Blurring The Lines Chapter 2

“All I’m saying is you could attempt to be nicer to him.” Alec clung to the side of the lap pool and let the water carry his body.

Toshi was across the room, doing his best to ignore the continuing lecture as he finished his morning run. “Alec.”

“I mean, come on, he’s been here for two weeks and you’ve said maybe a dozen words to him.”

“A dozen would be generous.” He mumbled and kept his focus on his pace and not on his best friend.

“Would it kill you to be a little more civil? He’s a good man.”

“Is he good at his job?”

“He’s already worked through two years of back logged information, profiled twenty four serious threats and filed a report agreeing with you that the man that attacked you last month was working alone. Yeah, he’s good at his job.”

“That’s all that matters. You and father got what you wanted, I don’t have to like it.”

“Has he been such an intrusion?”

Toshi ran on. He couldn’t really debate the other man’s presence, like all things, Alec had done his job amazingly well. The newest member of their staff was quiet, kept to himself and was rarely ever seen. He worked and than retired to his rooms. The changes he’d installed to the penthouse and building security were logical and efficient. Toshi could find nothing concrete to complain about other than the fact that another one of his few luxuries, his privacy, had again eroded away.

“No, he’s caused little fuss.”

“But you’re still going to treat him like he doesn’t exist.”

Toshi hit the off button and stopped the treadmill. “What? What do you want from me? He’s here, I’ve agreed to everything you’ve wanted. You aren’t going to guilt me into being nice to him.” He snapped before heading out the door, disappointed that the well balanced hinges in the apartment didn’t allow for them to be slammed.

Alec released the side of the pool and turned up the current. Toshi only got snippy when he was loosing a fight. It was a good sign.

 

It was more a sense of movement, not something Mick actually saw, that made him glance up from his computer screen. It was late, Alec had left his office hours before but like most nights Mick couldn’t swear just when Toshi had finally left his desk. The man was as silent as a cat and twice as good at fading out of sight. It would have been eerie if Mick wasn’t used to the way I/S naturally moved.

But now he looked up and there, hovering in the half opened door way, was Toshi. It startled him and Mick found himself sitting a little straighter in his chair. Shadows fell on the other’s face and made viewing his expression impossible. The moment lingered, neither man certain enough to speak.

“Can I help you?” Mick finally asked.

Again a long breath of silence stood in the empty apartment.

“You shouldn’t work so late.”

“I just want to make sure everything is secure before tomorrow.”

“It’s just a bank meeting.” There was a slight rustle of fabric where Toshi shifted his weight. “Don’t work too late.” He warned again before fading away from the doorway.

Mick sat in silent distraction, the bank’s blueprints now forgotten. Two weeks with virtually no contact with the man he was supposed to protect and now this. Was Toshi getting used to his presence?  Was he uneasy about venturing out tomorrow? Mick didn’t know enough about the other man to even begin to guess at his motivations. Mysteries and mysterious people required further investigation, further consideration, Mick didn’t like being left guessing.

 

The next morning Mick found himself standing by the door, waiting. He was too well disciplined to do much more than stand and wait but his level of annoyance was rising. It took a force of will to not glance to his watch or shift his weight from foot to foot as the moments slipped away. The only concession he granted himself was a slight readjustment of the suit he wore. It was brand new and cost more than he had been spending on rent a month. Over all, he couldn’t complain about the money spent. He’d be expected to look respectable to accompany Toshi-san on his outings and he’d have to compromise and not sacrifice mobility for style. The suit was worth every penny for how well it fit and still allowed him to do his job.

“I should have warned you.” Alec began as he joined Mick at the door, worn leather satchel and sunglasses in his hands. “Toshi-san is always at least ten minutes late when he has to go out on these errands.”

“That surprises me, he doesn’t seem the sort.”

“Well, he’s not, but when his father sends him out like this he digs his heels in just enough to annoy the people he’s meeting. It’s a touch passive aggressive but who can blame him?”

“I don’t understand.”

Alec only smiled sadly. “The bank manager hates I/S. So, naturally, Mr. Ranvier sends Toshi-san to do his negotiations and to review their paperwork.”

“So he stalls, I see.”

