The Mission

BY : emeraldwarrior
Category: +M to R > Neon Genesis Evangelion > Crossovers
Dragon prints: 298
Disclaimer: I don't own Mortal Kombat or Neon Genesis Evangelion and I am making no money at all from this story.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I haven't written a fanfic in a few years, so if this story is clunky at times, I apologize. Rust.

I don't own NGE or Mortal Kombat, and "A Shogun Named Marcus" is property of Clutch.

 

 

I stood patiently by the entrance of the house, waiting for the warlord to finish examining the contents of the crate. Which meant having to watch him hand out every single rifle for inspection, which then got passed around until every rifle was looked at by every single person in the room other than me. And where there were fifteen guns, it meant the wait would be a painfully long one.

"Your people only let you sell the best, I see," grinned the warlord, faded tan military coat hanging loosely on the chair in front of him. "It's a shame that I will not be able to meet them in person, Mr. Murasaki."

"Well," I replied, trying not to give away my irritation at how long the process was taking, "they do prefer to just work through a middleman."

He shook his head. "That's no good, my friend. The best business is done face to face."

I opened my mouth to speak, then decided he was right.

 

 

It had been several years since the United States and their allies helped remove the Taliban from power, and yet Afghanistan was not entirely stable. The Taliban and their allies were still around, despite the best efforts of everyone else, and where it was not yet 2011, Osama Bin Laden was still at large. Meanwhile, the occasional warlord would manage a small portion of the country, though few were as active as the one I had my dealings with.

It was in this environment that NERV chose to take advantage and make a profit by working as contractors, smugglers (but not to the Taliban or their allies), and mercenaries. It was what my father had been waiting for for years. He was the kind of person who would see a massive pileup on the freeway and sell someone tissue for their tears. Making money from misery was something he loved doing.

I hated having to follow his orders. Every time I got sent on some sort of stupid mission, mostly to eastern Europe, I wished I was doing literally anything else. Here I was, recently graduated from culinary school, and I had to be a fucking errand boy. Even walking the streets as a male prostitute felt like a better idea. But considering how much money I ended up depositing into my savings account afterwards, I had to swallow my complaints like so many bitter pills.

Thankfully, I had been spared being sent to the Middle East, until the day his office door opened and he was greeted to the sight of his mistress coming down from her orgasm as my cum began to leak out from between us. The look on his face was a mixture of betrayal and silent fury. What didn't help matters any was that mine was a look of triumph and brazen defiance, as if I was daring him to do anything about it. At that moment, it didn't matter if I got shipped to Antarctica, I had fucked her and had not a single goddamned regret about the whole thing.

I had assumed that he was going to merely try to use my little dalliance as leverage to ruin my personal life by getting my fiancee to dump me, but any plans he had in that regard were shattered when Asuka told him the truth, that having me fuck Dr. Akagi was her idea, that half of the people in NERV's employ hated his goddamned guts, and that his balls were too tiny to get revenge. Instead, my father came up with a new punishment.

And it was thus that I spent my last night at home before getting sent to Afghanistan entwined with Asuka, her red hair spilling around her pillow as she moaned my name into the darkness, and me slamming my cock into her as if this was our last night on Earth. For all I knew, that possibility was there, a grim cloud poised to flood our happy lives. The realization, rather than sober me, instead drove me to fuck her with an even greater frenzy, her moans turning to screams and mine turning to hoarse whispers as our climaxes took control of us, as if conspiring to keep us forever locked in passionate lovemaking.

Finally exhausted, I rolled off of her and flopped onto my back, trying to catch my breath. "I wish this night would never end," I breathed.

"I know," she answered, her hand gently stroking my softening member. "I'm going to miss this so much."

"Well, maybe we'll be lucky and our paths will cross out in the field."

"I wish. Too bad I'm probably not going to be doing anything other than getting stuck doing random meaningless bullshit somewhere else."

"I'd rather be doing that than what I will be doing."

"Well, look at it this way," she said, rolling over to lean on my chest, her breasts pressed against me, "your father can't keep us apart forever."

"I know, it's just.... I don't want to leave you, Asuka."

"Shinji, I'll be fine. And if someone tries to seduce you away from home, I really have no room to say anything after you got to fuck Ritsuko. So what's her pussy like, might I ask?"

"Amazing. But you're still the best pussy I've known."

This made her smile. "You're just saying that to flatter me."

"Dead serious."

She let out a soft chuckle, then leaned forward for a kiss.

 

 

"Mr. Murasaki?"

I shook myself out of my daydream, needing a second to remember where I was. The warlord was looking at me, a quizzical look in his eyes. "Sorry," I said, "I was just thinking about home."

He nodded knowingly. "Of course. The guns are satisfactory. I assume the price has not changed?"

"My bosses stay true to their word."

"And so do I." He turned to one of the men with him and gave him orders in Arabic before turning back to me. "Again, I do wish to meet your people someday. But until then...."

The man he had given orders to returned to the room, a worn briefcase in his hands. "Open it," he commanded.

I glanced at the warlord, who smiled at me, before unlocking the briefcase and lifting the cover. "Down to the last note," I said, impressed. "Will you be needing more weapons any time soon?"

"When we do, we shall be sure to come and find you, Mr. Murasaki," the warlord answered as I began walking towards the 4Runner I had sitting outside.

 

 

A couple of hours later, I approached the city of Lashkargah, where I had taken up temporary residence. I would be meeting with my NERV contact the following day to give him the money and be given my next mission. I wondered if the people around me thought that the man that some of them knew as Hideo Murasaki was anything other than some foreign worker who had chosen to stick around for whatever reason. If any of them did, I would be cursing the day I fucked my father's mistress.

As I made my way up the hotel stairs to where my room was, I thought I saw something move that was not my shadow. I spun around to make sure I wasn't being followed, my hand reaching for the Glock in my pocket. Seeing nothing and no one, I turned, resumed my climb up the stairs, and unlocked the door to my room.

And no sooner did I do so that a hand reached out and yanked me in, and as the door slammed I found myself staring at four angry men with guns.

"Did I send out invitations and forget I had a party?" I asked, half in jest and half in fear.

"Sit down," snarled a voice behind me, and I suddenly felt my balance give way as a chair was shoved roughly underneath me.

"Am I in the wrong room?" was all I could think of to say as I tried to recollect myself in the chair.

The voice from behind circled around to my front, and I found myself face to face with my father. "Give me the briefcase."

"Say 'please.'"

The cocking of rifles made me realize that was a mistake. Without another word, I gave the money to my father, who handed it to one of the men with him. The man opened the case, then looked up. "All here, Mr. Ikari."

"Thank you," my father replied before turning back to me. "Well done."

"That's it? You brought armed men into my room just to say that?"

He handed me a photograph of a nearby marketplace. "You see the woman in this picture?"

I stared at it for about a minute, trying to find anything out of the ordinary. I finally tossed it to the floor. "You really think I'm going to pick out a specific woman in that?"

"Look again."

"It'd be harder than trying to find Waldo."

"I assure you, she's there."

"OK, do you really think I'm that much of an idiot? Oh, wait a second, I know you think that. Never mi-"

I was cut off with a blow to the back of the head from what felt like the safer end of a rifle. "You will show respect to your father!" commanded a voice behind me.

"Maybe when he shows some back," I growled, feeling everything start to grow warmer. "By the way, I think you gave me a concussion, dickhead."

The pain doubled as I got whacked in the back of the head again. Through my daze-clouded eyes, I could see my father's own narrow. "Outside," he ordered. "Now."

I heard footsteps retreat behind me and the door open and close before my father continued, "There's a reason you couldn't find her in that photo, and it's much less obvious than you think. She usually disguises herself as male. Allows her to escape detection from authorities and rivals alike."

"So how do you know she's-"

"I have my sources."

"Do I really want to ask?"

I got no reply. I shook my head in disappointment.

"OK, are you at least willing to tell me why she's of any interest to you?"

He bent down to pick up the photo before answering. "She is a threat to our operations."

"That's it?'

"She is reportedly responsible for the losses of several large shipments of armaments that were intended for various warlords in the area. Either they were destroyed or she is selling them herself. Which, obviously, cuts into our profits."

"And you're sure that one woman in disguise is doing this how? Or have you forgotten to take your meds lately and-" I stopped, waving my hand at him. "On second thought, I'd rather not get clubbed in the fucking head again."

My father didn't reply, merely turning to one of the men with him and nodding. Without a word, the man turned and walked to one corner of the room, stopping to pick up something I had not noticed earlier. A moment later, he walked back and tossed a briefcase into my lap. "Open it," the man ordered.

Not feeling like arguing, I opened the two latches keeping it closed and lifted the lid. "Before you ask," my father remarked, "that is your down payment and has already been wired to you stateside."

I looked up at him, and my face likely had a look that was a mixture of incredulity and, well, pain. "You call a hundred grand a fucking down payment? I'm afraid to ask for what!"

