“Er… what is it?” Arana asked, peering around Svorak’s larger form to stare at her sister on the doorstep.
The blonde was frowning irritably. “It was on my apartment welcome mat when I woke up this morning. Addressed to you,” she snarled, and held the thing up by the scruff of its neck.
Arana blinked. “It’s a dog.” A puppy, in fact.
“I know it’s a dog! Take it already! It’s creepy!”
“I’m not touching that, it’s enchanted,” Arana retorted. “… with another tracking spell. What, does he think I’m new?”
Rolling his eyes, the African man looked back at Lady. “Will anything happen if I touch it?”
“Probably not,” she replied, less than comfortingly.
He sighed and reached out. The dog yipped once at the transfer and wriggled around until it was curled in Svorak’s arms. Then it licked him under the chin.
Snickering, Arana backed up a few feet. “That’s so cute!” she chirped.
Lucy made a face. “It’s sickening! It has fur!”
A voice from inside the house had the ex-soldier turning and Arana inching further back. “Yes, yes. We can do that… No, I understand. However, you’re saying that we need to be there for a birthday party?” Christoph glanced up once and his eyes caught sight of the fluffyblond bundle of fur in her partner’s arms. “Hmm? No. I think I have just the thing… Let me confirm first.”
The chemist raised both brows. “Does the dog belong to anyone?” he asked the crowd at the entrance.
“Uhg,” Lucy replied, shuddering. “I’m going home. Bye.” She made a face and stalked off toward the beat up yellow sedan parked on the street.
Arana beamed at Christoph. “Nope! I just have to remove the tracking spell, and it’s all yours!”
‘Tracking?’ the tall man mouthed back to her in concern, then shook his head and spoke into the phone again. “Are you alright with a dog, Andrew?” He turned away, heading for the kitchen.
Michele Masters was allowed to plan her own party. Which, of course, meant that there were no clowns, mimes, jesters, comedians, actors, actresses (ignoring, mind, the guests attending the party), or any other sort of entertainer. Instead, she had a ball pit, a water-slide contraption that was approximately fifty feet long, catering from her favorite restaurant Golden Corral, and… horses.
Not ponies. Michele Masters scoffed at the word pony. She rode real horses.
Luckily throughout the planning of said party Trisha Masters, the girl’s mother, managed to divert her daughter’s attention away from copious amounts of pink. Everyone still had nightmares about the last year.
However, all of this, the fun, the rides, the people, was forgotten the moment she finally realized who the day’s bodyguards were. There was an excited yell, followed by a blur, and Christoph was nearly catapulted off his feet by the birthday girl herself.
“Mister Baba!” she yelled excitedly, arms wrapped around his hips. She quickly dropped to her feet and grinned happily up at him (and up, and up). “You’re here! Oh, daddy said so! I’m so glad!”
Ignoring the snickering that his partner was emitting, the blond smiled at her. “Yes, I’m here today. How is your party going?”
“And I’m off to pound some asses,” Svorak’s cheerful voice sounded in his earpiece. The mercenary was already walking out through the garden gate, heading towards the now battered area next to the maze. The man raised one arm in a lazy wave and disappeared around the corner as Christoph glanced back.
“It’s going good!” Michele chirped. “I made a new friend! She moved into the trailer park down the hill!” She grinned so hard it was a wonder it didn’t hurt.
The girl was prevented from saying anything further by the approach of her young brunette mother. “Michele!” the woman scolded, a faint frown on her face. “You can’t just go running at people like that! You gave James a heart attack!”
Thoroughly chastised, Michele scuffed the toe of her shoe against the grass, looking down with a pout. “Sorry, mommy…”
“Ma’am,” the blond bodyguard nodded. He waited until her brown eyes met his. “Anything I should be aware of today?”
Trisha sighed softly, shaking her head. Though it wasn’t a no, as there was a thoughtful expression on her face. “Just… keep close to her. She got into the coffee this morning and has been bouncing around since. And I don’t personally know everyone here… A lot of them are Andrew’s associates, or guests of his associates… And a little girl who wandered over from down the hill…” She waved a fine-boned hand in the general direction of a huddle of children trying to get into the ball pit.
“Other than that, nothing I can think of. It’s an event, so obviously everyone should be watched… Andrew will be by a bit later to go over anything I’ve missed. Did you need anything? The nanny will be by soon, so she’ll be taking care of Michele…”
Observing the vibrating child at his side, Christoph huffed out a laugh. This was going to be interesting. “Could you point out the people who you do know and trust? I’ll work around that.”