Alec only shrugged and joined in the waiting, only now, Mick didn’t look ready to fidget his way back to his office.

It was almost another five minutes before Toshi finally came down the steps to leave. His face was expressionless but the too large eyes missed nothing and something around his mouth hardened at the sudden reminder of his new bodyguard.

The suit he wore was flawless but Alec still brushed a little lint from the lapel as he handed over the satchel and sunglasses. Toshi shooed at Alec and the entire scene had a look of almost a ritual to Mick.

“The morning figures?”

“Arrived a half hour ago. I’ll have them sorted and on your desk before you get back.” Alec stepped back a little. “Constance Barrington sent another invitation to her upcoming dinner party. It’s a week from Wednesday.”

“Why are you even asking me?” The large blue eyes swung to and studied his assistant.

“Amanda Sentz will be there.”

“I didn’t know she was in town.” The briefest look of interest crossed Toshi’s face,  a glimpsed shadow of concern before he drew a breath. “Even she isn’t worth enduring one more of Constance’s dinner parties.”

“Should I see if she’s free to come by for tea?”

Again the glimpse of interest that quickly faded. “If she was interested in seeing me, she would have let me know she was going to be back in town. This meeting shouldn’t take too long, we’ll be back shortly.”

Mick followed Toshi from the apartment and in silence rode down the elevator. He was very careful to stand slightly behind his employer and to follow him, trying very hard to simply disappear. It left him little to do besides stare at the fall of that impossibly shiny black hair and try to remember where he’d heard the name Amanda Sentz before.

The driver was waiting in the secure parking garage. Mick had reviewed his file. One thing he’d been surprised by was the total care Alec had given to hiring employees at all levels. Mick really did try to find flaws or faults with any of the staff but not only were each highly skilled, they all seemed extraordinarily loyal.

They rode in silence. With traffic they arrived at the bank twenty minutes late but Toshi made no effort to hurry. Mick had never been to the downtown, main branch of the First Merger Finance Savings and Loan but it was appropriately impressive for such a grand old banking firm. The more modern offices were located in larger cities but due to Ranvier’s part ownership and his location, top ranking bank officials were kept on hand locally to personally answer any questions that might arise.

A pretty and charming young woman greeted them at the door. “Good afternoon, Mr. Ranvier, I,” her words simply died as soon as Toshi removed his sunglasses. “My, my name is Angela Torres, if you would please follow me to my office?” Her enthusiasm had faded in her surprise.

If Toshi took offense, he gave no outward sign of it. “Ms. Torres, you must be new to this branch. Please inform Mr. Marsh that I’ll be awaiting him in the conference room.” He ignored her and started toward a room off to the side of the main branch lobby. It was glassed in but the blinds inside were pulled shut.

“But,” The young banker stuttered and moved on her heels to follow. “Mr. Ranvier, Mr. Marsh was pressed for time. He left the office five minutes ago.”

Toshi stopped. By now most of the patrons in the branch had notice him to varying degrees of interest and repulsion. Some outright stared, either at the I/S that moved so freely in their world or because they knew or guessed who he was, it made Mick twitchy.

Toshi ignored them all. He focused on the well dressed woman and literally pinned her in place with a glance. “That, Ms. Torres, would be an unfortunate happenstance. I’ve been approached by four other banking institutions in the last month alone. The only reason we remain here, with you, is because my father is a nostalgic man. His faith in people is a touch old fashioned, I doubt he would be amused to hear our meeting was canceled because Mr. Marsh had more important things to attend to.”

Toshi kept his eyes locked on the now frightened woman a moment longer before sliding them to where Mick stood. “How much time is in my schedule?”

Mick thought quickly. He knew Toshi’s schedule down to the moment but that wasn’t what he was being asked. “I may be able to juggle a few things to free up, say, a half hour to wait.”

The slightest of smiles cracked Toshi’s face but faded before he turned back to the woman. “There, I have a half hour. If Mr. Marsh doesn’t remember his priorities and appear for this meeting, the nature of our relationship may be forced to change. Now, please excuse me, Ms. Torres but I will wait in the conference room.”

She followed after them, snapping her fingers at one of the secretaries as she hurried by. When the two men reached the conference room she paused in the door way. “Can I bring you anything while you wait?”

