The Assassin

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Eight

Eight

Kian finished washing his hands and left the clean bathroom. Parks were perfect for stops. As long as there was no trouble, no one paid attention to the ins and outs of people going into a park. He headed back to the car, and frowned when he didn’t see Daven in the passenger seat. He had parked the car facing the facilities so that he could see Daven.

Breathe seizing, Kian broke into a run, reaching the car fast. He opened the driver’s side and sure enough, the passenger seat was empty.

“Daven!”

The words were ripped out of him as he looked around the quiet park. There weren’t many people around. The cars around them empty, the owners somewhere inside the park.

Kian let out a harsh breath, reached into the car and got a gun from under his seat. Holding it against his leg, he walked to the back of the car, his gaze searching. He stopped short when he found Daven sitting on the ground leaning on the back of the car, his head buried in his hands.

“Shit, Daven!” Kian crouched beside him, gripping Daven’s left shoulder tight. “Why didn’t you answer when I called you?”

“Kian?”

Daven lifted his head, relief clear in his green eyes.

“What are you doing?” Kian asked, looking around the parking lot again. “Why—?”

Daven wrapped his arms around Kian tight, and pulled him into a tight awkward hug.

“Oh thank God,” Daven whispered.

Kian placed the gun on the ground careful to keep it out of Daven’s sight.

“Daven?”

Daven kept holding him, not letting go.

“You left me in the car alone.”

“I went to the bathroom.”

“I had this dream—”

Daven broke off, his voice strained, muffled in Kian’s shoulder.

“A man showed up and shot me, I could do nothing—”

Daven shook his head, pressing his forehead into Kian’s shoulder.

“I woke up and you weren’t there. I thought you left me. It suddenly occurred to me that I’d definitely die if you weren’t with me. Do you know how frightening that thought is? That I can do nothing to save myself? My God, I’m useless alone.”

Of course, Daven would panic now.

Taewon’s freak out mode was immediate. Apparently, Daven’s took a while.

“Do you want to cry?” Kian asked, staring at Daven’s dreadlocks, lifting his hand to touch them. They felt soft to the touch, so he sunk his fingers into them.

Daven shook his head, trembling a little.

Kian massaged Daven’s scalp gently.

“You know you’re sorta freaking out right now.”

Daven nodded, still not raising his head from Kian’s shoulder.

“Good. I’ve been thinking you’re taking things a bit too easily,” Kian said, patting Daven’s head. “I will tell you when I’m leaving, Daven.”

Daven took in a deep shaky breath. “Promise?”

“Promise,” Kian said, enjoying the feel of Daven’s arms around him a bit too much. Daven’s strong arms held on tight, almost trusting. “Was your dream very bad?”

“It included a man in dark clothes and a bullet in my head,” Daven said. “Can you teach me how to dodge bullets?”

“No, this is not the Matrix,” Kian said, keeping his tone matter of fact, “though you’d make a handsome Neo.”

Daven burst into a short laugh.

“Why are you laughing?” Kian asked.

Daven lifted his head, his green eyes filled with mirth.

“You sound so serious answering me.”

“That’s because I probably can dodge a bullet,” Kian answered with a shrug. “You just need to know what your opponent is aiming for, and where the bullet will land. Make quick plans not to be on its path. Now there’s a skill that is hard to teach a newbie—

Kian stopped when Daven stared at him.

“What?” he asked.

“In polite society, it’s uncool to brag,” Daven said.

“Is it?” Kian asked, “Then why did you tell me about your countless birthday gifts? You made it sound as though they’re mountains high.”

Daven laughed, this time finally letting go of Kian. Kian took his gun from the ground and tactfully slipped it into his waist at the small of his back. He stood up in a fluid motion and held out his right hand to a still chuckling Daven.

He helped Daven to his feet, and was glad the shadows were gone from Daven’s eyes.

“Should we get back on the road?” Kian asked.

“Yeah,” Daven said, sobering, stretching his arms over his head. “I’m gonna stay awake for now, I think.”

