It was everywhere. In the harsh white light, the splatters across the wall looked like some kind of morbid modern art exhibit. Smeared handprints on the doorknob told the story of a desperate escape, the large crimson pool at your feet a monument to the failed attempt.
He’d come in through the front door, kicking it off its hinges and sending it flying across the room with a strength that terrified the scene examiners.
The ballistic team had marked out the trajectories of the whirlwind of bullets which had flown his way upon his intrusion. All had missed their mark save one, which they suspected had scraped his arm based on the evidence and what they already knew of his physical profile.
They’d retrieved the bullet from the wall and the forensic investigators had collected a blood sample but it wouldn’t provide any useful information. All the database would bring up would be matches to the massacres of fifteen other major cartels. You could prove it was the same man responsible for these killings but he was nothing more than a ghost without a record in any database.
The only information you had was a name used by the Japanese underground to describe him: Ronin. A masterless samurai. A lone warrior taking justice into his win hands. Other than that, you were chasing rumours in the hopes of catching a lead.
Ronin had ploughed through the mob, taking them down quickly. Ruthlessly. Painfully. The bodies had been removed not but you’d been one of the first on the scene. You’d seen how he’d butchered them. He’d slit their throats enough to drop them to the ground but not to kill them; instead they choked on their blood, watching him slaughter the others as they died. Or he had stabbed them in the stomach, twisting, incapacitating, but not enough to kill them right away. It hadn’t been confirmed yet but you knew the weapon would match the other crime scenes - the signature katana.
It never got easier to walk onto one of his crime scenes. Over the past year, you’d seen things that had scarred you. You rarely slept now. You used your energy and drive to catch this man. Because yes, he was only killing drug lords and gangsters now but you could see he had a taste for it.
There were enough signs to suggest Ronin took some kind of twisted pleasure in making these men hurt. And there was nothing to suggest that he would stop. Once a person has gotten a taste for this, there was no going back. You couldn’t let it continue. You would catch him before he crossed the line and hurt an innocent.
A gentle tap on your shoulder had you spinning around, fingers tightening around your gun. You instantly relaxed at the familiar face of your superior, offering a shaky smile as you released your hold on your weapon. “Sir.”
“I was going to ask how you were doing but I think I’ve got my answer.”
“The hell you are. Take a break, detective. You’ve been here for hours. Go back to your room. Get some sleep. Come back tomorrow with fresh eyes.”
“Really, Sir, I’m fine. I don’t need to sleep.”
“Well, there’s a bar not far from here. Bit of a dive but cheap and the liquor does the job.” There was no judgement in his voice. Everyone who’d been working this case, especially those of you who had been on it for a long while, had taken up drinking to cope with what you saw. With a tight smile, the lines on his face so much deeper than they had been just a year ago, he said, “I’ll call you if we find something new. Have a good night, detective.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
Stepping away from the red and blue flashing lights and into the bright glow of the neon signs that permanently illuminated the night here, you soon found the bar and headed in. It was a bit of a dump; dark and dingy and perfect for your terrible mood. With your limited Japanese you ordered a drink and found a seat in the corner of the bar, silently watching people without any real interest as you drank the night away.
That was until a man walked in and caught your attention. You caught a glance of his face in the reflection on the glass. He wore the weight of the world in the lines around his eyes. Eyes which had seen far too much loss for one lifetime. The Decimation had taken a toll on everyone but there was more to his pain than that.
You couldn’t explain the draw you felt to him. The entire world was hurting and yet you found yourself wishing there was a way you could ease his pain. One man, a stranger nonetheless, over the entire world. Sure, he was handsome but there was more to it than that. You just didn’t couldn’t put your finger on what.
His gaze roamed the bar until it suddenly landed on you. Normally you’d look away but there was something about this man. It was like you already knew him. An eyebrow quirked questioningly as he glanced at the empty space beside you. Can I join you?
A little nod, barely visible in the dim light, but he saw. You introduced yourself as he slipped into the booth beside you.
“Clint.” He smiled, a broken attempt, pain seeping through the cracks. His eyes rolled shamelessly over your body, your skin burning as he practically undressed you with his mind. Lost in the intensity of his gaze, it took you an embarrassingly long time to realise he was actually searching you for weapons - something you should have done immediately but were too distracted to do.
“What brings you here, Clint?”
A man of many words, you mused. It was a nice change from the people you usually surrounded yourself with; eager chasers of justice, unable to let the silence lie for more than a minute. It was understandable. Many people found the silence unbearable now for it, like everything else, stood as a reminder of what had been lost.
Shuffling a little closer to Clint so that you might hear his answer over the noise, you asked, “What kind of work?”
“I hunt people.”
You understood. After The Decimation, there people searching for family everywhere. Some had been lost. Others had run away to deal with the consequences. With families broken across the world, a large demand had grown for private investigators to search for the missing. Especially insurance and debt companies who were keen to prove people were still alive and not just in hiding to get a nice payout or escape their bills.
