Chapter 8: The Sky is Redd

It took until Hunter and Harry's graduation for Harry to hunt down the threat against Hunter's family. When that threat was dealt with, namely with a few well-placed plastic explosives, Harry was finally able to consider it time for Hunter to no longer his services.

However, Mrs. Edwardson thought it best if she kept Harry's team on the payroll. She did so by allowing Harry to keep his identity with the family, a nearly priceless commodity for Harry to be able to get between countries unmolested.

When Hunter finally took the offer up to complete his residency in Canada, Harry did not go with him because of this. He instead went farther South of the border to the United States. He had some contacts to refresh from his absence, and some sensitive assets that needed securing after the long period away.

He had others doing just so when he was away, but he liked to have a personal touch on occasion. There was only so much that a person could trust in another.

In fact, that was the embodiment of one of Harry's contacts. His name was Raymond Reddington, a man that had no friends, but was all the same one of the most respected in the criminal underworld. He had a reputation of being a person not to be trifled with. As the head of the Raymond Reddington's syndicate, he was a very powerful individual, and like all powerful individuals, he had a significant number of enemies.

That meant a lot of work for Harry, seeing as Raymond might wish for an assassin one day or a master thief the other. Since Harry was both and didn't have any bad blood with Raymond as of yet, Harry had a standing interest in keeping that contact active as it was very profitable to get the jobs that Ray couldn't deal with.

Albeit few and far between, but they were still there.

"Hello Mr Reddington," Harry called as said man entered his own flat. Red paused and stared at him for a while as who Harry recognised as Dembe had drawn a gun on him. They all knew that the tall black man would not fire the weapon, since Harry was only a kid it was only a formality at this point. "So how goes life for the FBI's most wanted?"

"Oh, you know, a little bit of arrests, a dash of suspense, and a pleasant surprise of finding a friend in my apartment. Please, make yourself at home."

Harry smirked, and said, "Right, well, I only came to inform you that I'll be available for any jobs that come up. My brief leave is over, so you can call on me if you need anything stolen or disposed of." Harry cocked his head to the side and said, "Keep in touch, old man."

Reddington nodded, and said, "Of course kid."

It was more than possible that this substitute teacher he was after, was aware that someone was going to kill them. After all, they were hiding out under an assumed name as a substitute teacher in a little-known school in Washington, D.C.. However, since they were still going to work Harry was willing to believe that they didn't know that they were made.

When Harry had looked into his target as he was wont to do, he found an individual that loved to insert themselves into a given area with an assumed name, replacing another that had always 'conveniently' disappeared. She'd covered her tracks well, well enough to not draw any attention from the law, but not enough for a blood hound like Harry.

Now, Harry was planning to interrogate this slippery snake before cashing in the bounties on her head for multiple identities she'd carried. The reason for this was that she obviously has a very talented forger under her employ simply because she had not once been caught because of a fault in the name she carried.

Instead, she was one that'd been caught simply by murdering a powerful individual's daughter, while they watched. She might not be sloppy in her initial phase or transition, but if the multiple contracts on her head was anything to go by, she was quite sloppy in her own assassinations.

Now, because of this back-and-forth, Harry had calculated ten million pounds sterling on this person's head. Harry was insanely satisfied when he had met one of her previous identities and followed his instincts to keep tabs on the woman. Now he was cashing in his investment.

Harry was broken out of his internal musings by his subconscious notifying him that he was nearing his target's location. He opened classroom 245's door to find a classroom like any other for primary schools.

His target, a Ms. (Insert name of keen's keeper) looked up from her lessen plan, desk situated to the side of a well-used blackboard underneath an alphabet and number line ribbon. She smiled fakely, a facsimile of a truly caring teacher. "Can I help you?" Her voice was just as fake.

Harry let a slight Russian accent through as he asked, "Ms. Brooks?"

"Yes, that's me."

Harry let relief flood his face as he made his way forward, "Good! I'm new and it took forever to find this homeroom." By the time he finished he was nearing the 'teacher'. He was taking off his pack at the same time, and said, "I have question about the Math Assignment Mama had picked up last week from office." Still there was no suspicion even as he set his pack to the side of the teacher's desk. As he rose to his feet he seamlessly pulled a hypodermic needle, uncapped it, and skillfully injected its contents into his victim.

