"'I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse.' Isn't that what you said? 'He'll pay the money or bits of him would be washing up on some countryside beach on Shikoku.' That's what you promised me." Fuyumi stared at her number two, her disgrace of a number two. Her stare turned into a scowl and the man, if he could be called that, squirmed in his seat. "Instead of any of that, you come back and tell me you want to wash your feet? You can't quit. It's not an option."
The man swallowed hard and put his hand on her desk, spreading his fingers out. "I'm willing to lose as many fingers as you want."
"It's not a matter of fingers!" Fuyumi leaned forward and pounded her desk with her fist. Her former number two jerked his hand back like he'd been burned. "I'll be the laughing stock of our organization. Other groups will smell the weakness and try to move in on our territory.
"Dammit! How hard could it be to collect money from one fucking realtor?" Fuyumi stood and looked out the window between the lines of the giant kanji character plastered across it. "I've lost four of you fags now."
The man hung his head. She was right. The first underling they'd sent to rough Sakamoto Realties up and let them know that the yakuza wanted its money had disappeared. Ten days later, they'd found him in Thailand, rather, they'd found her in Thailand after her sex change operation.
Next, they'd sent a pair of muscle guys, hoping that they'd shake the place up. They'd come back and asked to be let out of the organization so they could move to Australia and elope. Fuyumi cut off both of their pinkies and sent them away in disgust.
Now, her lieutenant was sitting in her office. He, too, had failed to get a dime from the real estate agent. Fuyumi had been sure that he would get the job done, yet here he was, asking to quit so he could start a drag bar.
"I said, 'Worthless.' Get the fuck out of here."
The former yakuza scrambled out of the office and out of Fuyumi's life.
Fuyumi sighed and sat back down. She looked over the books and the giant number that signified Sakamoto Realties' debt. The higher ups were starting to really pressure her to get the account closed. After this last failure, that meant she was going to have to do it herself.
She didn't work herself into her current position by being weak and depending on the help of men. Very few women rose to her level and she wasn't going to let some little real estate office destroy everything she'd worked so hard to get.
"Kota!" A young man stuck his head into her office.
"Go get the car."
"Right away, ma'am."
Fuyumi gathered her things and headed into the main office area. "I'm going to do what you dicks couldn't. Try not to fuck up too badly while I'm gone."
She headed out the door and walked into the street. Kota stood waiting for her. He was in the proper position to great his superior: his legs were shoulder width apart and his hands were placed just above his slightly bent knees, leaning him forward just the right amount. The giant pair of sunglasses she put on did nothing to help hide the condescending sneer she gave her underling.
The car's back door was open and waiting. Fuyumi got in and Kota closed it behind her. The boy walked around to to the front of the car and got in. Fuyumi lit a cigarette and told him to take her to Sakamoto's. She smoked when she was angry and she was angry enough that she knew she'd probably finish a quarter of the pack by the time they got there.
The two rode in silence. Kota was too scared to say anything and Fuyumi was too pissed. She looked at the four fingers on Kota's left hand. Another male idiot she thought. He'd been with her what, two years? Already he'd lost a finger.
Fuyumi wiggled all ten of her fingers. She'd never failed any task a superior had given her and she wasn't about to start. If she failed to get this money, not only would she be demoted, but Fuyumi wasn't sure just how many fingers they would stop with.
"We're here, ma'am."
Fuyumi stabbed out her fourth cigarette of the ride and waited for Kota to open her door. She looked at the rundown building in disgust. Like a real estate agent could succeed in a dump like this. That moron Akiko didn't even have a chance.
Fuyumi got out of the car and flicked her long black ponytail back off her shoulder.
"Would you like me to come up with you ma'am?"
"Just stay with the car and make sure it doesn't get stolen or something." Fuyumi headed into the tiny entrance way and pushed the button for the elevator. She lit up another cigarette and puffed on it. The chime sounded and the doors opened. Fuyumi sneered at the dirty insides and stepped on.
Somewhere during its slow ascent, maybe right after passing the second floor, Fuyumi finished her cigarette, dropped it to the ground and snuffed it out. The elevator was pissing her off. She debated about sending someone over and having him cut the wires after she was finished here. Even then she doubted it would pick up enough speed to actually damage the elevating trash box when it crashed to the ground.
The doors opened and Fuyumi was glad she was wearing her sunglasses. The bright florescent lights reflected off over every surface, the buffed floors, the polished counter top, and the polished window glass. Some bimbo sat behind the counter and greeted Fuyumi as she got off.
Fuyumi ignored her. "Akiko Sakamoto! Get your fucking ass out here!"
"Miss Fuyumi," the bimbo said. "I'm right here. Wow. I knew you'd come one day. I kept telling Sakamoto-san that you wouldn't keep sending underlings and you'd show up eventually. He seemed to relish in the fact when I told him that a woman held my debt. Well, his debt. He took it from me when I gave him my business, my apartment, and my car. God, if I still had all that, I'd be crapping myself right now. You are rather scary looking, you know? No wonder your guys were so scared to tell you they were gay. Though how Sakamoto-san knew, I don't know. but he was able to find them all their perfect little places. How about Yuki? Did she get her sex operation okay? I've been ... OW!" Akiko rubbed her cheek where Fuyumi had smacked her.
