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Friday, Dec 15, 2017
Worlds Of Lesbian Fiction

Assassin

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Assassin - Chapter 6

Rain stared at her phone and then finally turned it off. This Case woman had apparently learned her phone manners from Doc.

She cleared the terminal and caught a shuttle for the nearest rent-a-car place. Her Visa card was readily accepted and she was on the road in a new red BMW a half hour later.

Just as she was pulling out onto the Pacific Coast Highway from Colorado Blvd., she realized she had no idea what Case looked like. She guessed Case had been given her description, but it still meant she could end up wandering around for a while before she found the woman.

Rain parked her car in one of the paid lots and headed for the pier. She looked around, consciously trying to send out the vibe that she was looking for someone and hoped that particular someone would find her.

There were a lot of people around. Some were fishing off the side of the pier, their earlier catches sitting in buckets of water or laying out in coolers filled with ice. There were people sitting on benches taking a break from walking around and obvious couples strolling along the wooden planks. In another few hours, the sun would be setting and the pier would be filled with lovers trying to be romantic by watching the sunset together.

Rain walked slowly down the pier casting her glance from side to side to see if she could pick out Case without knowing what she looked like. For all she knew, the woman wasn't even there yet.

After two circuits of the pier, Rain was getting annoyed. She began making her way back down the pier to begin her third circuit when a voice behind her stopped her.

"Rain."

Rain turned around and immediately had to adjust her gaze downward to take in the short blonde. She was about to respond, but the blonde continued.

"Rule number one: Don't argue with me. You can discuss, but don't argue. Rule number two: Always get all of the information you need to complete the job you have to do. Don't count on someone else to do it for you."

Rain kept her mouth shut and just took in the words. She was pretty sure she was being scolded. She just wasn't sure for what. Then it dawned on her that Case meant she should have asked for her description instead of wandering around blindly for the past hour. Then she realized Case had probably been watching her the whole time.

Now she remembered seeing the diminutive blonde sitting on a bench halfway down the pier's end.

"You didn't give me a chance to ask, you hung up so fast," Rain explained.

"Rule number three: Don't offer excuses. Excuses show a lack of confidence in one's decisions, and if you're not confident in your actions, then there's no reason why I should be. And in response to your reasoning, you could have called me back and asked."

She turned around and began walking towards the pier's exit. Rain stood there for a moment and then used her long legs to catch up without looking like she was running after the woman.

"So, you're Case?"

"Yup. Where's your car?"

"Over there," Rain replied and pointed toward one of the parking lots off the Highway.

Rain made sure to get a little ahead of the short woman, so she could lead the way to the car. She went to the driver's side and opened the door, then turned around when she noticed Case had stopped a few feet away from the car.

"What's wrong?" Rain asked.

"Do you always pick such flashy things?"

Rain looked down at the car and grinned.

"No, actually, I'm usually pretty low-key, but..."

"You're nervous, you just got a brand new platinum credit line, and you wanted to impress me," Case smirked at her.

Rain thought it over for a second and was surprised to find that the woman was right. Usually she was on top of those kinds of things, but this case was too important and she was nervous that she was going to mess it up now that she was expected to work one on one with somebody else.

"Yeah," she replied a little sheepishly.

"I'm glad that's all it is. I'd have told Antonio to find you another line of work if you were just into living the high life," she said.

She dropped her bag into the back seat and pulled open the passenger side door. She slid into the car and waited for Rain to join her. Rain dropped into her seat and started the car. She paid the attendant and then they were on the PCH, driving north along the coast.

"Why is living the high life bad?" Rain asked in order to continue their earlier conversation.

"It's not bad, it's just not good in our line of work. It's really easy to get used to having the best of everything. You start to rely on it, get addicted to it. Then anything less is a hardship. It takes your focus away. It becomes a weakness. And you can't afford to have too many weaknesses in this line of work."

"So, how long have you been 'in this line of work'?" Rain asked her.

"Three years."

"How come I'm not being trained by the one who trained you?"

"You are. I trained me."

"So you did freelance and then Mr. Carlotti hired you?"

"No. I've worked for Antonio since I turned eighteen, eight years. He just noticed me a few years ago and decided I'd make a good assassin. I was sent to a couple of his guys, but they... Basically, they laughed at me, so I trained on my own."

"Those guys still working for Antonio?"

"No. They're dead. Got caught on one of their jobs. The Target happened to have a shotgun and didn't take too kindly to being shot at."