“I agree,” Kian said, heading back to the driver’s side. “No more sleep for you, it’s aging me.”

Daven dropped his hands to his sides and hurried around to the passenger side.

“Don’t leave me alone again, Kian,” Daven said, when they were back on the road. “I don’t like not seeing you.”

Kian glanced at Daven, a small smile tagging his lips.


An unsettling weight settled on Kian’s shoulders the moment they crossed the border, and entered The Netherlands. He couldn’t stop thinking about Daven’s contact. When he answered Daven’s phone, the man on the other end asked him if he was Raja Securities. Kian wondered how that man knew about Raja.

How much he knew, and did Daven know?

The questions occupied his thoughts until they hit the A12, heading into The Hague. The radio was still on, and Daven read the book Kian had bought at the Honolulu airport. They hadn’t spoken since their stop in Antwerp. Daven’s anxiety seemed to increase with conversation, so Kian had maintained the silence.

It was a sunny afternoon, going on four o’clock in the afternoon. They’d made good time. Kian took the phone on his lap, checking Taewon’s progress. The dot on the screen continued down to the South of France. He placed the phone on the dashboard, and glanced at Daven.

Their time was ending.

“Daven,” Kian said.

“Hmm…,” Daven glanced up from his book.

“Find your little phone,” Kian said. “We need to talk to your handler.”

“His name is Winston,” Daven said, closing his book, and getting the phone from his pocket.

“Call Winston,” Kian urged when Daven simply stared at it.

Daven met Kian’s gaze.

“This is it, isn’t it?”

“Told you it would end in five hours,” Kian said.

Daven studied him for a moment, and then pressed one on the phone to make his call.

“We’re close,” Daven said in greeting. “Do we head straight to the court?”

Kian held out his hand for the phone, and Daven handed it over without hesitation.

“It’s me.”

“The mysterious protector,” Winston said.

“They’re watching the grid, heading to the court while you wait outside is risky,” Kian stated. He imagined Yui had tasked all Raja Securities satellites and all available operatives on this.

“Do you need a security escort?”

Kian looked at Daven, weighing their options. Despite assurances from Daven, Kian couldn’t bring himself to trust Winston. A faceless man could turn into the worst enemy. He had given up too much to watch Daven get into trouble. Kian returned his attention to the road.

“What is the busiest place in the city?”

“Central Station,” Winston answered. “Many people coming in and going through there, is that your way in? Security can meet you—"

“Send three vans,” Kian said, taking the exit into the city. “Let me call you in a few minutes. If this is to work, you need to do what I say. Will you?”

“As long as Dr. Noland stays safe,” Winston answered.

“He will,” Kian said, glancing at Daven. “The three vans head to this Central Station, and Winston, arm your men, but don’t make it obvious.”

“Alright,” Winston ended the call.

Kian retained the phone, placing it on his lap. He took the one with Taewon’s tracker. The Hague map was already on hand, he’d loaded it a while back. Once he was sure they were on the right track, Kian veered into a side street, parking the car behind a closed shop. The street was empty, except for a dumpster in the dead end ahead, and a pair of bicycles leaning on a wall.

Shutting off the engine, he looked at Daven.

“How well do you know the ICC’s location?” Kian asked.

“I’ve come before,” Daven said, “A few months ago for an unrelated case.”

Taking the phone he was using to track Taewon, Kian programmed directions to the ICC.

He placed the phone on the dashboard, and got out of the car. He went to the trunk, unlocked it and spent a few minutes lifting the carpet on the floor of the trunk. There was a hidden compartment underneath. He pulled out the duffel bags from Taewon’s basement. Slamming the trunk closed, he carried the bags to the driver’s side.

Placing the bags on the driver’s seat, he opened the duffel bag of ammunition and pulled out a bulletproof vest. He handed it to Daven.

“Wear it,” Kian said, when Daven only stared at it.

“Are you expecting trouble?”

