Reaching the end of the short corridor that opened into the right-side arrival platform for the Karasuma Line, Kusae Hiroki paused to give a casual glance around the open space just under the floor with the ticket gates. His dark eyes slipped past those closest, searching through the harsh, fluorescent light bathing down from the fixtures above the tiled flooring. The twin platforms of the Karasuma Line belonged to one of two trains that were serviced by the Karasuma-Oike Station. The other was the Tozai Line which sat beneath the one he was supposed to meet the person he was looking for.

Both sets of rails for the Karasuma Line were separated by the massive, evenly-spaced concrete pillars positioned between them which aided in supporting the weight of the floor above. Gazing across the way, he searched the left-side platform just in case he had gotten the meeting place wrong. But he didn't spot anyone matching the profile he'd drawn up in his head from the vague descriptions given in their online conversations and shared text messages.

Kusae took a deep breath and returned his eyes to the area around the platform he was standing on. The air was a confusing mix of cologne, perfumes and vague body odor. But he didn't mind. It was a scent he was used to – in more ways than one.

Not seeing who he was looking for, Kusae dropped his eyes. "Yeah, she'll be here any minute. Gonna be sweet young thing this time. Uh-huh. Yeah," he finished before switching the smartphone to the other ear and checked his watch. "What? No. No. The Hearton first. Get a few drinks in her, ya know? Then I'll take her back to my room..." He paused to laugh a little into the phone. "…for the usual."

His eyebrows rose slightly at the time displayed.

"Shit," he swore, looking up from the exquisite silver and gold Rolex. Glancing in a wide arc, Kusae surveyed both arrival platforms again until his eyes were focusing down the length of the one he would soon be standing on. "Komoji, I'm gonna have to call you back. It's already ten oh-three and I've still gotta find her before the station closes. Yeah, I'll tell you all about it. Oh, I'm sure she'll be a screamer. Right, right. Yeah, bye."

Ending the call, Kusae lowered the phone and slipped it into the pocket of his overcoat. Taking a few steps away from the mouth of the corridor, he ran a hand over thinning salt-and-pepper hair. Now, he thought, gazing at the twenty or so people milling about the narrow stretch of the platform while waiting for the next train to arrive, where's she at? We set this meeting up for eleven. Where the hell is she?

Even with the few who wandered about or waited patiently, the station was a little noisier than what he was used to. It was a bit disconcerting for him. The low murmurs of conversations and occasional laughter here and there were almost foreign to his ears. It was nothing at all like the 'orderly noise' experienced during the day. Occasional hushed whispers between friends or muted cellphone conversations some had before boarding the train were usually drowned out by near-constant PA announcements. The order and controlled silence that reigned through the daylight hours was like an old friend. He felt somewhat lost without it.

During the madhouse morning, lunchtime and evening rushes, the chaos was always organized. Just like the noise. Throngs of people were quick to shuffle into long lines in order to board the incoming trains. The hushed way they did so – even with the subway packers who constantly worked the lines to fit as many people aboard the trains as possible – in such a rigid and structured way did a lot to show the superiority of Japan's metro system when compared to those abroad.

Kusae had the great displeasure of experiencing the metro system in America; once and only once. But that was more than enough for him. The noise, the filth, the manner-lacking Americans; all of it contributed to a desensitizing feeling that left him jarred and disoriented. From that time forward, he'd never so much as thought of setting foot on another subway line in the United States – his curiosity had been quite sated by the misery of his one and only use of it.

When he finally returned from the business trip and again embellished himself in the chaotic order of the Japanese Rail, it was akin to coming home to an old friend. How anyone could navigate the insanity of the American subway was well beyond him. The discordant chaos present there made the worst subway line in Japan look efficient. Never again did he want to relive that sensation of utter and total pandemonium.

A sudden blast of cold, October air from the ticket gate floor above snaked its way down the nearest stairway exit and rushed past him as it cut through the corridor. Despite the station's heat, the iciness of the wind on his bare neck caused Kusae to shiver. He flipped up the lapel of his overcoat to protect it from further exposure to the cold.