"So, he got away."

"No. I was sent in to clean up the mess."

The drive was silent while Rain took in the information she'd just been given. The sun was rapidly heading for the horizon and Rain started thinking about dinner. She hadn't eaten since that morning at the airport, while she'd waited to board the plane. She'd refused to eat the airline food.

"You hungry?"

"Yeah, we should head back to the city anyway. I have some things I need to take care of," Case replied.

Rain found a place to turn the car around and soon they were headed into downtown Los Angeles. Rain found a parking garage and Case tipped the valet a hundred dollars to stay with the car and make sure it remained untouched. Even though it was just a rental, she really hated complications, like explaining a missing BMW because some punk decided he liked the car.

Case carried her bag with her and Rain decided to follow her lead. Case walked purposefully into one of the many jewelry stores that lined the streets of Downtown and headed for the back. Rain glanced at the display cases and saw huge gold chains and numerous gold charms that she knew were a big hit with the girlfriends of the local gang members.

A man behind the counter came over to greet Case.

"Hey, Case, how's biz?"

"Fine. Got some shit for you."

Case unzipped a side pocket on her bag and pulled out an off white surgical glove with a knot at the wrist. The man took the bag and pulled out a switchblade from his pocket. He pierced the glove and a dozen pieces of nicely cut jewelry tumbled onto the glass countertop.

"A job?" he asked, referring to the glove that was their usual sign for when the merchandise came from a hit rather than a standard robbery.

She'd begun using Carlito for fencing stolen goods when she was still just a thief for Antonio. Then a burglary had gone bad and she'd had to kill two security guards to get away. That's how she'd come to Antonio's attention. She'd only fired two bullets, but both had found their marks in the hearts of each of the guards. Antonio had tested her personally on his private range and she hadn't even had to try. All her shots landed in the bull's eyes.

Now, when she was in the area and some of her hits called for her to stage a robbery, she still came to Carlito to move hot items along.

"Yeah. This morning," she replied.

He nodded and then started sorting through the pieces with his blade.

"I'll have to move these someplace else. No one wants this kind of shit here."

"You could take 'em apart. Melt the gold down for something else and reset the gems."

The man grunted noncommittally.

"How much?" Case finally asked.

He mumbled under his breath, adding up the different pieces and what he could get for them, then subtracting different amounts until he came up with a good profit for himself and an uninsulting price for Case.

"Six hundred," he offered.

"Nine hundred," she countered.

"Seven."

"Eight."

"Seven-fifty."

"Deal," Case said and reached out her hand to shake on it.

Carlito scooped up the jewelry and walked behind a curtain in the back. Case plucked the shredded glove off the counter and pushed it into her jeans pocket next to the pair still there.

Rain leaned down next to her ear.

"You did a job just this morning?" she asked in a low tone so no one else could hear.

Rain was a little shocked. Case just didn't seem like someone who should be in this business and yet she appeared totally calm about it all.

"Yeah. It was kind of short notice. Sort of like you. I didn't hear about you until a few hours ago."

"No shit," Rain said.

She'd figured Antonio would have had Case notified immediately.

"Yeah, Antonio's kind of a spur of the moment kind of guy. I'll bet he decided your fate in half a heartbeat," Case looked up at her with a knowing grin.

Now that Rain thought about it, Case was right. Antonio had just decided what Rain was going to do for him without giving it, or her, a second thought. She realized that though getting Antonio's attention was a good thing the first time, it would probably be best to go unnoticed forever after.

Carlito came back out and handed over a bundle of hundred dollar bills with a fifty on top. Case thumbed through it quickly and then stuffed it into her back pocket, as she snagged her bag off the counter.

"See ya 'round," she called over her shoulder.

"Yeah, later," he said.

They walked out of the store and started down the street.

"Where do you want to eat?" Case asked her tall companion.

"Where's good around here?"

"Depends on what you want. I know a good Mexican place. There's a good pizza place a few blocks from here and there's Chinese back the way we came."

"How 'bout pizza?"

"Sure."

Half an hour later, they were working on a large 'everything but anchovies' pizza. Case decided it was her turn to start the conversation and asked a few questions of her own.

"So, how did you get into the business? Doc mentioned you were working for Franco?"

"Yeah I was his bo.. I mean his go between," Rain corrected herself.

