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Futuristic Messengers of Death

Sub Genres
  1. Cyberpunk
  2. LGTBQ

Hibiki Mango

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dir:\> CHAPTER I



It was late at night and the rain had been pouring down for days now. The dark and wet streets of the large megalopolis perpetually washed in bright advertisements in the form of neon lights and three-dimentional holograms formed a maze of roads, tight alleways and sharp corners where the scum of society hid away from the harsh reality drown in shallow consumerism and digital escapism. Such rough environment needed equally rough measures to keep peace and justice in the best terms possible, a sort of mantra that a select few had to live by.

The sound of calm footsteps echoing on the black marble tiles bounced between the tall walls of the long corridor between the elevator on one end to a discrete door on the other. The place was so quiet that anyone would hear a pin hit the floor. On the other side of the door, the faint sound of calm water moving and discrete traces of lavender scent floating in the air welcomed Jason once again. The lights were just bright enough to see vague edges and reflections; as long as he walked in a straight line everything would be fine. Such stimuli still triggered the good goosebumps on the back of the agent's neck, he knew something good was coming his way. He could feel it in his gut.

In front of him there was a long, narrow stretch of black tiles, flanked on both sides by what seemed to be a deep mass of water. Such portion of solid floor extended all the way to the center of the large room to a rectangular platform, which was completely empty aside three white cushions set on the floor forming a triangle - Jason's excitement crawled again from the upper half of his back up to his shoulders and neck. He tried to remain as calm as possible, though his fiery personality wasn't making it any easier as the seconds passed. The young man carefully took both shoes off and carefully sat in a Seiza position on one of the cushions, both hands rested on his lap. Jason closed both eyes and took a deep breath, letting his mind focus on the sound of the water gently sloshing and splashing against the tiles - a true challenge for an impatient head like his, as if discipline after eight years of being a Yamaduta hadn't been difficult enough already.

Jason clenched his fists and let his head tilt forward a little, trying to ignore the feeling of an incoming groan of an empty stomach. "Is it still difficult to keep your mind at peace, Jason? After all these years..." he heard a voice in the distance talk to him. The agent chose to keep his eyes closed - "Glad to hear from you again, boss. It's been a while." the young man replied, "A while it's been indeed, young man." the voice added. The agent could hear something in the water approach closer and closer, slowly step into the platform and sit down on a cushion. It wasn't until then that Jason opened his eyes and saw a familiar figure dressed in long and wet dark robes, and the faint red glow of their eye implants looking at him, sitting in the same position. Jason sighed deeply and finally spoke up, "You only call me when there's something big going on. What's up now?", he questioned. The other man shifted on his place and cleared his throat, "I'm afraid it's The Brotherhood again."

The younger agent could feel his shoulders and neck tense up, ready to get on his feet, but inspector Muller knew Jason well – maybe a little too well. The older man only raised his hand with his palm facing the younger one, Jason knew he had to remain seated. "I know what you're capable of, Jason. But I'm afraid you let yourself get carried away by your gut and not your head. I know the passion you have for your job has gotten you this far, but I'm afraid there are matters more important to take care of right now."

Jason took a deep breath in clear frustration, then questioned: "What can be more important than just giving me my gun and the first target? It's the fuckin' Brotherhood, every minute counts!" - Muller chuckled again and let his hand rest on his lap, then moved the other one that was closer to the empty spot on the third cushion. "There's someone I'd like you to meet first. He will be your new partner for this job, and you both will work as a unit. You will depend on him as much as he will depend on you..."


"But...!" Jason tried to talk back, but Muller didn't allow it. "Be kind, be respectful. Offer the respect a Yamaduta like you deserves." the older man said with a soft smile before calling out, seemingly talking to another individual: "Join us."
 
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miku

ᴏɴᴇ ᴅᴀʏ ᴡᴇ'ʟʟ ᴍᴇᴇᴛ ᴀɢᴀɪɴ
The voice of the man Hikaru was about to meet disrupted his daydreaming and thoughts. He looked over in the direction of the two other men and tilted his head, observing their interaction to try and understand the relationship they had with another. "Hm, the man seems so.... casual." In his mind he was referring to the younger man. After hearing the invitation from the older man he hesitated for a moment. Despite the expressionless face he had painted on he could feel the anxiety starting to make his skin burn. There was always a resting level of tension coating Hikaru's body but after years of living with it, it wasn't often that it was enough to make him hesitate.

In a few short strides Hikaru appeared standing above the third cushion. Bowing slightly he removed his hands from his pocket and sat down. Looking at the older man and seeing the gentle smile on his face helped ease the anxiety crawling over his nerves. "It's nice to meet you. My name's Hikaru Kobayashi." His voice was quieter than most when interacting with those he didn't know very well. Hikaru was dedicated to his work but had a hard time getting to know others or feel successful at partnerships. Perhaps it was his anxiety that made it difficult for others to interact with him. He often noticed how his tone provoked a wide variety of emotions. Words like meek, cold, arrogant, stuck-up, and odd were often associated with Hikaru - not that he was someone who had the social skills to understand why his demeanor was off-putting.

Details and observation were where Hikaru thrived. Between having a good memory and the pages of notes he took it was uncommon for Hikaru to not recall something. This took away from his desire to be in overly social settings or to entertain small talk. He would rather catalog times, noises, sounds, people, and anything else that he felt could potentially be helpful. Outside of work, which wasn't a very large chunk of time, he'd rather be at home and indulging in books and art. Painting, pastels, pen, any medium he could get his hands on he wanted to try. He wasn't particularly talented but something about the 'creative process' always intrigued Hikaru. As someone who was analytical and grounded themselves in facts something like art was an outlet for him to express the things he couldn't quantify. Most of the time he approached it literally which spoke to what little success he was having in finding the aforementioned 'creative process'.