"I want her dead, Shinji. I don't care how you kill her, I just want her dead. Once I have proof that you've completed your mission, you will receive the remainder of your payment."

"And if I choose to take the money and run? What the hell are you going to do to me then? It's bad enough you stuck me here, away from my fiancee. What are you going to do, have us switch places? I already know you know your limits, because you know that if you try to hurt her I can gut you like a fucking fish and send your head to be used as a fucking soccer ball by every-"

"Enough."

"What's wrong, Gendo Ikari realizes his son has him by the balls?"

"I know my limits, yes, but I had hoped you had finally learned yours," he replied, and I could tell from the amplified sternness in his voice that I'd come dangerously close to pushing the right button. "Failing your mission would mean you would be unable to claim the additional half a million dollars that you would be paid. And I can keep you here as long as I want as added punishment, yes."

I slammed the briefcase shut. "I hope you realize just how much I fucking hate you right now."

"I believe everyone in this room is aware, yes."

I sighed. Having to go through this made my head hurt even more. "Is there a deadline?"

"None."

"Good. Because this is going to be worse than trying to find a needle in a haystack."

He said nothing at first, only nodding to the other three men, who quietly left the room. Once the door closed, he cleared his throat. "You and I both know that you brought all of this on yourself."

"Oh come on, banging Ritusko behind your back was just sweet revenge for you being a shitty person and a terrible parent. Bet you didn't know about her telling me how you fucked her mother while Mom was still alive. Real good work there."

"We've all done things that we're not proud of. Unlike you, I do them of my free will. You are much more easily controlled."

"You sure about that?"

He said nothing, choosing instead to walk towards the door.

"By the way, she only wanted it to be that one time, even if it was Asuka's idea. She actually wanted to find out if your son wouldn't force her to have an abortion."

I turned around just in time to see a look of disgust fade from his face. "I suppose some of us have no problem living with the consequences."

"At least you're being honest."

Without another word, he left.

 

 

 

 

A few weeks later, I found myself about as far away from my temporary home as I had never imagined.

As I had feared, my search had come up empty. Most of the people I was friendly with didn't want to talk about some strange person attacking arms shipments, and the rest either were more interested in taking shots at me or ignoring me altogether. Either way, I had nothing and I was beginning to feel like my father had sent me on a wild goose chase so that I'd have to stay away from Asuka even longer.

Originally, I had made sure to stay within travelling distance of the hotel, primarily for safety reasons as I didn't have a good feeling about sleeping anywhere else, whether out in the open or in any buildings. I soon realized, however, that I would have to throw safety to the winds if I wanted to track down this mystery person successfully. And so, I began roaming, trying to get info from everyone I could, but as I said earlier, I had gotten nothing. Sooner or later, I was going to have to decide whether to give up the search and take my chances with my father's wrath or continue and take my chances with the rest of my life.

And so as I walked to what seemed to be an abandoned house somewhere in the countryside east of Kandahar, about two days' journey on foot from my bed, my levels of weariness and resignation were reaching their breaking point. It took me having to summon what last bits of energy I had left to check the house for any traps. Finding none, I decided that I needed to finally get some sort of sleep, even a light one.

Moving back towards the now-closed door, I opened up my backpack, pulled out a grenade and some fishing line, and set up a crude tripwire along the bottom. Once I was satisfied with the setup, I found the nearest corner that I could deem safe and slumped to the floor, having just enough time to set one of my pistols within easy reach before I drifted off.

 

 

"Get up."

Where have I heard that voice before?

"Get up."

A woman's voice, too. Am I dreaming already?

"Get up."

No, that sounds too loud to be a dream. But how the hell could somebody have-

"I said, get up!"

My groggy thoughts were interrupted by a stinging pressure on my throat. My eyes began to open and adjust to the faint moonlight coming in through the window nearby-

OH, FUCK ME RUNNING.

The dagger began to push insistingly into the exposed flesh. "Are you deaf? I said-"

"I heard what you said," I whispered hoarsely, afraid to speak any louder in case the blade went any further than the first few molecules of my epidermis. "Get the knife off me and I'll get up."

"You can stand just fine," the dagger's owner replied. "Anything funny and you won't be standing for long. Now do as I say and get up."

I complied, slowly moving to avoid disaster.

"Good. Now hand me your other pistol."

My hands were shaking as I unholstered the Glock and relinquished control. "There's no way you could have gotten in without blowing your leg off."

"Look at me when you speak, boy. Or did your mother not teach you how to behave around women?"

"My mother died when I was very young, but thanks for not asking," I snarled as I looked at my captor.

I was fortunate that she had identified herself as female, because outside of the voice, there was nothing about her that would have given me a clue. The lower half of her face was obscured by a scarf while the hood of her jacket covered everything above her eyes. I didn't dare look down because of the dagger but I assumed her jacket gave nothing away either.

"Who sent you?" she demanded.

"Why do you want to know?"

"I'm the one who isn't in danger of death right now. Who sent you?"

"Gendo Ikari, leader of NERV. I'm his son."

"Why should I believe you?"

"Because you have a very sharp knife to my jugular and I may not sound like it, but I'm too scared to lie right now."

"Then give me a reason why I shouldn't send your head back to Wyoming in a cardboard box. And it better be a very good reason," she added, twisting the dagger ever so slightly.

"Because I'd rather piss in my father's mouth than be here."

"I'd rather piss in your father's mouth as well, considering the last two people he sent to kill me. But you need to improve on that reason. Quickly."

"The only reason I'm even in Afghanistan to begin with was because his girlfriend decided she'd rather sleep with me."

"Better. But not quite."

"He's paying me a hundred thousand American dollars just to look for you. I don't want the rest of the money he wants to pay me to kill you because I'd rather he have to live with wasting the hundred grand."

I saw the shape of her eyes distort, as if she was smiling underneath the scarf. "He must be desperate, then." She pulled the dagger back enough to let me breathe a bit easier but not so much that she couldn't drive it through my neck within seconds. "How much more are you supposed to-"

As she spoke, I suddenly heard faint voices.

"Did you hear that?" I whispered.

"Hear what?"

A moment later, the voices came back, louder that time.

"Friends?" she asked.

"I came alone, I thought."

She took a step back. "You stay here. I find out you left this room, you die after all."

She began to turn to leave-

"GET DOWN!" I yelled.

Before she could react, I swiftly reached behind my back, grabbed a third pistol from the waistband of my pants, and fired a shot into the rifle-toting shape that entered the room.

Within moments, the air was filled with shouts as more people began to enter the house. The woman moved to the wall alongside the door, and as another man entered, she drove the dagger right into his chest, pulling it out as he fell dead. I quickly grabbed the pistol I had left on the floor and moved within sight of the doorway, opening fire on the first person I saw. I then moved back as another man ran in only to be met with a slash to the throat. He dropped his rifle as blood spurted from the gash, and the next man in paused to stare at his fallen comrade and looked up to see me shoot him in the face.

The first man I shot slowly began to reach for his rifle, only for his hand to be pinned to the ground by a thrown dagger. He let out a pained cry as I walked over to him. "Is that all of them?" I asked the woman with me.

"Yes, there are only five of us," the injured man answered for her. "Please, just kill me!"

I looked at the woman. "What do you think?"

She stared at me silently for a moment, then shook her head.

"You want your dagger back?"

"You could have let me die and then fight them off yourself. Why didn't you?" she asked, her voice faltering.

I smiled. "My mother taught me how to behave around a woman."

She said nothing, only reaching for her hood and pulling it back. Her twin ponytails fell loose as she pulled off the scarf. "She must have taught you well when she had the chance."

I looked back down at the injured man. "Today's not your lucky day, my friend."

In the faint light, I could see his face change from hurt to rage. "A woman? A woman has done this to me?"

"And one man, but thank you for being nice enough to acknowledge her. I believe we need to get to know each other better. What about you?" I added, directing the question to the woman.

She looked at the dead men at her feet. "We can't stay here. Whatever safety we had here is gone. A shame, too. I was getting used to living here."

"Sorry."

"And wherever you were staying is likely not safe for either of us as well. Your father is hardly the only one who wants me dead."

"You trust me not to kill you, then."

"I don't. But if you hate your father as much as you say, I doubt you will."

I knelt down next to our captive. "You're coming with us, buddy. I'm not taking any chances."

"I won't!"

"You don't have a choice. The moment the nice lady pulls the knife out of your hand, you're going to be a good little wounded man and come with us. OK? We'll even patch you up and send you back home once we know you're not going to try anything sneaky. Deal?"

His response was to reach for my pistol with his free hand.

With one swift motion, I brought the full weight of it down on his head, knocking him out. I then stood back up. "Want your dagger back?" I asked the woman.

"Are we just going to leave him here instead?"

"We really have no choice and I would rather not kill him."

She walked over and pulled the dagger from his hand. "If we leave him, there really is no reason for us to stay together."