Fuyumi hadn't been able to see another away to get the former respectable business woman to shut up. "So, you signed away your debt? Where's the fool who took it? Who keeps fucking with my organization and keeps thinking he can get away with it?"
"I'll ... I'll go get him..." Akiko slunk away behind the partition. Fuyumi could her her animatedly explaining to someone that she was here.
"She hit me, Sakamoto-san! You can't make me go out there again. I beg you."
There was a muffled response that Fuyumi couldn't make out.
"I'm too scared to file." Another unintelligible response. "If you think it will make me feel better..."
A balding, portly man stepped around the corner and smiled at Fuyumi. She could smell him from where she stood. Had he bathed recently at all? She wrinkled her nose. His shirt and suit were a complete mess. They looked like he'd been sleeping in them for days, creases and wrinkles ran every which way. Akiko wasn't as stupid as she was pretending to be. Let this dumb slob take the fall; Fuyumi respected Akiko's craftiness.
"Kenji Sakamoto, pleased to meet you." He stuck out his hand and Fuyumi grasped his stubby fingers. She meant to squeeze them hard, to let him know she was going to hurt him, but as soon as she took them, her hand froze. Her hand like she'd been holding a block of ice while standing out in a blizzard for hours.
Sakamoto pulled his hand back and Fuyumi shook hers. She open and closed her hand. She had movement again, but her hand still felt cold. Sakamoto sat down and said, "Please, sit." Fuyumi sat down in the chair across the counter, like she was actually a customer.
"I'm sorry about my slovenly appearance. I'm not very good at getting things to the cleaners or taking care of stuff in general. You look like you take stuff to the cleaners a lot."
Fuyumi pounded her hand on the counter and stood up. "Don't fuck with me!"
Sakamoto held his hands up. "Whoa whoa. Calm down. It was a joke, a play on words. You know, you're yakuza and you clean people out, where I only take stuff to be laundered. I wasn't saying you're a maid or anything like that."
Fuyumi sat back down in her chair. What was this guy's deal? There wasn't a whiff of fear coming from him. "You owe me money."
"Yes, I'm aware that Akiko had quite a substantial debt with you. I was hoping that you and I could work something out. I don't think it's really fair that I should..."
"I don't care what the fuck you think is fair! All I care about is [i]my[/i] money," Fuyumi said. She stood and threw her chair. It went clattering across the floor, leaving nicks in the buffing here and there.
Sakamoto just sighed. "Akiko just buffed it this morning."
Fuyumi screamed and kicked the counter.
"Hey, hey, hey. Destroying the place isn't going to magically put the money in your bank account." He stood and walked over to the thrown chair. He picked it up and set it back down in front of the counter. "Why don't we sit down and talk this over like adults?"
Sakamoto put his hand on Fuyumi's back. Icy chills ran down her spine. She felt like she was leaning shirtless against a wall in a meat locker. Goose bumps appeared on her arms. The chill ran into her mind and cooled her anger. It didn't fade, it just went from fire hot to calculating cold.
After he removed his hand, the goose bumps went away, but she still felt the chill. "I'm listening. How do you propose to pay me back?"
"Rent from me."
Fuyumi leaned her head back and laughed. "You do have the worst jokes."
"I'm sorry, but I'm not joking. Your underlings felt the same way at first, but they've all moved into one of my places, willing and eager to help me pay off my debt."
No. What he was saying couldn't be true, could it? Fuyumi leaned forward and grabbed him by the tie. "I don't care what you said to those limp dicks. I don't care if they're paying to suck on your tiny cock. Just so long as I get my money, I'll be happy."
Sakamoto put his hand on her upper arm. The cold sensation stung her and her hand involuntarily let go of his tie. Her entire right side felt numb as the coldness ran from her fingers all the way to her spine. She pulled her right arm back and rubbed it with her other hand. It didn't actually feel cold to the touch, but her left hand felt like a furnace through her black suit jacket.
"Here, I know what will make you even happier. You can pretend that you're a customer and I'll show you a place. I can guarantee that you'll love the place. In fact, if you don't want to move in immediately, I'll pay you back double the amount I owe you by next week."
"If you can pay me double by next week, why don't you just pay me off now?"
"What's the fun in that? Don't you want to even try?"
No, she didn't want to try, she just wanted her fucking money. On the other hand though, if she showed up with double the amount, she'd put herself back in the good graces with the higher ups and everyone would see that none of this was her fault.
"Fine, but when I turn it down and you don't have double the money in two days, I'll be coming back for your fat head. I'll scatter you about like..."
Sakamoto waved his hand. "Yeah, yeah, yeah." He didn't react to the shortened timeline.
Sakamoto put his finger to her mouth. Fuyumi's lips froze shut, like she'd dipped them in liquid nitrogen.
"Such language for such a delicate lady."
She'd show him delicate with her hacksaw.
He pulled his hand back. Fuyumi rubbed her mouth with her left hand. Like her right arm, they didn't feel cool to the touch, but her hand left a burning sensation on her lips.
