When in Rome




"The foundations are burned." Aya glanced back where the former extortionists lay dead across the room that had been their office. His words were almost drowned out by the ugly creaking sounds that belied his unemotional tone. "We have to leave the building."

"Now that's an understatement if I ever heard one!" Ken snapped, a bit wild around the eyes. "Hurry up, Aya!" He grabbed Omi's arm roughly and pulled him toward the stairs, leaving the other two to follow.

"Ken!" the boy protested, but allowed himself to be led downward.

"I'm not dying here!" The soccer player's hold tightened enough to leave bruises behind. "And neither are you - not if I can help it!"

"I can run by myself!"

"Well, I can run faster! Come on!"

Omi saw the way the walls seemed to curve outward. "We'll never make it…" he said, too softly for Ken to hear him. Still, he let the older boy pull him along.

"We're pretty much screwed if we're not out about ten minutes ago," Yohji commented, glancing back to be sure that Aya was following them. The building was shaking, and the screeching of the alarms didn't help matters much. The blond still talked like it was a picnic. "Otherwise we'd have to cheat death again to make it."

Aya glanced at the walls. There were deep cracks forming in them. Not long now… Perhaps this was the last mission. Pushing our luck this far… "The end is worth fighting for," he mused out loud.

"Huh?" Yohji slowed, letting Ken and Omi leave them behind. "What's that supposed to mean?" He turned completely when he realized Aya had stopped moving. "Aya?"

"We don't have time to make it out." Aya took the time to sheath his sword. "How do you want the last minute before it falls to be?"

Yohji smirked. "So you're finally willing to let a mission take you down."

Aya shook his head. "I won't be taken down." A huge crack, and the ceiling started to crumble…

"Well, we'll find out soon enough, won't we?"

That was when the world went down around them.