“Let’s just go get some coffee and talk about it.”
Aiko sighs, as if to say, “Yes, let’s go but I still hate you.” Yeah, well the feeling’s mutual.
The Starbucks is too crowded. The line goes to the door and the seats are all taken up. “Man, I hate lines.”
“Well, you wanted to go here.”
“Yeah, this was a mistake.”
“Everything was a mistake,” I mumbled.
“No, I discretely heard you say…” The word is “distinctively.” Get it right. “What?”
“What do you mean ‘what’?”
“It looked like you were about to say something. You get that look on your face.”
“No. I wasn’t going to say anything.”
“Whatever!” I sigh, throwing my hands into the air.
Aiko’s face gets fireball red. “Don’t do that. Don’t you do that!”
Someone pokes me in the back. “Hey! You’re next in line. They’ve been calling for you.”
I take a deep breath. “Oh. Sorry.” Everyone around is looking at us. Let’s just get this over with.
Aiko nudges me out of the way. “Grande Chai tea with soy, no water. Five pumps. On his bill.” She jerks a thumb back in my direction.
“Um, I’ll have a… pumpkin latte. The cold version.”
“Iced pumpkin latte?”
“…yeah.” I hand her the card.
“I’ll take the small.”
“Yeah, the small one. Tall.”
I hold out my card. “Uh, debit.”
“Here or to go?”
“Here. I mean, to go.”
She glares at me and changes something on the register. “Name?”
“Huh?” I’m waiting for her to take the card.
“Your name?” She could probably look at the card and get my name. “It’s Kouta. What’s your name?”
“Pretty name. I feel like we go through the same conversation every time, Tara.” I expect Aiko to get jealous but she’s already hitting on some graybeard in a suit.
Tara flashes me a polite but impatient smile. “Your coffee will be ready in a minute. Next please!” Women are so fake.
I bring back the drinks. Tara has managed to procure the old guy’s table and slip him her number. She thinks she’s sly, like she’s a little ninja. She has money, sure, but she never bothered to learn the trade.
“Here,” I throw the drink to her side. “So, when can I pick up my shit from your dad’s? It’s kind of embarrassing that it’s still there.”
“You left it there when you took off, didn’t you? I’ll have my people drop your stuff off. Just give me your address.”
I take a sip. It scalds my tongue. I try to swallow it fast, which was just as bad an idea for my throat. “You can understand if I’d rather you not know where I live,” I say hoarsely.
“Hmph. Well, good luck getting your stuff back.”
I run my hand through my hair. “Just set a place and time. That’s all.”
She sits back, probably thinking about how best to take my balls away from me.
A shuriken chops into the table.
“Ninjas? You really hate me that much?”
“No, it wasn’t me. I—”
Ninjas leap out from the ceiling. Only two. Good. I can take two as long as there aren’t more waiting to ambush me. I thumb my belt knife, hidden beneath my t-shirt.
As the first leaps down, he chops the table in half. I kick the chair into his face, but he chops that in half. Stomping his sword on the downswing, I uppercut his jaw. Another sword swishes toward my ears, close enough to shave hairs. I kick back but ninja #2’s already gone.
#1 and #2 work in unison, but I am a lightning eel, twisting around their blades. Intuition reads makes up for what the eyes can’t see.
I hang low under one swing, kick my legs out to dodge another, but now I’m on the ground. I grab the remaining half of the coffee table, smashing #2 in the shin. Retreating over the counter, a third ninja lunges out from his hiding place.
“Surprise!” I scream, delivering a coffee house table to his face. He lets go of his wakizashi after I’ve crushed his hand.
I push the coffee machine at the other two, followed by the register. They chop out with their swords to push forward. #2 is able to block the sword heading for his neck but not the knife headed for his liver. #1 throws his own projectile, a shuriken aimed at my head. I duck behind the counter and #3 is in the corner of my eye, shuriken in his hand. I raise my arm to defend and the weapon lodges in my arm. I pull it out and throw it back at his head.
Expecting an attack from #1, I raise my sword. The sound of a body hitting the ground leads me to raise my head from cover. Aiko stands on the other side of the counter, blade dripping with blood. #1’s body lies at her feet, his throat slit.
“You really make such a scene,” she smiles. “It’s no wonder Dad thought you were too weak to be my husband.”
The blood trickles down, making my palm wet with blood. I drop the wakizashi to the floor.
My body seizing up as a blade tears through my back and I crumple to the ground.
“Dooshite, Aiko-chan? I thought you hated this man.” He kicks me over with his foot. I slash out at his leg, but he slides back and literally cuts the knife out of my hand. I don’t think he cut to the bone, but there’s blood everywhere. “Why do you kill my men so needlessly, child?” He continues speaking to his daughter, ignoring me like I’m trash. I can feel the blood pooling up in my shirt and all over my hands.
“I… I don’t… I…”
“Hmph. You still love him.” He frowns in disgust, looking like he wants to kill me right then.
I breathe heavily, clenching my teeth now that my adrenaline is dying down.
“Look, I’m just here for my stuff. Aiko and I are through.”
“And why should I believe you? You meet my daughter in private and think I won’t know? You insult me!”
He kicks and I can hear a rib crack.
“You think I’m a fool? Men like you and I don’t give up. We take what we want.”
“Father! Stop it!”
“Hmph.” His eyes are the eyes of a killer. This is a guy who would sooner slit your throat than have you breathe on him.
“How can you love this man?” Aiko’s father grabs my by the t-shirt and dumps me on the counter to present me to her. She averts her eyes from my mangled, bloodied state. “He’s so… weak.”
“I… don’t… I pity him.” She can’t meet my eyes.
“Pity?” Laughter bursts from his chest. “Oh, Aiko. You’re just like your mother. It must be something about women.”
A sharp jab pushes me off the counter. This time, I scream in pain and surprise.
“Take him. Bring him to the hospital. Whatever you’d like. But if I ever see him again, I will kill him.”
Aiko bows her head. I cough, gag, and throw up. Aiko calls for an ambulance on her cell phone and waits for the sirens. I never see her again.