"I want to make sure you get to safety."

"I can fend for myself."

"I know, but even if he comes with, once this little mess is found, there's going to be plenty more people coming for your head, and I don't care how skilled you are with knives, you won't make it out alive. Besides, if I help you, we both get to stick it to my father: I get his money while you get to avoid him for good." I holstered the pistol as I spoke. "So we either get through this together or we die together. I won't have it any other way."

She was silent for some time, then, "Your funeral then. My name is Kira."

"Nice to meet you, Kira. I'm Shinji Ikari."

 

 

 

"So my father sent two other men after you. He only told me he had 'sources.'"

The morning saw us further away from where Kira and I first became rather violently acquainted. Her dark red hair shone in the Afghan sun as we walked back towards Kandahar, while her sharper facial structure left me a bit mesmerized. The dark tan jacket and loose pants seemed almost too heavy for her to be wearing in the heat, her daggers (which I found out were called Dragon Teeth) hanging around her legs.

"Only one went back to him without serious injury," she replied. "The other was given a lengthwise scar along his cock for his trouble."

I gulped. "I don't think I want to know any more."

"There's an oasis of sorts a good distance off. He happened to follow me there-"

"I really don't-"

"No, you need to hear this. He thought I was at my most vulnerable when I stepped into the water. I'm not a man-hater and I don't find sex to be repulsive, but what he had in mind was something else entirely."

"My father employed a would-be rapist. I wish I could say I'm surprised."

She said nothing.

"It was more than 'would-be,' wasn't it?"

"He came close. He was lucky I just scarred him instead of castrating him outright. Had he actually been able to rape me, I would have done just that."

I was too stunned to speak.

"It must seem crazy to you, to hear that the person who doesn't want someone to be her knight in shining armor can be that vulnerable, doesn't it?"

"I'm sorry that you had to go through that."

"Don't be. The only thing that's your fault is me having to find a new place to sleep."

"Well, I'm definitely sorry about that, too. I just feel terrible that my father is such a fucking monster that he'd send someone like that to do his bidding. Makes me sick, really."

She snorted. "Guess the apple really does fall far from the tree."

"I'd rather be doing anything else with my life than be his little errand boy. Anything."

"Then why aren't you?"

I sighed. She's right.

"There's someone, isn't there?" she questioned.

"Yeah. My fiancee."

"She have expensive taste?"

"No, I just want to be able to set us up to where we can do something we like. I've thought about maybe going back to culinary school, expanding my cooking skills, and hopefully opening a restaurant someday."

"So he pays you huge sums to kill people or at least chase them down-"

"Last night was the most killing I've ever done." I corrected her. "I almost never have to do anything like that. He usually has me do weapon deals or anything involving contraband."

"Things that I enjoy disrupting."

"Which is why he wanted me to put an end to it. Which I won't."

"Ever use an alias?"

"Ever heard of Hideo Murasaki?" I asked.

"No, but then again, you probably never heard of any of my aliases either."

"Good point."

"You're risking a lot for someone who wanted to kill you not that long ago."

"Well, I would like to hope I have more of a heart than my father."

"You clearly do. Though I have to ask: was fucking his girlfriend your idea or hers?"

"That was actually my fiancee's idea. She hates my father as well."

That got a laugh from Kira. "It's a wonder he's not dead yet himself."

I couldn't help but smile at that. "'Yet,' indeed."

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her stop and wrap the scarf around her face. "We got company."

I looked ahead and saw a dromedary approaching us, with a rider slumped forward in the saddle. "I doubt we're in much danger, unless he's looking for one of us."

She got her hood up just before the camel reached us and the man fell sideways. I barely managed to catch him before he hit the ground, lowering him the rest of the way and laying him on the rocky earth. His face was covered in dust and blood, his eyes barely open. "M-Murasaki?" he rasped.

"He seems to know you," Kira noted.

"I've had dealings with his clan," I replied before unscrewing the cap on my canteen. "Here's some water," I told the man, lifting it to his lips. My eyes moved down to the dark red stain on his shirt. Wounded and stuck in this heat, I thought. If he somehow survives this....

He was able to take a sip but not much more, clearly weakened. "There was... a gun battle," he got out between gasps. "Another warlord.... His men slaughtered us... and all of our families.... He sent me... as a warning."

"What was his name?"

"I do not know. They call him... 'Gray Devil.' His clothes...."

He went silent. I checked his pulse. "Damn it."

"'Gray Devil'?" I heard Kira sigh behind me. "I've heard of him. Not even the Taliban like him, and I-" She suddenly stopped. "He's someone even I won't sell to. Wouldn't be surprised if he has a price on my head too."

"This man kills families?"

She nodded, a look of sadness on her face. "Yes."

I stood up. "If we ever see him, I'm putting a bullet in his head."

"I have a proposal for you, Shinji."

"I'm listening."

She moved the scarf from her mouth as she walked over to me. "We work together, find the 'Gray Devil,' and we put him down. After that, we go our separate ways. You get to keep what your father gave you and hopefully have a better life than I will, and I'll just keep doing my thing until someone shoots me in the back and leaves me to die out here."

"I was fine with that until that last part."

"Shinji, you have something to go home to. I don't. Nobody cares about a gunrunner who gives the Taliban what they need to keep being a problem. This is all I have."

"If nobody cares, then why am I refusing to obey my father's orders?"

"You're one person!"

"So fucking what, Kira?! I still care! You don't want a knight in shining armor, fine, but I'm not letting you basically commit suicide if I can help it!"

She waved her hand at me. "Please, Shinji, save the inspirational shit for someone else. I knew what I was getting into when I came here. I deserve almost everything that happens to me. You never asked for this. You're too nice a person for this shit."

"And that's why I'm refusing to let you just walk away after we kill this 'Gray Devil.' There's better in you than you realize."

"I sell weapons to the Taliban. There's no good left in me."

"I don't believe you."

She turned away. "Whatever makes you feel better. Let's go."

 

 

 

"I'm amazed that innkeeper didn't ask any questions," I remarked as I closed the door behind us. "Even if they assumed that we're just two random male travelers trying to save a buck by sharing a room, it's still something that should have seemed suspicious."

"It helps that I gave you my Dragon Teeth to hold onto," she added as she began to shed her jacket. "If we had walked in with visible weapons, we'd be sleeping out in the open. Which I've done before but I feel more secure indoors."

"Well, of course. So do I." I set my backpack on the floor and started working to take off my boots. "Besides, I sleep better indoors anyway."

Kira chuckled. "Except last night, right?"

"You didn't sleep either."

"I know. So both of us have some catching up to do."

She finished taking off her boots before pushing them to the wall with her jacket, then stood up. "We only have one bed. You have a problem with sharing?"

"I can always sleep on the floor."

"I'd rather you didn't."

"If I sleep in the bed with you, I'm facing the door."

"Fair enough."

She flopped onto the bed, then turned onto her side to look at me. "Shinji, can I ask you to do something for me?"

"What?"

"Could you take your shirt off?"

"Why?"

She shrugged. "I'd rather be the only one whose upper body smells like sweat."

"I could always see if the plumbing works."

"Save that for the morning. We need sleep now."

Realizing I was not going to keep my shirt, I pulled it over my head and off, tossing it to the floor with my boots before climbing onto the bed and turning my back towards her. Seconds later, I felt her snuggle up to me, her breasts warm on my back even through her shirt. "I guess your fiancee doesn't mind that her man doesn't have a six-pack," she purred.

"I think she's just happy I'm in shape," I replied.

She said nothing, putting her arm around me instead.

OK, Shinji, calm down, I thought. You're not being seduced. I mean, she is hot, but she's not going to- You know what, you're thinking way too hard about this. You're just going with her to kill a major asshole and then you're going to let her keep stealing your father's shit.

Wait a second.

"Kira?"

"Mmm, yes, Shinji?"

"I think I know how to get the 'Gray Devil,'" I said, looking at the phone in front of me.

 

 

 

 

I barely waited for the sun to come up before I found myself leaning on the wall, listening to a goddamned ringtone. Come on, you old bastard, I thought, you never go to sleep until midnight. Answer the fucking phone.

Thankfully, I only had to wait a few more seconds. "Ikari residence, Gendo speaking."

"I haven't found her yet."

"Are you even trying?"

I rolled my eyes, refusing to care that he wouldn't see. "Nobody wants to talk about her, or at least the ones I'm on good terms with. And I've combed the whole fucking country for a month-and-a-half. It doesn't matter if I fucking try. That's why I need one thing from you."

"If it will not help, then you already know the answer."

"I know you still have men in Lashkargah. I need them to bring me my 4Runner back and have empty crates in the back."

"Why?"

"Simple. She sees a vehicle with crates, decides to sneak over and steal it. I hide in the back, and when she goes to look at the crates and sees nothing, blam! Which means I also need more ammo for my Glocks because I've had to defend myself from angry men with larger guns. Because if I run out of ammo before I finally get to her, the only thing going blam will be me."

