Everyone gets short stories that are set just before their CD’s events. Most of them talk about the guys’ past actually, but Arlen gets this really fun one where it explains just how he knew the MC was an undercover agent. It also shows that the MC wasn’t just an inexperienced rookie, and it’s just unfortunate she went up against Arlen.
Here we go!
Prologue ~ before Double Down ~
Leaving the hustle and bustle of Kaasa’s largest business sector in N district, there was a store after passing through several narrow alleys. The stairs leading down to the basement of an old building which held shops and residential apartments were likely to be overlooked if one wasn’t paying attention, but the regular customers of “Bar Casablanca” were well aware that at the back, contrary to expectations, a comfortable space stretched out there.
I went down the stairs and opened the store’s door, making the bell that announced a customer’s arrival ring. Next, the familiar face of the bartender said “Welcome”.
“Good evening, bartender. The usual.”
I sat at the second seat from the door and, before long, bourbon was poured into a glass and placed on the counter. First, I poured a mouthful of the amber liquid into the back of my mouth.
I didn’t come to this store to enjoy a drink, but to not act like that in a shop where people go to enjoy drinks would look unnatural in the eyes of the customers and of course the bartender. Besides, it would also be boorish of me.
The spider with its prey must blend into its surroundings naturally and stay still holding its breath until the appropriate moment. The prey in question was the undercover investigator who would be sent from the Narcotics Control Division of the Port and Harbour Ministry of Welfare.
I had grasped all of the customers within the shop right after I opened the door. The two men sitting at the center of the counter were regulars, but it was the first time I saw the woman at the farthest seat in the back. Given its location there weren’t many women who would visit this store alone. The woman, with a smartphone in one hand and drinking a cocktail, looked to be waiting for “someone”, but it was difficult to determine immediately whether or not she was “the one”.
In that case, I would make sure of “who” she was waiting for.
The first time we met eyes was around an hour after I entered the store and when the two men at the counter stood up from their seats. Because those obstructions disappeared, an opportunity to make eye contact naturally came. When I simply smiled without speaking, she returned a light nod and looked away. I also didn’t pursue that too far and dropped my gaze to my glass at hand.
This silent communication continued for a while after that too. The more number of times it happened the more the intervals gradually shortened and the length of the eye contact increased. However, as usual, we didn’t make any conversation. The only time we heard each other’s voice was when we made a new order to the bartender.
From a visual standpoint, I could say the possibility of her being “the one” was over sixty percent. The basis for this number was the way she carried herself when she left her seat to head to the restroom. People who have some martial arts experience show those characteristics in their walk. But then again in this country, where the myth of complete safety was crumbling, there were not a few people who learned the art of self-defense.
If she was not the undercover investigator then the time spent tonight would all go to waste, but she was a woman with enough charm to not make that time spent regrettable. That being the case, it wouldn’t be bad to continue for a little longer.
“Oh dear, are you going home already?”
Those became the very first words from me to her. Having requested her bill from the bartender, she looked at me as if a little surprised. Quite a bit of time had passed since we became the only remaining customers in this store. She probably didn’t think she would be talked to at this timing.
However, she was the same in being stubborn and didn’t try to call out to me. That action itself was the main factor which convinced me that she was “the one”.
Non-verbal behaviour without any words spoke more eloquently than words. In these several hours, as we repeated eye contact, she “unconsciously” became flustered. Humans were creatures that could lie with their expressions, but it was difficult to control their instinctive actions. Thus, even as she disguised herself as being indifferent, I knew she was feeling stress from how I didn’t talk to her no matter how much time passed. Because every single one of her subtle gestures said so.
For an ordinary person who hadn’t received any training, they would almost always take some sort of action to escape from discomfort. Like talking to me herself, or even leaving the store at an earlier stage.
That she didn’t do any of those itself was evidence of the fact that she was the undercover investigator. It was the basic of the basics to take care not to alert the target with careless contact; however, a person also couldn’t just easily leave in front of the target.
As a result, she committed to maintaining the current situation until a certain time limit she had decided on from the start.
To put it nicely, her actions were perfect but it was this perfection according to theory that caused an unnaturalness. In the eyes of someone accustomed to seeing through lies, such as me, that unnaturalness was further magnified. It could also be said that because she was excellent it was a fatal folly.
“Pardon me. It looked like you were waiting for someone.”
When I showed a light shrug, her expression slightly softened. Then she opened her mouth, saying that it was true she was waiting but that she didn’t know how long it would be and so she was giving up this night.
“I see. However…”
I left my seat with my glass in hand and leaned my weight casually against the counter. To block her from standing up from her seat.
“The night has just begun. Perhaps that ‘how long’ you speak of will arrive after you finish drinking the next cocktail. Could you give me your time until then?”