The sheet with the new code phrases she'd had to memorize had been explicit about coding everything when in a public area. It had been different when she was just a bodyguard since she was almost never in a public place that wasn't owned and operated by a family member, and she wasn't supposed to speak much then anyway. Her new position basically gave her the feeling of being undercover while being undercover. The layers of deception were a little staggering.

Case smiled.

"You're learning," she complimented.

"Thanks. Anyway, he gave me the job after he saw me take one of his guys down a peg or two."

"What'd the guy do?"

"He pinched my butt."

"So, you're good in a fight?"

"Yeah."

"I'm looking for specifics. Did you take a self-defense class? Are you a bar brawler? What?"

"I'm a fifth-degree black belt in Taekwon-Do."

"So, you're a Master. Nice. I've only got my first degree in that discipline."

"You hold degrees in others?"

"I hold a second degree in Karate; I'm Sandan, or third degree, in Ju-Jitsu; Yondan, or fourth degree, in Aikido; and I'm certified to teach Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do."

Rain whistled low. This woman was prepared for just about any kind of physical attack a person could level at her.

"You couldn't have learned all that in just the last three years, so it wasn't for work," Rain stated.

"No, I started training a month after I turned eighteen. It was one of my hobbies."

"One of your hobbies?"

"Yeah, computers were the other. It filled up my time when I wasn't running for Antonio."

So, she'd started out as a drug runner.

"So, is that why Antonio pegged you as a.. delivery girl?" Rain had to think for a second to remember the proper code for assassin.

"No."

Rain waited for an explanation, but Case didn't say anything further. In fact, Rain could see that Case had completely closed up. She looked around their table at some of the other patrons of the pizza joint and then came back to Case's face.

"So, when does my training start?"

"It already has. But we'll get into specifics tomorrow. There's a few books I want you to read and a bunch of websites you need to familiarize yourself with. I also want a demonstration of your martial arts skills."

Case looked down at the mostly demolished pizza. They'd paid for their food and drinks at the counter, so they were free to leave whenever they were ready.

"You got a favorite hotel you want to stay at?" Case asked.

"Um, I like Hampton Inns. They give you free breakfasts in the morning," Rain grinned.

"All right. Let's go find one. We can stop at a bookstore on the way, see if they've got what I need."

They left and were back on the road after collecting the BMW from their attentive valet. Case gave the kid another hundred for keeping the car safe for them while they were gone.

A quick stop at a Barnes and Noble and Case had several books and a couple of magazines for her new student to peruse. They covered everything from hunting rifles and martial arts, to auto mechanics and computer programming. A short time later and they were all checked in at Rain's favorite hotel.

Case looked around the room and chose the bed furthest from the door by dropping her bag on top of it. It crossed her mind that Rain didn't have any luggage with her and therefore, no change of clothes. That situation needed to be rectified.

"Okay, we've got home base settled. Now, let's go shopping," Case declared, and they headed back out to the car.

At least it would look like that's how she'd planned it. The fact that she was totally winging it with this new apprentice hadn't escaped her.

Their first stop was a Target, which Case thought was rather funny, her morbid sense of humor catching Rain a little off-guard. Rain picked out a few changes of clothing, as well as sleepwear and a few toiletry items.

Then they headed to a computer retailer and Case picked out a laptop for Rain, along with a ton of peripherals that Case insisted were necessary. When Case picked up several CD-ROM games, Rain raised an eyebrow at the 'necessity' and Case just grinned at her.

"I have to entertain my inner child somehow," Case explained.

"Your inner child likes running around dungeons and shooting demons?"

"Yup. I bet your inner child would like it, too."

"I doubt she would even know how to tell the good guys from the bad," Rain replied.

"Oh, that's easy. You're the only good guy and you're on your own. Everyone else is the enemy. You can only rely on yourself to keep you safe."

"Sounds kinda lonely. Is there a way for more than one person to play at the same time? You know, kind of like a team effort?" Rain asked, suddenly realizing there was a whole other level to their conversation.

"Yeah, actually, there is. We can use the cable I picked up for your laptop to hook it up to mine and then we can play in a deathmatch. It's fun. You'll see."

Rain just smirked and nodded. Inside though, she was frowning in thought. She was pretty sure she'd just gained some major insights into her new teacher. She just wasn't sure she liked them very much.

Their next stop was a martial arts outfitter. Case had Rain pick out a uniform and belt and chose a collapsible bo for herself. Rain saw the weapon and picked one up too, though hers was a bit longer to accommodate her height. Rain charged the items to her new credit card.