“Nothing but privacy and you have twenty nine minutes. I suggest you find your boss.” Toshi answered as he sailed into the conference room, leaving Mick to shut the door behind them and directly on Ms. Torres’ face.

“Thank you.”

The words surprised Mick. “You’re welcome.”

“I hate these people.” Toshi sighed, tossing satchel and sunglasses onto the table as he settled into one of the chairs. He absently rubbed at a spot between his eyes where a headache was forming. “So what do you think the odds are of Mr. Marsh showing up in a half hour?”

Mick shrugged. “Better than average. I’d bet he’s in the building.”

“That’d be my guess. Offensive little man. When he finally does turn up, watch when I try to shake his hand. It’s something I always find amusing.”

It took nearly twenty minutes before Mick spotted a man approaching the conference room. Mr. Marsh was pushing sixty with thinning white hair and a sour look. It was obvious his opinions of I/S were dated and steeped in rumors and stories instead of facts.

“Mr. Ranvier.” Mr. Marsh’s eyes glanced at everything but the man he was addressing and glanced to Mick unhappily.

Toshi waited just a half a moment too long to be polite before rising when the banker came into the room.   “Mr. Marsh, I’m pleased you were able to be located.”

Toshi offered his hand. Mick watched as the man recoiled slightly, paused, looked disturbed before forcing himself to accept the offered handshake. Toshi’s expression never changed but Mick had to hide his bitter grin. Mr. Marsh unconsciously wiped his hand along the side of his pants as soon as the contact was broken.

“I’m sorry for the miscommunication earlier. I was under the impression that our meeting had been canceled.” Mr. Marsh had enough ingrained manners to wave vaguely to the seat Toshi had already begun to take before settling himself down across the table.

“I’m certain it was just a misunderstanding. Fortunately, I’m a little more forgiving of such situations than my father.” Toshi began to unbuckle his satchel. “Now, about these quarterly reports, I’ve noticed a few things I wanted to discuss with you.”

“This should be done in private, don’t you think?” Mr. Marsh glanced to where Mick stood silent by the wall.

“This is private. Now, about these figures,”

The unmistakable pop of a gunshot echoed from the main lobby. Following in it’s heels came screams and a great deal of shouting. Mick was instantly at the windows, back pressed to the wall and glancing out behind the blinds without disturbing them. The gun he’d been wearing in the comfortable shoulder holster was out and in his hand. When he glanced back into the room, Mr. Marsh was on his feet but Toshi hadn’t moved.

“I see at least five, masked, armed most likely just a robbery.”

“Just a robbery!” Mr. Marsh sputtered and pushed past Mick.

“Wait!”

Mr. Marsh ignored him and threw open the conference room door. The noise flooded in, a few more gunshots cracked in high pitched threat over the din of human fear. The door swung shut behind Mr. Marsh but Mick watched as the armed men quickly snagged the officer and pulled him aside.

Mick moved quickly to where Toshi sat and started pulling at the tie he wore. “You need to get this off, the jacket too.”

“What?”

“Trust me!” The tie was sliding freely now and Mick quickly shoved it into the satchel, hurrying to re-latch the buckles. He grabbed the jacket from Toshi and threw it into the far corner. “Roll up your sleeves.”
Confused, Toshi obeyed but pulled away as Mick quickly moved to unbutton the top three buttons of his shirt. “What’re you doing?”

“Trust me.” An I/S simply didn’t revel the hollow of their throats unless they were of a very specific sort. “Hurry, roll up your sleeves.” Some of the chaos outside was settling down.

The panic outside their room meant less to Toshi than the hands so close to his throat. He studied Mick for a moment, weighed what he’d learned of the man and knew what he was suggesting. With a quick nod he glanced down and began to roll up his sleeves. He was willing to play along until a hurried hand at his collar accidentally allowed fingertips to graze over the bare skin at the hollow of his throat.

Mick glanced up at Toshi’s hissed intake of breath and the sudden way his body stiffened. The half breed’s breath was now coming in quick, short gasps and when those cold, wide eyes met his own the pupils contracted, dilated, and contracted again. The hollow of the throat was a sensitive spot on most humans, on an I/S it was triple the sensation.