“That’s good work.” His expression hardened, suppressing some emotion, and you wondered for a moment whether there was perhaps another meaning to his words. Searching his face for answers, you asked the one question that could never be escaped. “Who did you lose?”
You closed your eyes, taking a moment to picture your family. Their faces were fading from your mind now. In a way, it was almost a blessing. It helped soften the pain sometimes. Other times, it only made it sting more. With the same practised ease as every other survivor on the planet, you answered levelly, “Me too. They turned to dust in my arms.”
“I didn’t even see them go,” Clint muttered, his guilt tangible. “Turned my back for a moment and they were gone.”
“You were lucky then.”
The words slipped out before you could stop them. You weren’t surprised when Clint bit back, “None of us are lucky.”
The familiar silence settled between you as you allowed each other the proper time to remember The Vanished. Once the minimum acceptable period of silence had passed, Clint downed the liquid in his glass and forced a lightness into his tone. “What is a beautiful woman doing in a place like this?”
“Work,” you said, turning away to hide your smile at his compliment. “I’m hunting people, too. Only, we know they’re still alive.”
Clint stiffened, barely for a moment but long enough for you to catch the reaction. He hid it with a lazy smile, the gentle pressure of his fingers spreading over your knee but the wariness remained nonetheless. “You’re a cop.”
“Is that a problem?”
“Who are you hunting?”
“I can’t say.”
“Of course not.”
You expected conversation to turn to lighter topics and for a while they did. You spoke about the normal, pointless things that people did on dates, the distance between you fading away as you bared as much of yourselves as you dared. There was no denying the connection you felt to Clint. He was funny and far from smooth but you enjoyed his company. He made it easy to ignore the many shadows which weighed down on your mind.
That was why you were surprised when he pulled the conversation in an entirely different direction and back towards everything you were here to forget about. “It makes you angry, doesn’t it? That murderers and rapists survived but innocent kids were taken.”
You weren’t certain why he’d asked but there was no denying the truth. “Yeah.”
“You wish they died instead?”
“Sometimes. But I’m not a god. It’s not my place to deal out death and condemn people to an end like that, no what whether they deserve it or not.”
Clint laughed, harsh but also sad. “Idealism. That’s cute.”
“We have to hold on to our ideals or we become the monsters we’re trying fight.”
“It’s a dark world, Y/N. Sometimes you just have to do what needs to be done.”
His words left no doubt in your mind. Your earlier suspicions about his true meaning, his real purpose here, were confirmed. You should have felt angry, you were a cop after all and he was putting you in a very difficult position here, but you understood his reasoning even if you didn’t want to. “The people you hunt…”
He smiled, although it was more of a grimace. You searched his face for shame or regret but there was none. No, that was wrong. It was there but Clint had locked it away in a place where it could never stop him from finishing his task. “Am I talking to you or the detective?”
You rest your chin on his shoulder, breathing in the earthy scent of his cologne. Trailing your fingers down the length of his jaw, the light stubble making the pads tingle, you said, “I’m off duty.”
“They’re bad people, yes.”
“You know him, don’t you?”
Clint frowned. “Who?”
“The man I’m hunting. You must cross paths, share targets and information. They’re calling him Ronin.” Clint flinched involuntarily at the name, giving you the answer you sought. You knew you shouldn’t be discussing the case, not even mentioning it, and yet with Clint you couldn’t help yourself. Leaning back to get a better look at his face, you pressed, “So, do you know him? Or you’ve heard of him? What can you tell me? At this point I’ll take anything.”
His hand found yours in your lap and he laced his fingers with yours. You could almost feel him shaking and wondered what about Ronin could have him so nervous. Those thoughts fell away beneath the intensity of his gaze, though. “Walk away while you can, sugar. You don’t want to get involved. It will only end badly.”
You got the distinct impression that it was not just the case he was talking about anymore. Swallowing deeply, your mouth suddenly very dry, you whispered, “I can’t.”
“I know the feeling.” Clint’s gaze flickered between your eyes and your lips. His mouth parted slightly, tongue darted out to wet his lips as the silent question hung heavily in the air between you. Do you want this too?
His lips were soft against yours, a gentle kiss, restrained but somehow still intense. The moment you responded, Clint pulled you into his lap and something exploded between you. You kissed desperately, messily, as you chased the connection, needing to feel less alone for just a little while.
He ran his hands over your body, rough fingers cupping your breast through your shirt as he sucked a dark bruise on your neck. You rolled your hips over his hard length which strained against his jeans, and moaned into his mouth. “More.”
You jumped as a glass slammed against your table. You instinctively reached to your side to grab your gun, despite not being armed. Interestingly, Clint did the same only he reached behind his shoulder to pull a non existent weapon instead.
