With Friends Like These

Crystal approached Jhonen. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into a hug. “ It’s ok we can get her back together. You don’t have to do this alone.” She said then stepped back away from him.

“ besides midnight and I want this bitch gone to the damage she has done to are home is unacceptable” crystal said midnight tweeted in agreement. The dragon then eased his head makes a call. He was trying to convince Anya to come her partner needed her.

Samuel smiled then shook his head chuckled. “The queen is in for one hell of a ride. And with Crystal on are side how can we fail.” He says encouragingly.

Jhonen looked visibly surprised by Crystal's hug. He quickly forced a more serious look to hide the fact he was more than a little moved by the gesture, and their kind words. Only Noriko could see how much the gesture had impacted him and she smiled.

And in response to Midnight's call, Anya did indeed descend from the canopy and land next to Jhonen and regarded him with a chuff before nuzzling his shoulder. This was a lot of love, and Jhonen wasn't used to it. He could only chuckle and stroke Anya's head as she continued to coddle him and coo happily from the petting.

"I'm..." Jhonen had trouble finding the words. "Thank you. Thank you all. I know I can't ask you to keep following me on this mission, but knowing you're willing to... it means a lot." Then he turned to Noriko. "Let's get Anna to the hospital. She'll need some time to recover from this no doubt..." He shot Noriko a serious glance. "However, there is the matter of explaining to me why the hell you were saying this was all you fault?"

The group of yakuza and the medic were quick to ferry Anna away as the rest began cleaning up the mess from the fight. Noriko looked down in shame. "You know how I suggested my friend Yasuhiro..." She gestured to the older warrior who was still standing behind her. "Take Anna out while we went to the concert?"

Jhonen nodded. "I do recall she was with us at the concert though..."

"That wasn't supposed to happen. At first I assumed Yasuhiro was still making preparations for their date... but it turned out that this Crimson fool..." She looked to the acid burnt remains of Finn, "...had killed a tourist and disposed of their body so he could take his place and sneak about the resort. The security issue required his attention, and it meant Anna was not only without a date... she got to see the concert and yet wasn't allowed to participate... Because I had planned for her to be on a romantic evening with someone I felt she'd get along with..."

"You tried playing matchmaker with Anna... and it backfired..." Jhonen summed it up succinctly.

Noriko nodded. "I saw the way she looked back at the onsen... All of us." She looked to Samuel and Crystal. "Together... The look in her eyes is one I'm all too familiar with. I wanted to help her. Give her a good time. I was told by one of my bartending staff that she had been flirting with some of the more... distinguished... men around her and I figured Yasuhiro would've been a excellent choice for an evening out..."

Jhonen nodded. "And instead it all mixed to become a perfect storm. Anna felt left out, she found Finn lying in wait and he took advantage of her when she was at her lowest..."

"And if I had just left it all alone. Just had you all sing and dance and have fun last night..." Noriko closed her eyes.

Jhonen went and pulled her into a hug. "He would've found some other way to get at us. This was The Queen's way of seeing who she has to contend with. And now she knows. We are dragoon, we are family, and we take care of our own..."

Then he chuckled. "For an assassin, this is the nicest thing you've ever done for someone."

Noriko frowned and gave him a playful punch in the arm. "I can be nice. When I want to be."

Jhonen kissed her cheek. "And you were nice to try and do that for her. And you can let her know about the misunderstanding when she's all better."

...

Which didn't take too long. An IV drip of anti-venom and some fluids to stabilize her system and Anna was already feeling better physically. However in her heart she felt stupid. Instead of just talking to anyone, be it Crystal, Jhonen, or Noriko, she went flying off the handle and nearly got herself killed for her trouble. Things would've ended better had she cooled her jets and just talked to someone. She wouldn't have gone and made a damn fool of herself. She'd, once again, let her emotions cloud her judgement and like before it had nearly cost her dearly. She wasn't going to cry about it though. She wasn't going to bemoan the fact she had ended up sleeping with a Crimson Assassin. She had accepted her mistakes and would made an effort to try and learn from them this time.

Next time would be different. And next time she would know that she was never alone so long as she had The Queenslayers.

Jhonen and Noriko were the first to visit her. Noriko, for her part, began to cry as she apologized for making Anna think she had been left out of the concert. She told Anna about her plans to set her up with Yashiro, that there had been a nice dinner and even some dancing planned, but that things went awry. She hugged Anna, continued to beg her forgiveness, but Anna just laughed and told there was nothing to forgive.

Then she left Anna and Jhonen alone. The silence was palpable as neither of them spoke. Then she finally spoke up. "I heard everything, you know... back at the grotto... I heard about what happened to you, about your daughter... I'm... I'm so sorry Jhonen... Had I known..."

"I tried to keep it a secret for a reason." Jhonen said. "This is a conflict of interest. The dragoon would see to it that I'd be removed from the operation. And I believe that the Jericho Council has been trying to find a reason to remove me from this hunt for quite some time... someone in the council is protecting The Queen. They managed to stop the dragoon from catching her once, they will try again. Hence why I had to play this so close to the vest..."

"I will help you, Jhonen." Anna said firmly. "You have saved me so many times. This can only begin to return the favor. And I'm sure that the others agree. We're in this together. We'll get Matilda back, and we'll make sure that The Queen regrets the day she decided to declare war on us..."

Jhonen smiled. "I'm thankful to hear that." He leaned in, kissed her forehead and started towards the door. "The others will be heading back to Queenslayer base soon. You can be a little late on account you just went though some serious shit. But I've received word from trusted sources that another Crimson Lieutenant has surfaced. Dr. Lanstrom... and she's taken over the mining town of Golden Peak for her experiments. We'll have to move fast, some mega-corp heir and his dragoon guard decided to head in before us without waiting. And a blizzard is moving into the area. So moving fast will be important. Are you up to it?"

Anna nodded without hesitation.

"Atta girl." He smirked and left her, figured the others would want to come in and see if she was doing okay before they all left for Golden Peak...

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