All of the exits that led up to the street level from the ticket gates were open air; no doors. That made it easier for sharp gusts of cold, autumn air to slip beyond the floor above and down into the deeper parts of the multi-level station. Moving further up the long platform, he raised his hands and blew into them. Rubbing them together briskly, Kusae tried to shake off the momentary chill given by the unpleasant gust of wind.

As he did that, Kusae shifted his wrist and glanced down at his watch again. He groaned under his breath as he looked around. There were some girls nearby locked in a rather loud conversation about boys, two of which who were close to the age of the one he was hunting for. Their dark tans, bleached hair and provocative style of dress marked them out as gyaru. But none of them bothered to acknowledge him or hold his gaze for anymore than a few seconds before going silent and moving off in a direction that placed them further down the platform.

He ignored them as they weren't of any interest to him. The only one that mattered was the one he'd set the encounter up with. Anyone else would only lead to embarrassing questions from authorities called in for harassment. And that was a complication he didn't need.

He took a few steps down the length of the arrival platform, passing by the now-giggling girls and coming to a halt only when they far enough behind not to be heard. Standing near a set of bright green benches, Kusae scanned a little further down the platform. No one he saw matched or came close to fitting the description of a girl who might be waiting on something else other than the last train of the night.

His frustration grew.

Kusae knew that if he missed meeting up with the girl, he'd have to wait another three months before he could set up another. His schedule kept him in and out of the country, leaving only about five to six months out of the year to squeeze in family, friends and leisurely encounters like this one. The remaining months were all about work in America, overseeing projects and handling personal acquisitions there. Fun was more or less an afterthought while he was abroad.

That wouldn't be the case here, if he could keep his appointed meeting. Where the hell is she?

Truth be told, Kusae really didn't know what to expect. He met her through one of those deai websites for setting up paid encounters a few weeks ago and had kept in touch with emails and text messages. There wasn't much really revealed in those conversations, however. Only basic information; she lived in Kyoto, she was in middle school, she lived with her mother and she loved cute fashion.

Typically kiddy shit.

Other than the fact she was probably between thirteen and fifteen years old, Kusae had no idea what the girl looked like. Just what he imagined she would look like. He only knew that he was supposed to meet her at the Karasuma-Oike Station, on the Karasuma Line Platform, at eleven o'clock p.m. Not that he had a problem with all the secrecy and shadows. He was actually very fond of surprises.

About to check his watch again, movement a few yards down caught his eye. Turning his head as if checking to see if the train was coming, he saw a long-haired girl walking down the way stop and check one of the ceiling-mounted digital LCD signs. Brushing a few strands of hair out of her eyes, she upended her slender wrist to check her watch and then sighed before leaning somewhat languidly against the wall near a station payphone. Staring down in disinterest at the floor tiles, the girl played with her hair – twirling it around a forefinger and pulling it loose – but didn't raise her head again.

Kusae tried to look at her without looking at her, pretending to give a casual glance down the platform while slyly checking her out. She was young, looking about fourteen, and dressed in what could only be considered a 'promiscuous' sort of way. The soft pink boots and matching over-knee socks, the dark-blue denim mini-skirt and pink, loose-fitting 'Glamorama' top mostly concealed under her snow-white, padded heavy winter jacket; it all marked her out as a girl who spent a little too much time watching Tokyo Kawaii TV instead of studying.

Still trying not to gain her unwanted attention, he gave her another casual once over under the pretense of looking for someone past her. The teenager was looking up from the floor now, scanning around the station while stifling a yawn. She didn't seem to notice him, expression on her round, innocent face bored and indifferent. That gave him a bit of relief.

Though Kusae wasn't sure, the girl did match what he envisioned her to look like. But he still held his place. He wasn't in the habit of taking chances that offered no rewards. She could be the girl he was supposed to meet. On the other hand, she might not be and that was what made it so risky for him. Being impatient and making that mistake was what got him his first harassment complaint. So instead of making direct eye contact, he kept his distance and continued to gaze in her general direction.