The silence until her reply did not feel particularly long. I smiled at her as she nodded and then sat down in the seat beside her.
“Bartender, a White Lady for the miss. Also, I’ll be taking this.”
I reached for her bill which was placed on the counter while making the order.
“For the price of the time to talk with you, it’s much too cheap, isn’t it?”
I said this and moved the bill away from her as she became flustered which, just in this moment, was likely her natural self. She gave up and I heard her say a quiet thank you.
She spoke a little bit about herself up until she finished drinking the White Lady in her shot glass. She said she worked at an office close to here and the person she was waiting for was her boss. I didn’t need to ask whether or not she was in a romantic relationship with that boss. In the first place, the things she spoke about was nothing more than a fake scenario prepared in advance to make contact with me.
The reason the person she was waiting for didn’t appear here was because there was the shadow of another woman. That was likely the case. It had the fingermarks of a cliché plot, but it wasn’t a bad move. It was quite a common story to end up feeling attracted to the other person before you knew it while talking about love affairs to the opposite gender.
In that case, I just needed to act and pretend like I didn’t know about her written scenario. After that, I only needed to move the chess piece of this love game little by little.
Because the foolish butterfly resting its wings beside me still didn’t realize that it was being caught in the spider’s invisible silk.
After making contact several times in Bar Casablanca, she said that she and her aforementioned boss “broke up”. That was probably why she was emptying her glasses at a pace quicker than usual tonight. It was a good performance feigning her grief due to a broken heart.
“… I see.”
I was sitting beside her, as if it were natural, and swirled the melting ice around in my empty glass. As I acted like I was searching for words to say to the broken-hearted girl in this moment, I thought about something else.
In this sort of tactic it was forbidden to be impatient, but if one were to also miscalculate the time of maturation for a high-grade wine then it would be ruined by three levels. So, I wondered if this might be the time.
Feeling a small weight interrupt my thinking, it turns out she was leaning against my left arm. She murmured a short phrase, “I’m a little drunk”. That was a clear sign sent from her. It seemed she was also seeking an opportunity for the next move.
“Why don’t we head out?”
I quickly settled the bill and quietly stood from my seat. Her slight stumble when she got down from the tall stool didn’t appear to be an act. By nature, she must not have been the type that was strong with alcohol. I could easily guess that when I looked at the cocktails she chose.
“We’ll come again, bartender.”
I casually wrapped an arm around her waist and left the store.
We climbed the cold concrete stairs, shoes echoing, until she grabbed me when we were a few steps from reaching the top. I heard “I don’t want to go home” in a voice that sounded like it would disappear. I suddenly showed a smile.
“That’s quite a funny thing to say.”
I didn’t give her time to figure out the meaning. Drawing in that slender waist, I robbed her lips. My tongue stole in from the gaps of the soft lips that tried to reflexively close, and I chased and caught her fleeing tongue. The faint, muffled breath that spilled out immediately changed to something restless. From the top of her mouth to the base of her tongue I tasted her thoroughly, and her cheeks flushed charmingly.
Bending my body, I brought my lips close to a reddened ear.
“I don’t plan on returning you home. If the person you’re waiting for is no longer coming, then I don’t need to hesitate.”
She jerked and trembled in my arms. Perhaps her body, which had been played with by a kiss, had become sensitive to even the weak stimulation given by a breath.
“Am I wrong?”
I whispered lowly, as if dealing a fatal blow. She shook her head in silence and that was her answer to me. No further words were needed anymore.
That night, I made love to her. Sweetly, intensely, passionately.
To seduce a woman and to use skillful words to make another country’s intelligence spy change sides was essentially the same. How to get into the other person’s pocket, how to get them to like you, how to get them to trust you. The deed called sex was really quite convenient as a method. During the time they are dominated by a primitive pleasure, a person’s heart becomes defenseless.
That was why, no matter how many times she climbed to the top and climaxed in my arms and tried to sink down into the bed, I would thrust into her immediately and call her back to the abyss of pleasure. By whispering and pouring in empty sweet nothings and desiring her countless times, I carved the poison of a spider into the depths of her heart. That I was obsessed with her.
The poison called preconception would eventually eat into her. However, it would be far too late by the time she noticed. Because there was no way to escape for the pitiable butterfly, poisoned and with its limbs caught by the spider’s silk.
“Now, let’s begin the game, Miss Narcotics Officer.”
She had fallen to the bottom of a deep sleep, exhausted, and I chuckled quietly while stroking her hair.
Note: Interestingly, while I was looking up the White Lady cocktail, I noticed that there’s a spider called the White Lady too. I don’t think there’s any connection here, especially since White Lady spiders are huntsman spiders and so they aren’t venomous… but hey, who knows, Arlen is a very literary man so LOL.