There was silence at the other end. I glanced down at the woman I had just shared a bed with, still sleeping peacefully. I wondered how my father would react if I told him that I had slept with the target, intentionally leaving out that I meant it in the literal sense.

Finally, "Where are you?"

"In Kandahar. I need them here by noon today."

"They will arrive when they arrive, but I assure you that will be before nightfall."

"You want me to finish the job, I need to move quickly."

More silence, then, "Very well. Where in Kandahar should they look for you?"

I told him the name of the hotel. "I'll be waiting outside."

"I shall arrange for your vehicle's delivery. Shinji?"

"Yes?"

"Don't make this a waste of my resources."

Click.

Sighing, I put the phone down.

I didn't move from the wall for a few moments, instead choosing to watch Kira sleep. I guess when you think you have nothing to lose, you have no reason to lose sleep, I mused. I wish I knew what to say or do to change her mind, though. Maybe it would be a useless endeavor, though.

I sighed again and made my way to the bathroom. The plumbing would almost certainly work, so I needed to clean up a bit. I reached for the light switch, then decided against it.

I glanced at the mirror above the sink. Even in the dark, I could see how badly my time in Afghanistan had affected me. My jawline was hidden under a decent beard, and I was unhappy to realize that it much resembled my father's, only with a mustache attached. My eyes seemed to still have a brightness to them, but I figured that under closer inspection there would definitely be dark circles underneath. In general, I looked weary. I didn't expect less.

Turning away, I decided that a bath was in order.

 

 

 

 

The rays of the sun hit my eyes some time later. I forced myself to wake up from my brief return to slumber, turning over to see that I was the bed's sole occupant. Panicking, I sat up and was greeted by the sight of Kira slipping her jacket back on.

She turned and caught my eye. "You look like you slept well," she remarked.

"Well, a bit, at least," I answered.

"Is your vehicle on the way?"

"I asked for my father to get it to me by noon. He decided that I may have to wait until evening."

"Not good. If we want to lure the 'Gray Devil' out, we need to be fast."

"Especially if we want to find your stash before he does."

The plan I told her about the night before was simple: we'd drive around with a 4Runner with empty crates. In short, the same idea I pitched to my father to trap Kira would be used for us to kill the "Gray Devil." Kira then mentioned that she had some of the stolen NERV guns buried near the oasis she told me of before. We decided that we would need them to mow down the "Gray Devil'"s men. Or that I would. She insisted that she would only need her Dragon Teeth. I tried to talk her out of that, to no avail.

"I'm the only one who knows the exact spot where they're kept," she said. "We'll go there at night, get them, and then go back on the hunt."

"OK, fine. But what if he catches up to us first?"

"Then you better have your guns loaded."

"And you?"

Her eyes narrowed. "Don't worry about me. I don't care how much you want to, just don't."

All I could do was sigh.

 

 

 

I made sure to keep Kira in my line of sight as I waited outside the hotel for my 4Runner to arrive. She was across the street, her disguise back to normal. If I hadn't already seen it, I would have not known she was there. She, too, was waiting. Once the vehicle arrived, I would drive around the corner, wait for her to walk over, and she would get in and we'd take off into the unknown, or at least until the "Gray Devil" caught up.

After what felt like too long, a dark blue 2002 Toyota 4Runner came into view, a Corolla behind it. The man driving my SUV got out and walked towards me, keys extended. "As your father requested," he said.

"Great," I replied, taking the keys from him. "How about the rest?"

"The empty crates are in the back and your ammunition is in the second seat. Your father sent you some other weaponry as well."

"Think I may want to check."

The driver of the Corolla got out and approached us, glaring at me. "It is a wonder that your father would continue to assist you, as disrespectful as you are," he snarled.

Fucking hell, it's him again. "I was so hoping you'd forget," I sighed.

I got no reply other than more glaring. Shaking my head, I turned to check the other goodies: a semi-automatic rifle with several dozen rounds, two dozen grenades, and a rocket launcher with six rockets. The cartridges for my pistols were in a bag nearby.

I turned to the two men. "Good. I'll take everything from here. Oh, and by the way-"

Before either man knew what was coming, I whipped out one of the Glocks and slammed the handle across the face of one who had bonked me with his rifle weeks earlier. He promptly grabbed his face and tried not to scream as blood began to seep between his fingers. The first man looked at me in shock but didn't make a move to retaliate.

Satisfied, I holstered the pistol. "Now we're even. Thanks guys. If I need anything else, I'll be sure to let you know." I finished with a cheesy grin and a thumbs up as they retreated to the safety of the Corolla, the second man pausing only a moment to turn around and shoot me a look that was a mixture of anger, humiliation, and regret.

I chuckled as they drove off. "All right. That went well-"

"Excuse me," a deep voice suddenly rang out.

I turned to see a man in a dark jacket standing in front of me. His hair was cropped close to his skull, and his weathered features were marked by a long scar that extended from his left cheekbone down to the edge of his lower jaw, causing a slight but noticeable break in his beard. His gray eyes regarded me with a mixture of amusement and disdain. "Can I help you?" I asked.

"You are Murasaki, yes?"

"Why do you need to know?"

"I come on behalf of the 'Gray Devil.'"

I felt myself tense up, my right hand hovering towards my pistol. "You better tell me how he knows who I am, and you better tell me quickly before I-"

He waved a hand at me. "What he knows is of no importance to you. All you need to know is that he is interested in making a transaction." He turned his head to look inside the 4Runner. "I see you have some interesting wares, Murasaki."

"The stuff in the middle is mine," I replied, moving to block his view.

"Very well. But he is willing to acquire anything that is not for your personal use. He will not wait forever, I must tell you. You have two days to get what you can and meet him for the purchase. There is a cave north of here. This map will lead you there," he added, handing me a piece of paper.

I took it, still wary. "And if I decide that he can go fuck himself?" I asked.

He smiled. "He has sent you a gift, one that will ensure your cooperation." He lifted a bag into view. The bottom was rounded, as if there was a bowling ball inside. "Go on, take it."

I didn't move.

"Please, he would rather see you intact, Murasaki. There is nothing here that would harm you."

Reluctantly, I took the bag from him.

"Open it," he said, the smile still on his face.

Giving him one last glance of suspicion, I opened the bag.

In it was the severed head of the warlord I had dealt with weeks earlier, his skin paled by death. The edge of the flesh at the bottom of his neck was almost too clean, as if surgically removed, or as if someone put a lot of force behind a sharp sword. I quickly looked back up at the man in front of me. "Is this a fucking joke?!"

He still smiled. "I assure you, it is no joke. Just a warning. You have two days, Murasaki."

Before I could react, he was walking away and was soon lost among the masses.

I stood there, frozen with anger and a strong amount of fear. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kira approach, briefly stopping to regard my vehicle of choice. "Nice," she remarked. "Should make some good distance with it, even if the gas mileage is kinda shit."

Then she looked at me. "Are you all right? You look like you just got slapped or something."

"That man I was talking to-"

"What about him?"

"He's with the 'Gray Devil.'"

"And you didn't shoot him. I admire your restraint."

"He wants to purchase whatever weapons I can find. If I don't get them to him in two days, he apparently will kill me."

"And you know this how?"

"How about the fact that he gave me a head in a bag?"

She nodded. "OK then."

I shook my head. "This has gotten more and more ridiculous for me these last couple of days."

"Join the club."

"I guess we have no choice but to find that oasis you were telling me about."

"Yeah, unless your father sent you anything else."

"He did. Grenades, rifles, rockets-"

"Good. But maybe we should go there anyway. We can use my stash as bait."

"Bait?"

"Yeah. Fuck that empty crate nonsense. Let's tease him with the real deal and then drop the boom on him."

I smiled. "Sounds good."

 

 

 

 

"How much longer do we have to drive?" I asked as the 4Runner sent dust flying into the winds behind us.

"Not too far," she answered, her head propped up against the passenger side door. "Once you see a couple of trees, you'll know we're there. And thank fuck you brought a couple of gas cans in case you get lost."

"Yeah, great. Sorry I have never been out this way so I may not know where the hell I'm going."

Kira laughed. "That may actually be to our advantage. I'd rather wait until dusk before we start digging. Not that we have to dig deep, mind you."

"Sun's already going down. Really wish my father had sent the goddamned SUV sooner."

"Nothing you could have done about that. We get there, we'll get the guns, and then maybe you should relax a bit."

"Not that good an idea."

"Please, I want to see this through to the end. I won't fuck you over."

"Why are you this determined to help me, anyway?"

"One, you helped me out of a bit of a tight spot. Two, you and I have a shared hatred for your father. Three, we both want the 'Gray Devil' dead, even if it is for different reasons. Four, well...." Her voice trailed off.

"Well? What's number four?" I pressed.