The thin woman laughed softly. “There are many that I know, and very few that I trust. I don’t even trust half the staff. Still. There’s James.” She turned and pointed out a black-haired, light eyed teenage boy lingering near the buffet table chatting with a group of older adults. “He’s my adopted son. And there is of course Andrew, and over there, the woman in yellow is a dear friend of mine that I’ve known since high school…” She listed off three more people before heaving a sigh and turning her gaze back to him. “That’s about it.”
Beside the bodyguard, the child was fidgeting and eying a blonde amongst the other children. The blonde was peering back at them curiously, and smiled when she caught the brunette’s gaze. “Can I go play?”
Shifting his gaze from daughter to mother, the chemist wasn’t sure who Michele was asking. So he waited.
Trisha smiled slightly. “I suppose that’s everything. If you need anything, let myself, James or Andrew know.” She held out her arms to Michele. “Give me a hug first, then you can go.”
The miniature version of Trisha cheered and threw herself at her mother, hugging her, and even giving her a peck on the mouth before grabbing Christoph’s hand and beaming at him. “Let’s go! I wanna introduce you to Audrey!”
Before his mind’s eye, the blond could see the day unravel before him… being pulled from friend to friend, a gambit of introductions and awkward meetings.
“Just a few things, Miss Michele,” he said, even as he walked forward with her. Gently, he retracted his fingers from her warm hand. “I need my hands free.” If he was going to be in the crowd, he definitely wanted to be able to move.
“Okay!” she chirped sweetly, and slowed slightly so that he could keep up. Not that he needed it.
The blonde she’d been eying detached from the rest and hurried out to meet them, throwing her arms around Michele. “Hello!” she chirped happily. “You remember me right?”
“Of course, silly!” Michele said. “You’re Audrey!”
“Yes!” Audrey beamed. “This is the coolest party I’ve ever seen! I don’t get stuff like this at my birthday parties!”
Giggling, the heiress shook her head. “This is special. Cause it’s my sixth birthday!” She grabbed Audrey and dragged her over to Christoph. “Audrey! This is my bodyguard! His name is Baba!”
The look he received was skeptical. “Who names their kid ‘Baba’?” the blonde asked, disbelief written all over her face.
The taller blond looked down, amusement written across his lean face. “No one.”
“So it’s not your real name?” she asked shrewdly.
A slim eyebrow rose. “Oh, it’s mine. I earned it.” He was beginning to see why Svorak muttered about small children. They loved to ask questions. “Maybe, it’s more like a title.”
Grey-green eyes blinked up at him. “Oooh. Okay. Like the kids in my old trailer park!” she said, catching on with the logic of a six year old. “They called me ‘Terror’.”
Michele gave her a wide-eyed look. “Why?”
“I beat ‘em up.”
Another crack of the weapon in his hand and the target boasted another hole. Off center. Mengyao hissed. So off-center that he could see the difference from two hundred feet away. Fuck!
He could blame his poor aim on the wavering at the edges of his vision, but he knew that was a sad excuse. A single night without sleeping should not affect his shooting.
Taking a breath, the gunman pointed the muzzle down the track and let his focus narrow. The heatwave-like distortion in his peripheral faded into the background where it was meant to be. Another breath in and he settled his shoulders, body falling into the old familiar stance.
Mengyao let his vision tunnel and the bullseye became his world. He emptied his lungs in a single long controlled breath and squeezed. Then swore as the paper on the far side of the building fluttered. The bullet had torn through the lower right corner.
“Son of a monkey-turd’s whore!” He had given up on English hours ago.
Snarling, the Triad thumbed the safety on and shoved the firearm into the holster at his back. He didn’t bother to look at the guard by the door and stalked out of the shooting range. If he stayed around and the young guard even dared to snicker, there would be holes in something that would bleed.
Unknown to the furious Chinese man, the guard was in awe. Well after the heir had stormed off, the young man slipped over to the section where Li had stood.
‘Incredible,’ the guard would later tell his peers over drinks. Even with anger visibly affecting him, Master Li had hit the marks. Bullet after bullet had sailed through the exact same hole, dead center. And bashfully, the young man would bring out the bullseye to show his stunned co-workers.
Master Li was definitely a crack shot. Wonder what had him so riled? Who knew…
“-can’t be cut off, and before you ask, cutting off my arm won’t work either, Medic, so stop thinking it,” Arana was drawling when Svorak and Christoph returned. She looked up at the opening of the door, and blinked.
