The bitter wind blows fast and furious, but it doesn't bother me. I'm used to it. It sets the scene anyway. My knees are starting to cramp. That doesn't bother me either. I’ve hidden in smaller spaces before. Someone taps me lightly on the shoulder and I tense, turning swiftly around.
My apprentice. I narrow my eyes at her and quirk my eyebrows in question. She nods.
Our signal. I nod back and bring my hand to the gun at my hip.
It’s now or never.
I make sure my hood is in place and walk carefully around the gravestones.
People dot the landscape, mourning. There’s always someone here and there, but today it’s more full than usual.
There’s only one person I’m staring at though.
For once, he’s not surrounded by any security. They are doubtlessly hiding away somewhere, trying to be inconspicuous. Trying and failing. I saw a couple in the bushes walking in. They paid me no notice. Everybody here is in black, so I’m not the odd one out. It doesn’t matter, they couldn’t stop me anyway.
Two more steps. One more gravestone. I scan the names, the dates, pretending to care.
Beloved Mother, Sister, And Daughter
Rest In Peace
There. One step.
And I’m beside him.
Black umbrella, black suit, and tears falling slowly from his eyes.
Could be a scene from a movie.
Except his story won’t have a happily ever after.
Ever so silent. More wind blows by.
I take the gun from my belt slowly, staring at the gravestone.
My finger hovers lightly on the trigger.
I’ve done this a hundred times, but it’s no less scary. Adrenaline shoots up my spine and sweat rolls down my forehead.
“Hello.” My voice is dry.
He turns around.
“Goodbye.” I whisper, and I pull the trigger. Before I disappear, I make sure I see the bullet lodge itself straight into his heart.
The wind is much warmer once I teleport back to my dining room, and I unhood my cloak.
My apprentice is in soon after.
She unhoods her own cloak, and I see her skin is pale and her eyes are watering.
Not unusual for one of her first actual missions. Almost a year and no actual calls. Her lucky day.
“How come you used a gun?” Her voice startles me. She rarely speaks.
It’s nice. The only people who ever talk to me are usually yelling.
I shake my head.
Don’t get emotionally attached.
“What do you mean?”
“Couldn’t you have done it more easily? With...You know…” She holds her hands open and sparks of light flow through them.
“I’m not that old-fashioned.”
She nods, turning away. A wet tear rolls down her cheek. I sigh.
“You’ll get used to it. It’s hard the first time.”
“How? How are you so heartless?” The word echoes through me. I clench my hands in fists.
“Don’t think you’re any better. You don’t know me.”
“And you know me? We’ve lived together for half a year and you don’t even know my name!”
“Really? What’s your name then?” A test. She isn’t supposed to tell me.
She turns around and walks towards me, thrusting her hand out. I stare down at it.
My right eye twitches.
“Don’t make this weird. Shake my hand.”
I clasp it.
“This changes nothing.”
“We can’t be partners if we don’t know anything about each other.”
“We are not partners. We are not we, I am merely teaching you. Training you-”
“Training me to be your partner!”
She lets go of my hand. We stay staring for a second before I turn around.
“Just be ready tomorrow.”
“Oh, you aren’t going to tell me your name?”
I grit my teeth.
“No one told you to tell me yours.”
No reply. I wait a millisecond before turning back around, and she’s gone.
“Aim at the-No. No, you’re doing it all wrong.”
She rolls her eyes.
“I don’t get why I have to learn to do this anyway.” She stares at the gun in her hand.
“Because you can’t always count on your powers.”
“Isn’t the whole reason I’m here because of my power?”
“Say it a little louder? Canada didn’t hear you.” I stare around the practice area.
She rolls her eyes again, aiming and shooting. The shot rings in my ears.
“Better.” I nod.
She sets the gun down and rubs her hands on her jeans.
“Where to now?”
“You’ll see, just grab my hand.”
“We’re hand-holding now, are we?”
She holds my hand and I close my eyes, envisioning the archery practice section, with its trees and targets.
I feel my cells vibrate until we’re still.
“Open,” I whisper, letting go of her hand. She clicks her tongue.