As his glance drifted back toward her face, that's when he noticed she was staring in his direction; those big eyes studying him. For a moment, Kusae was worried that she was going to make a scene. You could never be too sure how girls her age would react to an older man ogling them. Some liked the attention while others found it to be grounds for an immediate trip to find the nearest blue-jumpsuited station worker and report him. A long moment passed between him and the girl. But her expression didn't change.

An uncomfortable feeling settled down on him. He couldn't afford to have another complaint lodged against him so soon after the last one. These days, the police were a little too quick to jump on any adult male caught harassing teenage girls. One errant stare was all it had taken. Just one stare. Exactly like the one he was being given now.

Kusae suddenly felt very sick in the stomach. He had a very important trip to America planned in about a month or two; one that he couldn't miss. He also had a very loving wife whose trust wasn't quite as firm as it once was. An additional complaint could complicate things more than he needed. Just as Kusae made his decision to break off eye contact and move to a different part of the long platform, the girl did the last thing he expected.

She smiled.

He wasn't quite as quick to return it. She could always be trying to play him for a fool, luring him in with smiled promises only to turn on him just as fast by reporting him to station attendants. He just couldn't afford to be as trusting as he'd been before that first complaint. Despite what he did, despite the fact that he had a well-established addiction to having sex with underaged girls; he truly loved his wife with all his heart. It still tortured him that Misa no longer trusted him as fully as she had before.

Still, the girl had yet to stopping looking at him or smiling. Was that the sign he'd been looking for? She had yet to make a scene or start screaming at him with accusations of 'pervert', 'wolf' or 'creepy old man'. Could he trust that she was the girl he'd been waiting on all this time? That unsettling feeling still making him uncertain of his actions, Kusae directed a slow half-grin at her. He then shifted his gaze for a moment to make sure no one nearby was taking an interest in what was going on between him and the girl, and then looked back. She apparently hadn't stopped watching him in the intervening time.

Smile becoming somewhat mischievous, the girl began to fiddle with the little pink and white toy hanging on a long, multilink gold chain drooping from around her slender slim, designer-nailed fingers slid up and down it in short, meticulous strokes. The way she played with it gave Kusae all kinds of dirty thoughts involving her hands. He felt his heart beating faster. Those thoughts also helped to wash away some of that early anxiousness. Finally dropping her eyes, she gazed down at the toy for a second and then took hold of it.

Kusae watched as she opened it up and began to work her small thumbs against it. A moment later, the message tone of his smartphone jingled through the thick fabric of his overcoat. After a second or two, he reached into his pocket and pulled it out. The 'new message' notification flashed across the large screen. It hadn't been a toy she was playing with. It was her cellphone. He quickly brushed a thumb against the screen. The message opened up.


He felt his dick jump as he read the text again. She was exactly what he was hoping for. It also seemed like she was no stranger to enjo kōsai – or 'compensated dating'. Somewhere in the back of his head, Kusae wondered how many other men she'd been with. The way she'd been stroking that cellphone about a minute ago gave him a pretty good clue.

Glancing up from the smartphone, he took another look at the girl. But all he found instead was her back. She was already moving off in the opposite direction, hands shoved into her jacket's pockets. For another staircase exit that led up to the ticket gates somewhere along the length of Karasuma Line Platform, he figured.

A dirty smile cracked his lips.

Fourteen or not, that girl was about as innocent as he was. Kusae's dick pressed against the fabric of his boxers as oversexed thoughts began to crest in his mind. The anticipation of what was about to happen kept him hard. A restroom? Was that where she wanted to fuck? Or was that where she wanted to make the monetary transaction before going someplace else to have sex? While he didn't mind the former, it would throw him off his original gameplan.