'"It's nothing, Shinji," she replied, waving her hand dismissively at me. "Think I see trees ahead."

I had to really strain my eyes to see them, but there they were, a couple of solitary trees just rising up from the heat, shimmering a bit before becoming more clear as we got closer. There seemed to be a small pool of water between them, making everything look like something from a storybook. "So there are. Is this the one?"

"Unless another one sprouted out of thin air, it should be."

I waited until we were about thirty feet from the trees before bringing the 4Runner to a stop. I took the keys out of the ignition and exited, heading for the back. Kira got out as well, walking over and watching as I opened the back door and grabbed the two shovels we had brought with us. "How deep are they?" I asked, handing her one.

"Two, maybe three feet," she answered as she began walking towards one of the trees. "No deeper than that, though."

Once she reached the tree, she stopped, then turned and backed up to the tree until she was standing against the trunk. Then she began making strides forward, mouthing out a countdown. After ten strides, she stopped and began digging. "Over here!" she called.

I ran over, watching her make shallow scoops of the ground. "This it?"

Moments later, I heard a thwunk. "Yep!"

"Still want to wait?"

She looked up at me. "I thought you didn't want to?"

"Huh?"

"You said the sun was already going down, so I assumed you didn't want to wait."

"I mean, it's up to you. They're your guns, after all."

"Well, they're really yours, but possession is nine-tenths of the law and whatnot. So do you want to wait or not?"

"Eh, fuck it. Let's get them out. You want to spend the night here or at the hotel?"

"Here is better. I don't like the idea of the 'Gray Devil' lurking around Kandahar. If one of his men is there, then he likely is there too. I don't want to take any chances now. We've come too far for everything to be fucked up."

I thought about it for only a few seconds. "Very well, then."

With that, we resumed digging.

 

 

 

 

Several minutes later, we finished dragging the crate to the back of the 4Runner. The sun was setting faster now, and our shadows stretched long ahead of us. "Want to open it up?" Kira asked.

"Might as well," I replied. "Then we can just put them in without having to pick up the whole crate."

Using the shovel, I began to pry at the lid of the crate. It came off surprisingly easy., Tossing it aside, I set down the shovel and pulled out a rifle. "AK-47. Why am I not surprised?"

"I know, I wish your father had sent something a little less obvious. Six of them, though. Should be enough for us to work with."

I set the gun next to the empty crates. "We can crate them in the morning."

"Fine by me," she said as she took another AK-47 and set it with its equal.

"Kira, can I ask you a question?"

"You can. You also may ask me a question."

I chuckled. "Got me there."

"So what did you want to ask?"

"Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why do the things you do?"

She shrugged. "Because I enjoy creating anarchy. Selling to the Taliban, causing hell for people like your father, that's all stuff that yields chaos. I don't want to live in a world that's calm and sterile. It's just, I don't know, too boring that way."

"Even if you're risking your own future because of it?"

She shook her head sadly. "Shinji, you still don't get it, do you? I have no future already. Maybe I might be interested in throwing a monkey wrench into that void, but in the end, who cares about me? Other than you, of course."

"Then why help me, even if it is just because we both are at odds with my father?"

"Because people like you, people who care enough about someone like me, those people are still needed. They may not be much help, but they give others something they need more than anything else."

"And that would be?"

"Hope."

"And yet you don't need it?"

"I'm better off without it. But you, you need it as much as you provide it. You hope that I can be something better than I am now. You hope that you can bring down someone who has no problem killing families for no reason. You hope that you can leave this place and go back to your fiancee and start a new life away from this mess. If I didn't feel so much apathy towards hope, I'd envy you, Shinji."

I sighed. I could think of nothing else to say. Again.

Sensing my disappointment, she smiled at me. "Come on, the water's calling you."

 

 

 

The moonlight shone down on us as I stared into the pool. I had taken my jacket and shirt off but nothing else, letting the air soothe my tired frame.

Kira walked over to me but stared at the water as well. "Well, are you going to jump in?" she asked.

"Is it deep enough to at least stand in?"

"Of course. I've done it quite a few times myself."

"You sure you want to be watching me?"

"What, you think I'm some sort of prude?"

"Well, no, but-"

"There you go, then. Get naked and get in there, Shinji!"

I looked around. "It's just us tonight, right?"

"Almost nobody comes here after dark. We'll be fine."

I looked at her and was surprised to see a bit of a strange smirk on her lips. She's really looking forward to this, Shinji. You're not going to disappoint a lady, are you?

Crouching down, I untied my boots and pulled them off, tossing my socks aside soon after. With one more look at my temporary companion, I unbuckled my belt and shed my pants and my boxers in one swoop. Stepping forward towards the water, it took me some time to get used to the sensation of being nude in the open air.

"The water won't wait forever, Shinji," the redhead called.

Cautiously, I began to walk forward, my feet soon reaching the coolness of the pool. I kept going until I reached the center, feeling the water rise up to my navel before I turned to look at Kira.

Is she smiling?

"What do you think?" she asked.

"A bit cold, but considering the heat it's not that bad."

She walked towards me, pausing a moment to take her boots and socks off. "So how long have you been engaged?"

"A year. We would have been married by now except I fucked my father's mistress and here I am."

"She must be happy to have someone like you in her life."

"Yeah, she had it rough growing up, too. We didn't always get along, but sometimes, when you put two damaged people together, they help each other heal."

She paused again, unbuckling her belt and pulling her pants down. As she stepped out of them, I could not help but stare at the bikini bottoms she had been wearing underneath. "I'm sure she misses you a lot," she said quietly as she came closer, shedding her jacket in the process.

"She does. I miss her too."

"Do you dream about her a lot?"

"Of course."

She entered the water, walking towards me and only stopping when she was just inches away from my naked body. "Are they happy dreams?"

"Yes. I sometimes see us on the beach, maybe a bit older, and we've got a couple of kids running around. They look so much like the two of us." I had to stop for a moment to choke back a few tears. "I haven't been able to call her in a while to tell her how much I love her."

"I'm sure she knows."

"I'm sure she does."

"I'm sure she misses how good you are in bed, too."

That got a raised eyebrow from me as I took in the massive grin she was giving me. "Uh, OK?"

"Oh, come on, Shinji, I had to check you out a little bit. You're like, what, six, six and a half when erect? If your fiancee is not missing that, I'll be shocked."

"I don't know how big my dick is, and I don't exactly care!"

"Bigger than your father's, I bet."

"What makes you say that?"

"Tell me, Shinji, how much did his mistress enjoy it?"

I sighed. "A lot," I admitted.

"And my guess is your fiancee figured that she'd enjoy it, too. I'm going to ask you an honest question, Shinji, and I expect the same honesty from you."

"OK, fine."

"What do you think of me, physically?"

My eyes finally allowed themselves to fully take her in for the first time since our fateful meeting. Her face was as stunning as it was when I first saw her, her full lips curled in anticipation of my answer. Her arms, while certainly strong, weren't overloaded with muscle, and her shirt hugged her slim waist and her large, nicely rounded breasts perfectly. I remembered how strong, long and beautiful her legs were as she had walked into the water, and it took whatever willpower I had to stop staring at the space between her thighs where her panties hugged her womanhood.

"I think you're absolutely beautiful, Kira," I finally whispered.

"And the only person more beautiful is your fiancee, I hope?"

"Well, yes. But, Kira, I won't lie, I can't stop looking at you and thinking, well...."

She smiled and moved closer, putting her arms around my shoulders. "Then you won't mind if I do this?"

She leaned forward and kissed me full on the lips.

It wasn't aggressive and it wasn't quick, just a few lingering seconds of passion, and I returned the favor, putting my hands on her waist as we continued to kiss under the stars. Reluctantly, I broke first. "I guess I don't really."

"I barely even had to reach up," she purred. Which was true, considering that she was surprisingly close to my six foot height.

"I didn't even notice, to be honest."

"Something else did, though," she noted as her eyes glanced lower.

Sure enough, I had a full-on erection, the tip rising out of the water. She placed a hand around me, barely moving it. "Shinji, I want to ask you for something."

"What do you want from me, Kira?"

"Just for one night, I want you to be my lover. Not just because it'd give you the satisfaction of knowing you defied your father in the most insane way imaginable, but because I've gone without this for a long, long time. Or at least with someone who actually cares. Will you do that for me, just for tonight?"

Well, shit, I thought. If I were to tell her no, I'd be a hypocrite for banging Ritsuko. I tell her yes, and oh the hell with it. My dick is overriding my reason.

"Yes," I whispered.

She smiled again and we resumed kissing, our tongues tangling with each other as we stood bathed in the moonlight. My hands slid down her waist and cupped her ass, gently massaging her as she moaned softly into my mouth. Moments later, I let out a moan as well as she began to slowly stroke me, my cock wet with the water and with the first drops of precum.

She broke the kiss after a while. "Let's go back to the shore. Might be more comfortable there."