“Sorry.” He managed to force out and swore he wasn’t going to blush. He reached up to the far too controlled hair and ran his hands through it. Tossing the long shower of black forward to tumble over Toshi’s shoulders in a far more casual way. It softened and helped hide his face. “Now, can you act like a, well like…”

“Like an addict?”

Mick did blush now. “Yeah, sorry.”

“I think I can manage that.”

The door kicked in behind them, catching Mick with a hand still fussing at Toshi’s hair and only further adding into their illusion. An armed man stormed in, shouting for them to get down and Mick used the hand he already had on Toshi to force the other to the ground.

“Down, down get on the ground now!”

Mick took in the semi-automatic gun and the plain mask the man wore and than looked beyond it to the thin way the skin of the man’s wrists were stretched over bone. Desperate times lead to desperate attempts to make things better, it made the men more dangerous but also more likely to be reasoned with.

“Alright, alright, we’re down just don’t hurt us.” He protectively kept one arm over Toshi.

“Move now! Get out there and join the others, move!”

“Don’t hurt us, just don’t hurt us.” Mick whined back and pulled Toshi along.

“Keep your hands out, move!”

Mick pulled them along but instead of moving to the line of customers and employees huddled under the teller counter, he moved them to the counter in the center. The island was used by customers to fill out paperwork but it was separate, allowed him to watch the entire room and had the most direct route to the door. Under the far counter, Ms. Torres knelt, tears streaking down her face and her hands red with blood. She had the head of the security guard in her lap. The elderly man was unconscious, bleeding but Mick was pretty sure he was still alive.

The group of six had split off. Three of them kept an eye on the front, three were behind the counter. From what Mick could see and hear, they had a young teller and were making her fill bags, if everything went well, they’d leave in moments.

“What’s taking so long?” The man nearest Mick shouted.

“Boss man says he can’t get into the safe.” A voice behind the teller counter shouted.

“He’s lying. Hey! Hey Boss man! You want us to start shooting people? Huh? Choice is yours boss man!”

Beside him Toshi squirmed where he knelt but he managed to turn his head slightly. “Marsh.” He whispered but the name carried his contempt of the man and his certainty that the man would rather see them all shot than allow the robbers into his safe.

Mick didn’t care about the bank, didn’t care if everyone in the room including himself, were shot, so long as Toshi walked out unharmed. So when the only person who’s safety he was concerned with arched his back and tossed his head back against the counter, moaned slightly and ran his hands through his hair he knew it was going to be trouble. Obviously, Toshi wasn’t going to accept that his safety was the only important thing.

It didn’t take too long until the nearest robber noticed not only that one hostage squirming but that the hostage was I/S. He came over and kicked at Mick, ignoring Toshi’s increasingly obvious display. “What’s his problem?”

Mick glanced up and forced a knowing grin. “He shines to adrenaline. Something like this will keep him shiny for days.”

“Make him settle down!”

“I don’t think you want me doing, that, here. You know how they get.” He paused and looked the thief over. “Well, maybe you don’t.”

Toshi’s stray hand ran across the hollow of his throat and he licked his lips. “He doesn’t know, daddy.”

Mick about died. He prayed the robber was to distracted to notice how red he was starting to blush or if he noticed he’d chalk it up to the flush of fear and desire. He was very grateful he’d placed them out of direct sight to the entire room because there was no way he’d be able to explain Toshi’s behavior as anything other than what it appeared.

Only it was an act, the reserved, quiet, dignified man he’d seen for weeks was only acting. He wasn’t really the creature of sexual fantasy that most shine addicts were but the performance was flawless. Mick had to force the blood flow back to his brain to try to figure out what Toshi was looking for. He was fishing for something beyond merely not being recognized.

Toshi’s head languidly rolled to the side, exposing the long column of his neck to the robber. “Let me show him, daddy?”

Now it was cold fear that settled in his stomach and drove any sense of lust away. It was risky but from the snatches of conversation he’d been hearing at least two of the three behind the counter had gone down to the safe. He wasn’t sure he could stop three but the odds were better than four.

“You think he’s interested in you?”

Toshi’s hand snaked out and wrapped around the robber’s leg. The man was breathing hard now, not even paying attention to the world around him. “Oh, my yes. Please, daddy?”

