Chapter 2: Turning Saints Into the Sea
Chapter 3: Did You Fall for a Shooting Star?
Chapter 4: Even if You Cannot Hear My Voice
Chapter 5: Metal Fingers Clutching Dirty Sheets
Daisuke slid the door to Takeru's room open carefully, careful to lift at just the right moment to keep it from scraping along the worn section of track. He slipped inside, pulling it back shut again with a near silent rap. Daisuke stood, watching the softly breathing man on the futon, assuring himself that he had not awoken Yamato. Only when he was certain that the blond man was still asleep did Daisuke move carefully across the tatami, pausing only long enough to confirm with a vague since of nostalgia the heavy intake of breath and near silent exhalation before making his way over to the window alcove and the only source of light: the full moon.
Settling in and leaning his head against the cold glass he found his eyes unable to draw their attention away from the odd way Yamato's blond reflected the light of the moon more intensely than anything else in the room. Daisuke caught himself smoothing creases out of Takeru's letter before he had even realized he had removed it from his pocket. As much as the truth exasperated him, there was no denying the exacting perfection inherent in each neatly scripted character.
So clearly Takeru and his eternally damned hope.
"To my most respected elder brother--
How's that for reverence? Enjoy it? I hope so. I don't think I could write it again without laughing and if I wake Daisuke up now, I'll never hear the end of it. Did you know that there are still people out there who still insist upon linking hair color to intelligence? Indeed! But for all that, he's not so bad. Sure, he takes a while to grow on you, but now, I can't even imagine being able to keep my sanity in here without him. Not that you can ever tell him. His head would grow so big it would explode. Really. KABOOM! That kid's ego has no natural boundaries.
Still, that's not really what I wanted to say...what I wanted to ask.
So tell me: have you ever done something, anything you’ve regretted at a later date?
Of course you have. We all have. But then, I don’t suppose this is the same as running off to a concert late at night or trying to paint the cat. I wish I could say that I possess the moral superiority to hate everything and everyone connected with this part of my life. But I cannot. And if that is what condemns me, I've accepted it.
So why then do I find myself unable to move forward along the only path left open to me without sending this to you?
Really, I just wanted to tell you that I never forgot.
God, I wanted to forget sometimes.
You'll never know how very hard I tried.
And because I couldn't, I feel that I can count on you for at least this much.
It's all gone to hell. I find myself wondering now if we ever had any hope of saving anything or if we were only deluding ourselves. Daisuke likes to pretend that he doesn't know but then I'll catch him watching me and I can see the truth in his eyes. We were too arrogant. Some things are just beyond the power of a few stupid kids.
I know that only telling you this much is unfair. But as my brother, I hope you can understand.
It is the weak part of me needs for something of me, of us to escape, to be free. I recognize that only knowing that, will I be able to do what must be done. And it must.
Your ever faithful younger brother, Takashi Takeru"
"Where's my brother?" The sudden query did not seem to spook Daisuke, eliciting only a sigh as he allowed his head to fall back against the wall with a heavy thud, eyes closed.
"I know that you're the Daisuke that Takeru mentions." Yamato intended it to be a simple statement of fact but somehow it came out more as an accusation. Finally Daisuke opened his eyes, turning to where Yamato now sat upright, the top cover of the futon pushed back so as to reveal Yamato's tee-shirt, the white bandages at his wrists flashing bright as he moved to brush some of his still oddly-luminescent hair from out of his eyes.
"Yeah?" Daisuke questioned softly, only to surprise Yamato a second later when he stood suddenly, stepping quickly across the room to where Yamato sat. With barely a pause, Daisuke pressed a cold hand against the top of Yamato's head, a gesture Yamato took to be a request for silence as Daisuke quickly closed the distance between the center of the room and the door.
Daisuke reached out and quietly slid the door open, eyeing the man standing there carefully, "Ken."
Yamato's eyes studied the frail figure in surprise. If Daisuke had not called the man by his name, Yamato doubted he would have recognized the intense oyabun from earlier in the fragile, beaten boy standing all too exposed in the suddenly harsh moonlight.
"You shouldn't be here," Daisuke stepped between Ichijouji and Yamato's line of sight before softening his voice, "Is there something you needed?"
This, at least, seemed to awaken some of Ken's inner strength. He straightened slightly, reaching up to smooth some of his mussed hair behind his ear. Even with Daisuke running interference, Yamato could not help but notice the marks along Ken's wrist, not unlike his own, as the sleeve of Ken's thin yukata fell open. Suddenly Yamato felt the need to look away of his own accord, turning his eyes instead to the naked branches visible outside his window, unsure why he suddenly felt so sick.