“And you said you weren’t old-fashioned.”
“This’ll be fun.” I hand her a bow and one arrow.
She takes them.
The target’s a moderate distance away, maybe 15 feet. I itch to shoot at it.
One breath. Two breaths.
“I don’t really know what I’m doing.”
I turn to see her holding the bow slightly to the right, with the arrow clenched in her other hand.
“Straighten the bow. Okay, that’s alright. Put the arrow in- NO!” I grab her wrist. I turn it around and guide her small hand where it’s supposed to go. I bring my other hand around her shoulders and straighten the bow.
“Ready?” I whisper. She hums softly in response. I take her hand and pull on the string before pulling her hands softly from it, letting the arrow fly. I watch it land almost right in the middle of the target.
She exhales, a breath she’d probably been holding. Her small back presses into my chest and I notice how close we are. I let her smaller hand go slowly and take a step backward.
“There you go.”
She lets her arms fall, the bow touching the ground.
“Do you use it often?”
“Only if I want to make a scene.”
She completely drops the bow, and it falls to the grass.
She turns around to face me.
“When’s our next mission?”
For a moment, I look at her. Her eyes are light blue, I’ve never noticed. Her dark brown hair is short, but it’s been growing and it’s a little way past her shoulders.
Don’t. Get. Emotionally. Attached.
“I’m not sure.”
“Why are we doing this?”
“To make things better.” It’s an automatic response but it doesn’t feel right. Not anymore. “I don’t know,” I whisper.
The wind blows in response.
“...Police are still studying the video evidence, but the killer was certainly effective in his escape. One moment he was there, another second he was gone. The bullet went straight through the late mayor’s heart…” The news person drones on and on and on. I lean my forehead against the wall.
“Can’t you turn that off?” I blurt out.
“Why? Having regrets? I can’t believe they’re still talking about it.”
“...say they’ve never seen a smoother shot. It’s a wonder they were able to do it at the graveyard, and the security are ashamed…”
“Please,” I whisper, placing a palm on the wall.
“...who will repla-” The sound stops and I breathe out slowly. I blink twice and push myself off the wall, my eyes moving to her, sitting on the couch.
“Thank you.” I choke out. She turns her head to look at me and nods.
“Are you ready for tomorrow?” Her voice shakes. She’ll be doing the hard part tomorrow. The killing.
“Yeah. I guess. I don’t know, I’m still deciding if I want to be dramatic or not.”
I let out a dry laugh.
“We’re going to be inside. Use something a little less messy.”
She leans back on the couch and out of my sight. I near her to see she’s closed her eyes.
Good, she should get some rest. It’ll be a long day tomorrow, for her.
Her bangs cover her eyes, and I want to move them for her. Her small hands are clasped at her stomach, and her skin is paler than ever.
I blink away feelings and walk over to the window, watching as the last of the sun disappears beyond the horizon.
The cuffs of my suit rub against my wrists uncomfortably. I adjust the bowtie at my neck and sigh.
Going undercover like this was always my least favorite part of the job.
I walk into the living room to see her struggling to pull heels on. Light classical music plays from something I can’t see.
She’s curled the ends of her hair slightly, and dark lipstick adorns her lips. She stands and twirls.
“How do I look?”
The blue dress she’s wearing matches her eyes almost scarily. She puts one leg behind the other awkwardly, and my cheeks heat at the exposed skin of her legs. Her face usually is covered, but now I can see it all.
She looks beautiful.
“Looking pretty presentable yourself. Never thought you to be the bowtie type.”
“Didn’t find anything else,” I mumble, walking to the mirror.
My black hair falls slightly over my green eyes.
I look like a joke. My new suit is weirdly fitted. Or maybe I’m not used to dressing so fancy. My face is too out there. Everything feels wrong.
“Where’s the music coming from?”
“Radio. It’s nice, no?”
“Sure. Ready to go?”
“Shall we?” She offers me her elbow.
I hate slow songs.
You have to dance when they come on.
We awkwardly move, step by agonizing step.