Beside her, Drai’s mouth shut with a snap, and his face went into the default non-expression. After a beat had passed, he managed a slightly off-sounding, “Is that cake?” His eyes were glued to Christoph’s hair.
The taller man was indeed ‘glazed’ in sugar, from his wavy golden locks down the left side of his beige pant leg and smeared into his worn leather shoes. His partner was wearing a grin a mile wide; Christoph was smiling. A little. It wasn’t lost on anyone that Svorak was keeping out of arm’s reach from the blond.
Actually, the European smelled like sugar, the African smelled like a gym and mulch.
The brunette blinked at them for a moment. “She liked the dog, I take it?” she asked. She jumped when Medic jerked at something shiny on her wrist, and glared at him. “I told you, it’s stuck! Knock it off!”
Both men at the door snapped their attention down to where Medic was using heavy pliers to hold down something copper and disc like. “Jewelry, Lady?” Christoph asked doubtfully seeing the gaudy bright bracelet.
“You don’t seem the type,” his partner added, noting the way the doctor was trying to twist the links apart.
“OW!” She swiped at the doctor, who ducked. “You pinched me! And of course I’m not the type!”
“Blackie finally got her,” Drai explained succinctly.
Dual smells of sugar and sweat rolled through the air as the Boys immediately crowded around her wrist. “Same issue?” Svorak asked as Christoph narrowed his eyes on the metal musing, “If we angle it, I have a corrosive that would work on copper…”
Medic’s eyes widened as he turned to the blond the same time that the blue-eyed merc reached back and poked his partner in temple. “No!” came from both shorter men.
“It wouldn’t work anyway,” Arana inserted. “It’s magically bound to me.” She heaved a sigh. “Damn that boy is crafty.” A pause. “And ridiculously patient for one so young…”
Drai’s brows lifted. “Is that… are you impressed?”
“What? No!” she replied, a bit too quickly.
Chastened, the chemist backed away, crumbling bits of cake falling to the pristine floor as he held up his hands. Hoping to divert the two glares levelled on him, he turned to Arana. “If the bangle is permanent, what about the tracking spell?”
A corner of her mouth lifted in an arrogant smirk. “I already dealt with that,” she replied smugly. Drai just rolled his eyes.
Christoph blinked. Svorak glanced down at Medic. Medic huffed and tossed the pliers into the toolbox at his feet.
“Whiskey?” Medic snorted and nodded at the African merc’s suggestion as the two left the room. The blond that followed behind shook his head. “Shower, then brandy.”
There was a low growl from the short doctor as they rounded the bend in the hall. “Don’t forget to clean your crumbs up. Don’t want rats.”
Arana hummed thoughtfully, lifting her arm and twisting it this way and that to survey the bracelet. “I dunno… kind of suits me, I think. Nice and old. Mayan, I think.” She smiled sweetly at Drai. “I should send a thank you gift, don’t you think?”
Perfect teeth flashed at her. “Whaddya need?”
Well after the businessmen and women had left the downtown core, when the streets were calm, the coffee shops were nearly empty. These were the empty hours when listless employees were kept through the hours in the hopes of a random customer walking in through the doors.
Mengyao was looking for a certain coffee shop. For some reason or another, he just couldn’t remember where it was. The streets didn’t look right no matter how many times Jin told him that they were going in the correct direction. How would Jin know? Mengyao had never been to the shop before, so why would his bodyguard?
On that note, why did he have a vague memory of how the route should have been if he had never been there? In any case, the awnings on the Italian deli should have been green, not purple. The fire hydrant was on the wrong side of the street. The doors to the bank should have been doubles instead of a single metal sheet.
“You’re going the wrong way,” he ground out for the fourteenth time.
Jin only shook his head, slowing down in front of coffee shop with bold black lettering and a grey awning. The seats inside with matte black in a bizarre new age fashion. But strangely, the Triad heir remembered white lettering. And bright cheerful vinyl seats.
“This is the place you usually go, Master Li,” the old guard insisted. Maybe it was time to retire the senile bastard.
Scoffing, he glanced at the staff inside, who were dawdling over counters and swiping at gleaming black tables. One girl turned to look at the clock. Mengyao narrowed his eyes, sneering. She looked like one of his annoying cousins.
“Let’s just go home. I don’t feel like arguing with you anymore.”
The car pulled away as Jin frowned and looked back at the cafe, with its simple white lettering on the windows and the signature red awning that shone in the sun.
Kai stretched his arms above his head as he wandered from his room, yawning. “Erik?” he mumbled, entering the kitchen. And he froze.