The next thing she knew, they were at a dark apartment building and Rain wondered at first if they were visiting one of Case's friends. Once they were allowed inside, however, Rain realized why they were there.

There were several tables set up with various guns and ammo laid out on them and Case went directly to one of the tables with handguns neatly stacked next to each other. She pulled out a set of surgical gloves from her jeans pocket and snapped them on, then picked up one of the guns. She held it easily in her hand, hefted the weight, checked the clip, mock aimed it, and then set it back down. She went through a few others and then turned to regard Rain.

"What's your preference?"

Rain remembered her two shiny silver Colt XS series LW Commanders, with their beautiful rosewood grips, waiting for her at home, and half-sighed with wistful longing.

"I usually carry a set of Colt Commanders. It's what I'm used to," she shrugged as though she didn't care.

"Hmm, they're good, but I think I want you to use a Smith&Wesson 9mm. Commanders are pretty, but the silver caste gives off too much of a reflection. They make you a target."

Case picked up the gun she'd mentioned and flipped the handle, so that she was holding the barrel, and offered it to Rain to inspect.

"Plus, the 910 model holds ten rounds, instead of eight, and that can make a big difference, if things go wrong. It's a touch smaller than what you're used to, and a couple ounces heavier, but we'll go to the range tomorrow and check you out on them."

Case pulled out the roll of bills again and handed over a hefty sum for the illegal guns and ammunition. She also picked up a nice leather double holster that could be adjusted to situate the guns either at Rain's sides or upside-down across her back.

They left and headed back to the hotel. Rain unpacked her new belongings and Case started fiddling with the computer. In under an hour, Rain was outfitted with free Internet access, several e-mail accounts, a fax number, and an imported set of bookmarks from Case's browser for Rain to check out.

When she was done, Case pulled out a plain black karate uniform that had a sleeveless top, along with a black belt. She looked over at Rain and gestured to her bag.

"I wanna go down to the gym and have a workout. Haven't gotten the chance in a couple days. Why don't you pull out your new gear and join me?" Case offered.

"Sure. Love to."

Case brought out her new staff and Rain took the hint and tucked hers under her arm as well. They arrived in the gym and changed in the locker room. Rain had chosen a black gi too, but hers was long-sleeved. She tied her hair back and walked out with Case into the unused aerobics room. Case bowed before stepping onto the hardwood floor and Rain followed suit. Any place that was used as a training hall, whether it was an established dojang or not, should be shown respect.

Rain started in on a few warm-up exercises, mostly to get used to the feel of the crisp new uniform. Case's uniform was almost gray from use, but Rain could tell it was well cared for. As Case started to move through a series of jump kicks, punches, and other maneuvers, Rain lost concentration on her own activities.

The lack of sleeves on Case's uniform top showed her arms to advantage. The biceps and triceps were cut nicely and, as Case performed an elbow strike against the palm of her hand, they stood out in high relief against the black of the shirt. Rain shook her head and went back to her own warm-up routine before she got caught looking.

They settled down after about ten minutes and Case stood at attention before Rain and bowed.

"Sabum Nim. Since you have only studied Taekwon-Do, that's what we'll practice. And since you hold the higher rank, I yield seniority to you."

Rain nodded and naturally flowed into teacher mode. As a fifth-degree black belt in the Korean martial art of Taekwon-Do, she'd taught many classes and knew that if she ever decided to get out of the FBI gig, she could open her own dojang with no problem.

"Let's run through all the patterns from green belt to black belt and then we can spar a little."

Case nodded.

"Yes, Sabum Nim."

They distanced themselves from each other by about six feet and Rain called out the commands to begin the first pattern.

"Daeryon Jasae. Won-Hyo tul. Sijuk!"

They moved in perfect unison, following a tempo that was natural to the pattern's maneuvers, yelling out the kihaps at the appropriate times, and finishing in the same spot they'd started. Rain grinned and Case smiled back.

"That was good. Blue stripe's next."

They continued through each belt's patterns, until they'd exhausted Case's knowledge of the art. Then Rain had them face each other and they prepared to spar. They hadn't picked up any protective gear, but Rain figured they were both experienced enough to keep from really hurting each other.

They bowed and then stepped back into their fighting stances. Both of them had relaxed looks on their faces and when Rain called for them to start, Case's body fluidly sprang into motion. Rain blocked the immediate side kick that was aimed at her waist and blocked the follow-up turning kick that went directly for the side of her face, before Case returned her leg to the ground.

