Chapter 4

"I want you to punch me, as hard as you can." Kougami stood before Akane, unguarded.

"What? Why?!" asked a baffled Akane. This was not the way she had expected the training session to start.

"Because I asked you too," answered a matter of fact Kougami, "now hit me."

"I can't do that!"


"Because I don't want to punch you! You're my friend!"

"What if I got that ass Kagari in here, could you punch him?"

Akane was half laughing half exasperated, "No, no, I don't want to hurt him either! I don't want to hurt anybody."

Kougami sighed and seemed to deflate. "Exactly, that's our problem. Since I started teaching you, you've come a long way. Your technique is almost perfect, you follow all my instructions and you've grown stronger like you wanted. But, you still hesitate."

Akane protested, "Well of course I can't give one hundred percent in training, its not life or death here!"

He countered, "No but in a life or death situation you're only going to get one chance, and you need to know what it feels like to hit a human body with intent to cause damage. Its very different from hitting the bag." He looked at her intensely and took a step forward, "When the time comes I need to know that you won't hesitate."

After a moment he broke eye contact he stepped back, "So hit me!"

The student steeled herself and took a stance. Attacking at her teacher like this went against all her instincts, but the urge not to disappoint him was stronger.

Smack! A small fist collided with a muscled abdomen. Akane pulled her hand back and looked up at Kougami. He had not moved an inch, except one of his eyebrows, which was raised.

"That was maybe seventy percent of your damage potential, if that. Try again."

"Kougami, I really can't! Can we do something else instead, please?" Akane pleaded, failing to keep a distinct whine from her voice.

He crossed his arms and regarded her sternly for a long moment, but eventually agreed. "Fine" then he added in a mumble "Don't know what I expected..."

"Excuse me?" blurted Akane before she could stop herself

"Hmmm? Oh nothing" he turned away mumbling again "didn't think she had it in her anyway".

Akane stared openly, sure Kougami didn't give away encouragement easily, but he was never this openly negative.

He faced her, speaking clearly now "I mean, you are a female inspector after all".

Akane's face reddened at the injustice of his words, but part of her was still confused. Where is this coming from? she mused. She balled her fists, maybe she would punch him after all...and after a tense moment...the penny dropped.

She burst into a fit of giggling, her fists relaxed and came up to cover her mouth. "K-Kougami! You idiot!"

He broke into a smile. "I guess you're too smart for that aren't you."

"You did make me pretty mad". He laughter slowly subsided.

"Mad enough to punch me?" He teased.

She threw a fist his face stopping half an inch from his nose. "Nope."

They finished the rest of the session using the bag as usual. Kougami didn't bring up the idea of punching him again, much to Akane's relief. Though she was still a little suspicious, someone like him was bound to have more tricks up his sleeve.

The time display on Akane's computer flashed 2:45. She stretched and rubbed her eyes. She hadn't meant to stay so late after her shift, but a recent slate of attempted robberies had left her with a mountain of paperwork. Yayoi and Kougami, the two Enforcers on call, had left hours ago as soon as the evening shift had timed out. In fact no one except cleaning drones appeared to be in her wing of the building at all.

Gathering her things she weighed her options, usually she would walk out the large front entrance to the CID headquarters and take the subway to her flat. But it was very late...and inspectors had authorisation to use company cars. She made up her mind and began making her way toward the smaller back staircase which would take her down to the basement garage.

Footsteps echoed on the concrete stairs, she appreciated the chance to stretch her legs but wondered if the choice not to take the lift was a wise one after all. It was very lonely here this late, and the empty echoing sound of her footfalls gave her a strange feeling. She shook herself mentally, of course she was safe here of all places! Plus there were psychopass scanners all through the building, she would be alerted immediately if anyone who meant her harm was near by.

She reached the cavernous garage and hurried to the nearest car bay. There were few lights on down here and she peered into the dark car sized recess in the wall trying to figure out if it was empty or full... Slam!

She jumped and turned, chastising herself both for leaving door to the stairs open where it could slam shut, and for letting the sound startle her so much. Akane turned back to the bay and reached into the darkness, groping for the control panel on the wall.

"Come here little girlie" a vice-like hand gripped Akane's thin wrist and a husky, deep voice sounded menacingly from the darkness. For one second Akane felt the bottom drop out of her stomach as panic and terror washed over her. For one second. In the next second her brain began to process something peculiar: she knew the hand grasping her wrist. It had done so many times before during training. By the third second she was absolutely livid with Shinya Kougami, and formulating a plan.

She relaxed her muscles which had just been tensed for escape and replied calmly: "I'm not sure if I want to".

She was jerked suddenly and forcefully into the pitch dark carven of the bay. Kougami, it seemed, had not given up yet. He pushed her roughly against the wall of the car park and pinned her left hand to the wall, conveniently leaving her dominant right fist free. Akane smirked. Instead of the anticipated blow to the face, Akane poked Kougami hard in the soft pocket of skin just below his adams apple- determined not to give him what he wanted.

"I know its you" she stated.

"Punch me dammit!" he spluttered.

"No!" she replied impishly and with another forceful poke to the throat slipped under his arm an hurried to the control panel to enter her identification details and start the car.

Once safely inside she opened the window and looked out at a still coughing Kougami. "Did you really think that would work?". Kougami, still unable to talk just clutched his throat and looked at her. She glowered "Well it did, in a way. I am mad enough to punch you". Silently, her faux attacker's eyes asked: then why don't you?. "Because that what you want!" she snapped and reversed out.

As the car navigated itself out of the underground car park she examined him in her rear-view mirror. He was watching her as she left and...no, she thought is he...laughing?

Kougami massaged his throat gently and grinned at the receding figure of Akane's car. True, his plan had not come to fruition, but he wasn't that upset- he hadn't had that much fun in a very long time.

He walked back to his quarters and flopped onto his bunk. Regretted that Akane had left in such a hurry, he was going to apologise but she was gone before his voice returned. Kougami knew he should be remorseful, but every time he pictured Akane's angry, focused face he couldn't help but grin.

Putting an arm across his eyes a frown replaced his smile. He was becoming more and more intrigued with Akane. Intrigued? He decided to be honest with himself, he was attracted to her, not just intrigued by her. But why?

He had always been attracted to confidence, though he hadn't felt anything for a woman in a long time. Cringing inwardly, and pacing around his small room he remembered the women he had been involved with in his youth. The 'femme fatal' type. Those women appeared confident, and had no problem kicking his ass. Hell he thought I like a woman who can kick my ass. The problem was when he showed he could kick their ass right back. They either wanted to marry you or kill you. He shuddered, neurotics the lot of them. Akane though...she was truly confident. She didn't appear to be at first sight, but experience had told him that she could hold her own.

He lay down again. He would have to be very careful from now on, nothing good could come from developing more feelings for Akane Tsuemori. He massaged his throat absentmindedly, and grinned.

The car sped toward Akane's apartment. Now that her initial anger had receded she regretted leaving so quickly, adrenaline was still coursing through her in a way that made her not want to be alone. She thought back to her last view of Kougami, laughing, as she left the car park. She expected the memory to bring more anger but instead she felt a tug at the corners of her own mouth. It was pretty funny, she conceded. Though she wouldn't let a certain Enforcer know that any time soon. She looked out the window and let her mind wander. She found herself dwelling on that moment in the pitch dark where she had felt him pressing against her, right before she had pushed him away. She blushed and looked around guiltily as if expecting to be caught out in her illicit thoughts. But she was alone. There was no denying it, she was attracted to him. She sighed, never the less she still had a lot to learn from Kougami, this had better not make training sessions more difficult.

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