Not wasting any more time staring after her, Kusae turned and retraced his steps back to the stairway leading up to the ticket gates. Precum was already building at the end of his swollen cock, dampening the front of his underwear. Anticipation warred with regret.

No matter what he envisioned the encounter in the restroom to be like, there was no way for him to hide his mild disappointment. He had already planned a night of wine and sex in the luxury room he'd checked into at the Hearton earlier. In truth, what Kusae had in mind was more than just casual sex. That was why he had made the reservations at the hotel.

Getting her drunk was a necessary step to keeping her from resisting. It would allow him to do whatever he wanted to her. Because the debauchery he had planned for the girl was anything but kind. Why just stop at fingering her? Why just stop at eating her out? Why just stop after filling her little pussy with cum after fucking it? Why not spread some more of himself to her tight, virgin ass?

Hell, why even stop there?

That was why he needed the alcohol. It would keep her dazed and disoriented, make it harder for her to remember the things he did to her. It would have given him total power and control over her. And it would make her story a little bit fuzzier and harder to discern if she decided to report what happened to the proper authorities.

But not if she decided that fucking in the restroom was a good idea. Out of order or not, anyone passing by would hear her cries as they screwed. He had to convince her that going to the Hearton was a much better and less risky choice. It shouldn't be too hard.

Kusae took the stairs two at a time, despite his bulk. It didn't take him long to climb the flight of steps. Anticipation was driving his movements. By the time he reached the top, there were no other thoughts in Kusae's head beyond the less-than-kind things he had planned for the girl.

The ticket gate floor was wide, well-lit and spacious. It was also full of vending machines, illuminated signs along the ceiling giving directions, green and orange colored lines scrawled with writing on the tiled flooring indicating paths to the station's only two train platforms and dotted with thick concrete columns both cylindrical and squared. With the exception of the vending machines and the automated ticket gates, the floor was almost a match for the Karasuma Line Platform – albeit not nearly as narrow.

Kusae scanned the floor for a moment or two to get his bearings. If he remembered correctly, the restroom that the girl referred to in her text was near the Number 6 Exit. That didn't put him too far away from her; if she'd already gotten there ahead of him. He wasted no more time, resuming his lust-driven stride through the vacated floor. About ten minutes later, Kusae shuffled past the exit leading up to the cold, Kyoto streets and spied the restrooms in question as he rounded the tiled corner.

He was just quick enough to catch glimpse of one of the long-haired girl's fuzzy pink boots disappearing into the shadowy entrance to the men's room. Kusae grinned darkly as he slowed to gaze around the moderate-sized alcove where the restrooms were located. The girl had picked well. At this hour of the night, there wouldn't really be anyone else here but them – especially with both restrooms being listed as 'out of order'.

I might just have to reconsider the hotel afterall, Kusae thought as he checked again to make sure no one else was nearby and moved toward the blocked-off men's room entrance with quick feet. For now, at least. Ducking into the opening, Kusae smiled at the raunchy and disgusting thoughts roaming unimpeded through is mind.

He was still smiling when one of the stall doors he was walking by suddenly flew open with incredible force, smashing him hard enough in the face to throw him off his feet.


The violently shuddering door and the solid sound of a heavy body falling to the floor were all the indication that Aya needed. Releasing the tops of the two walls of the stall she'd hidden in and dropping to the tiled floor from the toilet seat, she rushed around the creaking door and launched herself at the dazed man. He was still struggling to recover from what had happened, wide face red and already showing signs of obvious bruising from the brutal collision.

Aya had no intention of letting him regain enough of senses to get up from the floor.

Closing the distance between them in seconds, she made an immediate grab for his head. Tangling her gloved fingers in as much of his thinning hair as she could, Aya tightened them just long enough to pull his head forward as she brought her right knee straight up under his chin. His strangled cry of surprised pain echoed in his throat as he was thrown back from the sheer force of the impact. Letting go of his head, Aya stumbled past the man on the momentum she had built trying to reach him. The sound of Kusae's head cracking against the tiles was more than audible to her ears as she cleared his falling body.

