Yumiko nodded. "It's not like there is anything of value at my office."
"Still, there may be something there that you might have missed," Ryo insisted. "Something that only a professional could spot."
"I understand," Yumiko said. "Then what should we do? Go to the police again? Or track down some clues?"
"Then you'll be staying at my place," Ryo grinned. Both Kaori and Yumiko stopped and stared at him with open-mouthed shock.
"What?" Kaori said.
"Your place?" Yumiko said.
"Of course," Ryo said, his smile growing. "It's the safest place in town for you to go while we figure this out."
'It may be safe from robbers and killers, but it's hardly safe for her as a woman,' Kaori fumed silently.
"So, shall we go?" Ryo said, gesturing toward his car. "Tell us where your office is."
As the three of them piled into the car, Yumiko gave an address and some directions to get there. Soon Ryo began to drive with Yumiko in the passenger seat and Kaori frowning in the back.
Kaori knew that there was no way she could turn down the job at this point, but her intuition was already telling her that this case was probably going to get even more complicated from this moment on.