It was unlikely that anyone would ever call him respectable.

A rooftop billboard cast a flickering blue light through the windows of the studio apartment. The light mixed in with the moonlight and still left most of the room in shadows. Even in the dark he knew the layout. One bedroom, one bath, and a living area that supported both guest, the kitchen, and the laundry room. When the clouds shifted and the light brightened it caught on the reflective aspects of the room: a microwave, jelly jars filled with discarded needles, an ashtray brimming over into the floor with forgotten cigarette butts, a singular kitchen knife shoved in the block. Probably the rest had been dumped in fear of them becoming evidence. On the counter he noted a digital clock, silently flipping through the minutes. The assassin waited in the dark. Again the light shifted and this time explained the darkness. Glass shards, some clouded while others were clear, blanketed the floor. Someone, more likely than not Kyle himself, had shattered all the bulbs. The tumbling of locks broke the silence and he froze. If one didn’t know better, you’d think that he’d quit breathing all together. The man entered the apartment alone. What did a defense attorney have to fear in his own home? He might as well have been lit with a spot light. Years of living in the shadows and listening in health class about his veggies had strengthened his night vision. The glasses over his eyes, infused the way you’d see night vision goggles, probably helped a lot with that too. He turned his back to go for the light switch and Kyle didn’t give him much more time to worry about it. Nine millimeter to the back of the head, silenced of course, ended the situation without much of a sound. Dragging the man’s body away from the door, he dropped it in the kitchen, leaving him it soak in a puddle of his own blood. Returning to the door, he flicked the locks closed again, slipping back into the shadows, he waited. This time when the locks tumbled, it took longer. Lock pick and someone who wasn’t amazing with it. The woman entered on her own, single job. There was nothing in the apartment for a trained killer to worry about, except that she didn’t know she was up against the jungle cat and her job was already finished. Silent as a cat, no noise from his boots, he slipped up behind her. “Hello…do I make you nervous?” The tone was dark, but it held none of the lust and want it did when it darkened for Syd. The words slipped from his lips and his breath ran a tangled web along her skin. “You do..I know what your capable of….” That brought a wicked smirk to the lips of the Marine. “As you should.” He paused there. She could have described him in perfect detail, down to the tattoos and scars that told their stories across his arms. Kyle was a shadow, a mystery man. Kyle had been her mentor, her friend, and in a time long ago he’d been more than that. Never were they anything but a quick roll in the sheets, but he was hot. Kyle had always played by his own rules though and no one ever got a complete copy. Under normal conditions she would have dragged him to the bedroom, if they could make it that far, but these conditions weren’t normal and she suspected that he’d have none of that. The air in the apartment was still, as though it was holding it’s breath in anticipation of what would come next. Dead calm. He was too close, he should have never been able to sneak up on her like that. Silence was on the side of the murderous angel it seemed. “Are you going to kill me?” Circling around in front of her, the wolf circling his prey before he went for the jugular, he stopped in front of the window, moonlight dancing on his face. “It’s crossed my mind.” That was not exactly the answer that she’d been hoping to hear. “They know I’m here..if my mark isn’t dead..” Slowly he shook his head, stupid girl. “You think he’s not?” A quick glance to the kitchen and then his focus was back on her. “Maybe he got to you finished him off but died in the line..” They would never buy something so far-fetched, but he could make her believe they would. “Tell me what I want to hear..” Nothing more said, she knew exactly what he meant, but he watched her eyes drop to the gun at his hip and he slowly shook his head. “Wouldn’t do that if i were you..” She’d never beat him to it, with all his attention focused on her. “We’re not here to hurt her…” That obviously wasn’t what he wanted to hear because he closed the distance between them, putting her back at the wall before she’d realized they’d moved. Half a second passed and she slowly became aware at the icy metal holding her chin up. There was that Glock. “Wrong answer..” Nothing more, but the gun clicked and she stopped breathing for a heartbeat. She needed to talk, because he was done. If she didn’t then she was going to die. Very likely she was going to die anyway, but if she spoke it would probably be painless. If he turned her loose after she spoke and the ops found out, it didn’t look good for her either. Still, there was probably worse he could do to her. Three times as bad as anything the government ever thought of doing. “He was just interested in her connection to you.” While that was probably all that she knew, he didn’t seem willing to let it go. For a moment his eyes narrowed behind the glass. The tension in his muscles caused her to squeeze her eyes shut and when she opened them he was nowhere to be found. “Fucking ghost!” He’d found himself on the roof of the building, fire escape handy for things like that. There was nothing that made you want a sniper rifle more than sitting on the edge of a building watching clogged traffic. so many people scrambling around. The sun was long gone, didn’t these people see the danger? This was where he lived, what the assassin was built for. Darkened back alleys that smelled of beer and old piss, dives aware but ignoring the slipping of bills and smack. Emeralds focused out over what of the city he could see. His thoughts raced, he should be headed home, but now they’d be more interested in finding him than her and they knew him better than to even check his home. Slipping from the roof, he dropped from the ladder to the alley below. Instantly he was aware, drug deal down the shadows to his left, the noisy street to his right. The street thug sent a wary glance to the pair at the alley’s end, but he made no move towards them. Instead he lit a red, dragging deep on it. Slipping through the shadows, he used the black to his advantage. No one to sneak up on tonight, not even to hear them scream. It was barely worth the effort if he didn’t spill blood anyway. He headed for the car a few blocks down, cutting through the blood, the mud, and the beer bottles that littered the alley. Back streets were his haven and even as he stepped around the corner onto the street with the car..he felt naked. Getting in the Toyota he headed for destination number two. The beginning of the drive started out with thoughts racing, what in the hell could they be up to? But shortly after he slipped into his driving zone and began formulating his plan. If his second in command didn’t know anything then Kyle’s replacement as team leader would. The drive was short, bases of operations always leave paper trails. He wouldn’t have to wait long for the man to return either, he was sure that as soon as she could breathe again, she’d called him. The Marine was lounged out at the other man’s desk when he finally managed to wander in. A demon among the shadows that danced around the office. He was simply sitting there with his elbows on the arm rest, his fingers steepled together in front of him. His face showed no emotion, but he was radiating anger. “Staff Sergeant Atkins..” Still, Kyle didn’t move. If you didn’t know him at all, you’d think he was relaxed, one long leg extended, one bent at the knee, with his arms on the rest. If you knew him, you’d be very wary. Slowly, the Marine stood. He needed to say nothing to get the information he wanted, it had been in the office when he gotten there. As he pasted the fellow soldier, he paused. “Leave the country..” It wasn’t a suggestion.
Sometime later he returned to the house. Apparently he’d been in a meeting of some sort. He was in corporate attire. Black dress slacks, black dress shirt, black on black striped, black gun and holster. He hung a black cashmere sport coat beside the door when he came in. In all honesty he’d been shooting for respectable. Kyle was strong inside and out. He was intelligent. He was brave. He was physically and emotional agile. He was incredibly sexy. He was deceptively playful. But more than anything else, Kyle reeked of bad. It would take more than a cashmere sports coat and an Armani tie to offset the testosterone and male pheromones that leaked out of him. It was doubtful that anyone would ever find him entirely respectable. He settled instead for successful. “Hello?” Somewhere in this house should have been his woman, if not his two kids as well.


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