Doing what she could to maintain her balance, Aya directed herself unsteadily to the right. Her hope was to catch one of the stall doors knocked open when she'd the given the other that double-booted kick which had struck Kusae. If everything went according to plan, she would be able to use it to slow her momentum and halt herself without ending up a tangled heap of arms and legs on the restroom floor.

Reaching out, she grabbed hold of the door as best she could. Carried by her momentum, it swung out from the stall and jerked awkwardly on its hinges as they went as far as they were designed to go. The sudden stop jolted her lose; the thin gloves she was wearing slipping free of the stall door's top and causing her to stumbled backward a small ways before landing hard on her ass after tripping over her booted feet.

Aya ignored the noticeable pain radiating from her rear with a stifled grunt and focused all of her attention on Kusae. He was stirring – weakly – and trying to push up from the tiled floor of the restroom. She could tell he was too dazed to make it any further than to maybe his knees. With the way his head had smacked against the floor, she would be surprised if he even made it that far. But Aya wasn't fool enough to take any chances, especially where men were concerned. It was one of the first lessons taught to her by Shigurui Mai, her sensei.

It was also one of the most vicious and painful.

Placing her hands flat against the floor, Aya pushed up from the dull tiles and stood straight. After a second or two, she took a few determined steps forward. The pain from her fall was still present, sharp at first but dulling with each step that echoed through the restroom's empty space. That was good. It would be embarrassing to return to the house, limping. Or worse, having to contact Iwa-chan to send Mai-sensei in to retrieve her. That would only add to the humiliation she was still feeling.

No, she thought, resisting the desire rub a hand over her bruised rear. I won't be dragged back to the house like Yumi; beaten down and half-conscious because she was too stupid to run after taking out her target. I will make it back on my own two feet and I will do what Iwa-chan expects of me! Stopping next to Kusae and looking down at him with hard eyes, Aya took a quiet, shuddering breath, raised her head and gazed over to the duffle bag shoved against the wall under the sinks. Chiisai Shi – the name she'd given to her wakizashi which meant 'Little Death' in English – laid in wait, anticipating the caress of her hands against its hilt; the blade thirsting to taste the flesh and blood of a man who was, in truth, already dead.

Taking another look at the heavy-set man rolling over and struggling to push up from the floor, Aya resisted the strong urge to give him a kick to the head. This was one of five men who'd assaulted her beloved governess; not separately but all at once. Humiliating didn't even begin to describe what Sakoda Iwa had been forced to endure at the hand of these…men! Just the thought of them…touching her…forcing her to…making her do things that…

Aya turned away from Kusae. If she lingered on those thoughts any longer, she would more than likely beat the man to death with her bare hands. Not only for what he had done but for what all five had. Yet even that would be too quick a death for the bastard. Kusae, like the others who had violated her governess, deserved to suffer the slowest and most painful death possible. Not just for how they had violated her adored Iwa-chan all those years ago, but also for what they did to girls her age and…younger.

The fire within her grew hotter; anger threatening to overtake the calm she was trying to sheathe herself in.

That was something that she couldn't afford to give into. She had strict orders from Iwa-chan. Be quick, be stealthy and most importantly – remain invisible. What it boiled down to in the end was that time was not on her side. And that meant she would fail in following her mistress's instructions if she let her anger control her.

Like Hyyakazi Yumi often did.

Banishing the fury burning within and pushing any thought of that stupid girl as far into the back of her head as she could; Aya refocused her attention on finishing her task with renewed determination. Without another glance at the injured man, she continued her quickened stride toward the sinks. The faint pain was still present from her earlier fall.

Aya kept her eyes forward – forced her eyes forward. She was sure just looking at the man again would be enough to make her reconsider her previous decision not to come down on him like a wrathful demon. No matter how much he deserved it, Aya would not do something she knew she would regret later – even if it was in the name, and for the sake, of her adored governess.

