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Rukia Kurosaki

Silence- Chapter Two- Welcome to Crooked House

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The stoplight they had been sitting at flickered to green, and Tooru rephrased his last sentence as he stepped lightly on the gas pedal. "I'm sorry, Amontillado. Akai has truly disappeared this time."


Erru rolled her eyes at Amuro's words. "Haha, very funny. We're done faking his death, you know. Shuu-chan just came out of hiding."


"And now he's missing. Phone disconnected, no trace of his leaving the country, no clue to where he's gone." Bourbon gave his former enemy an apologetic glance. She frowned back at him and grumbled, "Keep your eyes on the road." Staring out the window at the sunny morning that she now envied, she added, "He and Sera might as well be my siblings... I can't tell her about this, and we're going to find him, right?"

"No." With a sigh, Bourbon pulled into a parking space in front of the Hastings Hotel, taking out the key and tossing it to Erru. "This goes in locker 110 inside. Get the room key for number 4869. Inside the room will be instructions on how you are to assume your new identity and what to do once you're ready, and a place to store your belongings. We will be entering the Crooked House separately, to detract attention from our work. I know you've just been cleared to begin service again, but if you aren't ready, you can step out."


"What are you saying?!" Erru snapped, glaring at her superior. "We're just going to dismiss this, let Shuu disappear and carry on with this stupid mission!? Are you still upset about the freaking Akemi issue or what!? This is why I hated working for Gin!"
"I am NOTHING like Gin!"


"You're right! HE at least would have found out if Akai was alive!" She flung the car door open, shouting the last words as she stomped out and slammed it behind her. Without waiting for his reaction she stormed inside, not looking back.

Left alone in the hollowness of his car and thoughts, Amuro sighed and watched her walk away, satisfied with her reaction. Flipping open his phone, he fired a text to Akai's new number. "I know you said you have to do this, but she is already upset. We're initiating our work tonight. I'll see you at the fall of the Crooked House, Rye." He deleted the text and number from his phone, already having memorized it, in case Erru or one of the House got ahold of his cell. Another sigh dying on his lips, he opened the driver's door and climbed out of his car, taking the key to his room and looking up at the hotel. On the fourth floor, one of the curtains was open and a figure was looking out. With a knowing smile he waved, chuckling as that curtain was violently shut. "Guess you don't forgive me yet, Amontillado..."


Up in her hotel room, Erru glared at the drawn red curtains she stood before, arms crossed and frown plastered on. "How dare that stupid jerk act like it's unimportant! Shuu-chan's totally- maybe... not worth the lives we'll save... I'm sure he's safe..." Now annoyed at her own logic, she scowled at the bag of gear she'd been supplied with. A box of black hair dye, scissors, a few kinds of colored contacts, mask and makeup equipment, and instructions on how to tape down a chest for a disguise made up the kit. She threw out the contacts and makeup, which Bourbon should have known irritated her, and picked up the chest-binder. "I am NOT dressing as a guy! How cliche can you get?! If I did that, Bourbon'd have to cross-dress too!" Fuming, she studied herself in the mirror. Sure, her bright red hair was pretty flashy, but she wasn't about to cut off her signature spikes and pretend to be a teenage boy. "Not a chance," Erru grumbled, studying the instructions on the box of dye.


An hour later, a teen boy named Fino left his key at the desk and headed out, dressed in a starched collared shirt and blue jeans. When asked twenty minutes later about the visitor, the receptionist remembered him as a warm, friendly boy with straight, jet black hair and glasses who was eager to hear about the city's attractions. But the most striking things about him were his voice, which was clean and almost feminine, and his light blue-grey eyes. She described his appearance to the person who'd been asking about the latest check-ins, an older man with long silver hair who said he was looking for his runaway daughter, Erru. The woman, Kategawa Yuriko, mentioned having seen the girl he described checking in to the same room that Fino had left. "You don't think they've eloped, do you?" she asked, concerned for the man and the teenagers alike.


With a smirk he shook his head, his icy eyes fixed on the number of the room key that had been most recently returned.


4869? So obvious, Amontillado. He gave Yuriko a light smile, replying, "They're just very closely related."


Across town, in a small apartment building next to a convenience store, a group of older teens and adults was gathered in the common room. Three beige leather couches and a green cloth love-seat sat around a large coffee table that housed an ash tray, several stacks of magazines, a backpack, a pair of pistols, and two boxes of latex gloves. "The Crooked House is about to welcome a pair of newcomers into our home." A tall boy who obviously thought he was in charge was glowering at a laid back older member, who was smoking and ignoring his superior's announcement. "This is a non-smoking suite, Futari!"


"Chill out, Kusakabe. It ain't like the owner's comin' back, man." Futari, a brown-haired man in his early twenties, put out his cigarette with an annoyed frown and crossed his arms over his chest. "So who do we have comin' over today? A pair of newbie recruits, huh?"


"Yes. One is a kid still in high school, interested in detective-type junk, who wants to see what our side of the law is like."


Futari frowned and shook his head. "Sounds like he won't last long. He hasn't even dropped out, sounds too straight arrow."


"I agree. He'll probably have to be dismissed once he gets his first taste of a heist or the assassination assignments." Kusakabe looked around at the others gathered around the couches and table, giving a grin. "The second applicant's a woman with a rap sheet. Says she came to Japan and gave the cops a run for their money in a feigned death back in Europe."


A couple of the older House members looked interested. They'd pulled off some robberies, but nothing so big that they'd need to disappear like that. Chizuru, the leader of their east faction, smiled. "It's about time we had another woman join up. What's her name?"

Kusakabe returned the smile, shrugging. "We don't discuss those details over the phone, Chizu. She goes by a pseudonym, though." His walkie-talkie crackled and a voice came over the station.


"Sir, a Poire Williams is here to see you?" The member who'd been stationed at the front entrance had let in their new recruit.


With a grin, Kusakabe held his walkie-talkie to his mouth, replying, "Show her in, Kazuya."


Heeled footsteps echoed along the wooden floor as around the corner came Poire. A tall, thin woman who appeared to be around 30, she was tan, had bleach-blonde hair, and wore a little too much makeup. Either she was having a bad week in the fashion department, or her disguise skills were below par for the whole feigned death issue... Her blue eyes lit up as she shook hands with Kusakabe, who smiled and greeted her with a warm, "Welcome to Crooked House, Miss Williams."


Her smile turned into a smirk as her phone vibrated in her pocket, announcing the arrival of the text she'd been anticipating all day. Excusing herself from the circle of criminals with a bright wave, she flipped open her phone to read the message.


"See you there, Bourbon."

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