"You weren't in your room." Yamato did not know if it would be better to tune out or to listen to the younger men's conversation.
"No." He did not even know if he wanted to tune out or to listen to their conversation.
"I found it." Still, the silence of the night made his decision for him. He could even hear the barely whispered, "Shinjuku. It all leads back to Shinjuku."
There was a long pause as Daisuke considered what Ken had told him.
"I'm certain." Ken answered Daisuke's unasked question, "I--" Ken trailed off without continuing, but Daisuke could easily see the hurt behind the dark purple of his eyes. He nodded slowly.
"I'll take Miyako."
"No." Ken shook his head, a hand reaching up yet again to brush at the hair that kept falling in front of his eyes, "Take Minamoto." He paused again, looking away, "Make it quick." Daisuke nodded again before realizing that Ken was not looking at him. He swallowed thickly, trying to clear the lump in his throat before he answered, "Okay."
Ken nodded, "I'm--," his eyes turned back to Daisuke and then over Daisuke's shoulder to where Yamato sat, his head turned away from their conversation. Ken fought the urge to let out an irritated growl. "Take care of it," Ken's voice had taken on the sharper tone of the oyabun. Yamato turned his head, questioning blue eyes meeting sharp violet. He found himself unable to drop the oyabun's gaze even as Ken turned his attention back to Daisuke. "I'm going to bed."
"I'll take care of everything," Daisuke assured Ken quietly, not surprised in the slightest when Ken ignored him completely, turning and making his way back toward his end of the compound. Daisuke watched as the thin form ghosted down the corridor, the light from the pale skin growing fainter until finally it was lost around a corner.
Daisuke sighed, shaking his head. Shibuya. Huh. He ignored silent voice complaining, "It's too soon."
"Get dressed." The short command caused Yamato to jump, the hard edge of Daisuke's tone frightening, "I'll be back shortly." Yamato barely managed a nod before Daisuke slid the door shut, his footsteps hurrying in the direction Ken had gone.
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Daisuke fiddled with the long sleeves of his black suit. Formal wear had never been his forte, especially when the fall weather felt so much more like late summer than early winter.
"Just leave it alone already." The tone was harsh, but Daisuke could hear the underlying laughter in Takeru's words. He shrugged uncomfortably, running a finger around his collar.
"Are you sure it's supposed to fit this way? I feel like I'm choking," Daisuke complained. Takeru just shook his head.
"Quit fidgeting, or I'll be the one choking you," Takeru glanced over, his blue eyes sparkling with humor, "It's hot enough in here without you and your damn kinetic personality disorder!"
"My—" Daisuke's confusion was almost palatable, "huh, what?" Takeru laughed brusquely before stopping short, his eyes suddenly pinned on the person standing just over Daisuke's shoulder.
"Ichijouji-sama." Takeru greeted the oyabun's younger brother with more respect than usual, Daisuke noted. Or rather, with the oyabun having recently passed... Daisuke's thoughts were cut short by a boot to his shin. He cocked his head at Takeru, whose eyes darted to where Ken stood just behind Daisuke briefly before landing back on Daisuke. It took a second, but Daisuke finally got the point.
"Ichijouji-sama," Daisuke stepped to the side so that he could offer the slightly older boy a polite bow, surprised as he stood back up to catch the look of genuine amusement in the lavender eyes. "Sorry," Daisuke apologized briefly, "I'm not used to all these layers," he tugged at his collar and got kicked again for his effort, "And it's just still so hot."
Ken quickly glanced away, his eyes darkening, "Yes." he agreed, "It was damned inconvenient of my brother to go and die before the weather cooled." Ken's voice had instantly taken on a hard, mocking tone as his eyes scanned the room, seemingly looking to land anywhere except on the curly headed boy who stood in front of him.
Without even thinking, Takeru reached for Daisuke's arm, pulling Daisuke back and placing himself between Ichijouji and Daisuke. But Daisuke was past needing Takeru to fight his battles. Sempai or no, Daisuke was more than capable of holding his old in this world and he was determined to make the blond man understand as much. He jerked his arm away from Takeru's tight grip, stepping to the side so that the three once again formed an equilateral triangle.
"I'm sorry." Daisuke stated plainly, blithely ignoring the death glares that Takeru was shooting his way, “Really,” he persisted, leaning in as if to press his point. After a long second, violet eyes flitted towards Daisuke, still harsh with their anger, but listening, "I didn't mean it that way." Daisuke offered a small smile up to the taller boy in apology.