The robber snapped his eyes to Mick and took in the suit he was wearing. “You own him?”

Mick shrugged. “I just rent him. If he wants to play with you, I won’t stop him. Trust me, after this I’ll be lucky to stop for meals for a week. You’re sure you want to play now, baby?”

Toshi turned his head fully away from the robber and while his voice stayed the drifting, dreamy tones of an addict, his expression and eyes were dead serious. “Trust me, daddy, let me play with one or two of them.”

He nodded. “Okay, baby, but be careful. They’re in a hurry.” Mick glanced up to the robber. “I’d take a friend with you, he can be a bit, aggressive, when he’s like this.”

The robber paused and glanced around nervously before reaching down to snatch Toshi’s arm and scoop him up. He rose to his feet with boneless grace and languid care, letting his hair fall and cover his eyes. The robber whistled out sharply. “J.C.!”

“What?” One of the thieves from behind the counter called back.

“Come on.”

“Awww, can’t you two stay focused.” A third whined.

“Shut up!” The one holding Toshi shouted back. “If you two can’t watch them you shouldn’t be here. Come on, J.C.!”

Mick watched as the two men dragged Toshi off to the conference room. Toshi didn’t fight the pull on his arm but he had the distracted, unaware gait of one drunk or senseless. Or of an I/S high on shine and than fed the emotion that supercharged their addiction, it was a good performance.

It was also not something any bodyguard should have allowed. The clock was ticking now, there was only a moment before harm really could come to Toshi and then he’d have failed. Mick reached under his jacket to the small pouch clipped to the back of his belt. By practice and feel he unsnapped it and fished out the slender tube hidden on the top.

There weren’t any laws preventing him from owning such a weapon but ownership was limited. The cylinders  had to be custom built and custom loaded each time they were discharged. It was too highly skilled and to costly for the general population and police force to have. Mick had a hobby of such weapons and he had the skill to recharge the tube without sending it back to the manufacturer.

He kept low and crouched along the island wall. The robber out in front keeping his gun trained so lazily on the room at large was a dozen paces away from him. The man kept glancing from his partner still filling bags to the closed conference room door. His distraction allowed Mick to point the tube at the man’s lower leg. With a wicked grin he pushed the button, there was a slight hissing of compressed air and the small needle dart flew the few feet and imbedded itself into the man’s leg.

“What the hell?” The man yelped.

“What’s wrong?” His partner answered, roughly pulling on the woman that still was empting drawers of cash.

“Something bit me! I, Christ that burns! Something bit me!” The man reached to rub at the sore spot on his leg. His eyes rolled up and he collapsed to the ground, out cold.

Mick dropped the tube into his pocket and slid forward. He pressed himself into the line of other hostages huddled back from the now unconscious man. They recoiled almost as much from him as they did from the body in front of them.

“Billy! Billy you alright man? Shit!” There was a shuffling behind the counter. “Keep filling those bags and don’t try anything stupid or I’ll blow your head off!”

Mick waited, coiled up on the balls of his feet and counted the seconds off in his head. It’d been over a minute since the door to the conference room had shut, he was running out of time. The second robber came within sight, his attention focused on his unconscious friend. Mick waited, watching, until the man started to kneel to check to see if his friend was alive.

There was little the second man could do, half kneeling and off balance, when Mick surged up from his feet. Mick’s fist swung out and caught the man hard on his face. The mask splintered and the cheap plastic sliced like blades into Mick’s hand but the blow was strong enough to knock the man down. There was no time for thought, Mick drew the handgun he wore from it’s holster and cracked the butt down on the man’s head. The robber groaned and than went slack and as limp as his friend.

Mick’s gun disappeared back into it’s holster and from the pouch at his waist he pulled out a slender stick wrapped in plastic. He tore the plastic away and the hard rod inside instantly went soft and flexible at the contact with the air.

“You, and you,” he nodded to two men kneeling near by. “Help get that wounded man out of here. The rest of you get out of here, as quietly and quickly as you can. Call the police if you haven’t already.” He stretched the rod to it’s full length and lined up the men’s wrists. A bondable cuff wasn’t made to restrain more than a single person but it could be stretched to wrap around four wrists instead of two. The soft material wrapped around a hand from each man and when he pressed the ends back along the length of the rod it sealed itself together.  Within moments, the rod hardened and was as secure as metal. Mick checked the fit, it was too tight but it would have to do.