He'd injected it into the fake's femoral artery, so the fast-acting paralytic, supplied by a friendly snake that lived just a click out from his vacation home in South East Asia. Thankfully it was diluted, otherwise his information would be lost to the grave. The imposter gasped, and in confusion asked, "What?" It was her mistake considering that was the only chance she had to alert others of what was happening.

Harry watched impassively as her movements, her breathing and strength stuttered and jerked to stillness. He could see the fear into the nameless woman's eyes, and he sympathised, he really did, with the helpless feeling she must have flowing through her veins.

Oh, but how adrenaline tastes so good. Besides, he had a job that needed doing, and he was uniquely equipped to handle that job.

Harry snagged the keys hanging from a chain around her neck. He quietly went over to the classroom door, and locked it, placing the conveniently available blackout screen over the window. The irony was not lost on him.

Once done, he stalked to the nameless and then took a comfortable seat facing her.

Now came the hard part.

Harry focused intently on the woman, all that she was and all that she knew. He caught the mental scent of the woman, the flavour of her thoughts seeping into his own.

Once he had a good feel for how this woman's essence tasted, felt, and sounded like by his unique mental senses, Harry grabbed a hold of it, and followed it to the source.

Harry found himself inside this woman's… mental plane, for lack of a better term. It was messy, as Harry had come to expect from his limited experience of invading the minds of random civilians and in ensuring his sentinel's honesty.

However, this time Harry wasn't searching just what was immediately available. He didn't care about the emotions he found there; the symphony of bitter smells and tangy fear was ignored when it landed on his mental tongue. He had to shift the floating and anchored thoughts, those that were the most recent of stray thoughts and longer-term memories, aside in search of specific information about this woman's supplier. He did not note at first the sharp coppery-sweet taste of her pain he felt from his actions; the mindscape was deteriorating and she could feel it in her very being. It was shaking in rebellion at his transgressions, its entire being consisting of disbelief when it, she, thought the reality of what was happening to her was impossible.

Her glass mind was shattering as shock set in with the full force of a freight-train of realisation.

Once noticed, Harry dismissed it. He could be forgiven if this monster ended up a vegetable the rest of its life; he was inexperienced, and besides 'the rest of her life' was only going to be a few minutes more.

He abruptly exited the mental plane after he found the supplier of illicit identification. It had taken a while, but Harry thought it might since the information was hidden and buried as only a well-kept secret would.

He wasted no time in ending the useless life in front of him; it was a simple matter of taking his commando knife out of its sheath only to find a home in both her femoral arteries. He pitied the custodian that'd have to clean up that much blood off the white tiled classroom floor. Since he needed proof in order to receive payment, harry took out a high-end but compact digital camera and took several photos of the body before he carefully hid all of his equipment once again.

He made sure that he didn't get any blood on his feet just yet, since he didn't want any bloody little footprints back to the classroom door for the next part just yet. Quickly he moved away, checked to make sure that the coast was clear then unlocked the classroom door, making sure not to bring down the blackout screen. Once done, he left the door open, ran towards the body and placed her keychain around her neck once more.

That was when two things happened, the first was that he noticed the pitiful, malignant, dying woman's eyes and the second was how he screamed, "Help!" True to his acting ability, his first attempt was a shocked cracking voice, but then again, he screamed as much as his voice would allow without manipulating his body. The second time was much clearer, without the haziness of before his voice rang clear with a perfect imitation of a scared, worried, horrified child.

It didn't take long from there for an adult to arrive, namely the poor custodian that'd have to clean up the mess once forensics was done with the scene and the morgue took the body. Harry could forgive the man's initial response of cussing up a storm. After all, in polite society it's not everyday that he'd see a mangled body with who looked like a 10-year-old boy trying to help them cling to life without any knowledge of first aid.

His second response actually made Harry respect the nearing retirement man: he pulled the nearby fire alarm. Instantly the school was filled with the screeching peal of warning and sound of the harbinger of first-responders. "Come here, son; it's going to be okay, it'll be okay." He beckoned Harry towards him, away from the obviously dead body. Harry stayed, feigning shock, forcing the man to come closer and gently coax Harry out less with words and more of a direct route.

