As she blinked her eyes open to the grey haze of a beginning day, she knew her day would be life changing. Today was the beginning the rest of her life, she thought as she stretched and felt the twinges in her back, knowing her sleeping arrangements had put more strain on it. Her back was the least of her problems, though, and she knew a fresh start meant new beginnings. New beginnings can be painful. She had cut all ties in her hometown, and only a very few knew she was gone from the area.
A clean break. She was grateful that only a handful of people had to be told. Her closest friends and family all given the explicit instructions not to tell anyone even in reference she where she was. Seventeen states and more than half the country separated them now. She was more than happy to have this clean slate. She had fought for it. Her life was never the same after she tried and failed once before. She always chalked that up to be so young, so naive, so trusting, but most of all not experienced in the people of the world. She paid dearly for that. A lesson learned and one she never forgot.
This place was new in every sense of the word. New for her, new things around her, and no real paper trail led to her here. She could breathe again. She could relax for the first time in years. Life was finally what she wanted.
As she stretched again and felt the bones in her backshift, then make a pop, she hoped she could catch it before the pain started. She moved out of the bed and shuffled to the kitchen to start the coffee she knew she was going to need. As the small apartment began to fill with the scent of those bitter beans, she went to the sliding glass door that led to her balcony and went out. She sat down and lit a cigarette in a comfortable routine that She began years prior. It was a simple thing, and one she knew could lead to problems, but at this point, she really didn’t care. Sitting back and watching the colors play out in front of her in the sky she smiled and nodded to her herself. This really was a new beginning.
She hopped in the shower and let the water ease the muscles in her back as she still stretched in uncomfortable ways to help move the muscles around. If she didn’t catch the pain in time, the day could easily be ruined. She got out of the shower, and the mirror in the bathroom reflected her reality back to her. Even with the towel wrapped around her small frame, she could see the angry red marks of the day that she woke up to the cruelty of people. One person, in fact, showed her how life really was and that it was not idyllic as she had pictured.
She tried her hardest not to focus on the marks, but in the harsh lighting of the bathroom, they popped out against her alabaster skin. Red and raised the scars that never faded much like the ones in her mind only she liked to pretend those didn’t exist but they were very real as well. That she was over what had happened on the fateful day, her normal life was ripped from her, and she was placed back into a bruised and broken body. Those scars were to her the most dangerous, but they also kept her alive in the following years. As she carefully dressed, making sure none of them could be seen, she finished getting ready for her new life. The one she had hoped for so long ago. As she shut the door behind her and locked it, she hoped beyond hope that this was everything she had hoped for.
Two hours later she was in the conference room meeting with all the new heads of departments for the building and even more so the area she was now in. Everyone had finally arrived and had been set up in the secure facility. There were twenty or so people mingling around introducing themselves and basically getting a reading on their new co-workers. She stayed in her seat. Though she could normally pretend to be a socially normal person today was not the day. She plastered on her smile and was shocked that she was indeed the only female in a senior position. That was enough to set her mind racing. The men here were like the other. Big, strong, and deadly. Her hidden fear was being to break free, and she was trying to spackle the cracks shut. She couldn’t show weakness, not here, not now. These were the best of the best in what they do, they would be able to break her in a few minutes if they saw the fissure for what it was, if they even took notice of her in the first place.
She had been in luck that day. No one did. At least not overtly enough for her to notice. They kept their distance as they mingled, and she kept her eyes down on the papers that were distributed during the actual presentation. To the outsider, she looked like she was just going over things and memorizing new procedures. In fact, she was trying to remember to breathe and hoped that no one would draw attention to the fact her eyes had shot open when she walked in the room and saw the full room of nothing but non-ordinary males.
“Hey, Princess?” One of the men walked up as he placed out his hand for her to shake.
“Princess?” She asked as she looked up with almost a glare.
“Sorry I didn’t catch your name, but we are all going to lunch and then to get a few drinks since we all are going to be working closely. We wanted to invite you.” He said as she slipped her hand out of his as the introductory handshake was over.
“Thank you, but I have some catching up to do.” She said softly. “Another time possibly.”
She hoped since she was the last person to arrive, they would understand and not see it as a slight. She didn’t want to get off to the wrong foot with them, but she doubted she could actually handle all of them at the same time in an enclosed space for any period of time. She was fine in small groups but not larger ones.