Ken held Daisuke with his eyes. Cold, scornful, he looked down on the shorter boy as if he were no better than a lowly insect, interesting for his iridescent exoskeleton perhaps, but of no real consequence. Finally though, something in those eyes seemed to relent, anger giving way to fatigue.
"I know you didn't." Ken admitted, thrown off by the red-headed boy’s strangely calm insistence. Most people, even full grown men, tended to flee at even the smallest hint of anger from the youngest Ichijouji. Was Daisuke’s brashness due to his friendship with Takaishi-kun, possibly the only member of the compound willing openly antagonize the youngest member of the leader’s family? Ken’s eyes flitted over to where the blond in question stood, hands tightly fisted at his sides, eyes closely watching Ken and Daisuke’s exchange. No, Ken felt his lips twist with just the barest hint of amusement, Takaishi-kun definitely did not approve of his kohai’s frankness.
What then? A complete lack of self-concern? Utter idiocy? Both seemed vaguely possible, and yet, Ken could not quite bring himself to despise the younger boy for such weakness. Ken smiled, somewhat disconcerted when the gesture was parroted back at him with even greater aplomb.
Takeru could feel his chest tightening at the odd way Ichijouji kept studying Daisuke. He did not like it, not one bit, and while he could clearly see that at times, the older boy found himself nonplussed by the younger, Ichijouji did not seem to be in any hurry to break off the encounter. In fact, if Takeru did not find it so difficult to believe himself, he would have almost thought that the only remaining Ichijouji son was actually enjoying himself. It was Takeru, not the notoriously touchy Ichijouji, who found himself fighting the urge to slap away Daisuke’s hands when they reached up to point out something of interest on the badge on Ichijouji’s lapel.
So distracted was Takeru that he completely failed to notice the older woman that now stood behind Ichijouji until the woman’s companion cleared his throat roughly. All three boys turned toward the sound, Takeru with surprise, Daisuke with curiosity and Ken with thinly veiled annoyance.
“Mother.” Ichijouji’s aggravation was almost palpable, the name more a question of purpose than a family greeting. The woman’s softly pained smile faltered momentarily before regaining its resigned fortitude.
“The priest is ready to begin,” she informed the three boys, looking at her youngest son as she asked, “Please escort me to the front.”
For a minute, it almost seemed to Daisuke as if Ichijouji might deny the simple request, that him might turn a leave the large room where his brother’s wake was about to begin without so much as a single word of explanation. But just as Daisuke was about to reach out and grab the arm of the older boy in hopes of stopping what he was quickly coming to fear was unstoppable, Ichijouji turned, and with something painfully similar to hopeless resignation, offered his arm to the older woman.
“Ichijouji-sama?” Daisuke did not even realize he had spoken until Takeru jerked his elbow, a hissed, “Quiet!” piercing his ear.
Ichijouji stopped short, the woman glancing over her shoulder at the red headed boy even as her youngest son seemed determined to fight the urge to do the same.
“Ichijouji-sama,” Daisuke repeated, making only the most token of pauses before continuing, “May I offer some incense to your brother?”
It was the most perfunctory of questions requiring only the most perfunctory of answers, or so the woman would have thought. But the pained look on her son’s face would suggest otherwise. She glanced again at the young boy who waited for her son’s answer with open earnestness.
Ken sighed, a self-depreciating smile flickering at the edges of his mouth. To think that he had found himself thrown by such an obvious question. It seemed ridiculous.
“Of course,” the older boy informed the younger, no hint in his voice of the desire to deny the request that he had just fought so hard to quell, “Thank you, Motomiya-kun.”
Ken turned, seeming as if he had ignored the deep bow Daisuke offered in response even as he guided his mother through the crowded room, unsure why the simple show of respect from the younger man only served to terrify him.
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Yamato watched the car’s other occupants from the back seat. Daisuke sat on the passenger side, angled so as to always have one eye on the road and on eye on his fellow passengers. Minamoto sat, staring straight ahead, hands, firmly in place on the steering wheel, seemingly too concerned with navigating the increasingly heavy traffic to worry about either Yamato or Motomiya.
“Pull into the garage.” Daisuke said nodding towards the underground parking entrance on just ahead on their right.
Minamoto nodded, “It’ll be okay if they know we’re coming?” he asked, even as he maneuvered the vehicle through traffic towards the gate Daisuke had pointed out.