Mick glanced up and no one had moved. The girl from behind the counter stood holding the bag of cash. “Get going! Go, now!”

That got them moving and as he turned to the conference room they were quickly rushing to the door. The two men he’d asked were carrying the wounded security guard between them and the bloodied Ms. Torres followed. It was almost two minutes since the conference room door had shut.

There was no time for subtle methods. Mick drew his gun and rushed the door. With a firm kick he smashed his way inside, frightened of what he might find. A body crashed into the wall beside the door and slumped to the floor. Toshi stood near the table, his leg just now lowering back from the kick he’d delivered to the last of the two men in the room. He soothed his hair to have it fall down his back again and looked unaffected as ever.

“I guess Alec was right when he said you could take care of yourself.”

Toshi shrugged. “Well, their sort aren’t difficult. It’s almost too easy. We should tie them up.”

Mick was already dragging the two men closer together to bind their wrists as well. “You should get your jacket back on and get out of here.”

“Do I even want to know where you’ve had those b-cuffs hidden?”

Mick grinned. “I only carry three of them. Get moving.”

“You’re going after the other two?”

“Marsh seems like the sort to get himself killed on principle.” He paused and glanced up. “Do you want me to let them shoot him?”

For a moment, Toshi almost agreed. “No, not really.”

“Good, now move. The police should be on their way.”

“I can hear the sirens.”

“Get going.” He didn’t wait to see if Toshi listened, half knowing he wasn’t going to. “At least stay in here out of sight.”

He drew his gun again and moved with long practiced ease down across the lobby to behind the counter. There he scooped down and picked up the three forgotten bags of money and a handful of change from one of the open drawers. The bags he slung over his shoulder and the change stayed tightly clutched in his fist.

The blueprints of the bank were sharp in his mind and he had a good idea of where they’d dragged Marsh off to. The safe was down the hall and to the right. If they were smart they’d have one man guarding that right hand turn and the other with Marsh getting the safe open. Mick crept down the hallway as quietly as he could manage but the voices bouncing up from the end would have covered far more noise than he made.

“I know the deposits are still in there, old man, open it up! Is it worth dying for? You want us to shoot someone in front of you? Do you really want their blood all over you?” There was a meaty dull crack and the whimpering sound of muffled pain.

“Careful, Jake, don’t hit him so hard.” A voice near the corner bend called out.

Mick slowed down and pressed himself to the wall. When he was within a few feet he let one of the coins in his hand roll past the corner, than a second one and a third.

“What the hell?” He heard the man whisper out.

Mick rolled another coin but he was watching the corner and watching how the man that turned it was watching the rolling coin. His mask was pushed up but he didn’t see the remaining handful of coins that got tossed in his face. The robber reacted on instinct, throwing his hands up at the coins suddenly all around him and stumbling backwards. Mick hit him, hard. First in the solar plexus with enough force to woosh out the breath from the man’s lungs and than again to the face. The man went down, hard, and Mick risked cracking another skull open and the quickly delivered blow knocked the man out cold.          The b-cuffs went on smoothly and easily with only one person. Mick put away his gun.

“Johnny? Johnny!”

“He can’t answer you right now.”
“Christ! I’ve got a hostage, I’ll shoot him, get back!”

“Look, I’m not a cop, and I don’t work for the bank. Okay?”

“Who the hell are you?”

“Doesn’t matter, I’m nobody. Your friends are out of commission and the police will be here very shortly. I’ve got a deal for you. I’m tossing something your way, it’s not going to hurt you, okay?”

“O-okay.”

Mick side armed one of the bags of money around the corner. “I’ve two more here. How about this, I come around the corner, I’ll have my hands out to the side. Option one is you can shoot me and go to death row for killing me. Or, option two, you can hand over the old man to me, take that bag and the two others here at my feet and walk out of here. I know it’s not the haul you wanted today but you won’t have to split it six ways. It’s enough money to disappear with. No one’s been killed yet, you can still walk away. What do you say?”
“I don’t know!”