Looking at the older gentleman a look of concern flashed across his face for a moment. After staring at the ground for a moment he looked back at the younger man, "I'm excited for our future partnership."
 
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Hibiki Mango

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Jason turned his head towards the third cushion and saw a figure emerge from the surrounding darkess to join him and inspector Muller. When the stranger finally sat and spoke the first time to introduce himself, Jason found the situation slightly underwhelming. From all he could have imagined his new partner to be, this guy certainly didn't look like an elite - maybe he was a new recruit hired to assist Jason, but why would they assign him a rookie for such an important job? The last thing Jason wanted was to babysit someone while their lives were on the line.

The young man's fists had relaxed and his palms were rested slightly lower on his thighs closer to the knees by the time this stranger, Hikaru, spoke again. He had a rather quiet voice to what Jason was expecting, still he had to admit being discrete wasn't one of his strengths and often received complaints for talking too loud. It wasn't Hikaru's tone that was off, though. One of Jason's thick eyebrows slowly curled up as he observed the other young man.

Of course.

It was Hikaru's body language and his face devoid of all expression that stirred Jason's curiosity. Who was this guy? Was he really a rookie? It was hard to tell. Maybe it was a senior agent and Jason was about to be put in the painful and humiliating position of being babysitted by a more experienced coworker. Why was he so hard to read?

"Jason." Muller's voice called after a brief moment of silence after Hikaru had introduced himself. The agent found himself staring at his new partner in a very obvious way - Jason shook his head and quickly looked at the senior agent as if he had snapped from a trance-like state. "Oh uh, yeah... Jason Chen, nice to meet you too. I guess." the man finally said, offering Hikaru a small nod. He would have reached out for a handshake, but they were sitting too far apart for that, he would save it for later.

"Lights." Muller spoke again, to which the lamps hanging from the ceiling turned on. The artificial yellowish white light shone above them, and finally Jason could see their faces clearly, just as the other two could see him as well. He was wearing a clean black suit, white dress shirt and a black tie, that contrasted with the single earring hanging from the left earlobe. His hair was still on the short spectrum, spiky and somewhat messy, yet some would say it needed a trim. His frame was well proportioned and it was evident he made an effort to stay in shape, but nothing too extreme.

Behind Muller, the sound of a large screen emerging from the calm waters brought Jason's attention back to the front. "About your assignment, gentlemen..." Muller said as the screen turned on and started showing a bunch of news headers, one after another, some of them in languages Jason didn't recognize. "It's been ten long years since the last major incident directly linked to The Brotherhood. Authorities thought they had disbanded, as they remained untraceable for weeks, months and eventually years. All efforts to find a clue or a link to them proved to be... insufficient." the older man explained, "That was until recently. It looks like they have found a way to access the Mainframe and recruit new members without them even knowing. Needless to say, this represents a major security risk to all levels of society. Your job is to stop them quickly and efficiently, at any cost, before they claim more lives."

"Sounds like an easy job. Why do I have to do this with someone else?"
Jason questioned. Muller sighed deeply and replied, "That was not a decision personally I made. These instructions come from higher ranks than mine. They have agreed that both of you must join forces and work together to carry this assignment out. Do you need me to remind you once again about how our hierarchy works, Jason? Remember why and how your license was suspended last time."

"Nah, I'm good."
Jason mumbled as he looked away with a childish pout on his lips.

"Good boy." Muller said with a discrete smile before standing up on his feet. The older man stepped over the cushion and moved closer, his wet robes dragging behind him. "I know both of you can handle by yourselves just fine. You are two of our most successful agents in the division; despite your flaws, it was either your discipline or your hard work that brought you two this far and now a new assignment is in your hands, to lay the law on those who break it, to bring peace to the unrestful, to protect the weak. As Yamadutas, Messengers of Death, you will be judge, jury and executioner." the man spoke calmly, as a form to conclude the meeting in a ceremonious way, a form to imprint a sense of officiality to it. Jason had to admit it wasn't necessary, but it felt just as exciting as the first time. With this, inspector Muller left the large room, walking to the entrance through the same narrow strip of tiles as the screen shut off and the lights dimmed.

"I'll see you in my office in ten minutes." Jason heard Muller's voice behind him in the far distance, drown in waves of reverberation. The young man kept his eyes staring at the floor for a few moments, in silence, just to make sure the older man wouldn't hear him. He let out a deep breath and his shoulders slacked a little, it wasn't until then that he felt his legs hurt from sitting in such position. "Shit, my legs are killing me." Jason complained with a groan, "Inspector Muller is a bit dramatic, but you'll get used to it. Just don't ever ever ever mention his receding hairline, or he'll kick your ass pretty bad." the man commented casually, "And don't take what I said just now personally though. If they think we're good enough to work with each other, then so be it. I skipped dinner time to come here and I get cranky when I'm hungry and..." his speech was cut short by a loud groan coming from his guts, "...nevermind."

Though he tried, both legs weren't ready to stand up and support his weight. Still, that didn't mean he was going to stay put and find a way to move closer to Hikaru. Jason then leaned forward so both hands would touch the floor, and used his arms to pull himself closer to the other man. "Hold on... I-I'm coming! Ugh, almost there!" he said between huffs and puffs, showing equal levels of stubborness and determination just to get closer. When he finally stopped, he was now sitting at only couple feet from the other agent and finally could extend his hand at him, "I can run pretty fast, so you better run fast too!" Jason said with a cocky yet amiable grin.
 

miku

ᴏɴᴇ ᴅᴀʏ ᴡᴇ'ʟʟ ᴍᴇᴇᴛ ᴀɢᴀɪɴ
"He's a bit... brash, not in a bad way... I think?"