She just couldn't give into the violence the way that Yumi did and allow it to consume her. She wouldn't let it control her or drive who she was. She wouldn't let it determine her fate or how she lived her life. Nor would she let it decide her actions in spite of her feelings. That would be the truest betrayal to her growing personal code of ethics. To act against them would destroy what little humanity and normalcy she had left.

Aya wasn't stupid after all; she knew that she was a killer. She murdered the men that Iwa-chan pointed her towards without question or objection. She drew the blood of men who pleaded and begged, prayed for some foreign god to save them, offered her money and then cursed her in the same breath when she told them it wouldn't prevent their death. She had broken bones, crushed tracheas, strangled, stabbed, eviscerated and worse in her short time as Sakoda Iwa's vengeful hand.

In turn, she had suffered bruises, dislocations and fractures. Aya had even been stabbed a couple of times and shot once. Fortunately, the bullet only grazed her in the arm but even that was enough to lay up for nearly two months. And why? Why did she commit herself with such dedication to a task that ripped apart her soul? A task that she hated with every fiber or her being?

It was all for love; the love of a woman who had not only saved her life…but changed it more than she could ever imagine. Aya knew she owed more than she could ever hope to repay to Sakoda Iwa, even if the debt itself was inconsequential and of no real importance in light of the love she felt for the woman. As such, she would do any and everything that her governess asked of her.

Even kill.

Before Aya even realized it, Chiisai Shi was in her gloved hands. So wrapped up in her thoughts about Yumi and Iwa-chan, she hadn't even noticed kneeling, unzipping the bag and pulling out the short weapon. The wakizashi was still sheathed; the lacquered wood holding the sharp blade reflecting the overhead lights in a dull and lifeless sort of way. The weapon carried a heavy weight to it. It was a burden not of size or shape, but of lives reaped and blood spilled.

A burden she had chosen to bear in the name of love.

Unsheathing the blade and placing the lacquered scabbard atop the bag before rising, Aya turned to face Kusae for what would be the last time. There was no sadness, no anticipation; only a grim determination to perform her task and return to the one who loved her beyond words. That earlier anger still simmered just under the surface, threatening to boil over and fill her again with rage for what he and his friends had done to her mistress. Aya fought to keep it suppressed as she moved forward on light, quiet feet.

Funny how now she decided to follow the given rule of remaining covert and unassuming.

She hadn't been particularly stealthy before, truth be told, showing herself in public and then using such noisy means to disable her target. No, she definitely failed in that regard; choosing instead to rely on disguise, deception and physicality to incapacitate Kusae. Tracking the man while remaining unseen would've taken more time than she wished to spend in pursuit. Direct contact was the easiest and most efficient course of action, in her eyes.

Deep down, Aya knew that Iwa-chan would understand her decision and congratulate her on her ingenuity. On the other hand, if Mai ever found out, she was well aware that she would pay the price for her failure to follow instructions in blood and penance. Her sensei detested failure in the lessons that she taught. But more than that, she despised her orders being dismissed and ignored. Shigurui Mai was brutal and creative with the punishments she dispensed and those students who didn't take either orders or teachings to heart would become very familiar with pain and the sight of their own blood.

It was something that she, unfortunately, experienced more times that she cared to remember and knew that she would one day experience again.

In front of her and on his belly, Kusae was slowly dragging himself away in the opposite direction as she advanced. Her eyes followed his broken, awkward movements with cold, painted-on disinterest. Inside, however, rage as hot as the sun threatened to burn through her emotionless exterior and consume her with a crazed need to spill his blood. The only thing holding it at bay was a sliver of willpower and a desire not to be like Hyyakazi Yumi.