She released her grip on my cock and took my hand, leading me back to dry ground.

"Kira."

She turned towards me, anticipation in her eyes.

"I want to see all of you."

Wordlessly, she grabbed the hem of her shirt and pulled it over her head, tossing it to the ground where her pants lay. Unhooking her bra, she let it fall down, revealing two nipples surrounded by slightly-larger-than-quarter-sized areolae. I then dropped to my knees and pulled her bikini bottoms down, and was greeted by a bush that I was certain was as red as her hair was. Her pussy was tucked in, lips swollen with arousal.

"Shinji...." I heard her breathe softly.

I looked up at her. Her face, faintly illuminated by the moonlight, had an expression of need as she began to caress her breasts, fingers grazing over her nipples as her chest heaved with each breath. Her legs spread out slightly in anticipation.

"Yes," I whispered back.

I leaned in and nuzzled her hair, causing her breath to catch. I then dipped my head down and took a lick of her folds, eliciting a coo from her as I ran my tongue between them. Her taste was sweeter than I had expected, and I pushed my tongue in as deep as I could. The results were immediate: her legs began to buckle as my fingers massaged her ass, keeping her close to me as I ate her out, her hands reaching for my hair and holding me in place as I found her clit. "Ooohhh, fuck, Shinji, that feels so good!" she groaned in between gasps.

My tongue flicked her clit a couple of times, then I broke from her hold. She was about to protest the sudden ending of my service to her needy pussy when I picked her up and gently laid her on her discarded clothing. I then left a trail of kisses from her neck to the space between her breasts, working my way back down until I returned to her clit, sucking it and giving it little flicks as she wrapped her legs around me and began pushing her hips into my face. With one hand, I slipped a finger in and was surprised by how tight and wet her vagina was. My other hand reached down and began to coat my cock in precum, occasionally reaching back to her pussy to get some of the juices from my other hand.

"Shinji," Kira groaned, "I want it so bad...."

"How bad?" I asked hoarsely.

"Really fucking bad...."

"What do you want me to do to you, Kira?"

"I want... I want you to fuck me! I want your cock in me now! Please, Shinji, I want it so fucking bad right now!"

That makes two of us, I thought to myself.

Lifting my head up, I smiled at her as I worked my way back up her body, stopping to suckle on one of her nipples and causing her back to arch again. Rising up slightly, I reached down and brought the tip of my cock to her entrance and pushed forward, letting out a growl as her hot tightness welcomed me in.

I paused once I was all the way in, taking a moment to feel her inside, before slowly pulling back and just as slowly slipping back in. It didn't take me as long as I had expected to speed up, my thrusts eliciting long, drawn-out groans of pleasure from Kira as she began to move her hips in time with mine.

It really had been too long for both of us.

I tried so hard to keep my eyes open as we fucked, wanting to drink in every reaction she had, every little push towards orgasmic bliss. Hers were already closed, her hair spilling around her, pigtails haphazardly flopping in the dirt. I leaned down and kissed her collarbone, suckling at her flesh and making more groans of, "Oh, fuck!" exit her lips.

Pulling her close, I rolled over so that she was now atop me as I kept thrusting into her slick depths. With one hand, I fondled a breast, thumb caressing her nipple. With the other, I undid her pigtails, letting her hair fall loose around her face as we kissed, her hips continuing to move with me. Every little detail of her vagina was being etched into my brain as we moved faster and faster, my free hand gently sliding down the back of her neck and tracing little spirals on her sensitive skin on the way down her back.

My hand fell from her breast and joined its equal in cupping her ass while she rode me, massaging her with every movement of her hips as we moaned each others names into each others mouths. Our breathing had grown more and more ragged, sweat pouring from us despite the soft breeze around us both. I could feel her heart beating as she kept close to me, and for a brief second, I wondered if she felt mine as well.

We were lost in the moment, and I was hoping against hope that it would not end soon. But I felt my release approaching quickly, and I broke the kiss. "Kira, I'm gonna cum!"

"Inside!" she gasped. "I want it inside!"

"You- fuck!- sure?"

"Yes! Cum inside me, Shinji! I want your fucking cum!"

That triggered me to pull her closer and slam my cock into her harder, and her head fell to my shoulders as her gasps and moans became higher and higher in pitch. My eyes took one more look at the stars before they closed in ecstasy. My fingers reached for her nipples and gave them a gentle tweak. With one final cry, she tightened around me and came, pushing me over the edge as well, my semen rushing through my cock and filling her to the point of leaking from between us.

She was still shuddering as she came down while I tried to catch my breath. "Holy shit," I finally got out.

She lifted her head to meet my gaze, smiling. "Thank you, Shinji."

I decided to say "You're welcome" with a kiss, still enjoying the feeling of being inside her and close to her even as I began to soften. I knew I would probably pound Asuka through the floor once I finally got home but even so, I would not soon forget the lovemaking that Kira and I engaged in. My arms kept her near me as I finally drifted off to sleep.

 

 

 

"IF YOU THOUGHT IT WAS BORING IN JORDAN, THEN COME OUT HERE FOR A DAY...."

The sounds of loud music forced me to open my eyes as the sun began to heat up everything around me. Propping myself up on my elbows, I rubbed the sleep from my eyes before looking around. My clothes were in a pile next to me.

Fuck, how long have I been asleep?

I slowly stood up and turned my focus towards the 4Runner. Kira was leaning on the hood, fully dressed and sipping from my canteen. "You didn't strike me as a metal type," she said.

"I don't strike people as being a lot of things," I replied, picking up my pants and fishing out my boxers.

"You strike me as being too trusting. Anyone else would have stolen your clothes, your guns, and your car and left you here to suffer."

"You're not, though."

She simply shrugged.

I started dressing, silent for a while. Then, "Kira?"

"I'm right here."

"About last night."

"I don't regret any of it."

"Not even me cumming in you?"

"Nope."

"You're not worried?"

She sighed and set the canteen on the hood, crossing her arms in front of her. "Shinji, I've slept with more people than you'll ever know. Only a few times did I ever insist on anyone wearing a condom or pulling out or anything. If I was going to get pregnant, I probably would have by now."

"Are you sure that-"

"Shinji, do i have to say it again?"

"I know, I know, you'll be fine."

"It's not like you have magic semen or anything like that."

"Well, no, that'd just be stupid." I finished getting dressed. "So I was thinking, maybe we should make a change of plans."

"Oh?"

"Yeah, instead of one of us hiding in the back, we both exit the vehicle together and armed. I want to take zero chances with this bastard."

"Makes sense." She wrapped the scarf around her face and pulled up the hood. "I'm ready when you are."

I took a look behind me at the little oasis. Had it really been a few hours since a complete stranger and I laid under the stars and made love? It felt like so long ago and yet so fresh in my memory. I looked away, trying not to let the wistful feeling show to Kira.

"Yeah, let's go."

 

 

 

 

The road to where we would confront the "Gray Devil" was one traveled in silence for the most part. Kira would give me directions based on the map the "Gray Devil'"s messenger gave me, and I would just follow them while keeping my eyes peeled for an ambush. My pistols were still in their holsters with a third tucked behind me in the waistband of my pants, while I had once again been unable to convince her to carry anything other than her Dragon Teeth.

I had found myself unable to get the last couple of days out of my head. Here I was, driving off to kill someone I never met, alongside someone who I was supposed to kill that I had never met prior and who was going to vanish out of my life just as quickly as she had entered it. And I would have no way of knowing if she would ever make it out of Afghanistan alive. Needless to say, it all bothered me. A lot.

"Kira?" I finally said.

"Yes, Shinji?"

"Let's say we get out of this alive-"

"That would be a good idea."

"OK, supposing we get out of this alive. What are you going to do afterwards?"

I heard her sigh. "Shinji, we've been over this. I'm going to just keep doing what I've always been doing."

"Yeah, but you can't do that forever."

"I'll find the next place, then. There's always something shitty happening somewhere, whether it's in the news or not. Maybe I'll find someone more like me than you and we'll keep going down that road until it ends. I'm not like you, I can't have what most would consider a normal life. Besides, you have a fiancee to go home to and a father to disappoint. You are and forever will be too good for this shit. Now please, for the love of everything, don't make me go through this spiel again."

"But-"

"Shinji, I know you want to save me. I actually find that to be rather sweet of you. But you have to understand, in the real world, you can't help everyone. Some causes are just bound to be lost. I'm one of them." Out of the corner of my eye I saw her turn her head to look out the passenger side window. "And deep down, you know that. You obviously can't go on some romantic crap about how you're fallen madly in love with me and how you're going to risk everything to get me out of here like you're some knight trying to save the princess from the dragon or some shit, because you already have someone you clearly care about. Unless you're going to kick her to the curb just because of one night."

I let out a sigh of my own. "No, I couldn't do that."

"Exactly."

"I can still care, though! Goddamnit, I don't care how hopeless it is! And you know what? There's a part of you that not only cares right back, that part wants you to care!"