“Do you know what’s worse than a contract turned null and void?” Kian asked, slipping knives into his boots.

“No what?” Daven asked, watching Kian.

Kian took out a black jacket from the duffel bag, and slipped bullet magazines into inner pockets. Kian finished arming up, and placed the black jacket over his seat. He took a light green windbreaker from the bottom of the bag and met Daven’s gaze.

“Assassins denied 2.5 million pounds,” Kian said.

Daven got out of the car, and wore the bulletproof vest then. Kian walked around the front of the car to help him tighten the Velcro ties around his torso. Kian smoothed his palm over them and handed the windbreaker to Daven.


“Kian,” Daven said, wearing the windbreaker. “What are we doing?”

“Keeping you alive,” Kian said, helping straighten the windbreaker, once it was done, Kian zipped it up. “I can’t show you how to dodge bullets, but I can protect you from one.”

Daven frowned.

“Where’s yours?”

“Told you I could dodge bullets,” Kian answered.

“Yeah, you said that,” Daven said, his heart pounding faster than usual. His palms were sweaty. The last time that happened was during his first surgery. He had thought he would drop the scalpel, his hands had felt so shaky.

Now—, he swallowed hard.

“Keep your passport handy,” Kian said, distracting him. “In case you need it at entry to prove who you are.”

“What about you?”

“I don’t think they’ll let me out of the ICC if I enter,” Kian said in a teasing tone.

Daven felt a heavy stone settle in his stomach.

“What are you saying?”

“To make this work, I’m going to draw attention away from you,” Kian said. “I told you I’d let you know when I leave you.”

“No.”

“Be brave, Doctor,” Kian teased, his tone chiding. “I promised to keep you safe.”

Only because Kian had stayed by his side, Daven clenched his hands tight, afraid his heart was going to burst out of his chest.

Kian smoothed his hands over Daven’s shoulders.

“Can you drive a stick shift?” Kian asked.

“My dad taught me, when I was a teenager.”

“Would have loved to see that,” Kian said, turning to look at the Mazda Mx-5. “This baby is pretty fast. Don’t be shy, and floor it.”

“I don’t think I can do this,” Daven said, taking Kian’s right hand, he held on tight.

“Yes, you can. It’s the only option I have, so you don’t have a choice,” Kian said, turning to him.

Kian lifted his free hand to caress Daven’s jaw. His fingers tracing Daven’s stubble, his thumb sweeping over Daven’s bottom lip.

Daven met liquid brown eyes and wasn’t conscious of having leaned close until Kian’s lips touched his. He inhaled, taking in Kian’s scent, wanting more than the soft shy brush of Kian’s lips.

Daven reached for Kian, his hand sweeping behind Kian’s neck, pulling him close. He sealed their lips in a hot, possessive kiss. His tongue tracing Kian’s lips, a wild tingle of excitement racing through him when Kian parted his lips, letting him in. Heat simmered…Kian’s taste delicious and intoxicating…arousal slammed through him. Daven’s fingers bunched in Kian’s hair, pulling him closer still, their kiss deepening.

The surge of desire was familiar; the raw, clawing need to possess this one man, hold him, keep him for himself was new. Daven wrapped his arms around Kian, wondering if he wasn’t going crazy with the need to stake a claim.

Was he mad?

They pulled apart when the need to breath became important. Kian pressed his forehead into Daven’s shoulder with a soft breathless sigh. Daven was breathing hard, fear suddenly a living thing inside him.

“If that is twenty percent, I can live with it,” Kian said after a moment.

Daven held on to Kian, closing his eyes. He didn’t want to let go, not after a kiss he thought meant more than he dared define.

How could it be?

This man—

“Have dinner with me,” Daven heard himself say.

“What?”

“Tomorrow night. Not in this city. I want to forget this place after I’m done here. Let’s meet in Amsterdam, Kian. Have dinner with me.”

“You’re nuts,” Kian said, extricating himself from Daven’s embrace. “You shouldn’t see me after this, Daven.”