Wrestling back control of her emotions once again, she took a deep, subtle breath and focused her attention on the dead man struggling to find his way back to a life she knew he would never see again. She watched with vacant eyes as Kusae slowly – desperately – clawed at the tiled floor to drag himself to the restroom entrance. Aya noticed the tell-tale glistening of smeared red across a sizeable patch of his salt and pepper hair, the result of the back of his head cracking against the tiled floor most likely. It could be the reason why he never tried to stand back up. It was either that or outright fear. Not that it really mattered. His death was more than a certainty. Kusae would never stand again. Aya had no intention of allowing him to. She would end him here and now. He would never violate another woman again. Or young girl. The anger in her surged again and she crushed it down once more.

But even suppressed, the rage within tainted her actions.

With three final steps, Aya reached Kusae. Actions came before thoughts as she raised Chiisai Shi and brought it down in a slashing arc across the back of the man's left thigh. The grotesque sound of metal slicing through flesh touched her ears followed in quick succession by his strangled cry of pain echoing out loudly through the emptiness of the restroom. But it wouldn't last long.

Reaching down with a gloved hand, Aya grabbed a handful of his overcoat at the point where sleeve met shoulder and hauled him over onto his back. With the quickness of a striking snake, she pulled her hand away from his shoulder, balled it and punched him hard enough in the lower part of his throat to crush the trachea hidden there. The surprised gasp and immediate fit of raspy, abnormal coughs resonated past the disturbing sound of cartilage and blood vessels being destroyed. Kusae's hands weakly reached up toward his ruined throat just as Aya's hand fell upon and enclosed around his mouth. The fear and realization in his face was so palpable that it almost made her smile; Kusae's wide eyes full of tears and pleading.

That same kind of expression had been in her eyes. It was an expression of pain, confusion and terror that she was sure had been in the eyes of every other girl and woman he'd molested and raped. A look that she was more than certain had scarred the face of her beloved mistress as Kusae pushed himself into her again and again and again.

The anger within surged one final time.

The blade of her wakizashi was over his heart before she even realized her hand had moved. The point of Chiisai Shi easily sliced through the thin layer of clothing keeping it from its target. Aya watched as Kusae's terror-stricken eyes widened even more when blade of the short sword pushed into his flesh. She paused then, taking a long moment to savor the pain she was inflicting on a man who had done nothing but inflict pain on girls like her. Aya knew what she felt was wrong but didn't care. Kusae Hiroki was only the first of five and she would take just as much pleasure in ending them as well.

Anyone who dared to lay a hand on her cherished governess would pay in blood.

Leaning forward, Aya stared with cold, burning eyes into those of a man who only had seconds yet to live. Tightening her hand around the handle of Chiisai Shi, she opened her mouth and said, "Because you forgot." Without another word, she forced the wakizashi into his chest, past his ribcage and into the tenderness of his heart. Eyes already as wide as they could go, they remained that way as Kusae's pupils dilated. She watched with a disgusting sense of satisfaction as the life in them faded. Face going blank and body slacking after a minute or two, Aya waited a few seconds before withdrawing Chiisai Shi from the man's chest. It slid free with a wet, sucking sound.

Standing, she spared a quick glance at Kusae Hiroki's dead, terror-stricken face before turning and making her way over to the duffel bag. As she did, Aya reached up with a casual hand and pulled off the long-haired wig she'd chosen to wear for the hit. Beneath it was a mess of short hair cropped at the nape of her neck. A long, dangling braid slipped from its place just behind her left ear. It thumped lightly against her cheek with every step she took. Each thump reminded her just how much she hated it.

Stopping in front of the bag, Aya tossed the wig into it before kneeling down to fish around for a cloth to clean the blade of her wakizashi. The weapon was a gift from Iwa-chan, hand-forged by some nameless master her governess had managed to track down through Mai-sensei. From what Iwa told her, the blade of the weapon had been folded seventeen times – a mark of high quality among bladesmiths. The fact that her love had entrusted such a gift to her had left her crying for days on end every time she so much as glanced at it. As such and despite her teacher's warnings of penance and punishment for not doing so, she would've taken care of the wakizashi regardless.

It represented a strong connection between her and her beloved mistress, afterall.