“Heyyy, kiddo,” the familiar woman drawled.
Beside her, Erik perked. “Hey, I made breakfast. And when the heck did you meet a babe like this?”
Oh that dirty, cheating shofu.
The woman winked at him. “We met at the market,” she said sweetly. “Saaay, Erik, can we have a moment?” She tossed dark hair over her shoulder.
Erik’s brows lifted, and he looked at Kai in a manner that clearly said, What about Syd? But he thankfully didn’t push it, shrugged and left for the bathroom.
“You know, I recognized those eyes. And that’s cheating,” Kai said, frowning at the doll.
Brown eyes crinkled in amusement, even as the replica of Arana bared her teeth at him. “So is the bracelet.”
“I noticed the tracking spell is gone,” he shot back.
“Child’s play.” She waved a hand dismissively. “Anyway, my life is short. But I just have one message for you anyway, so that’s fine.”
Dark eyes narrowed at the woman who mimicked his girlfriend’s gaze. “Yeah? What’s the message.”
Surprisingly, she laughed. “Thought you’d say that.” She stood, closing her eyes. The color faded from her skin as she shrunk down, finally reaching the height of about a Barbie Doll. Only made of white clay. And she started to glow.
“Shit!” Kai yelped, right before the magical backlash flared through the apartment. Blinding him.
Three minutes later, Erik hurried into the room. “Woah, Kai, you okay?” he asked, stepping over to his roommate.
“Yeah, just…” Kai grimaced. Blinded. He really hoped she’d made it temporary, or he was officially fucked. What could he tell Erik? “Lady’s a… she likes pranks.”
Erik’s brows shot up as he helped the smaller male to a stool. “Yeah… dude, your eyes are kinda… unfocused. And white. Are you alright? Should we go to the-”
“NO!” Kai yelped, startling the other boy. “No… It’s just temporary. Don’t worry about it. She’s just an old friend with a creepy sense of humor. Just… don’t tell Syd, okay?” He could feel the calculation from where he sat, and grimaced. “I’ll give you twenty bucks to keep quiet about it to Syd. I don’t want her to worry.”
Erik was already going through his wallet. “Deal.”
Oh no. He was completely within his rights to kill this one. The knife tip at the servant’s throat dug in as the fat man whimpered.
“He didn’t do it,” Jin repeated a few feet away. His bodyguard was holding the phone, the blank screen held out for him to see. Shiny, black, blank. Gone.
“Fuck you,” Mengyao snarled. “I know I had pictures of her in there. And I left it in the dining room. When I came back, this ass handed it to me with a smile. Would have walked away if I hadn’t checked.”
“Master Li,” Jin flipped the phone around again and tapped a few buttons. Then he held it out again. “The pictures are still there. There’s even the video of her.”
He glanced over, faint hope glimmering, but the screen was still blank. All his momentos. His only proof she existed. Gone.
“Are you fucking retarded, Jin?” The knife slid a fraction of an inch and the blood began to drip down. “All I see is a black screen!”
Startled, the old man took a look himself. The frown that he wore warped into something that Mengyao couldn’t decipher. Maybe the aged brain in there was working. See?!
“It’s just a black screen,” Jin repeated slowly, dark brown eyes lifting from the blank unresponsive–empty–screen to Mengyao’s gaze.
“Yes!” The picture of her in the red and gold dress had been his background. The video of her scowling at the same party had been the only video saved. A modest gallery of perhaps two dozen pictures… All deleted.
The old guard moved a step closer. “Maybe… maybe it’s out of batteries, Master Li.”
You idiot! “You think I didn’t think of that? I checked the battery life; it’s fine! There’s no way it could just lose that gallery!”
The blubbering idiot whimpered out something snivelling in Mandarin.
“Shut up!” Mengyao snarled into the servant’s face as he ripped the blade through that quivering throat.
The hall was silent and dark as the Triad heir stalked down the grey carpet, away from the spill of crimson. Later he would wonder why the coward’s blood would be the only colour he could remember all day.
The brunette hummed as she swept into their current base, swinging the grocery sack in her hand idly. Drai watched her walk right past him, and blinked. “Eh?” He followed her to the kitchen, where she proceeded to put up the ice cream and milk she had bought. “Arana?”
“Mm?” She paused, turning her head to glance at him. “Yes?”
“… are you… humming?”
Brown eyes blinked at him blankly. “Erm. No?”
“You were,” Drai said, almost accusingly.