“Understandable.” He said with a gentle smile, “Don’t work yourself too hard.”
“I won’t, thank you.” She said as they all huddled out of the room and she was left alone. She sat back and let out a deep sigh. “Well, idiot, what next?” She asked herself doubting in herself as she looked around. Maybe one day she would be better again. She would go back to the way she was before. She shook her head and stood. This was going to be a long day.
“Poor thing looked scared to death when she walked in,” Masamune said.
“Did you really call our new head research scientist a poor thing?” Kenshin asked.
“Did you see her face?” Mitsunari asked, “she was terrified.”
“It isn’t because of her work. She is well known in the field and also known as a recluse. She never speaks publicly though her formulas are not taught throughout the world.” Sasuke replied.
“There is a fighter underneath the skin. There has to be. Otherwise, she would not be here.” Nobunaga replied. All the men were gathered at the long table picking of the dishes in front of them and drink a beer from the tap. One started to laugh. Though the man was not known to them before today.
“She is a fighter, and she would kill me for saying anything.” He began, “but to be honest everyone should know. Five years ago she died, well almost died. She was beaten to within an inch of her life, and well she hasn’t been the same since.”
“Beaten?” The man who had talked to her before at the meeting, Hideyoshi asked.
“Yeah, twenty-seven broken bones and eight surgeries later we are waiting for the woman to return, but I think the damage was more mental than she lets in.” The stranger said.
“Who?” Five of the men asked at the same time. They all silently hoped it was a stranger attack, but something told them it wasn’t.
“Her ex-husband.” The man replied. “Sad thing was they were good together. There had never been any problems, no warning signs, he snapped one day while she was on the phone with work of all things. The person she was on the phone with heard the entire thing. They had to leave the post a few months later it was too much for them and they had a mental breakdown. I was one of the first on scene, and it was definitely too much to see her like that. She can handle maybe five men at a time and then it gets bad. It is an improvement though so we all hope, one day, maybe.” He trailed off, but the unsaid words were there, and everyone at the table heard them loud and clear.
“Where is the ex?” Shingen asked quietly.
“Besides damaging a beautiful woman to the point of seclusion, that ass hat got off on all the charges. Some freaking technical bull crap from her admission to the hospital got lost, and they couldn’t prosecute.” Another man from down the table said loud and clear.
“But he left her alone, right?” Yukimura asked as his face flushed with anger for the injustice of it all.
“That kid is probably the worst part of the story.” Their new boss walked up and sat at the head of the table, “he didn’t leave her alone. He was so outraged that she had survived that he made it a life mission to go after her in every way he could. He at one point was a brilliant computer programmer that had so many ideas of new software that we all bet that he would make it big one day. However, after the incident, he used that knowledge to go after her every unseen way possible. He cyber stalked her, he was in every part of her business and private life. He tormented her at every turn. She is a fighter, but I think ultimately it was the extra torment that sealed her fate. Like Aaron said she has made improvements, she is light years beyond where she was when she first woke up from the coma. That is why I moved her out here. She needed a fresh start. When this project was proposed, I knew it may be the thing that saved the rest of her. She is special to many of us.”
“I can see that,” Ieyasu replied. His tone different from his normal flippant one, “She seems not as weak as most females.”
“She isn’t.” Came a voice from down the table.
“So the reason you are telling us all this?” Mitsuhide asked in his normal bored tone.
“Give her time.” Their boss said. “She will bring us all great success. I still believe that, but you all have to be patient around her. Don’t overcrowded her either. Also, no real sudden movements. She tries to hide it, but they still affect her on a deep level. I don’t believe she saw any of the blows that came to her, but the idea was implanted, and she flinches easily.”
“All good to know,” Nobunaga said. “I think we can all strive to keep your princess calm and safe.”
“Good. Her address is classified, but he will try to figure out where she is. This move was done in a way nothing is in her name. Basically, she disappeared from the face of the earth. Hopefully, that will buy her healing time.” Their boss said with a glance over the table. He knew this was a good idea as he watched the ideas sink into the newer men’s heads. She would be protected here by her own members of the team that was formed years ago and these newer men. He sat back and smiled to himself, she might do really well here after all.
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