"That's why I'm telling you to stop. The life I lead will get you killed, Shinji. And if you were to die trying to help me, I would have your blood on my hands. And then what? I don't know, maybe I led you wrong last night, maybe I made you think that there really is a way out for both of us, and if I did, I'm sorry. Do I regret fucking you? No, I still don't, because I know I'll never have your heart and that's fine. I don't want it."

"Kira, please-"

"What, Shinji? What do you want me to say? That I'm going to change my mind and get on the first plane out of here as soon as the 'Gray Devil' bites the dust? I won't. I'm not going to lie to you, Shinji. I haven't this whole time and I won't start now."

I found myself fighting back tears. "Maybe you should. I'd feel a hell of a lot better if you did."

"I won't. Shinji, I care. I care enough to help you kill the 'Gray Devil' and then leave you alone. I can go back to my life as normal and you can go home, tell your fiancee that you love her, and get the hell out of this business you're in. Do you have a pen in your glovebox?"

"What the fuck does that have to do with anything?"

"We're almost at our destination and I need a backup plan. Unless it's a really flimsy pen, I should be able to jam it in someone's eye and through the back-"

"Yeah, I should have a couple. And you can keep it."

"Thanks." She opened it up. "Ah, there they are." She quickly slipped one of the pens up her sleeve and closed the glove compartment. "We've got company."

Three men stood right in front of us, forcing me to bring the 4Runner to a stop. To my surprise, neither seemed to have a gun. The cave was about half a mile ahead as a fourth man on an old Indian motorcycle drove from it and came towards us, a dust cloud following him.

"Ready?" I asked my soon-to-be-former companion.

"Sure thing."

We got out just as the man on the motorcycle came to a stop near the other men. All of them were wearing balaclavas and military-issue pants, boots, and jackets, except for the man on the motorcycle. He wore no balaclava, allowing me to recognize him instantly as the messenger of the "Gray Devil." "Well, well, Mr. Murasaki," he said, a smile on his face. "I've been waiting for you. And you came a day ahead of deadline. Although I certainly did not expect you to have company."

"That's called backup," I replied. "I don't trust your master one bit, and considering the things he's done, I have no reason to."

"What a shame. After all, I certainly trust you."

My heart skipped.

Before I could reach for either of my pistols, however, one of the men with him took a step forward and pushed me into the hood of the 4Runner, taking both guns at my side and the one behind my back and throwing them under the vehicle. Another man shoved Kira into the hood and took her daggers as well, dropping them just behind him. The last one just stood silently, his hand wrapped in a bandage.

I glared at the other man, who was still smiling. "You son of a bitch, I should have killed you on the spot yesterday!" I yelled.

"Indeed, you should have. But I could have also killed you as well, yes?"

"Like you killed the last warlord I made a deal with?"

"I only left the one man alive long enough for him to find you, which he certainly must have for things to reach this point. But I will say, I never expected that you were capable of violence. And yet, you and your friend killed some of my men. We had sent them to kill him since he was doing much the same as you: giving weapons to my enemies." He turned to face Kira. "Perhaps it's time I saw his face with my own eyes."

He walked over to her and jerked the scarf down. I saw his smile take a more sinister curl as he stepped back.

"It seems I was informed correctly," the "Gray Devil" said. "You're a very dangerous woman, I must say."

"He asked me to kill him," Kira replied. "My friend insisted otherwise because he really doesn't like hurting anyone. Other than you, of course."

"If you hadn't left him alive, you would like have never found yourselves in this position," he told us. "A pity. I had assumed at least one of you to be much smarter than that." He turned to the two men that had disarmed us. "Inspect everything, then drive it to the cave. And you," he added, putting his hand on the wounded man's shoulder as he walked to the motorcycle, "kill them both."

"But I have no weapon!" the man protested.

"Take one of the ones from the car." The "Gray Devil" fired up the motorcycle, then turned to wave at us. "So long, Murasaki."

He turned to face the cave, and no sooner did he do so than Kira swiftly raised her arm. Seconds later, the man in front of her was screaming in agony, blood coming from his eye socket as he stumbled around.

The man we had left in the house a couple of nights prior made a run for the SUV and opened the door, but his fumbling around with the rifle gave Kira the opportunity to grab her Dragon Teeth and run at him. The lone uninjured man made a move to stop her and she slashed his throat, blood flying as he fell to the ground. The distraction allowed me to reach under the 4Runner and retrieve one of the pistols, firing at the man that Kira had impaled. Two shots brought him down, and I quickly grabbed my other two guns.

The man with the injured hand finally got the rifle loaded, only to for Kira to stab him in the gut. He dropped the rifle and followed it to the ground as she turned and pointed towards the cave. "He's getting away!"

"Maybe to get reinforcements," I replied, walking over to her and stepping over the dying man. "He had this planned out almost to perfection. He just didn't expect you to be that sneaky." I shoved a grenade in my coat pocket before picking up the rocket launcher and one of the rockets. "Hopefully this has good range. You're driving," I added, giving her the keys.

The "Gray Devil" was already close to the cave when Kira started the SUV and flattened the gas, causing me to have some trouble trying to load the launcher. Halfway there, she spun it around and hit the brakes. "Ready?"

I finally got the rocket in, then raised it to my shoulder and fired as the motorcycle disappeared into the cave.

Seconds later, there was an explosion, and I could see dust and smoke pouring from the cave. I turned to Kira. "We need to park off to the side in case he decides to return fire."

"Right!"

Pushing the pedal to the floor again, we raced to the cave, parking out of sight of the entrance before getting out and approaching the mouth, daggers in her hands, Glocks in mine. Right when we reached the mouth, I held up a hand for her to stop, then reached for the grenade, pulled the pin, and tossed it in.

The dust and smoke from the rocket had begun to dissipate, but it gained some of its strength back when the grenade went off. Motioning for her to follow, I moved around the corner and was greeted with a crate lid to the face.

I stumbled back, dazed, as Kira pushed past me and narrowly avoided being hit by the crate itself. I tried shaking out the cobwebs, and as I did, I saw the "Gray Devil" pick up a scimitar. "Wonderful old weapon, this," he said. "Now, I know there is a saying about knives and gunfights, but I see no reason to heed it, Murasaki."

He had a good reason not to: I had dropped my guns when I was struck with the lid, and he was advancing fast enough that I was not going to have time to grab one and get a shot off. I had to duck under his first swing, stumbling further forward and landing on my face. I then heard the sound of a kick behind me and as I got back to my feet I saw him start to straighten up from what seemed to be a kick to the stomach. Kira lunged forward, only to get kicked in the leg, sending her crashing to the ground. Before she could get back up, he had grabbed the crate and brought it down on her head, knocking her out.

NO! KIRA!

Spotting a second scimitar, I picked it up and unsheathed it, letting the sheath fall to the cave floor. "Two swords? Tell me, which one did you use to send me a head?" I asked with rage creeping into my voice, all the while trying to figure out why the hell I had grabbed a sword instead of looking for another gun.

"It doesn't matter," he answered smoothly, that smile still on his face. "Yours will suffer the same fate. The woman, well, I might draw out her suffering a little longer than yours."

You're wrong, Kira. I CAN save you, if only from this. "The hell you will!"

And I moved forward, sword in front of me.

He advanced to meet me and our scimitars clashed, like something from a cliche-filled action movie. I could feel the blood from the lid impact seeping down my face and I began hoping it wouldn't get in my eyes as I kicked him square in the knee. His leg buckled but he held his grip on the sword and pushed back against me, shoving me backwards before our swords came together again.

I had gotten my head back together by that time and kicked him in the leg again. To my dismay, though his leg gave out again, his smile was still there. "So I see you will do anything to live. Well, so will I!"

And he dropped the sword and delivered a left hook to my cheek.

I dropped my sword out of instinct and he hit me again with a hook. He reached to strike again but I grabbed for his throat, pushing him back to the wall. I began to squeeze but he landed a jab to my ribs, causing me to let go. He started coughing as he started firing punches to my stomach, driving me back. I tried blocking further body blows but an uppercut had me seeing spots. I staggered back to the cave wall behind me as he laughed.

"Oh, Murasaki," he chuckled as he walked towards me, "You have at least put up more of a fight than everyone else whose lives I've ended. I suppose it is a shame to have to kill an opponent this worthy. But I believe the time for your death has come. Don't worry, you likely won't feel a-"

Whether it was fear, rage, worry for Kira, or something else, something in me flared up enough for me to grab his head and slam his face into the rock.

It was his turn to stumble, blood dripping from his shattered nose, as I slammed my shoulder into his chest, knocking him to the ground. Both of us reached for the fallen scimitars, but before he could charge, a piece of wood struck him in the back of the head, causing him to drop the sword. I turned to see Kira, unsteady yet standing.

"That crate hurt, asshole!" she yelled at him as he picked the scimitar back up.

