She stares at the blade unflinching, the kissaki less than an inch from her eyeball as far as she can judge – well past the minimum distance she can focus down to. All she can see of it is a bloom of light where it reflects the nearest streetlamp.
“You don’t scare me,” she says, shifting her focus to the man holding the blade with such stillness he could be a statue. “You don’t know enough to take me on.”
His mouth creases into the bare minimum of a smile. “I have studied the sword for thirty years,” he says. “Honed my body to the peak of fitness and killed one hundred and eleven vampires in search of you.”
“All very commendable.” Gillian’s gaze flicks from the hunter to the sword and back again. “Isn’t that the sword of Hissaki Takuto?”
“My father.” There is a trace of emotion in his voice. “You slaughtered him in 1987”
“He’d eaten boiled seaweed and rice,” she says. “It was raining and you were asleep with your mother. He tasted of cherry blossom in moonlight.”
“You have a good memory.” He is impressed.
“He died with honour.” Slowly, Gillian lifts her sleeve and selects one scar from the four that mark her skin. “This was his.”
“I will do better.”
“Will you?” Gillian steps back a single pace to execute a formal bow, the tip of the katana brushing the curve of her forehead, so perfect is his control.
When he bows in return she runs her hand along the mune, forcing the blade down and the handle up so she can take it from his fingers. She cuts upward into the tendons of his right shoulder to disable his whole arm.
“Dishonourable, I know,” she says as she places the tsuka in his left hand. “But I had no reason to kill Hissaki Takahiro.” She smiles and brushes his ear with her lips. “Not yet, anyway.”