“Takenouchi’s not stupid,” Daisuke sighed, turning his head to gaze out his window, “She’s known we’d be coming for awhile.”
Minamoto rolled down his window, holding a badge up to the scanner momentarily before pulling his hand back inside and rolling the window back up. “Wouldn’t that make her more likely to try to run?” he asked casually, glancing over at Daisuke who was still staring out his window.
“Takenouchi won’t run.” Daisuke stated firmly. “Takenouchi never runs,” then, turning back towards his window he whispered, “the idiot.” Yamato barely caught the quiet words.
Yamato watched Daisuke’s eyes even as they seemed to be staring back at him through the smudged glass. He only looked away as Minamoto pulled into a parking spot next to a bank of elevators, turning off the engine.
The car sat silent for a moment. Yamato did not dare move unless told to do so by either Daisuke or Minamoto. Minamoto seemed content to sit and wait for Daisuke to make the first move. Just as Yamato was about say something himself, Daisuke straightened up in his seat, unsnapping the belt with a, “Let’s go.”
Minamoto was out of the car quickly, tossing the keys to Daisuke over the roof even as Yamato was still trying to shimmy his way out. He waited until Yamato was all the way out and standing next to Daisuke before shooting Daisuke a look that clearly asked, “Are you sure about this?” Daisuke snorted, motioning for both Minamoto and Yamato to follow him as he walked toward the elevators.
In the elevators, Minamoto again used his badge, this time swiping the edge before selecting the top floor. The short ride was completed in silence, broken only by the chime and the softly mechanical voice informing them that they were now on floor thirty-eight.
The doors slid open a second later revealing a surprisingly plain corridor, the gray of the floors flowing uninterrupted up the walls and across the ceiling. At the far end stood a door, as plain as the hallway, marked simply: Office. Minamoto stepped out a head of them, making his way down the hall at a quick clip. Yamato made as if to step out of the elevator, but Daisuke brushed him back with an arm, giving him a hard look before stepping off the elevator, the words low so that Minamoto would not overhear, “Stay with me.”
Minamoto was already at the door, one hand turning the knob even as he gave a sharp rap with then knuckles of the other. Without waiting for a reply he opened the door and stepped inside, Daisuke and Yamato right behind him.
At first, it took Yamato a second to come to terms with the utter silence in the room. Sitting behind a smallish desk was a woman no older than himself wearing a kimono. She ignored everyone but Daisuke, fixing him with a look of bland acceptance even as she pushed back from the desk, allowing her body to fall back against her chair as if fatigued.
"Hello Daisuke," her voice was soft, warm even, but held a tinge of sadness.
"Sora." Daisuke took a step forward, offering her a small smile, "I suppose you know why we're here."
She nodded, "I know why you're here," she confirmed, adding, "What I don't know is why now?" For just the barest of seconds, her eyes flashed over Yamato, her brows knitting close before relaxing.
Daisuke seemed to consider the question for a long time, his face blank, his eyes dark with their lack of emotion. He looped a finger through the elastic bridge of the goggles hanging limp around his neck, pulling them tight and releasing them, pulling them tight and then releasing them, pulling them tight--"I guess it's just time," he pinned Sora with his eyes, his face breaking into a smile that was almost painful enough to make Sora cry.
Sora nodded, "So that's how it is going to be," she agreed, standing up, "Just like Taichi," she could not help the slight hitch in her voice, "or Takeru."
Daisuke's eyes shut briefly, the pain rising up in his chest against his will, but he fought it back down. That was the response Sora had been aiming for, and Daisuke knew it. Daisuke worked hard to keep all emotion from his face, allowing Sora's simple accusation to hang in the air as if it were of little consequence. When he was certain that he had himself under control, his eyes flashed back open, boring deep into Sora, "No." he swallowed dryly, forcing the words out, "Not like Takeru."
Yamato could not help it. At the mention of his brother's name, he felt himself moving forward, wanting to hear more, needing to hear more. Needing to ask this Sora woman what it was she was trying to say and what it was Daisuke seemed so unwilling to acknowledge. But before he could get even half a step, Daisuke had moved in front of him, forcing Yamato's body back towards the office wall with a gentle if unyielding insistence. Yamato looked down on the curly head that seemed so intent on shielding him from some yet to be seen danger then across the room to where Minamoto now stood, leaning back against the wall, legs crossed nonchalantly. Yamato was not really sure whose reading of the situation he should take more seriously, but somehow the red headed man won out.