Hikaru watched as he quickly started cataloging how different they were. Where Jason's movement was direct, passionate, and powered by emotion Hikaru's was controlled, practiced, and precise. Hikaru stared down at his hands for a moment while he listened to Inspector Muller. "Another first impression gone to the way side... a shame really." While getting lost in thought about how Jason had reacted to him he kept his hands busy with taking notes. A small notebook and pen emerged from his interior jacket pocket. Hikaru was clad in a simple black sweater, black slacks, oxfords, and a white button down shirt that was only visible at the neckline and waist of the sweater. "Even physically it's obvious..." Another anxious thought trailed across his mind before his train of thought was disrupted by Jason questioning Inspector Muller's direction on their partnership.

After listening to the justification that it had come from ranks above his Hikaru offered a simple nod, his face showing a hint of defeat. It wasn't uncommon for people to react to his this way especially if they had never seen him in the field or while working a case. Muller was quick to address the concerns that Jason had though and even finished it with a snarky comment. For a moment Hikaru felt a smile flash across his lips, a soft chuckle that was barely audible. After refocusing on Muller his body language relaxed as he heard the older man clarify and declare that neither of them would have been chosen if it wasn't for their skillset or hard work. For a moment Hikaru watched Muller walk away before Jason's voice once again cut through his train of thought.

Hikaru tilted his head to the side in confusion at the information Jason was sharing with him, not that it was difficult to understand, but more that this was the information he felt was vital to share. He listened as the man acknowledged his attitude and it was obvious that he needed food. Hikaru smiled, a louder chuckle than the last one escaping his lips this time. A few different emotions crossed his face as he watched Jason use his arms to pull himself closer. Once Jason was close enough his demeanor had changed a bit, "Is food really enough of a reason to greet someone the way he did?", he wasn't frustrated but rather genuinely curious. "Maybe... I should offer getting a meal together after our debrief? I don't think he'd accept but at the same time I'm not really sure he's in a place he could deny and honestly I'm not even sure I'd want him to accept considering his initial reaction to me... but I promised myself I'd make a better effort."

"I'll make sure to take note of the information you gave me about Inspector Muller. Also, I can tell, your stomach hasn't exactly been subtle." A nervous hand held the back of Hikaru's head as he attempted to relax a bit. Though he wasn't well versed in emotions nor how to display them his smile was naturally warm. It revealed a certain shyness and innocence that lived so freely in his mind but rarely made its way into his body language. People often mistook Hikaru's confusion or hesitation as a sign of disinterest or dismissiveness. He stared at Jason's open hand for a moment before the smile grew a little bigger and he shook his hand. He could feel that their differences didn't just live in their personality but also in their physical traits. Jason was more muscular, warmer, someone you'd see and hear and know that confidence was not an issue. Hikaru's build was by no means small but he was of a slimmer build, his skin more cool toned and pale. Known for an excellent memory, an uncanny ability to know policies and regulations, and making people feeling unsettled. After a moment of contact Hikaru pulled his hand away and began to think to himself. After a few moment his voice cut through the silence.

"I understand if you'd rather not or have other plans... or just don't want to but... if you didn't, uh- have other plans... I'd be happy to take you to my favorite restaurant." Hikaru could feel the blood rushing to his face, horrified at how difficult it was for him to offer such a simple invitation to a stranger. "Of course, only if you want to, and I'd understand completely if you didn't.", his voice trailed for a moment as he stared at the ground before his voice picked up again, "but I thought it might be a fun way to celebrate our new partnership."
 

Hibiki Mango

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"Huh? Favorite restaurant?" Jason's eyebrows shot up in surprise and curiosity, as if he didn't understand what Hikaru said. The few moments of silence were suddenly broken by Jason's loud voice echoing in the room as he clearly couldn't keep his laughter down. "Ha! That was easy! Ya better have enough credits in yer wallet man, 'cause I ain't no skimpy eater!" he exclaimed giving heavy but honest pats on Hikaru's shoulder, it seemed like his day wasn't going to end on a bad note after all. "Let's get this shit over with so we can go grab a bite, c'mon!" Jason added as he tried to get on his feet fast.



Unused to sit in this particular position for extended periods of time, both legs had become numb and unresponsive. The man to complained loudly at the cramps as he stumbled chaotically on his way over to the spot where he left his shoes. So far Jason didn't know what to expect from his new partner, and he wasn't exactly the kind that would say 'no' to a free dinner; such offer adedd a couple positive points to the first impression he had of Hikaru so far. "I'd normally ask you what kinda restaurant it is, but I'd rather not spoil the surprise this time." Jason commented as he put his shoes back on. "Muller's office is over this way, follow me."



Jason then led the way out, following Muller's steps and the very obvious trail of water his robes left on the floor. The building wasn't much bigger than any other skyscrappers in the neighborhood, it was the lack of furniture and the empty, open spaces that made it feel bigger than it really was. Whoever designed this place, they must have been obsessed with minimalism and black marble tiles. Muller's office was nothing but an expected continuation of what they had seen; tall, straight walls and a high ceilings that got lost in the darkess of the room almost gave the sensation of an ancient palace. Though at the man's office, the wall behind the large dark grey metal desk was in fact a massive window made of smaller panels that doubled as an immense screen.