“I don’t remember humming,” she replied flatly. They both looked at the single male sitting at the table, pointedly.
Which did them no good. Wolf tugged off his massive headphones, blinking at them from the depths of the large cotton hood. “What?”
“I wasn’t,” Arana said, dismissing him entirely.
“You were!” Drai persisted, following the woman as she left the room.
They walked into the living room, where Christoph was fussing with something off in the corner, and Svorak was channel-surfing. Arana plopped down on the couch by Svorak, frowning. “No. I wasn’t. I would know if I was humming, Drai Nehn.”
The ex-army man raised a brow at the two before handing the remote to the woman and walking over to his lover. There were a few quiet words and a yelp from the shorter man.
“Please don’t touch the beakers in the back,” the blond cautioned the Arab and to Lady, “Please don’t look at the beakers in the back.” He smiled and waved as the two men disappeared into the hall.
“Oh don’t pull out the full name,” he groused. “Why are you so happy?”
She paused, grinned, stifled it, grinned again. “It worked.”
“Oh.” Drai blinked at her for a moment. “Wait. What?”
There was the sharp sound of a palm slapping against a forehead before she got up, threw the remote at him and stalked off. Drai fumbled for the plastic, then dropped it entirely. “What!? Arana!”
There was the sudden and final click of her bedroom door out of sight, and he pouted. “What did I say?!”
Arana blinked at the duo in her doorway. “Um.”
Two sets of white teeth flashed, before Lucy lunged forward and latched onto her arm. She beamed. “Arana. I love you.”
“No.” There was no thought wasted on the answer, no hesitation. “Whatever it is, no.”
Shinji pouted. “Told you!” he hissed at his blonde companion.
Blue eyes rolled in exasperation. “Shut up and listen. We need a few bucks-”
“Don’t you have money?” Arana asked, brows lifting at the odd request.
The other two exchanged a look, and Shinji shrugged at Lucy as if to say, She’s your sister. Lucy pursed her lips at him irritably, before returning her attention to her sister. “Amaya handles my funds. Shinji’s out of cash.” She beamed. “We’re out of pixie sticks.”
“No.” Arana shook her sister off her arm, and slammed the door shut in their faces. And bolted it.
There was a pregnant pause on the other line and Mengyao nearly threw the address book across the room in his impatience.
“Mr. Li.” The blond’s tone was neutral. He could work with that.
He spun on his heel, leaned against the wall by the fireplace. The room was windowless. No fear of snipers. “Look, I know what you’re thinking, but just hear me out.”
“Ruby isn’t available for jobs regarding you.”
In twelve strides, he could cross the length of the room. Look at that. He was by the door now. “Not a job,” he placated. “A meeting?”
There was a sigh on the other side. Mengyao fingered the tassels of a tapestry. “She is not available for dates, Li.”
“Not a date,” the Triad insisted. It took only seven long steps to reach other wall and its monochrome patterns. “I just… Baba, I just want to see her. It’s been months…”
Baba didn’t answer right away. Mengyao found himself by the cold fireplace again. When had they refinished the mantle in black marble? “Mr. Li,” the blond said cautiously. “It has been months, yes. That shouldn’t matter. She isn’t yours.”
“I know that!” he burst out, pivoting with lethal grace and stalking back to the first tapestry… Was it always tarnished grey thread and murky blacks? The tassels were shedding inky strands in his hands. Worthless old stuff. “Can… Can I just talk to her at least? Talking should be fine, Baba, even if all she does is yell ‘No’ from across the room.”
It was beneath him, but for her voice, Mengyao didn’t care. “Please, Baba? Put her on the phone?”
The aggravating mercenary took his time to decide. By the time the man finally gave him an answer, the Triad had counted the steps it had taken to pace the perimeter of the room. In a variety of stride lengths.
“Fine, Mr. Li.”
“Baba!” Yes! Mengyao grinned and spun on the spot, his leather shoes easily sliding on the grey carpet. “Thank you!”
He could almost imagine the way the blond was shaking his head on the other side of the line. “Give me a few seconds. I’ll be right back with her.” And then the merc hit the mute button.
But the Chinese man was too ecstatic to care. Since he had lost the pictures last week, time had crawled to an agonizing stillness. Nothing mattered. Nothing made him happy. Food, women, tobacco, even opium. Fuck everything. Everything, anything, but this. Ruby.
If it were possible, he probably would have been physically bouncing off the walls as the saying was.
And then Baba was back on the phone. “Okay Mr. Li. She’s agreed to five minutes. Not a minimum. Don’t give her a reason to cut it short.” The blond didn’t have to warn him twice!