“Please, Kian,” Daven begged. “I—, don’t say no.”

Kian held his gaze for a minute. Daven wondered if Kian read the truth in his eyes. God, he hoped so, otherwise fate was playing a cruel game.

Kian turned away from him, pacing to the front of the car.

“I don’t think you understand what I am,” Kian said. “You’re blinded by—

“Kian.”

“This is not the best decision you’ve made lately.”

Daven thought he read fear in Kian’s eyes when they finally looked at him. He smiled.

“Meet me, Kian. I’ll let you choose the place, anywhere you want, as long as you don’t stand me up.”

Kian studied him for a moment, and then headed for the driver’s side.

When Kian leaned in to take out his bags, it felt like a rejection. Daven shook his head, thinking this was just as well.

Kian had—

“I’ll try my best,” Kian said.

Daven looked at Kian in surprise.

“You understand I might not make it?”

“You will,” Daven said, elated. “You’re my assassin, remember?”

Kian stared at him, then chuckled and held up the keys.

“Come, Daven. We don’t have time to waste.”

Daven went around the car to where Kian held the driver’s door. He leaned in and stole a swift kiss on Kian’s lips, then went around Kian, settling in the driver’s seat. Kian closed the door, and Daven rolled down the window. Kian held out the white phone he’d been using.

Daven took it.

“Call your burner,” Kian said.

Daven punched in numbers he had memorized. The black phone he’d held on for months rang and Kian pressed the answer button, and then ended the call. He plugged in earphones Daven hadn’t seen and slipped the phone into his pocket.

“I’ll call you in a few minutes,” Kian said, wearing the black jacket full of ammunition. “Take care of that phone, it has precious information.”

Daven nodded, remembering that Kian was tracking Taewon’s progress.

“I’ll protect it,” Daven said, with a small smile.

“Don’t stop for anything,” Kian said.

“Don’t get hurt,” Daven ordered.

Kian chuckled and leaned in to press a chaste kiss on Daven’s forehead.

“Don’t worry, Doctor. I’m a Pro.”

Daven sighed.

“That’s not something to brag about, Kian.”

“Drive, Daven,” Kian ordered, stepping away from the car. “The faster you get there, the quicker this ends.”

Daven took in the sight of Kian, this man who’d shown up in his life like magic. Hoping this wasn’t the last time they were seeing each other, he turned over the engine, gave Kian a short wave, and took off.


Alone, Kian wore his cap, picked up the duffel bags and started heading back the way he had driven in. Finding the Central Station was easy, getting in even easier, however, escaping surveillance took up time. He found the lockers and stowed away both duffel bags. He kept Daven’s burner phone. Closing the locker, he put the key into his boot, and made his way to the men’s bathroom.

Inside a stall, he called Winston to ensure the man was on his way and then came out of the bathroom, removing his cap. This time, he wasn’t too concerned about surveillance. He walked into the main lobby of the station and stood in the middle.


“The Hague Central Station,” Yui said, the simple statement sending two dozen operatives moving across the small city into action.

The screens around the room went active with feeds from all twenty-four operatives tasked with capturing Kian and Daven. They all converged toward The Hague Central Station.

“It's official the Noland contract is void,” Yui said. “You know why you’re there. Remember there are too many eyes watching. Make it fast and quiet, you’re cleared on all measures.”

The Seventh cursed under his breath.

“I should shoot your man for losing me a huge payload.”

Yui studied Kian who stood in the middle of Central Station, seeming unconcerned.

“Don’t kill him,” Yui said, her tone, though quiet, dripped with menace. “Hurting him a bit is okay. He has cost us millions.”

“You’re cold, woman,” the Seventh said.

Yui switched off the connection to the Seventh, her gaze still on Kian. She understood he was the best, and that he wouldn’t be standing in such a visible spot without a plan.

“Toshio,” Yui called her assistant. “Search surveillance, three-mile radius, all routes into the City. Find out how he got in. He is too calm, so he has a way out. We need to capture Taewon to subdue him. Retrace his steps. Find me Taewon.”