After the door slid shut behind them, the glass panels in front of the young agents became transparent, allowing an impressive overhead view of the city. It was still raining outside and some thunder could be seen at the distance in the form of scattered flashes of light among the clouds. Shortly after, the large chair behind the desk rotated slowly until Inspector Muller was facing the younger agents, now clad in more proper clothes. "Christmas came early, gentlemen." the man said as he tapped an index finger on the desk a couple times, then a mechanic sound could be heard from the wall to their right, Jason quickly turned his head in that direction as a grin formed on his lips, as if he knew what to expect: "Aw shit, this is my favorite part!" he confessed, nudging Hikaru's side with hos elbow.



Slowly and steadily, some of the marble tiles closer to the floor popped outwards and slowly folded down, revealing an entire catalog of weapons for the agents to choose from. "There was a shipment of new toys last week. I believe you will be the first to try them out, be mindful and make a good choice." Muller instructed. Jason was having a rough time staying put, he didn't hesitate a smidge in quickly stepping closer to take a better look.



"Yessiree! Look at all these beauties. What are you picking?" Jason asked.
 

miku

ᴏɴᴇ ᴅᴀʏ ᴡᴇ'ʟʟ ᴍᴇᴇᴛ ᴀɢᴀɪɴ
Hikaru found himself blinking in confusion more than usual in his interaction with Jason. His laughter quickly filled the room and he couldn't help but let a smile of his own spread across his lips. "Sounds like a plan," his voice a bit warmer and less practiced than earlier. Another smile found its way to Hikaru's face as he watched Jason struggled to stand and get to his shoes. "For someone who claims to be very fast... you don't seem very flexible." Hikaru was able to move from sitting to standing in one fluid motion, one of the few advantages of having a slimmer build. Though he was pretty far off from being described as strong, he was agile and had spent years practicing controlling smaller movements. Sliding his shoes back on he just offered a nod when Jason spoke of wanting the restaurant to be a surprise.

Something about the office they were in bordered on feeling... sterile. With almost nothing adorning the walls they felt as if they went on forever. Taking a moment to look around and take in the building he was in he realized how much of it was shrouded in darkness. After a soft shudder he continued walking, picking up his pace for a moment to catch up to Jason.

"New toys?" The thought was quickly interrupted by Muller telling them to 'make a good choice'. He watched as the wall in the office unfolded revealing the weapons that inspector Muller had been speaking about. Feeling Jason nudge him in the side took him by surprise but felt like a win in some ways. "I don't think he dislikes me... if anything he's just a bit... intense." While the wall finished exposing the weapons that laid behind it he took another moment to observe Jason's body language, once again cataloging mental notes.

Hikaru offered a soft bow and thank you to inspector Muller before following Jason towards the wall. The excitement and energy was radiating off of Jason, Hikaru smiled at how happy he seemed. "His mind moves quickly, good to know." After observing the wall a puzzled look took over Hikaru's face, "You know... I'm not entirely sure." After a few moments of letting his eyes roam the selection before him he found something that caused him to tilt his head a bit. Reaching for it he gently popped it out of the brackets that were holding it. Taking a few steps away Hikaru took a moment to weigh the object in his hand. Letting it lay flat in his palm he moved his hand up and down. Seeming pleased with the weight he looked over the small cylinder of black metal. Up close Hikaru say there were a couple buttons and sliders barely above the surface of the cylinder itself.

After a few more minutes of looking it over an audible gasp came from him. A look of excitement similar to a child receiving a new toy presented itself as a wide-eyed and smiling Hikaru. Taking a couple more steps back he left the cylinder in his right hand. His eyes darted around as he rolled the weapon in his hand trying to find where it felt the most natural. Once he was able to find what grip best fit him he pulled his right hand over his left shoulder, the back of his fist facing out. With one fluid movement Hikaru thrust his hand from the top of his shoulder, across his body, and finished when his right arm was fully extended. A baton presented itself. The layers of metal that descended from the original cylinder were the same color and the joints were now seemingly nonexistent. With his right arm now fully extended the baton was long enough that it needed to be held at an angle or it'd hit the ground. It was roughly five feet long and Hikaru loved the feel of the baton in his hand. After another moment of messing with buttons it retracted itself quickly and almost silently.

"This one. It has to be this one." Hikaru's tone was intense and much louder than when he had spoken before which was uncommon for him. However, the few that knew him well understood that if something piqued his interest enough his personality would evolve. It wouldn't necessarily change rather it would become more bold, he would become more vocal, and his emotions felt more natural. The distraction of something like this didn't allow him to obsess over how he was holding himself, a nasty habit that came at the expense of being an anxious person.
 

Hibiki Mango

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Jason let his new partner choose a weapon first on purpose. After years of practice and close observation, the man sometimes could get a more or less accurate idea of what kind of person he was dealing with depending on their choice of firearms. Still far from being an expert though, there were times his predictions failed but it was just him trying to find ways to get to know fellow coworkers without being too intrusive. Seeing Hikaru wield the baton like that, only made the man's curiosity to become stronger, and also sparked a little bit of jealousy too - he had always been a competitive child.

"It fits you, I'll give you that." Jason commented with a smug look on his face, both hands casually tucked in his pockets. "Since you're gonna keep the broomstick, then I guess I'll take, hmmm... lemme see..." he mused, looking over all the possible options as a kid behind at the window of a candy shop. Another loud groan coming from his stomach reminded him they didn't have much time. "Jason." he heard Muller's voice behind him - he didn't notice when the older man walked all the way from his desk to join them, the younger agent let out a loud "Gah!" of surprise and almost knocked a few items off their brackets. Muller tried his best to be serious, only offering a little playful wink to Hikaru.

"How many times have I told you not to fuckin' do that old man! For fuck's sake! Shit!" his voice filled the office as he turned around to look at his boss. He found the older man holding a black gun with red accents by the barrel, as if he was expecting Jason to take it. When the younger man looked at it, his shoulders relaxed and even his knees flexed a little bit. "This... it can't be. No, you're now bullshitting me, man. This joke ain't funny..." Jason spoke with a look of distrust on his face. Muller looked at Hikaru again and sighed, rolling his eyes. "Try it first." he insisted.