Harry allowed himself to be pulled into the kind man's arms, who until then had a hidden panicked hair about him. 'On my behalf,' Harry belatedly realised. The man, dubbed Henry by his blue caller uniform, shifted Harry's weight to the side as he took out his mobile. Harry could clearly see Henry dial, the local emergency services in Washington.

Harry allowed the conversation to pass by as he reviewed his options in getting away from the situation. Finally, he decided, once the 'qualified' personnel that he'd stay the course with making a show of disappearing into the crowd of students. It was actually easier than he thought, too.

It didn't take long for the various officers to look away from Harry, which conveniently happened when the group was crossing through the front yard, where all of the students, now evacuated, stood in neat lines.

He smirked, and then disappeared into the gaseous reality. He didn't stick around to see the ensuing chaos his disappearance wrought.

At first his 'client' didn't wish to pay out the aggrieved price. They had apparently seen the very publicised murder of the 'innocent' substitute teacher and had realised who they were. They'd refused to pay him because the news made mention of involvement of a child.

It made sense to Harry on a moral sense, however that didn't bode well for their safety if the person they were supposed to pay were amoral enough to endanger children, especially for the corrupt judge that they were.

Harry didn't know if he was in that category.

Once they were made aware of the fact that Harry was that child, though, it became a non-issue. Though, he did mention that their morals might one day get them killed. They were unsurprisingly alright with that. HE was just slightly bemused that they'd had any morals in the first place about killing if they were ones to call out a hit on someone. Then again, considering what Harry was, he couldn't really judge because of his views on slavery.

Regardless, Harry got his due in the end, so he was satisfied. That was the only transaction of note on morality simply because everyone else had paid the bounty with the normal reluctant satisfaction. Suddenly, Harry became that much richer, along with his 'company' of course.

His sentinels would be less-than-pleased if their boss didn't pay them.

Of course, there was also the cherry on top of it all when Reddington himself had an existing bounty on the woman. He couldn't help but to be a bit smug when he collected that one personally. It always amused him when he managed to accomplish something that the infamous head of the Redd Empire couldn't accomplish. He kept it all well hidden, though, for he liked to pretend professionalism.

It was a while before Harry got a call from dear old Redd after their last meeting. He let it ring for a full minute before he picked it up, though; it wouldn't do for Redd to think that he'd been waiting for his call, after all. The man had a big enough head as it was.

He was a busy boy: he was currently chin-deep in a heist for one of his clients. He hadn't the faintest idea what was in the thumbprint-locked safety deposit box, and frankly he liked it that way. It was safer if he didn't know, and the pay was good enough for him to discard the faint curiosity he had about it.

Once the checkered ceiling of the vault-room was removed, Harry deigned to answer the call, "What do you want, old man?"

Without so much as a by-you-leave, Redd started, "There is a safety deposit box in the Belize National Bank that I'd like you to steal for me."

Harry took a moment to consider the box he had just removed from the wall before he answered, "And what, prey tell, would be the number of this box?" He really hoped that it wasn't the very same box that his client had their mind dead-set on. After all, it was that same bank he was in.

Thankfully when Redd replied it was a different box to the right of the original. With an audible smirk, Harry replied, "Sure thing. You can have it within the hour. Where do you want to exchange it?"

His smirk widened when he heard the surprise in Redd's voice, and by the time he made his escape and agreed on a price it was nearing shit-eating levels.

He stared at the woman with long blonde hair, obviously dyed, standing next to Red. She stood with the confidence of an equal, too, which begged the question: "Who is she, Old Man?"

She stared back even as Red seemingly ignored the question, "I was once with a friend of mine in PyeongChang when he made the mistake of asking that very same question of one of the representatives of the Jong-Un family. My late friend didn't last long. Turns out the supposed 'she' in question was actually a 'he'. Who knew?

"Anyway, the safety deposit box?" He ended the impromptu story with a prompt and bringing the attention back to why they were all there.

A/N: I'd advise against ever working full-time and going to school full-time. "Oh, let's have an 8-9 hour field work session on the same day as an 8-hour shift. Yeah, that makes sense." Thankfully that only happened once, but that didn't save me from the rest of the days where I 'only' had three labs in a row, then went to work with a bunch of children.

Anyway, enough of my rant. I am indeed alive, and please feel free to review if you wish. I just hoped that I didn't disappoint.