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Business Realities

rating PG-13

The fog had turned into a slight drizzle, slowly but surely soaking through his expensive black cashmere coat. Sakurazuka Seishiro turned up the collar, sucked briefly on the remnant of his cigarette before he dropped the stub onto the concrete and crushed it under his left heel. After a moment, he used a fragment of his power to dissolve it into cherry blossoms. It wouldn't do to leave evidence like this on a ledge twelve storeys high up a skyscraper with hermetically locked windows. He shoved his cold hands deeper into his clammy pockets. A gust of wind caught his coat and batted it hard against his legs. The black hawk shikigami on his shoulder flapped its wings briefly to keep it's balance but that was all.
     Night was falling fast. The red neon advertising panel with which he shared his location came to life in the growing darkness, bathing him in an eerily bloody glow. He retreated into the shadow next to the giant Y of IT'S A SONY and tried to find a place slightly protected from the drizzle before he lit his next cigarette, the fourth on this wait. The tree would give him an earful about it. But what other benefit did one have from being connected to a tree anyway? If not for using it's "green lungs" directly for saving one's own? 
     He inhaled the hot smoke, made sure nicotine and tar safely went to the park, and enjoyed the illusion of warmth. As expected, the tree protested, but what could he do? Fire was one of his foci after all, though less efficient than blood. And the predator that was the tree better knew not to disturb it's... guardian on the prowl. Seishiro exhaled slowly and watched, dispassionately, how the cloud of blue smoke was dispersed in the light rain. 
     Rain dripped off his bangs and tried to sneak into his collar. Briefly, he wished he could really just snatch a pedestrian off the sidewalk and be done with it for today, like the Sumeragi clan seemed to think of his work. At least, he wouldn't have to stand in the rain all night until his target decided to come home. Unfortunately, his work was much more complicated, involved government orders, research and trailing and paperwork and sometimes even arguments with stubborn officials... He really pondered sending his shikigami. 
     But he didn't have a mark on his target as he had on Subaru-kun. Involuntarily, he sensed for the marks, felt them somewhere warm, somewhere cozy and comfortable and utterly not like this dark ledge slippery from the rain and uncounted years of exposure to exhaust fumes. Briefly, he contemplated paying the boy a visit later. The black hawk on his right shoulder, sensing the sudden attention of it's master on a faraway subject, raised it's head at the thought but Seishiro discarded the idea. He was wet, cold, and for once his thoughts were circling closer to a warm bed than a warm body. 
     It was just that between him and the bed was the business at hand. Namely a young business woman who had made the authorities suspicious of her... options, so to speak. Suspicious enough to send him to inquire whether or not she possessed unlisted parapsychical abilities capable of posing a danger to the state. 
     He had been investigating the case for the better of two weeks now, meticulously collecting when she did what, where, with whom and for how long. She turned out to be a creature of habits, not overly precise but reliable, making it easy to follow or anticipate her on occasion. Regarding her abilities though, the results had been inconclusive. So tonight he predated her at home, placed weak lines of power only somebody sufficiently gifted would notice, and set himself up to wait. 
     She habitually returned home soon after the evening rush hour, seldom a few minutes later. Now it were over two hours and he was wet and cold and seriously contemplating whether or not it posed a threat to Japan if she lived another 24 hours while he got somewhere warm and dry and shut up the nagging tree in the back of his mind with a comment about Agent Orange and an axe. 
     The lights in the apartment on the twelfth floor of the building on the other side of the street went on. A woman in a camel hair coat, a dripping umbrella dangling from her arm, closed the door to her apartment and stepped out of her shoes. She froze in her movements. Her fingertips traced lines invisible to the normal eye. The black shadow that seemed to hover over her was still misty and unfocussed but with time it would condense into-- 
     Seishiro dissolved his fourth cigarette this evening into a swirl of sakura blossoms and leaped soundlessly. Time for business. 


Special thanks go to Elizabeth Bales-Stutes for editing this.

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