Jason took the gun in his hand and tested its weight a few times. His expression became serious and even his eyebrows curled into a light frown as if he couldn't believe what was happening; he looked at Muller first, then at Hikaru and back down at the gun in his hand. "You've missed it, right? Consider it a gift from Detective Anderson and take good care of it. Your former mentor and I went through a lot to have it rebuilt to original specs." Muller explained as he turned around and started walking back to his chair.

"Seriously?" Jason huffed and slid his thumb upwards across the grip of the gun, it instantly responded with an audible hight-pitched whine as the accents became alive with a bright red glow. "When I told you to give me my gun, I wasn't expecting you to take it this literal! It's been so long!" the young man exclaimed as his look of concern slowly faded into an expression of happiness and excitement. "Looks like you're ready." Muller commented.

"You bet we are! What's the first target then?!" Jason asked impatiently, to which Muller responded with a little chuckle, "Patience. You'll receive instructions tomorrow. Go home and rest the best you can. Good night." - as he spoke, he opened a drawer from the desk and pulled an old but sturdy holster which he held out, apparently for Jason to take. The younger man nodded silently and moved closer to take the holster, in which he tucked the gun once it was turned off and locked. Once more he looked at his new partner and gave him a light nod, it was time to leave.

"Man, shit escalated quickly tonight. It went from exciting, to awkward, then exciting again. Muller does like to play with your feelings, that old geezer.... that was soooo not cool to creep up behind me, I would've sold my ass to the company that makes those things if I'd broken somethin'! At least we're not leaving empty-handed." the man chattered on their way out towards the elevator, taking his blazer off and fidgeting to cling the holster the right way on his shoulders and putting the blazer back on.

A long elevator ride would be expected, given how tall the building was. Once the doors slid shut behind them, Jason crossed his arms and let one of his shoulders rest against one of the walls. "Please tell me we're not gonna have to take a taxi to that restaurant. I'm so done with this city's public transportation, especially at night." he complained.
 
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miku

ᴏɴᴇ ᴅᴀʏ ᴡᴇ'ʟʟ ᴍᴇᴇᴛ ᴀɢᴀɪɴ
A few confused blinks were all that crossed his face when Jason said 'broomstick', it wasn't until a few minutes later he understood that he was referring to his new weapon. The excited roar of Jason's voice quickly ripped him away from his thoughts. Hikaru smiled and laughed as he watched Jason cycle through a myriad of emotions as he was presented a weapon. Taking a few steps forward he took a moment to admire the gun that Muller had presented him. It fit him well, that thought validated as he learned that the gun had been rebuilt.

Hikaru bowed slightly at the waist as Muller encouraged Jason to rest and assured him that they would have their assignment in the morning. Once again trailing a few steps behind Jason he found himself focused on his words rather than the unsettling decorum of the building. Struggling to find a place to interject his own thoughts on the evening he decided to just nod as Jason spoke. For a few seconds there was an awkward silence as Hikaru failed to realize Jason was expecting a response. "Oh! No, don't worry. It's not too far off from here. It's a ten minute walk or so."

"I wonder if he still wants it to be a surprise... Maybe I should ask.... then again, I'm sure if he wanted to know he'd just say so." A quizzical look fell over Hikaru's previously content face as he tried to decide the best course of action.

As the elevator continued down the length of building Hikaru couldn't help but stare at his new weapon. Though his response was not nearly as vocal as Jason's he couldn't deny that receiving new 'toys', as Muller called them, was one of his favorite things. After a few moments of admiring his new toy he looked up at Jason, "What exactly is your weapon? I like the design, when did you first use it? I gathered that it's something you've used before? How did you come across it? Muller mentioned --", he quickly cut himself off and cleared his throat as he realized he had asked multiple questions in under a minute.

"I'm sorry, it just that I realized I don't know very much about you. Questions are usually the fastest way to gather information." His tone was a bit flat but his eyes had a hue of curiosity in them. Mixed with the shine of the lights in the elevator he looked like a student eagerly awaiting to take notes. The ding of the elevator hitting the ground floor stole Hikaru's gaze for a moment as he exited and headed towards the front doors.
 

Hibiki Mango

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A sigh of relief could be heard as Jason's cheeks puffed. He didn't want to take the bus unless it was absolutely necessary, and he was saving that hassle for the trip home. "Thank God..." he murmured. By now the hole in his stomach was beginning to annoy him, all he could do was to close his eyes and wait for the elevator to stop, that was at least until he was assaulted by Hikaru's questions. "Huh?" the man peeked through the corner of his eye and lazily moved so he could uncross his arms and look at the other agent up front. "It's alright. Though I admit I'm more used to ask questions than answering them. You're one curious guy, aren't you?" he joked.

He waited for the elevator doors to open and for his partner to exit first. His steps were a little less tense as they headed to the main entrance of the building. "I'll give you the short answer." Jason said as he nodded at the guards on each side of the large glass door. Rather than using his hand to open it, he casually used the tip of a foot to push it outwards and reach a wide and short stairwell before them. "It's a gift from Inspector Anderson, my former mentor before Muller became my handler. It was his gun from the police department years, some sorta lucky charm I guess. She's old now and she's seen a lot of action, taken apart a million times and put back together again, mostly for upgrades to meet today's regulations and shit. An old beater that refuses to die, though the last time was a close call. Wish I could say the same about my car..." Jason explained with a chuckle at the end, zigzagging on each step trying to avoid the puddles on the sidewalk. "What about you? I don't think I've seen you before 'round here, who's... or rather was your handler?" the man asked in return, following Hikaru to their destination.
 
