Yuki looked out of the stained window of her apartment, at the rain-swept Seattle street scene below. Dirty rain water ran along the gutters, where normally there might have been rats. A stiff wind blew some torn down poster along like tumbleweed. A motorbike roared past, the driver seemingly in a hurry to get into a different part of the city.
People clung to the shadows of doorways like it was their only defence. But the cherry glow of cigarettes marked out the fact that they were there. Some were waiting for people. Some were simply waiting out their time – nothing else to do, nowhere to go, apart from hang around on the streets and smoke.
Somewhere a car backfired. Or maybe it was a gunshot. In fact, a gunshot was more likely. But nobody jumped, or reacted. It was not as though it was them who were getting shot at.
This was not the wealthiest part of the city; but it was not quite the worst. The windows had glass in, and you could go outside without expecting to have somebody try to rip you off. But it was home for Yukio, and had been for the past three years or so.
Some woman in a state of near undress went out of the shadows of a doorway as a car cruised slowly down the road. Yuki watched their unheard conversation. Apparently it did not go to either person’s satisfaction, as the car drove off, while the woman gave him the finger, before returning to the dryness of a shadowy doorway.
A narrow alleyway was diagonally opposite Yuki’s apartment. From her window she could only see the entrance to the place. But she knew that alleyway well, with its dirt and overflowing bins, its rats and starving cats in search of fish heads. She had run along that alleyway several times in the past, sometimes bouncing off the brick walls. It was one of her routes along the city.
More raindrops hit the window, each perfect sphere hitting the glass and dying, their corpses sliding down the pane. In one corner water leaked onto the window shelf, making a tiny pool, where the window did not quite fit its frame.
Yuki did not bother staring at the leak. She was looking up at the roofs on the other side of the road, where she had several different runs away from her home. Sometimes she would roar down the streets on the back of her Suzuki. But sometimes it was safer to go along the roofs, jumping across the gaps, making routes other than that of the sidewalk.
Nobody looked up at Yuki, as she looked out on her city. People walked along with their heads down, and it was not just the rain. There was something about life which kept their gazes down.
She was safe in her apartment, at least for the moment. The place might not be much, but it was her home. It was the place where she kept all her clothes: she spent as much of her money on looking good as on the rent for this place, and the two safe houses which she maintained, as boltholes if she needed to run.
But this was home, and she would do her best to defend it if anything happened, and not just because it was a place she laid down her head. Hidden under the floorboards, and wrapped up to protect it, there was her spare katana, just in case something happened to the one which she carried everywhere with her. Weapons could be taken away from people, and it was wise to have spares.
Her spare guns were not in this apartment, though. They were hidden inside one of her safe houses. That was just in case something happened to this place, and someone discovered where she hid her other sword.
All of her clothes were here, though. They were in the wardrobe next to her bed. You had to look good. What was the point of doing anything, if you could not do it in style?
Her com link beeped. Time for work…