Rain danced forward and swept up an outside crescent kick towards Case's head, but Case ducked and spun to throw her own inside crescent kick at the still moving Rain. But Rain continued to spin with her kick and dropped her leg as she brought the other one up to throw a back kick which neatly landed in Case's unguarded stomach. They danced away from each other and then Case moved forward to attack again.

It was beautiful to watch. The martial art focused mostly on the use of the legs and between Rain's long ones and Case's short, but powerfully built ones, it was like watching a ballet. They jumped and spun, changed direction at the drop of a hat, and threw punches and blocks with negligent ease. Even though Case was only a first-degree black belt, her other training had made her technique more on par with a third-degree.

After almost an hour, they both called a halt and then bowed to each other. A round of applause echoed through the gym and they noticed for the first time that they had quite an audience. Case shook her head and grinned and Rain tried not to blush.

One of the reasons Rain hadn't gone as far in her studies as her masters would have hoped was because she refused to enter any tournaments. She hated an audience. She was very glad she hadn't known the people were there or Case would probably have found her to be a much less formidable opponent. She had a tendency to freeze up when a lot of people were watching her demonstrate. Luckily, that never happened in real life situations, her adrenaline taking over before her phobia could.

"You're really good, Rain. Um, if you'd like, we could trade training. You could teach me more Taekwon-Do and I could train you in Jun Fan. I can't teach you any of the others because I'm not ranked high enough to do that, but I think one martial art at a time is enough."

Rain was glad Case had supplied that information. It was sort of an unwritten code that one did not pass on their knowledge of their art to just anybody, though many American students of the eastern disciplines hadn't seemed to catch on to that fact. It was an honor to be allowed to study the martial forms. Unfortunately, capitalism and the loophole created by the Equal Rights laws made it difficult for masters to turn down any prospective student simply because they felt like it, if that student happened to have the money to pay for lessons.

"Oh, I understand. I wouldn't train anyone who didn't follow the code. What is Jun Fan? I think I've heard of it, but I don't remember where."

"Oh it's the martial art system Bruce Lee came up with before he died. It's a combination of several martial arts forms along with a healthy dose of spiritualism and Bruce Lee's own personal style. My master certified me to teach it two years ago, but you'd be my first student."

"Well, I've taught classes before, but I've never actually had my own students, so you'd be my first, too."

"Cool. Then it's a deal?"

"Deal."

They changed clothes in the locker room and Case realized they'd never gotten around to using their staves. Well, there was always next time. They left the gym and headed back to their room. The workout had felt great and Case felt a lot more relaxed.

"You look a lot better," Rain remarked as they entered the hotel room.

"I've been a little stressed lately. Two jobs in three days is very unusual for me, especially when they're on opposite sides of the country. I haven't been able to have a good workout in almost a week and that always makes me tense."

"I know what you mean."

Case leaned back on her bed and stared at the ceiling. She was suddenly very aware of the fact that she hadn't shared a room with anyone since the night before her eighteenth birthday. She surreptitiously glanced over at Rain, who was putting her things away and getting situated on her bed, and tried to decide how to handle the situation.

There were certain things she was used to doing that she'd never really thought about in terms of being in another's presence. Like the fact that she slept nude because she found clothing too restrictive. Or that anyone who was unfortunate enough to attempt to wake her usually ended up with a broken bone or two. Or the fact that she was pretty sure she had nightmares; she'd woken up many times with a scream dying on her lips. Though she could never remember the actual dreams, she had a pretty good idea of what they were about and it wasn't something she wanted to share with Rain.

She realized, a little too late, that she should have gotten them separate rooms. She knew she could just go down to the front desk and get another room, but then Rain would wonder what was going on and she didn't want to have to explain herself.

Case closed her eyes. Damn. Well, she'd just have to deal with it.

"Hey, mind if I turn on the TV? I'm not used to sleeping at night. When I worked for Rossi, my day didn't start 'til three in the afternoon," Rain broke into Case's thoughts.

Case opened her eyes and turned her head.

"Nah, go ahead. I'm a bit of a night person myself sometimes."

"Great. Thanks," Rain said, and reached for the remote control on the bedside cabinet.

She flicked the TV on and started channel surfing. Case watched as the channels flipped by. Rain would stay on a channel just long enough to follow what was being presented and then move on. It was hypnotic and made her sleepy. After a few minutes, Case turned over and faced the wall, closing her eyes. She would just get through this first night and then make sure they got separate rooms next time.


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