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miku

ᴏɴᴇ ᴅᴀʏ ᴡᴇ'ʟʟ ᴍᴇᴇᴛ ᴀɢᴀɪɴ
Hikaru nodded silently as he listened to Jason answer his questions. After a few moments of silence he stopped mid-stride. "Thank you for telling me all of that. I'm glad you're able to use it again." His words sounded practiced but they were delivered with a warm smile. As he walked he went over Jason's words again in his head. A habit created and fueled by his love for taking notes. His glance darted back to Jason as he walked, "What happened to your car?"

"I'm not originally from this city. I moved here about a year ago. I transferred for an opportunity to take on a new position but due to some unforeseen circumstances I was unable to participate once the time came."
His voice grew quieter towards the end, his expression growing dim. "My previous handler was Inspector Harmon." Hikaru wrapped a nervous hand around the outside of his other arm, he could feel the weight of an all too familiar anxiety beginning to blanket his nerves. He didn't expect Jason to know his previous handler, he was one of many casualties in an attack that happened in his home city just over a year ago. "I've actually only recently re-entered the field. Due to the circumstances I mentioned earlier I took some time off. I returned to work 9 months ago to re-apply for all necessary certifications and to pass any necessary exams. I've been in the field again for the last 3 months or so."

Hikaru turned a corner to a street filled with lights, noise, and life. Miscellaneous vendors, shops, and carts littered the street. Some were visibly established with neon signs decorating the windows and walls around their now permanent location. Others were in the early stages of selling their food, goods, and whatever else had made its way into the make-shift market. He slowed his pace a bit as they moved further down the street. The low roar of voices overlapping one another filled the street with a constant hum, it was more lively than most of the places in the city. Hikaru turned around and smiled back at Jason, "I can understand if that causes you concern but I promise I'm prepared to be the most effective partner I can be. Also, we're here!" His hand motioned towards a small building that was a part of the original neighborhood. It was dimly lit and was tucked away from the noise and bustle of the street due to the fact it was a bit further back than most of the other buildings along the street. Moving towards the door he propped it open, "After you."
 

Hibiki Mango

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"It's trash now." Jason replied flatly when asked about the pile of junk sitting on the parking lot of the apartment complex he lived in; the story was more complicated than that, but he didn't feel like diving in deeper at the moment. On the other hand, even though he never met or talked to Inspector Harmon personally, rumors about the attack and Harmon’s pitiful end found their way to Jason's ears. He didn’t know much about the details, and sometimes it was better that way - due to their line of work, they had to learn to let go and move on and let the fallen rest and honor their hard work. The man wasn’t really concerned about Hikaru’s abilities, he trusted their higher-ups and if they said they would be good for each other, then he wouldn’t protest much. His real concerns were rooted in… he’d better stop thinking about it. "Those exams and certifications are a pain in the ass..."

It was good to see that night life in this city didn’t stop because of the constant rain this time of the year. Jason had to admit he was impressed by how fast this portion of the street had grown in the past six months or so, the last time he was there it was just another street - so plain and uninteresting that he must have missed the place Hikaru was taking them. The young man took a couple seconds to check out the outside of the building, it looked older than the rest of the buildings and more modest as well. Usually these kinds of places were in fact the most enjoyable. Jason grinned at Hikaru’s formality of propping the door, "Such a gentleman." he joked, and even though he had certain expectations of what the interior portion of the building would look like, once they stepped inside they were welcomed by a little more than he had anticipated.
 
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miku

ᴏɴᴇ ᴅᴀʏ ᴡᴇ'ʟʟ ᴍᴇᴇᴛ ᴀɢᴀɪɴ
"For you, the world." Hikaru laughed as he followed Jason into the restaurant. As the exterior of the building suggested it was simple and modest but between the smell of comfort food and the sound of a small fountain tucked away in the corner it was unexpectedly calm. Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath Hikaru moved towards a table tucked away in the corner, farthest from the door. Motioning to Jason to follow him he looked over his shoulder in the opposite direction, "Sumimasen!

Pulling a seat out for Jason before walking to the other side of the table he sat down and quickly made himself comfortable. His posture was the most relaxed it had been since he met Jason. An older woman quickly greeted Hikaru and warmly nodded to Jason. It was obvious now that English was not Hikaru's first language. There was no accent present when he spoke but his personality came to life when he was speaking Japanese. The smile on his face was barely big enough to contain his excitement, he started speaking with his hands more, and the usually constant layer of nerves had disappeared for a moment.

After a quick conversation with the older woman Hikaru bowed his head and she left back towards the kitchen. "I started us off with tea, water, and beer. I'm not sure what you drink so I figured I'd start with all three." Taking a moment to grab some menus from the edge of the table he started paging through it. "I'm not sure how familiar you are with Japanese food but if I could recommend something I'd try the omurice or the oyakodon." He quickly closed the menu, this was a normal ritual for Hikaru, despite knowing what he wanted hours before he got there he always opened the menu at least once while he was there.

"Please, order what you'd like. I know your stomach has been quite vocal during our time together." A gentle laugh quickly faded into another sentence, "Thank you for agreeing to have a meal with me. Sharing food is a wonderful way to get to know someone." He propped his chin up on one arm, his elbow comfortably planted on the table. As he waited for Jason to answer and look over the menu he found his gaze fixated on the wisps of smoke coming from a an incense holder near the front door.
 