Daven followed the map, his fingers wrapped tight around the steering wheel. His torso felt tight, he imagined the bulletproof vest didn’t help matters. Taking in a deep breath, he tried to relax. Distracted by his thoughts, he almost ran a light. Slamming his foot on the brake, he glanced in the rear view mirror. Thankfully, there was no car behind him.

The phone on his lap rang, and he answered it on the first ring.

“Are you forgetting to breathe?” Kian asked in greeting, he sounded calm, his voice sending away the butterflies doing a merry dance in Daven’s stomach.

“How often do you do things like this?” Daven asked.

“Not often,” Kian said. “I haven’t done it since Taewon.”

The light changed and Daven eased his foot off the brake.

“Where do you live, Kian?” Daven asked.

“I’m a wanderer,” Kian answered.

“That sounds lonely,” Daven said. “Would you like a home?”

There was silence on Kian’s end. Daven drove into a tunnel and he wondered if it had interrupted service.

“I—I’ve never thought about it,” Kian’s answer came after a while. “I suppose it would be an interesting adventure to try.”

Daven smiled.

“I think you’d be good at staying put, and living.”

“You are so optimistic.”

“Apart from coffee—”

“Anyone following you?” Kian cut in. “Look in the rear view mirror. Tell me how many cars you see?”

“A few,” Daven said, wondering if he could manage high speed driving if someone was behind him.

“Anyone overlapping, or over speeding to get to you?” Kian asked.

“No.”

“Good. They haven’t caught on. How far are you?”

“Taking the roundabout, about two minutes out,” Daven said.

“Alright, Doctor. We part here,” Kian said.

“Kian.” Daven panicked, he hadn’t even said thank you yet. “Wait—”

“Be safe. I hope your information is worth it.”

The call ended just as Daven reached the turn into the ICC building. He stopped the car at the gates, and stared at the guards coming toward him. He had made it. Daven felt his lungs constrict, making it difficult to breath. He stared at white gates ahead. All he needed to do was get in there, and this would end.

He could go back home to Naomi and the kids. Forget working in war zones, and live a quiet life. He glanced at the phone on his lap.

What about Kian?

A knock came on his window. He glanced at the guard looking at him expectantly. Daven rolled down his window.

“Afternoon, I’m Dr. Daven Noland…”


Daven was safe.

Kian stepped out of The Hague Central Station his gaze on the vans waiting at the curb. The three men leaning on the vans stood waiting. With Daven at the courts, Kian didn’t need to put them in danger, he’d needed to be sure Winston was trustworthy.

The burner rang and Kian answered it.

“Where are you?” Winston asked.

A man of average height, wearing glasses, dressed in khakis and a t-shirt emerged from the passenger seat in the middle van. Kian didn’t think this man could protect anyone. His tone sounded worried, anxious. Winston was genuine, how rare and lucky, Kian thought.

“The Doctor is already at the courts,” Kian said. “Sorry for playing a terrible game on you. I’m worse than you on trust.”

“Who are you?”

“Someone with nothing to lose,” Kian answered, spotting the Seventh Operative to his left. The man loved motorcycles too much. “The Doctor is safe. See that he stays that way.”

What he needed now was a fast way out.

“Wait, are you from Raja,” Winston started to ask.

Kian ended the call, dropped the phone on the ground, and crashed it with his boot. The Seventh Operative stopped his motorcycle right behind the three vans. Kian reached into his jacket, and got his gun.

The Seventh smiled at him.

“Give up,” the words were soft, said right behind Kian.

Kian’s grip on his gun tightened. So, the target had changed. Yui wanted him. Looking up into the sky, he smirked, hoping Yui captured it good, then turned too fast, and struck the amateur behind him on the head with the butt of his gun.

The man fell to his knees hard, eliciting screams from the pedestrians walking out of the station. Kian gave up all pretenses as twenty-two operatives came running at him.


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