“My word,” Mengyao breathed. “Now give her the phone.”
There was a tense silence. The Triad had even stopped pacing, standing still in the center of the ebony-stained wood-paneled room.
“Hello Li,” a female voice rang over the phone. Tone full of repressed irritation and tired resignation.
Black brows snapped down. “Who is this?” he demanded. This wasn’t… “Where is Ruby?”
There was a snarl on the phone. “It is me, you idiot. What? You called me up just to–”
“YOU ARE NOT HER!” he roared, cutting off the harpy pretending to be the woman he had been dreaming of for nearly half a year. “Fuck this! Put Ruby on the phone!”
“Fuck you!” the bitch screamed back. “You couldn’t leave me alone could you?”
The whore hissed and spit, but Mengyao wasn’t paying attention. What did Ruby’s voice sound like? Was it low? Was it pure? Smooth? Husky? He didn’t know. He couldn’t remember…
“You’re not her,” he repeated one more time, in a whisper so broken that the woman on the line swallowed her words.
There were no windows in this room. Was that why there was no light? Mengyao turned off the phone and bowed his head. Did it matter?
No… It didn’t. And the blackness swelled up and swallowed him whole. The Triad heir sighed, and closed his eyes.
Outside, Jin knocked on the door. “Master Li?” There had been yelling and pleading. The pride that old bodyguard had for the family cringed at the begging, but in his charge’s case, perhaps a breakdown was what the young man needed. “Sir?” He knocked again.
To his relief, the door opened and Li regarded him. “Jin.” His eyes swept over the hall beyond the guard, and he drew a slow, thoughtful breath through his nose. “I want caviar.”
The heir looked… more composed than he had been all month. The breakdown was definitely a good thing. Jin nodded and then blinked. Caviar? That was new. “Sure, sir. I’ll ask the kitchen. Where do you want it?”
“Hm.” Li waved him out of the way in a gracefully careless gesture he’d never quite used before. It wasn’t inconceivable. Just… new. “At the table.” He smiled faintly. “And perhaps I’ll have a… coffee… Yes.”
He’d only gotten three steps down the hall when the phone still in his hand went off. He stopped and blinked at it. “Oh.” The smile grew on his face, and he hit the send, putting it to his ear. “Baba. Hello. Can I help you?”
“What was that?” the blond asked flat-out. “I ask you not to aggravate her and you start a screaming match four seconds in?”
The Triad heir hummed slowly, and started walking again. “I did, didn’t I? That was awful rude of me. I do apologize. Please tell Miss Ruby that I will cease to bother her.” For now. “No hard feelings, I hope.”
“… Who is this?”
The walking, talking relic shivered with delight. “Who, me? You know who I am! I’m the pest that’s been stalking your little girl for months. I could prove it. Would Mandarin do?”
“That won’t be necessary,” Baba replied smoothly. “Thank you, Mr. Li, for your understanding. I will tell Ruby she doesn’t have anything to worry about. Have a good day.”
“You too!” Li chirped, already halfway down the stairs. “Later~” And he hit ‘end’, stifling an excited giggle. He paused and turned, brows lifting as he spied his bodyguard standing on the top of the stairs. Frowning. Dark eyes narrowed. “We’re going downstairs now. Don’t fall behind.”
The four mercenaries gathered around the speakerphone looked up as the blond walked back into the kitchen. Wolf quietly thumbed off the mute button before wrapping his arms back around the tiny sniper in his lap.
“What the fuck was that?” Medic growled out from where he leaned against the counter.
Christoph shook his head, but Ruby spoke first. “He… he has Li’s voice.”
“And his phone,” Svorak added, rubbing a hand over his eyes.
“Knows Mandarin,” Simon recalled, but blinked when the only Asian there sniffed.
The blond took a seat copying his partner’s actions. “And Jin isn’t hitting the alarm.”
“And?” demanded the stocky doctor.
Sighing, the tall pale man met Ruby’s gaze. “Not. Our. Problem.”
Her red eyes fell off to the side as she nodded. Political upheavals within the Triad happened. If the faction had an imposter, it just meant one more face to get used to. Or in this case, the same face, new personality.
Master Li Mengyao had apparently been disposed of.
A/N: For those holding up knives, I feel the same way.
For those cracking open champagne… Yeah, I understand that too.
This was in the plans for a long time. And then it happened. And I’m sad. But I got over it!
And then cheated on WordPress and posted it on Ao3 first.