Hibiki Mango

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Jason took a couple moments to look around and examine the place, focusing on details here and there. He wasn’t the kind of person that was much interested in architecture, but this place was definitely something he would remember to visit again in the future, if the food was good, naturally. He hoped the food was just as good as this place looked, at least until his nose caught the smell of the food coming from the kitchen and all doubts were cleared at the same time his stomach complained again. He didn’t hesitate the smallest bit to follow the other man to the table and take a seat.

As the lady greeted them, Jason nodded back in response and sat back quietly as the other two had a little conversation between them. Unable to understand beyond a couple words, he instead took the liberty to pay closer attention to Hikaru’s body language; it was almost as if his personality began to bloom before Jason’s eyes and the tension eased off his shoulders.

After the conversation was over and the lady had left, it was until then that Jason was told what happened. “I don’t handle alcohol well, so it’ll have to be water for me and uh… let’s see…” he commented casually as he took a menu and took a look at it. There was only one problem, the entire menu was in Japanese and Jason couldn’t read it, not a single word in it aside brands written in the Latin alphabet and the prices. His posture froze on the spot, his eyes staring at the menu as one of his eyebrows furrowed - the pictures of the food only helped so much and he didn’t want to sound like an idiot, not right now.

“Yeah, I think I’ll take your word and go for those. If you say they’re good then they’re good.” he said trying to play it cool and relaxed, feeling the hole in his stomach sink in even more before quickly closing the menu and setting it aside on the table. “It’s hard to say no to an offer like that. Gotta admit this is a very nice place too, I can’t believe it went under my radar all this time.” Jason said, rubbing an index finger under his nose and looking around. “You don’t see places like this one anymore, it’s old and strange but oddly comfortable and familiar at the same time.” he added.

“What are you going to order?” Jason asked.
 
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miku

ᴏɴᴇ ᴅᴀʏ ᴡᴇ'ʟʟ ᴍᴇᴇᴛ ᴀɢᴀɪɴ
"It reminds me of my family. I've always been a fan of comfort things or things that are cozy. Food seems to be the easiest way for me to find what I'm looking for." Another gentle chuckle interrupted his voice before he continued on, "It is a bit odd, isn't it? Tucked away in the middle of a market that's so filled with life but I think that's why I like it." His tone was a bit distracted but his posture and body language remained lazy, almost drowsy in some ways. Hearing Jason's question he smiled, a playful hint of accomplishment threaded itss way through his smile, "The same thing I always get, omurice. My grandmother made it for me when I was younger..." His voice trailed off as his eyes went dim and his mind wandered away for a moment.

Blinking a few times to regain his focus he sat up a bit, facing Jason more. Everything about Jason was a stark contrast to Hikaru but he found it comforting. From his outbursts of emotions, the way he spoke, even the way he carried himself. It also hadn't been lost on Hikaru how many eyes or heads he turned on their short journey from Inspect Muller's office to the restaurant they were in now. His fingers wrapped around the neck of one of the bottles on the table, "You don't handle alcohol well? That's good to know. It's one of my many vices though one I try not to indulge in too often." He offered a playful wink, the last of his professional persona dissipating into the home-like atmosphere of the restaurant. Hikaru knew he was awkward but outside of work-related settings it wasn't as jarring and being in a place that felt like his childhood allowed him to loosen his grip over his usually calculated front.

The kind older woman returned, Hikaru's eyes lit up similar to a child's again as he launched into conversation with her. He ordered for the both of them after a minute or two of conversation. The woman's gaze landed on Jason for a moment as she quickly took inventory of the man who was in tow with one of her regulars. Hikaru had tipped the bottom of the beer bottle towards the ceiling as he took another healthy drink from it. The woman leaned closer to Hikaru which immediately led to Hikaru choking on his drink, he quickly covered his mouth as he coughed and the woman laughed.

She looked to Jason again, "Welcome, my name's Kazumi. I apologize I don't think it's dawned on Hikaru here that you don't speak or read Japanese." Her accent wrapped around every consonant in each word but she spoke confidently. As Hikaru quickly returned to an upright position he titled his head as the woman spoke and suddenly the pale complexion of his face was burning red. He muttered something to the woman, she laughed and began to walk away, "He's an odd one. Make sure to take care of him." Like a defiant child Hikaru shot daggers at the woman, "I don't need to be taken care of!" An uninterested hand from the woman waved off the words he shouted after her. His eyes hesitated to find Jason's gaze but after a deep breath he found the courage to do so.

"I'm sorry about that. She's right I didn't realize that you wouldn't be able to read the menu." A nervous hand found its way to the back of his head, "Next time I'll make sure to explain everything on the menu." He could feel the color dissipating in his cheeks but the comment the woman had left in his ear while he was drinking was still repeating itself in his mind.

"I mean... she's not wrong, he is handsome...", the thought faded into nothing quickly as he finished off the last of the bottle he had just been choking on.
 

Hibiki Mango

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Jason could definitely tell Hikaru was becoming more relaxed as the time passed, less tense, more open to the point of offering a playful wink; there was a little extra shine on the edges - if that made any sense. He was about to comment about alcohol but the lady returned and all that Jason could do was to swallow his words and pout, raising an eyebrow at how quick the other two were to start a conversation out of nowhere, seemingly.

There he sat the young man as an unexpected event unfolded before him across the table. The conversation had gone to from friendly and relaxed, to Hikaru choking on the last sip of his beer between coughs. Only to find out that this woman did speak English after all, her accent still noticeable yet definitely easy to understand. Her words and really the whole situation made Jason smile and laugh a little, before shrugging his shoulders and waving his hand in the air, "Nothing to worry about, ma'am! I can't read nor speak Chinese either!" he replied brightly before they exchanged words again. "Sure will, ma'am!" Jason replied to her with a nod as the woman left.