"Not like Takeru." Daisuke repeated again, his tone leaving little room for argument even as he attempted to stare down Takenouchi. Daisuke's eyes were angry. Angry and hurt and deep, deep within their centers almost seemed to be begging Takenouchi for a favor. She cocked her head to the side, thinking, her own eyes once more on Yamato as she tried her best to come to terms with what she thought Daisuke was asking of her.
"You know what this will mean?" she asked, her attention centered once more on Daisuke, "All the years of hard work. Are you trying to tell me you are okay with it all coming to nothing?" She threw her hands up in the air, angry. Yamato glanced across the room to Minamoto. He was still leaning against the wall, completely indifferent to Daisuke and Sora's seemingly cryptic argument.
"I'll take care of everything." It was spoken softly, an undeniable amount of pain dripping through. Even Minamoto looked up, giving Daisuke a questioning look before biting back his own curiosity.
"Can you?" Sora seemed discomfited by Daisuke's pain, part of her hesitating to push the younger man when he seemed so vulnerable, but the other part knowing she couldn't risk leaving the job undone. Daisuke turned, giving Yamato a long, hard look before turning back to Sora. He nodded.
"Okay." She said it first very softly to herself, then with a bit more strength, "Okay. If that's how you want to play it, okay." Sora leaned over, making like she was bracing her hands on the edge of the desk even as her fingers pressed the push button underneath.
Daisuke frowned, a hint of something flitting over his face before he ducked his eyes, his hands reaching into his jacket for what Yamato somehow knew was going to be a gun even before Daisuke had withdrawn it. Daisuke's choice of weapons did, however, seem to startle Minamoto, who pushed off of the wall, bracing himself for action even as the weapon settled on Takenouchi.
"I'm sorry it has to be this way." Sora's words did not contain even a dash of fear, only genuine heartbroken sadness. She looked away, her eyes blinking rapidly.
"I'm not." Daisuke smiled softly, trying in his own way to offer Sora comfort.
She looked back at him, returning the same soft smile even as she whispered, "I know," shaking her head as Daisuke cocked his weapon.
It was unexpected to say the very least, the pink haired woman busting into the small office, pointing a dangerously outdated Tokarev at Daisuke even as she shouted, "Stop!" Yamato took step back, bumping against the wall. Daisuke, however, did not so much as flinch, his weapon never leaving its target even as his eyes swung around, "Mimi," he greeted their newest guest.
"Daisuke," she answered back, her voice kept purposefully coy, "Is there something going on that I should know about?"
Daisuke ignored the question, his eyes moving to where Minamoto stood ready, waiting to be told what it was he would be expected to do. After a long look and a weary sigh, Daisuke turned his attention back to Tachikawa, offering her an indifferent kind of shrug, "We were just discussing some of the bookkeeping," he explained casually, something that may have been vaguely believable had he not still had a lethal weapon trained on Takenouchi.
Nevertheless, Mimi seemed okay with playing along, "Oh, I see, I see," she nodded, her own weapon bobbing unsteadily in her less than fantastic grip. Daisuke just sighed, shaking his head.
"Minamoto." The person in question looked up, happy, it seemed, to finally see some action, "Please relieve Tachikawa-san of her weapon before she accidentally shoots someone."
Minamoto did not hesitate despite the fact the he, himself appeared to be unarmed, moving toward Mimi with quick, steady strides. He was so focused on keeping her gun in his line of sight that he failed to even notice when Daisuke's weapon left Sora, swinging around, its base coming to rest firmly on the palm of Daisuke's left hand as he drew his bead and fired.
It only took the shortest of seconds. There was a loud crack, Tachikawa screamed, her arm recoiling from the discharge of her own gun as Minamoto fell first to his knees and then at her feet. Minamoto was dead before his body had even come to rest.
"Fuck." Sora's quiet statement was the first to break the silence.
Daisuke ignored the obscenity, putting his gun back in its holster under his jacket before wrapping his right arm around his side, "Are Jyou and Koushiro here?" When Sora nodded, Daisuke motioned to Yamato, "Takeru's idiot brother," he muttered, though introductions hardly seemed necessary by this point, "He's going with you."
"Wha?" Yamato began, this being the first he had heard of anyone going anywhere but he was quickly silenced by an ugly look before Daisuke leaned back against him as if he were relaxing. Yamato watched the red headed man carefully. Something about the way Daisuke was resting his weight against Yamato's chest, his eyes closed, his mouth still set in a hard, grim line bothered the blond man.
"Dais--" Yamato begin, but he was quickly cut off.
"What the fuck is taking them so long?" Daisuke complained.