“Time’s running out, Jake. I can hear the sirens. What will it be?”

“Okay! Okay, come around the corner and don’t try anything funny.”

Mick held his hands out from his body and up near his head. “Why would I try anything? I don’t care about the money.” He moved slowly around the corner, waiting for the bullet to slam out and hit him. “I hate banks, I’d love to see you get away with this, but you need to let the old man go and get moving.”

He was fully in sight now and Marsh sat on the ground, his face bloody and most likely his nose broken. The man holding onto his upper arm with one hand and a gun with the other had his mask up as well. It didn’t surprise Mick that the man was his own age or younger. Sweat was running down his face and his eyes were wide, the man was scared and it was written all over his face.

“There now, see, I don’t want to hurt you. Let the old man go, take the bag, take the others and hurry or the police will catch you.”

The hand that gripped Marsh’s upper arm tightened then suddenly let go. Mick held very still as the man moved to pick up the bag of money. He wasn’t sure either himself or Marsh even breathed as the bag was snatched and tossed over a shoulder. The robber was around the corner in a flash, there was a rustle of fabric as the other bags were grabbed up. The last Mick heard was a snuffled sigh of relief as the man disappeared down the hallway.

He moved instantly to where Marsh knelt. “Are you alright?”

Marsh nodded. “Fine, fine, thank you so much, he was going to kill me. Thank you!”

Mick shook off the man. “Stay here and don’t thank me, thank Mr. Ranvier, he’s the one that wanted me to act.” He wished he’d been able to stay to enjoy the look of unhappy acceptance in the man’s eyes but he had one more bank robber to stop.

He rounded the corner with his gun drawn, willing to shoot the last man in the leg if he needed to but when he reached the lobby, the last of the robbers was tumbled into an untidy heap on the floor. Toshi leaned calmly against the teller’s counter, rolling his sleeves back down, the collar of his shirt re-buttoned. On the counter behind him were his sunglasses, jacket and satchel.

“I knew you wouldn’t listen.”

Toshi just smiled and shrugged. “Police are here.”

And as if he’d announced them, they stormed through the front doors. There was shouting again for them to get down and show their hands. Police dressed in black assault uniforms and carrying rifles, three times more deadly than the smaller guns the robbers had held, circled them. Mick lost sight of Toshi as three of them grabbed his arms and wrestled him forcefully flat onto the cool marble floor.

“That’s, Mr. Toshi Ranvier, I’m his body guard. He’s not to be harmed.” Mick shouted out hoping the inborn aversion to I/S would prevent them from throwing Toshi to the ground as well.

“My wallet, gentleman is in my back pocket. With my ID you’ll find my card from the Containment Committee.” Toshi ignored the rough hands that stole his wallet away. “The man you have pinned is my body guard. He’s armed, his identification is also on him.”

Long moments passed of angry shouting and uncertainty but soon the truth was straightened out. Mick was seated at one of the teller’s desks and had a paramedic tending the cuts on his hands that he hadn’t felt until the whole thing was over. Toshi was seated on the other side of the room, denying all involvement and Marsh had been taken to the hospital.

“That’s your story, you want us to believe you did all this, McKale?”

Mick shrugged. “It’s the truth as I told you, Baker.” It had to be one of the officers he’d served with and one that hadn’t liked him even a small bit. “We were in the conference  room when they came in. I asked Mr. Ranvier to remove his jacket and tie and appear to be connected to me in an effort to disguise who he was. I was afraid if the robbers knew his identity the situation would be worse. The ploy worked, they didn’t pay him any attention as anything other than another I/S junkie whore. It worked a bit too well as two of them took him off to a private room. That allowed me to overcome the two out here, then the two in the conference room and finally the two down the hall. Mr. Ranvier had nothing to do with this other than letting them remove him to the conference room and potential harm.”

“Yeah, right, well, we’ve some more question about the details. You don’t mind going to the station with us do you?”

Mick glanced to Toshi who sat ignoring the questions being given to him, the aloof rich boy act was back. “Sure, what ever you want. Mr. Ranvier’s driver is outside. I’ll go with you if you see to it he’s returned to his car and have a marked unit follow them back home.”

Baker snorted in mild disgust. “Sure, whatever.”

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