"So, you're high level yakuza with lots of little people under you. You'd be looking for something in a 3 ... no 4LDK. Just you're luck, I know a wonderful place close by."
Fuyumi sat back in her chair. "You're wasting your time."
The real estate agent shrugged. "Maybe, maybe not." He stood up and walked around the counter. "Shall we go?"
Fuyumi stood up and looked at the unkempt realtor. She sneered at him and walked over to the elevator. He came up behind her and pushed the call button. Fuyumi pulled out her cigarettes, put one in her mouth, and lit it.
Sakamoto grabbed it out of her mouth. "Such a lovely lady shouldn't be smoking. It's so dirty. More the style of a slob like me than a clean person, like yourself."
He smoked her cigarette and winked at her. Her left hand balled into a fist and she took a swing at him. He caught her hand in his. It was as if she'd punched a sheet of ice. Her hand stung from the cold shock. Sakamoto shook his head and tsked.
The elevator doors open and Sakamoto got in, still smoking Fuyumi's cigarette. "Going down?" He chuckled.
Fuming, she stepped on and faced the door. He pushed the button and they started their decent.
"I'm going to have this piece of shit destroyed after I kill you."
"Such harsh language. You better watch that or no one will hire you."
Fuyumi turned her head and glared at him. "Hire me for what?"
She could do it. She could turn around and strangle him. He'd be dead before the doors opened. She should do it. She wanted to do it. But then she'd never get the cash.
The doors opened and they walked out of the elevator. Kota, who had been sitting in the car, noticed his boss's exit and jumped out. He bent over and put his hands on his knees.
"Welcome back, ma'am."
Laughing at some unsaid joke, Sakamoto turned to Fuyumi. "You didn't tell me you'd brought an underling with you."
She sighed. "Does it matter?"
"Of course! My car only seats two. Last time when you sent that really nice couple, we had to use their car. What happened to them? They make it over to Australia?"
He was referring to the muscle she'd sent.
Sakamoto slapped Kota's back. He jumped away like he'd been lit on fire. "What's your name, son?"
"Kota-kun. You wouldn't mind driving me and Fu-chan here to a place I want to show her, would you?"
Kota's face went white. He looked at Fuyumi, as if expecting her to explode and beat the toad of a man into the ground.
Fuyumi glared at the two men. "He'll take us. Kota, open the fucking doors."
Sakamoto gave a heartful laugh. "Kota-kun, there's an Ikari Supermarket just over there with a tall building next to it. You know it?"
Kota nodded his head.
"Good, that's the building we're going to." Sakamoto opened the door and slid in the back seat. "Fu-chan, hop on in."
Too pissed to even snarl at him, Fuyumi got in the car next to him and Kota closed the door behind her. Fuyumi pulled out her cigarettes, but before she could even get one out of the back, Sakamoto took them from her.
When his hand brushed her left, she flinched. His touch was a bucket of ice water that instantly froze her. "I told you, you need to stop that. Really, it's just too dirty for you."
Kota didn't say anything, but his reflection in the review mirror betrayed to Fuyumi that he was pissed. "Just drive," she told him.
He pulled the car out and headed them off. Sakamoto was looking out the window. "So, Kota-kun. How long have you had your crush on Fu-chan?"
"Excuse me?" Kota said.
"She is quite pretty. Very clean. I bet she keeps all the knobs in the office well polished."
Slamming on the breaks, Kota whipped around. "I'm sorry Miss Ozaka, I just can't take his rudeness towards you anymore."
"Just drive, Kota. A dead man's words carry no weight."
Through out their exchange, Sakamoto's smile never faltered. His eyes twinkled as if the two yakuza weren't talking about killing him. "We're almost there, Kota-kun. It's just down the next street and on the left," Sakamoto said.
Still scowling, Kota turned around and drove them down the street Sakamoto directed him to. He pulled up in front of a large, modern building with a brick facade. While Kota got out to open the door for Fuyumi, Sakamoto let himself out of the other side. Fuyumi pulled Kota close to her. "Fuck the money, that fat fuck is dead. Get the trunk ready while we're up there."
"Pretty nice, isn't it?" Sakamoto asked, gesturing towards the building. It looked more like the type of building where people would by a flat in it, rather than renting it. It was the type of place Fuyumi vowed to never live in. If she didn't have her own house, it meant she'd failed.
"Not bad for a mansion type apartment complex," she lied.
"The inside is great. I've only been living here a couple of months, ever since Akiko sold it over to me."
Fuyumi looked at Sakamoto in surprise. "Wait, let me get this straight. The place you're taking me to see to convince me to rent from you, to help pay off your debt, is a buy-to-own place inside the same complex that you live in?"
Sakamoto laughed. "Oh, no! Not at all."
"Good, I'm glad you aren't that stupid."
"The room I'm showing you [i]is[/i] my place. Come on."
She didn't know how to react. Fuyumi had never met a man that flippant. He didn't seem to care that he was going to soon owe her twice what he already did, if she let him live long enough to pay it. He also didn't seem to care about pissing off people ready to kill him.