Hikaru's reaction just then was amusing, cute even. It was good to discover his new partner wasn't a stick in the mud unable to relax and let themselves be themselves at least for a while. Granted, their job demanded a little extra from time to time, but Jason wasn't the kind that would be able to sit still and hope to meet the expectations of what a 'professional' should look like. After such interesting turn of events at their table, the young man was left with a little smug smile on his face as he turned his head to look back at his partner. "Hey, don't sweat it. It's happened with other fellow Asians 'round here before, no biggie. I'll let it slip this time 'cause the dinner is on you tonight." said, offering some words of comfort and even a little tease at the end with a wink. The man then tilted his head from side to side slowly until his neck popped, "You could start by explaining me what we're going to have for dinner." Jason added, sitting back in a more relaxed posture on his chair and pulling both hands up behind his head as he held that smug smirk.
 

miku

ᴏɴᴇ ᴅᴀʏ ᴡᴇ'ʟʟ ᴍᴇᴇᴛ ᴀɢᴀɪɴ
"Well I'm glad me paying for dinner is earning me some social grace." He chuckled, the last bit of color in his cheeks not dissipating as quickly as it normally would have.

"I'm so glad that you asked! Okay, let's start with omurice. It's something that can be made for under five dollars but you'll also see on high end restaurant menus. I always found that odd but then again I understand, it's a fantastic dish. It's essentially a fried rice that's covered by an omelette. Certain families have their claims to it, little changes in recipes or garnishes and such. I've yet to encounter a variation I don't like though this is my favorite place to get it if I have a choice. Oyakodon is a steamed egg, onion, and chicken dish. Similar to really any food I guess, you'll see it vary depending on where you get it from. Another dish that can be made pretty easily at home, it's something I make for breakfast relatively often. It's also a favorite but for a different reason. The dish's name translates to 'parent and child' bowl. At first it seems obvious because of the egg and chicken reference but I don't know, something about it always made me happy."

Normally Hikaru would've been more conscious of his rambling but between the touch of alcohol in his system and realizing that Jason didn't seem to mind how he was he allowed himself to continue on. "If you end up liking the food here we should come back, the menu might look small but there's a lot of different things to try." The invitation rolled off his tongue easily to his surprise, the usual anxiety he'd feel nowhere to be found.

As soon as he finished his sentence Kazumi once again appeared from the kitchen, this time with two large trays balanced in each palm. Hikaru's posture quickly straightened as he realized how bad his own hunger had gotten. Eager hands reached for the plates that Kazumi held before a glare from the woman forced his hands back into his lap. Setting the plates down she left both of the men with no words, just a gentle bow and nod of the head.

"Itadakimasu!" Too excited to slow down and explain what the word meant he offered Jason a warm expression as he decided what he wanted to start with. The array of food was scattered in a variety of different sized dishes. Some held pickled vegetables, others held garnishes for rice and the miscellaneous dishes, a slightly larger bowl held a seaweed salad littered with sesame seeds. Each of them had gotten their own bowl of rice, miso soup, and kimchi - common staples of any Japanese meal. "If you have questions about anything just ask! If not, please enjoy." His words were rushed with excitement, the joy in his eyes visible as he began to eat.
 

Hibiki Mango

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It was rather surprising how a guy that looked quiet and distant just barely half an hour ago, suddenly went on through a detailed explanation of what they were going to eat. The omelette and rice part Jason more or less had figured out by the sound of it, and his expectations became higher once Hikaru mentioned the rice was fried. Normally Jason wouldn’t mind, but that stormy night felt like a good moment to have a nice bowl of fried rice, even better with some egg. So far so good. The other dish was something he had never tried before until then, and by the sound of it, it had to be good too. Not that Jason had the most refined palate in town, in fact it happened to be the other way around, but there was something in how Hikaru was describing the food that made Jason feel engaged - and even more so was his stomach.

“Hey, you know it’s good when the menu is small.” he commented as the lady came back to their table with a couple trays. Jason tried to show some manners and sat straight on the chair, bringing back both hands down to the table in a proper spot so they wouldn’t be on the tray’s way. One thing Jason didn’t expect was to see all the different side dishes the main course came with. Some vegetables here, some soup there, salad and the two main dishes, the man’s eyes shone brightly with happiness.

“Sure, bon appetit!” he chuckled, as a hand reached for a spoon. Jason looked down at it and it didn’t feel proper to use a simple, mundane spoon - this wasn’t a fast food place after all. His hand let go of the spoon and instead took a couple stainless steel chopsticks also included on the tray and fidgeted with them until he found a position that felt familiar. “So we meet again, chopsticks. Here goes nothin’...” he joked as he prepared to finally dig in. “Oh wait, I think I’ve seen this before. This is how you do it right?” Jason then commented before running the tip of the chopsticks across the omelette's length in one swift and firm movement. With this, the outer layer of the egg split open and unfolded over the rice below, letting out a small and satisfying cloud of steam. “Mmhmm! You better taste as good as you look.” he whispered right before taking the first bite of it…

The texture and taste of the omurice felt right at home from the get go, and definitely hit all the right spots. Jason’s use of chopsticks was clumsy and somewhat rigid, but it wasn’t an obstacle for him to enjoy his dinner. “Yeah, this is definitely good. I can have like three of these for breakfast tomorrow!” he commented. “I got a question, kinda personal too. It’s my first time a partner goes for a ranged weapon, what’s really your specialty? Code cracking? Infiltration? Explosives? I mean, we’re not supposed to talk about this in public, but I doubt the lady runnin’ this place would be interested in our conversation, also you both seem to have known each other for a while, this looks like a safe place.” Jason said, making a short pause to wash down the food with a sip of water.
 
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