"No way in hell! Not a chance! I refuse this mission!"
Tirade finished, Ken collapsed back down in his usual chair, arms crossed over his chest and a pout firmly in place on his face. Resolutely, he set himself to ignoring the stares his teammates and Manx were sending his way. Okay, maybe he had over-reacted a little, but he certainly wasn't about to admit that aloud.
"I'm afraid you have no choice in this one, Siberian," Manx stated flatly. "It's all of you or none of you, and the others have already agreed."
"But... but... but... but this isn't Weiss's usual type of mission." He was grasping for straws now, and they all knew it.
"There are some... special considerations here, on this mission. Kritiker has decided to send in our best team - you, Weiss - because of these circumstances."
"So what you're really saying," Yoji jumped in, "is that we have no choice except to take this mission?"
"In a word, yes."
"You should have said that in the first place then!" Ken yelled.
The elegant redhead just stared at him. "And what you have me say? 'This is your mission, should you have no choice but to accept it'?"
Omi laughed shortly and the severe look on Aya's face lightened minutely; apparently, they were the only ones to catch the old American television show reference.
"What kinds of special considerations?" Aya asked. He didn't sound very pleased with their being drafted onto this mission, but then again, when did Aya ever sound pleaesd?
"I'm afraid that's classified information. Just concentrate on getting the job done, boys. Once we get the trouble with NG taken care of, Weiss will be up for a vacation. A full vacation," she elaborated. "You can even close the flower shop."
"Bribery will get you everywhere," Yoji quipped.
Manx rolled her eyes at the playboy then turned her attention back to the group as a whole. "I just hope you know how to sing and you have a way to come up with some song lyrics." She frowned slightly. "I wish there was a better cover, but..."
"We'll come up with something," Aya cryptically stated.
* ~ * ~ *
"A new NG band?!" Blue eyes glittered and pink hair bobbed and the lead singer of Bad Luck started bouncing. "Why didn't anyone tell me about this sooner?!"
"We did," Suguru returned, never looking up from the keyboard he was using to remix their band's latest song. "You were too wrapped up in Yuki-san to notice."
Shuichi's grin hung on for a moment more, then he abruptly switched to full-out bawling. "Yuki was mean to me!"
"Yuki-san is always mean to you," Sakano countered in a rare sombre moment.
"More mean than usual," Hiroshi offered, glancing up at their producer for a moment then returning his attention to the guitar he was tuning. "Shuichi's going to be staying with me for a while."
"What'd he do this time?"
"He threw me out!"
Suguru seemed vaguely worried as he finally looked up. "Does this mean another slump in the near future?"
"Maybe a slump wouldn't be a bad thing," Sakano mused aloud. "Now might be a good time to stay out of the limelight."
"We're sitting on the brink of going world-wide," K argued.
"There are also currently a lot of threats against NG right now."
"I wonder if the new band knows about that," Hiro softly stated.
* ~ * ~ *
She checked her watch for the fourth time in five minutes and sighed loudly; of all the days... of all the times... of all the people...
'Omi wasn't supposed to let them be late; Manx promised me they'd be on time or early.' She checked her watch again. 'They're five minutes late already! Not fair!'
"So where is this person supposed to be meeting us?" she heard a voice she could only call sexy complain.
'Dare I hope?' she muttered to herself mentally, even as she stood to see over the crowd. 'Oh that's so definitely Ran; just like Manx described him.'
"Omi-san!" she called, waving an arm over her head wildly. "Yohji-san! Ken-san! Ran-san! Over here!"
The youngest one (Omi if she remembered correctly) grinned up at her. "So you're the one we're supposed to be meeting here?"
"If you're Omi, Ken, Yohji, and Ran, then yeah!" she stated with a grin.
"Great! Eto... Manx-san asked me to show you guys around, show the ropes and all."
"That was certainly... nice of her." The brunette smiled at her and held out his hand. "I'm Hikada Ken." She grinned and took his hand, watching as he pointed to each person he introduced. "That's Tsukiyono Omi, Kudou Yohji, and-"
She broke away, seizing the redhead's hand. "You must be Fujimiya Ran. Manx-san has told me so much about you." She switched her grip so that she was pulling him along behind her. "Come on! You guys need to meet the company president and some of the other bands and-"
"And the pretty lady hasn't even given us her name yet," Yohji interrupted.
"Oh." She all but stopped in the middle of the hallway, releasing Ran from her grip. "I thought Manx-san might have told you... Or really, that you might recognize me." She smiled slightly. "But that's silly. I've only had one concert, and we can't all be overnight successes like Nittle Grasper and Bad Luck." She did a snappy salute and winked. "The name's Katrina. Remember it well 'cause I'll be famous... sooner or later."
"Katrina, eh?" Omi echoed, and she nodded. "Sounds European."
"It is, but I grew up here in Japan. Now, come on. Seguchi-san will be wanting to see you. Are you okay, Yohji-san?"
"Seguchi?" he repeated, sounding a bit choked.
She nodded. "That's right. We're so lucky to have Seguchi Tohma as a company president..." she continued, totally ignoring the stricken look on Yohji's face. "Now we need to go meet him."
Ken sent him a worried look. "You sure?"
"Yeah, go on. I'll meet you later."
First Draft: 20 January 2002
Revision: 18 November 2003
Well, what'd you think so far? Please let me know.
For those of you who would like to know what all is going to
go on in this fic, take a look here (SPOILER WARNING):