One

Chapter 5: Assignments

Prompt(s) Used: “Literally everything about this is illegal.”

 

When I exited my room that morning, I was greeted by Snow with a tall stack of pancakes.

“Good morning, Rain!” he walked over and pulled me to the dining room table.

“Ah, morning, Snow.”

He placed a large plate in front of me and started piling pancakes from his main stack. He slathered them with a thick layer of butter and doused them with honey. Then, he handed me a gleaming fork and knife.

“Pancakes always make me feel better when I’m having a rough time,” he said quietly.

“Uhm… thanks. I really appreciate it.”

As I cut into the first pancake, the mixture of sugar and grease dripped down the edges. I put the wedge into my mouth and was overwhelmed by how light and fluffy they were. This shouldn’t have surprised me since Snow cooked most of our meals when he was around, and they were always delicious. If Snow hadn’t become an assassin, he would have likely made an excellent chef.

“Coffee, Hail?”

“Yes, please.”

I looked up and watched as Jude entered the kitchen and sat down on the furthest chair from me. His nose and cheeks were scarlet, and his face glistened with perspiration. The only time I had ever seen him look that exhausted was when he tried to cook dinner before Snow joined us.

“Jude, you look exhausted. Did you help Snow with the pancakes?”

He didn’t even turn to look at me.

“No. He forgot that I’m allergic to blueberries. I’ve been throwing up for the past few minutes.”

“I’m sorry,” Snow handed him a cup of coffee and a plate of toast.

“That’s okay, dear,” he said flatly.

I resumed eating my breakfast in silence.

I caught a streak of blonde hair in the corner of my eye. I turned to confirm my suspicion that Sunny was home. She was curled up on the sofa, her long dark brown hair falling over the half of her face that was scarred. The lower half of her hair had patches of blonde that she had bleached herself. When she was younger, her parents had bleached her hair periodically because they wanted to turn her into a child pop star. They succeeded. She had a large following at her peak.

Unfortunately, she also had a lot of stalkers. Rumours circulated in her fandom about her parents being physically abusive and one of her stalkers decided to take matters into her own hands. She got the scar on her face from trying to fight her off her parents. The stalker later committed suicide for ruining her idol’s face. She tells me that she decided to keep bleaching her hair in memory of her parents.

Snow placed a cup of coffee on the coffee table in front of the sofa.

“Sunny, the dealer is coming to hand out assignments in ten minutes. Come on, wake up.”

She stirred, almost kicking him in the shin when she stretched out her legs. She pushed back the hair in her face as she sat up.

“I haven’t even gotten an hour of sleep. It’s illegal for me to be this overworked.”

“Literally everything about this is illegal,” Jude retorted.

She laughed. She turned to say something to him, but she stopped herself when she caught me starring at her.

“Hey, Rain,” the corners of her mouth curled into a warm smile in spite of her bloodshot eyes.

“Nice to have you back, Sunny.”

Her smile widened, one side more so than the other. She picked up the cup of coffee and sipped it slowly. I hadn’t noticed how matted her hair was. She must have just returned from an assignment earlier that morning.

As I walked over to the sink to wash my plate and utensils, I heard the front door creak open. I glanced at Jude, whose shoulders had stiffened up. The dealer had arrived.

“Good morning, everyone,” she called out as she walked towards us.

She took a seat on the sofa next to Sunny. Snow rushed over to hand her a cup of coffee, which she declined. I heard Jude’s chair scratch the floor as he got up and walked over to her. I left my plate and utensils in the sink unwashed. They could wait. She couldn’t.

“I have fewer assignments than usual. However, they are more difficult than the level that you’re used to. As you’ve probably noticed, you’re the only ones here. I’ve already met with the other agents and given them their assignments. Now, I only have two left.”

“Who’s my partner, chief?” Jude said.

“That would be Rain.”

“Of course,” I muttered.

“Here are your briefs,” she said as she retrieved four manila folders from her briefcase and distributed them, “I strongly recommend that you memorise it front to back.”

“Oh come on, chief. It’s not like we haven’t been doing this for years.”

“Hail, this is nothing close to what you’re used to. You’re not going to be handling defenseless civilians or politicians.”

I opened the the folder that I was handed. I dropped it almost as soon as I saw it. My parents’ faces in the photographs were staring back at me.

“Who… Who’s the client?” I asked.

“You know that’s confidential information.”

“Who?”

“Rain, if you want to switch…,” Snow offered.

“WHO?” I shouted over him.

The dealer remained silent. I could feel everyone in the room staring at me. Usually, none of us would even dare to disagree with her, let alone raise our voices at her. She was the only means for us to survive. If we still had the will to live, we’d have to stay on her good side.

“Who?” I asked again.

She hesitated before finally saying, “The Algasuvian government.”

 

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