He turned to look at her, realized he was basically between us, and for perhaps the first time since I saw him, the "Gray Devil" was not smiling.

And I was.

"Nowhere to go," Kira continued. "And it's clear by now that you've got no help on the way. You're alone."

"My mind alone is greater than yours combined," he answered.

"No, man," I countered, "it isn't. You're outpersoned, outgunned, and out-thought. You might put a hurt on one of us but you won't get out of here alive. It's over."

There was a pause, then he charged at me again.

I quickly lowered my sword to waist height and swung, slicing him across his abdomen. He dropped his sword for the last time and stood, holding the wound as if trying to keep the blood and everything else from coming out and failing. Blood also began to come out his mouth as he stared at me in a mixture of shock and realization.

Kira walked over, having gotten her bearings back, and raised one of her Dragon Teeth. With one swing, she slashed it down across his throat. "Shinji, how high can you kick?" she asked.

"Don't know."

"Aim for the chest. One, two, three!"

On three, we both kicked forward. My foot caught him more in the stomach but hers landed on his sternum. And to my absolute shock, his head came off as he impacted the wall.

I stared at the decapitated head for a few moments before I dropped to my knees, his dead body slumping to the floor. "How in the world-"

"Best not to ask," she replied.

I decided not to, instead allowing the cave to fall silent for a while.

Finally, I stood up. "So that's it. That's him dead."

"Yep."

"Kira-"

"If it's about what I said earlier-"

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"Helping me kill this man. And also for convincing me to do something I need to do."

"Which is?"

"I'm telling my father that I'm done. I'm going home, I'm giving up this life, and I hope I never have to hurt anyone ever again."

"Good."

I turned to face her. "So, I guess this is goodbye, then?"

She said nothing for a few moments, instead choosing to stare at the ground.

And then she looked up. "Shinji?"

"Yes?"

She leaned forward and kissed me. I returned the kiss and we embraced, our lips not leaving each other, as if we wanted to steal one more minute with each other. I felt overwhelmed with feelings of regret, sadness, and longing, regret that it had to end, sadness that I would likely never see her again, and a longing for something to maybe change her mind at last.

She finally broke the kiss and left my arms, and it was only then that I noticed she had the piece of crate that she had thrown at the dead man. "Goodbye, Shinji."

And before I could react, she swung it at me, and the last thing I saw before everything went black was the look of regret in her eyes, and perhaps a barely restrained tear.

 

 

 

 

 

An unfamiliar sound was the first thing I heard as consciousness returned. Almost like a muffled voice, as if through a mask.

And then, "Leave him alone. He's no threat to us."

Kira?

"No threat?!" came another, masculine, voice. "If there's guns and he's alive, he's a threat!"

"No," said the muffled voice. "we're not killing people who don't need it. If she says he doesn't have an interest in causing us trouble, we'll just let him go. But we might want to get away from here regardless. Kira, welcome to Black Dragon."

"Black Dragon"? Ah, fuck it. Just play dead, Shinji. Or knocked out. Or whatever.

There was more talking, but I blocked it out and it soon faded into the distance. Deciding that I didn't want to tempt fate, I waited to get back up. And waited. And waited.

Finally, after what seemed to be an hour, I decided that the coast was likely clear and got back to my feet. Grabbing my pistols, I walked out of the cave, giving my eyes time to adjust to the sunset. I would have a long drive in the dark before I could get back to Kandahar, as I doubted I'd have the energy to go to Lashkargah instead.

I was surprised to see the 4Runner where we left it, with all the weapons still inside. I got into the SUV and it was then that I noticed the two folded pieces of paper on the passenger seat. In the dying light, I could see that one had "NERV" written on it, while the other read "Shinji."

I sighed and picked up the "NERV" one first and opened it.

To Gendo Ikari:

Do not send anyone else after us or they will be sent back to you in pieces. We chose to let your son live because we felt sorry for him. He will be the only one so lucky.

Black Dragon

P.S. You can keep your weapons, and we are sending back others that we had seized from you.

I chuckled. "He is not going to like that at all."

Folding it back up, I set it back on the seat and picked up the one with my name on it. Taking a deep breath, I opened it up.

Shinji:

Thank you for all you did for me. You were a strong ally and a wonderful lover. I'm never going to forget you or how big a heart you have. Maybe, someday, we really can meet again under better circumstances.

Until then,

Kira

I folded it up again and slipped it into my pants pocket.

And after managing to avoid it at least twice in the past three days, my head fell to the steering wheel as I began to cry.

 

 

 

 

I felt nothing but numbness inside as I slowly trudged towards my room. I spent the entire drive back to Kandahar crying my eyes out as I thought about Kira's letter and everything that had led up to it. Reluctantly, I admitted to myself that I had, in fact, grown attached to her. It was something I should have known better than to do.

You need to get her off your mind, Shinji, I told myself, but as I reached the door, I had to shake my head in dismay. "I don't think I ever will," I whispered into the dark.

I unlocked the door and turned the handle.

Seconds later, I had a gun pointed at the shadow sitting in the chair near the bed.

"Put the gun away and turn on the light, Shinji," the shadow said.

I chose to follow the second order but kept the Glock facing the chair. My father was visibly less than amused. 

“I don’t want to know how you got here,” I quietly spoke, “and I don’t have any particular joy in seeing you. So there had better be a good reason for this or I’m going to throw you out of this room, one way or another.”

“Put the gun away first.”

 “Nope. I’m the one giving orders now. Give me a good reason why you’re here.”

 “I want an update on your mission.” He continued to glare at me.

 “That’s it? You couldn’t have waited for a fucking phone call like a normal human being?”

 “I want an update on your mission.”

 I gave up. Holstering the gun, I fished the note that Kira wrote for him out of my jacket pocket and handed it over before collapsing into the other chair. “I tried.”

 He looked at me for a moment, then opened the note. All was silent as he read. Finally, he looked back up at me, his expression unchanged. “She has allies?”

 “At least two others.”

 “Armed?”

 “Yes.”

 Once again, he was silent for a while, then he crumpled the note in his fist. “I will assign every man I can spare to you and you will resume your mission in the morning. Is that clear?”

 “No,” I growled.

 “That is an order, Shinji.”

 I raised my head to look at him, my face burning with hatred. “Fuck your orders, fuck this mission, and most importantly, fuck you. I’m done.”

 “You are done when I tell you that you are done!”

 “I have seen enough death and misery the last few days to last me a hell of a lot of lifetimes.” I stood up, still glowering at him. “I’m going home to my fiancee, we’re going to get married, and you are going to leave us the fuck alone. If you don’t like it, then you can suck my dick.”

He seemed unmoved. “Do you realize how much of a living hell I can make things for you? I’m sure that there would be a fine price on your head, not to mention how much interest the federal government would have in putting you away for the rest of your life. I have that much control over you, Shinji.”

 I snorted. “You don’t have shit. Those people would put a much higher value on putting a bullet in your head, not mine. And the feds? Please. I’d be cutting a deal first chance I got and would sell you up the river. I go down, I’m taking you with me. And if you go down, you’ll never see the light of day ever again.” 

“You don’t get to threaten me, Shinji,” he replied, but his voice shook ever so slightly.

 Got you, you old bastard.

“I don’t? I’m the one who currently has your balls in a vise. I’m going home tomorrow, and if you make one move to stop me, or if you try to do anything to hurt Asuka, I will find out and I will deal accordingly. I’ve learned how to kill thanks to you, and I’d rather not have to use what I’ve learned but if you insist on leaving me no choice, well, Gendo Ikari isn’t going to look so tough after all, is he?”

There was no reply for a time, then he stood up. “All payments made to you prior to this point will be honored. Your obligations towards NERV are terminated effective immediately.” He walked to the door, then paused to face me one final time. “Although I know you’ll come crawling back. It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ it’s ‘when.’” 

“No,” I retorted, shaking my head. “It’s a matter of ‘never.’ Now get out.” 

Without answering or looking back, he exited my hotel room and my life. I closed and locked the door behind him, finally feeling free to smile. 

I walked over to the bed and collapsed, turning my head towards the phone. I had already gone through with part of what I told Kira I would do, and now I just needed to finish the job. I reached for the phone, but then stopped and pulled out Kira’s note for me. Sighing, I mustered up the strength to read it one more time.

In the end, I had to admit that I shared her feelings. I would not soon forget her ferocity in combat, nor her determination to keep me from destroying myself for someone I barely knew, nor the one night of unrestrained passion that gave us both a few moments of happiness, no matter how fleeting they were. And while my heart would always belong to Asuka….

“Someday,” I whispered to the ceiling, wondering if the words could carry through the night to someone far away. “Someday.”

Turning over, I picked up the phone and dialed.For a few seconds, there was just a dial tone, then a voice I had long missed spoke. “Ikari residence, Asuka The Great speaking.”

“Asuka, I’m coming home.”



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