Finishing, she shoved the cloth into one of the outside pockets of the duffle and zipped it up. Grabbing up the lacquered scabbard of dark wood, Aya resheathed Chiisai Shi and placed the short sword in the bag. Immediately after, she took hold of the second set of clothing she'd packed and pulled them out. Unlike what she was wearing, the middle school uniform wouldn't draw as much – if any – attention from the few people remaining in the station. The cram school textbooks also in the bag would only help add to the illusion she was going to create for her nondescript escape.

The one in which she was an innocent middle school girl heading home a from late night session at a nearby cram school.

Aya was quick to strip out of the clothing she'd used to entice Kusae. In full truth, it wasn't her style – nowhere near it, actually. It was closer to something that Yumi might wear, though it probably didn't reveal enough skin for that girl's disgusting tastes. Aya preferred something simple; bare feet, loose-fitting shorts or pants and a t-shirt of some kind. Dressing like a child-whore, whether to tempt men like Kusae or just to wear around the house – like Yumi – was not only disrespectful but a slap in the face to any girl who'd been raped or molested. She would just as soon burn the clothing than wear them again, but she knew that this wouldn't be the last time she had to wear something like it – or worse.

When she finished redressing in the white top and pleated black skirt of the sailor fuku, Aya sat back and pulled on the long white socks before standing to push her feet into the brown loafers. She could still feel the lingering traces of pain from her earlier fall but let the thoughts of it drop when she kneeled down again to shove the other clothing into the duffel bag after taking out the cram school texts. Zipping the bag up, she slung it on her shoulder and rose.

Moving over to Kusae's body, Aya avoided stepping anywhere near the twin puddles of congealing blood as she got as close as she could. Kneeling and setting the books down to her side, she avoided gazing into his ashen face. Following the last instructions given to her by Iwa-chan, she reached over the dead man's chest and opened up both his overcoat and blazer.

Pulling out the contents of every pocket she could find, Aya took his smartphone and the yen in his billfold; carefully placing them in her duffle bag. The yen would go toward getting her home with whatever was left given to her governess to be placed in her growing trust fund. The smartphone on the other hand, she would turn over to Annabeth. An American girl brought in by Mai on Iwa-chan's insistence, she was an absolute wizard with anything computerized. It was because of her that Aya wouldn't have to worry about the security cameras dotting the Karasuma-Oike Station.

Lifting the billfold off his chest, she opened it up and pulled out all of the credit cards inside. Tossing them around his body in a haphazard sort of way, Aya threw the wallet off to the side and then turned out all of the dead man's pockets. Retrieving her textbooks and rising afterward, she glanced down at the man she'd murdered; stretched out amidst blood and the litter from his wallet.

While not perfect by any means, the scene vaguely resembled an attempted mugging gone wrong. She knew well that it wouldn't fool any police detectives sent in to investigate but it would serve to keep them guessing on motive and reason. There would be suspects of course, especially once Annabeth worked her magic with 'digital editing' or whatever she called it. But none of them would be her.

With a last look around, Aya made very sure to see to it that she had everything she'd arrived with. Iwa-chan wouldn't be too happy if she left any evidence that could be traced back to her. The punishments for doing so were…severe. Anything that required Annabeth and Mai-sensei to clean up always brought pain and blood. Aya shuddered. Thinking of those brutal consequences for something so inconsequential brought on a powerful feeling of dread.

Backing away from Kusae's body, she resisted the urge to stroke her braid. She needed to hurry and get clear of the station before it closed. It wouldn't be too long before the blue-suited workers began their sweep of the station to check for loiters and homeless. Kusae's dead body would be discovered and she wanted to be as far from Karasuma-Oike and Kyoto as possible before that happened.

Pulling off her gloves and slipping them into the duffel after tucking the textbooks under the opposite arm, she zipped the bag back up and took a deep, calming breath. Natural, she coached, just act natural. After another long breath, Aya took her first, quickened steps toward the exit of the restroom.

A restroom made into a tomb for Kusae Hiroki.