An angry looking man, one of the owners of the bar no doubt, growled in limited English, “Take it outside.”
With the little dignity you could muster, you grabbed your bag and snuck out the back door. The cool evening air hit your face as Clint backed you against the wall. The fought bricks scratched your arms as he kissed you, dropping your purse at your feet as he sucked another mark on your neck, a shiver running down your spine as he nipped at the sensitive skin.
You slipped your hands under his jacket, beneath his shirt, and ran your fingers over his skin. You felt the raised, uneven edges of scars beneath your touch. Even without seeing the scars, you knew that they extended all over his body. The urge to kiss them all was overwhelming. You wanted to take away his pain.
“Don’t,” Clint breathed, his nose bumping against yours. “Don’t feel sorry for me.”
He dug his fingers into your waist, bruisingly hard and deepened the kiss. You weren’t fighting for dominance over each other. You were fighting for dominance over the world, over your lives. Too much had been tainted, ruined by darkness in the past few years. You wanted, needed, this. You had to feel the spark of a connection, of life, again.
Clint nipped your lip as you fumbled with his belt. You pulled his trousers down and knelt on the floor, freeing his cock. He was already hard, tip swollen and dripping precum. You wrapped your lips around him, the salty taste thick on your tongue.
You pulled off with a lewd pop, taking a moment to glance up at his dishevelled state. The neon lights down nearby streets highlighted Clint’s sharp jawline, shimmered in his dark, lust filled eyes. His lips were parted, his chest heaved raggedly as he fought to maintain control. He was halfway undone and entirely gorgeous.
The heavy footsteps of drunken passersby and screaming arguments floating down from nearby apartment blocks filled the air, a stark reminder that anyone could stumble past and find you like this, on your knees for a stranger in a dingy back alley. A man you’d met barely an hour ago. It was perverse and dirty and thrilling.
You cupped his balls, the sudden, gentle pressure eliciting a deep moan that vibrated through Clint’s entire body. As you licked his shaft, tracing the ridges with your tongue and swirling it over the tip and around the head, Clint’s breathing became heavier, his grip on your hair tighter.
A sharp pain as he tugged on the strands of your hair urged you desperately for more. It went straight to your core, heat and wetness pooling between your legs. Clint pulled harder, arching your neck back so that he could slip his cock between your lips and into your mouth. Slowly, he went deeper, your eyes watering as you took him as far as you could without gagging.
His thrusts lost their strict rhythm as Clint got closer to his release, eyelids fluttering shut as he fucked your tight mouth. His thighs trembled beneath your fingers, the strong muscles tightened and his moans grew in volume as the salty taste of his cum coated your tongue.
Pulling you to your feet, he wiped his thumb along your lips, cleaning the spilled drops, then kissed you bruisingly hard. You grunted as your back hit the wall but Clint made it up to you by sliding his hand beneath your waistband and drawing a finger through your slick folds. He hummed against your mouth, praisingly, swallowing every moan as he circled your clit.
You rolled your hips against his hand, the blissful warmth spreading through your body not enough to satisfy your desire. Catching his bottom lip between your teeth, you gave a playful tug, the look in your eyes anything but playful, and breathed, “Fuck me, Clint. Please.”
“I want you, Clint.” You sucked a mark on his neck, beneath his ear, and you feel his defences dropping with every passing second. “I know you want me too so take me.”
He didn’t argue that. He didn’t need to. Pushing your trousers down below your knees, Clint pulled your panties aside and slowly slid his thick length into your wet hole. Once you had adjusted to his size he thrust deep into you, his hands sliding around to your ass and squeezing hard enough to make you squeal.
The sound of your bodies together, of your low moans and groans, were drowned out by the noise of the bustling city. Your desperate cries as you chased your pleasure were indistinguishable from the cries of pain and loss that hung heavily like a cloud above the world.
Your core tightened as the tension inside you built. Clint was close, too. His thrusts were becoming frantic, no longer deep and slow but rough and desperate. You rubbed your clit until your pussy clenched around his cock, orgasm wracking your body and simultaneously pushing him over the edge.
Breathing heavily, you clung to Clint and buried your head in his chest. His hand snaked up your back and tangled itself in your hair, pulling you closer to him. You lost yourself in the beating of his heart, clinging to each other. You were together but somehow still alone in the world.
He finally pulled out of you, your combined juices dripping down the inside of your leg. As you slowly untangled yourselves from one another, tugging your clothes back into place, you couldn’t meet his eyes because you know what you’ll see. The pain, the loss. It had been three years since The Decimation but the shadow still hung heavily over life, tainting every pleasurable moment with sadness and guilt for what you were trying to leave behind.
Clint brushed his lips over yours, softer than any touch you’d shared. His forehead resting against yours, he muttered, “I hope you catch your man, Y/N.”
With that, he threw up his hood and walked away, disappearing into the night.