“You’re a terrible dancer.”
I step on her feet again and inwardly curse.
The victim isn’t here yet, and my eyes keep darting back to the door and her eyes and anywhere. They don’t settle until she pulls my hand and sets it on her waist. I raise my eyebrows at her.
“Just let me guide you.” She holds my other hand firmly in her own and sets her other on my waist. She steps to the right, and I follow after a moment’s hesitation. “Right, left, left, right. Don’t hesitate,” she murmurs.
Right, left, left, right. We fall into a rhythm and she smiles.
I dart my eyes back to the door.
The music intensifies, and she pulls me faster.
I squeeze her hand and quirk my eyebrows at her.
“Leon,” I mutter as I twirl her. She bumps into my chest breathlessly.
“What?” She twirls back out.
“It’s my name.”
The doors open and I kick my foot underneath her. She’s falling until I put a sturdy arm underneath, and she’s hanging with her hair almost touching the ground. Her cheeks flush with the movement. I pull her up.
“She’s here.” I let go of her hand.
Her smile falls.
“Right. Of course. I’m ready.”
My heart starts beating faster and faster and I force my breathing to slow.
“You know the plan then?”
She nods, wiping her hands on her dress.
“Why do you always do that?” I want to hit myself as soon as I’ve said it.
“Hm? My hands get sweaty.”
Her small, soft hands. Her poor hands that’ll have blood on them in only a matter of minutes.
I clench my own hands into fists at my sides.
“You’ll do well.”
“I know. I just don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.”
She turns away from me.
The victim is in a long black dress and she’s easy to spot, taller than the rest. I don’t even know the motive. Does it matter? She has a family. She’s smiling right now. She might have kids. We’re killing her. She’s killing her.
“Hi! It’s lovely to see you.”
“Sorry, do I know you?”
“Don’t we? Rose.”
Keeping my expression listless, I watch them shake hands. Rose. It doesn’t match her. It doesn’t matter, the victim is fooled.
She plays with the flaps of her blue dress, and I see a flash of silver.
They’re laughing for a moment. But the next moment, she has her turned with a hand to her throat, so she can’t scream. The woman doesn’t look scared. She saw this coming. If only I’d read the file a little closer…
She holds the dagger against her throat. A couple of people slowly start to notice, pointing and sending out worried cries through the crowd.
But then a shot rings out and I gasp, pressing my hands over my ears. I know she hasn’t brought a gun and-
She drops down to the floor. The victim rubs her neck and the dagger clatters down.
I run over to her and people scatter. The music stops, but it’d already stopped in my head a long time ago. I kneel down and pull her onto my lap. She’s still breathing, short little gasps of breath. Blood pours from her chest, staining her blue dress. I push against the wound. A dull headache pulses at the back of my head and something wet runs down my cheek.
“Olivia. Olivia stay with me.” Her name. Olivia fits her. She told me her stupid name and I never used it until now.
Sirens wail somewhere in the distance. I ignore them like I used to be so good at ignoring my feelings. I press my hands over her wound and let light spill from my fingers.
It should work.
It would work. If she wasn’t one of them. One of us.
“Leon it’s alright.” She squeezes my hand.
“Olivia-please-” My voice breaks and I squeeze her hand back.
She puts her small hand at the back of my head and pulls my face towards hers, pressing her lips against mine. Pressing with all we never could do, all the things we ignored. I push back, until she’s almost completely turned towards me. She inhales sharply against me and I softly pull away, letting her breathe.
“I-I wasn’t supposed to get emotional. I wasn’t supposed to like you.” I whisper against her.
She laughs, but it’s just air. She’s too weak.
“I know. You told me. I’m sorry. I made us get in trouble, didn’t I?”
“Don’t be sorry.” More wet things roll down my cheeks.
“Don’t- Don’t blame yourself.” She whispers, and her head gets heavier in my arms, her light blue eyes fluttering closed. I set her down softly, letting her go. Her blood is everywhere. I hold my hands in front of my face. I’ve never felt this way after seeing the sickly bright red color.
Now I know what happens when you get emotionally attached.