Chapter Forty Nine ~ Subterfuge

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Kento made a big show of peering into his wallet before sighing and shaking his head. "Never mind," he mumbled to the inn owner. The man gave the three genin a look full of pity but said nothing; business was business, and he couldn't go around giving handouts to every person he felt sorry for.

Aisa and Michiko fixed worried expressions on their faces. "What are we going to do?" Michiko asked in a lowered voice that purposefully carried to those around them. She wanted someone from the organization to hear them, after all.

Aisa scanned the room subtly, picking out threats and possible targets. "There," he suddenly breathed. "We've got one watching us."

Neither Michiko nor Kento look around, trusting Aisa. "This was the last place we could've maybe afforded," Aisa raised his voice again, still playing at their fake whispers. "Let's just find somewhere to sleep tonight and continue tomorrow morning."

Kento frowned but nodded, and Michiko wrapped her arms around herself, purposefully shivering once. "Okay," she mumbled. "Let's go."

They headed toward the door, and Aisa nodded once when the girl he'd spotted started following them. They made a show of briefly hesitating before leaving the warmth of the inn before ducking out into the dark street, the light of the inn creating harsh shadows before the door closed.

"C'mon," Aisa murmured, heading down an ally. "She might not approach us until being sure we're actually on the streets. Or they might—"

"Hey, look what we've got here."

"Or they might do this," Aisa sighed. "Don't worry."

The three genin pressed a little closer together as two men approached. "We saw you flashing that money in the inn," one said, stubble long enough to create a wispy mustache.

"Yeah," the other man, shorter and stockier, agreed. "And you see, there's a price for sleeping on our streets, too. So hand it over and we can all have a nice night."

The genin glanced at each other, then Michiko spoke. "But... but this is all we have," she protested, voice wobbling. "What are we supposed to do without it?"

"What do we care?" The one with the wispy mustache asked, then pulled out a long and thick knife. "Now, give us the money and we can all have a pleasant night."

Another glance at each other and each confirmed the other's suspicions. This was a test. They had eyes on them, carefully watching every move they made.

Aisa took the first action, pushing Michiko back, depending on Kento to read his actions. This was all an act after all.

Michiko was the young, defenseless girl, whom these boys had to protect. Kento caught on immediately, grabbing Michiko and placing himself in front of her defensively.

Aisa threw the first punch, careful to dodge the swing of the silver blade that slashed down through the air, but also careful to hide his true skill. Playing the part was easy enough, as he'd seen his brother in a very similar situation one too many times.

Aisa's attacker swiped the blade back and forth. The second man advanced to attack Kento and Michiko. Michiko screamed, playing her part of damsel in distress well, as Kento pushed her back and kicked back his opponent, pretending to become agitated and overcome by fear.

Pain swelled in Aisa's arm as he intentionally slowed his reaction time and allowed the man to cut into his arm. The girl's eyes were on them.

It wasn't hard to assume her next actions. The team was here to infiltrate. Seen as kids, they would be easily taken advantage of. The best way to create compliance in that situation is by way of gratitude and debt. Any moment now, the girl who had followed them would intercept. She just had to believe they needed her help. That was her way into manipulating them to join whatever undercover ranks preyed on poor street kids to do their dirty work for them.

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