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The two men stand waiting at a dark bus stop on a chilly winter's night; one has his hands stuffed into his dark jacket and his collar turned up against the slight wind, the other is casually smoking a cigarette.

"Mind if I bum one off you? It looks like the bus is running late and it's been one of those days."

"Not a problem."

The first man accepts the pack of cigarettes from the second, but he pockets it after pulling one out of the pack. The owner of the pack doesn't protest. He just turns and walks away like someone didn't just steal his cigarettes...because that was not just a pack of cigarettes.

That was the first man's next assignment.

The man in the dark jacket also turns to walk away from the bus stop, in the opposite direction of course, and pulls the small, flimsy cardboard pack out of his pocket. There's a piece of folded paper taped to the back. Checking around quickly to make sure no one is tailing him, the man unfolds the paper to see its contents.

The assignment specs are quick and to the point:

Stan's Bar & Grill

11:00 PM

Retrieve target's mobile phone.

Terminate.

There's a picture of his target. It's a woman this time, probably around her late twenties or early thirties if he's guessing correctly, but with all the ways to "defy" aging these days, it's possible she's older. She looks fairly average and decently intelligent. The man muses that whatever is on the target's phone probably isn't the usual blackmail material that he's dispatched to retrieve on the behalf of idiotic, lecherous politicians. This girl looks too smart to get mixed up in a situation like that, but it must involve someone with a good portion of disposable income, his employer's and, by extension, his services, don't come cheap. All this trouble is probably over another corporate espionage type deal, those are pretty common these days.

He checks his watch. He has forty-five minutes until the target is supposed to be at the bar. He should get a move on in order to get a good position at the bar, it'll make it easier to keep an eye out for his target.

The bar isn't too crowded for a Friday night. There's a lot of office workers stopping by to grab a drink and celebrate another week finished at the corporate drudgery of their choice while some couples are seated at the tables, most likely having a nice meal before hitting the town for their weekly date night. He picks a spot at the end of the bar opposite the door, orders a beer, and starts the mind numbing process of waiting.

About ten minutes after eleven the target walks through the door and approaches one of the women seated at the other end of the bar. His target looks like any of the other cubicle drones that have been coming and going for the last twenty minutes, tired and a bit frazzled but otherwise happy that the weekend is here. At first it looks like she might be planning to talk to the other woman at the bar for the rest of the evening, but after about half an hour the first woman pays her tab and leaves the target at the bar. The target gets her phone out of her purse and starts tapping the screen.

The man decides it's now or never and he approaches his target with a practiced, easygoing smile. He turns on the charm he's learned makes these types of jobs easier, and soon enough, he's buying her a drink and chatting about this and that. The conversation drags on for almost an hour and, after a couple drinks, the target is starting to get tipsy, but not enough for him to pocket the phone yet. His task is made more difficult by the fact that she's had her hand on it the whole time.

"I'm expecting a pretty important call, don't want to miss it."

They stumble out of the bar in the wee hours of the morning. Well, the man pretends to stumble; he's almost completely sober while his companion is leaning heavily on his shoulder. They're headed back to her apartment for "some more fun", but the man's plan doesn't include getting to their destination. There's an alley a block ahead and he leads her in. It's dark, secluded and far enough away from the bar for his tastes and purpose.

She must think he's stopping because he can't wait to get back to the apartment so she pushes him against the wall and quickly pulls him into a kiss. The man lets himself get caught up in the moment for a few minutes before he begins to run his hands over her, looking for the pocket she stashed the phone in.

They kiss heatedly for a while longer. He thinks to himself that it's a shame there's a termination order on her. She was very pleasant to talk to, very enthusiastic about her work and hobbies, and she's a decent kisser. In a perfect world he would want to actually take her home, but he has done this job long enough that there's no danger of conflicted feelings.

His fingers brush against the plastic phone cover in her pocket. Gotcha. Now that he has the phone, he'll just maneuver his hand to the pistol in his coat and put a bullet in her while she's distracted, it'll be quick. She deserves that much...

FWIP! FWIP!

Two shots from a silenced pistol slice through the dark alley.

...But my gun is still in my pocket, the man thinks sluggishly. Then he feels the searing pain spreading over his abdomen. The woman suddenly steps away while aiming her silenced weapon to his forehead. His legs give out and he slumps down the wall.

Gone is the giggling drunk expression that had graced her face for the past few hours. Her eyes are stone cold sober and calculating. She drops something in his lap and cocks the gun. The man looks down at the object in his lap, his vision is getting spotty but he can still see it.

It's a pack of cigarettes.

His picture is taped to the back.

TERMINATE is stamped across the bottom of his photo.

 

The man looks the woman in the eye again, feeling a strange sense of acceptance as the puzzle clicks into place. There is no hesitation in those deadly eyes.

FWIP!

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