"I don't know. I'll--" Sora paused mid-thought, hand still reaching for the telephone on her desk, "Daisuke?" It was about then that Yamato first noticed the warm stickiness working though his shirt. He put his own hand down to his middle, fingers gently probing between he and Daisuke. There was no pain, but when he looked down at his hand, he could plainly see the rapidly drying blood on his fingertips.
"Daisuke?" Yamato could not keep the worried tremor out of his voice. Daisuke just sighed, still not opening his eyes.
"You're fine," Daisuke's tone suggesting he was talking to an exhausting young child, "I'm fine. Really." his eyes opened momentarily to silence whatever it was Takenouchi had yet to even say, "The bullet barely caught me." Mimi gasped, both hands, flying up to cover her look of horror despite the fact that she was still clutching the Tokarev. Yamato flinched as the gun swung back down, Mimi quickly skirting Minamoto's body like it were little more than a piece of furniture in the room as she hurried over to where Yamato now seemed to be supporting most of Daisuke's weight.
"Oh my god! Daisuke! Are you okay?" Yamato tried not to cringe as she swung the gun about with every overly dramatic gesture. Daisuke opened his eyes again, seemingly even more difficult for him now than it had been mere seconds before, to pin the pink haired girl with a disgruntled glare.
"No. I'm not okay," he groused, "You fucking shot me." His eyes tracked the weapon as, again, both hands flew up to cover her look of dismay. "God." Daisuke looked at her with disbelief, "Will you put that damned thing down before you finish the job?"
"Oh my god!" Mimi repeated again, looking at the gun in her hand for the first time with surprise written all over her face. She quickly set it down on the floor at her feet, toeing it close to the wall beside Yamato before turning her attention back to Daisuke. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!" With each apology, her voice seemed to increase an octave.
Daisuke, though, ignored her apologies, turning his eyes back to Sora, "Who the fuck thought it would be a good idea to give Mimi a gun?"
Sora did not have time to answer though because Jyou chose that moment to enter the room, a shorter man with spiky red hair and a yellow laptop computer right behind him. They both paused in the doorway a second, trying to take in the scene.
"Well it's about fucking time," Daisuke almost seemed as if he were going to smile. But before he could, he blacked out.
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Daisuke slid the door to Takeru's room open slowly, careful to lift at just the right moment to keep it from scraping along the worn section of track. He slipped inside, pulling it back shut again with a near silent rap only to turn around find himself the sole subject of questioning blue eyes.
"Hi," the simple greeting seemed silly this late in the night but it was out before Daisuke could stop it. Takeru snorted, shaking his head even has he scooted over, lifting the kakebuton and motioning for Daisuke to slip under. Daisuke was quick to oblige. The season had finally started to turn towards winter and the colder nights seemed even colder against his naturally warm skin.
"You're freezing." Takeru complained even as he worked to remove Daisuke's shirt. Daisuke smiled at the non sequitur.
"We just got back." Daisuke was doing his best to help Takeru but his own hands just seemed to be getting in the way. Takeru impatiently slapped them away, scowling.
"You were with Ichijouji again."
Daisuke frowned at the blond's tone. "You know I’m only doing what you wanted me to do. Besides, Ken's not always that bad--" Daisuke stopped short, the look on Takeru's face telling him that he would not be convincing the blond man of any such thing tonight. At least Takeru seemed content on taking his frustration out on Daisuke's shirt rather than on Daisuke himself, grabbing the edge of the tee-shirt and jerking it up and over Daisuke's head with unnecessary force. Daisuke could not help his hiss of pain as the piece of clothing was yanked past the small square of gauze taped to his back.
"Ow!" Daisuke flinched, inadvertently ducking his shoulder in a pointless attempt to save it from the injury that had already occurred.
"What is it?"Takeru's blue eyes searched over what he could see of Daisuke, his worry apparent, "Were you hurt?"
"It's nothing," Daisuke felt somewhat embarrassed by the fact that he had even reacted to the small pain. He reached over his shoulder, nails picking at the edge of the tape a second until it loosened enough for him to grab hold and pull the entire bandage off. He showed it to Takeru before tossing it over to where the goggles Takeru usually wore around his neck were lying on the tatami.
Takeru sat back, pulling Daisuke up and over with him so that he could get a better look at what the bandage had been covering in the dim moonlight. All he could make out was a small raised area right near the top of Daisuke's shoulder blade. It looked a little swollen and there may have been a tiny incision, but Takeru couldn't really be sure. He prodded at it with his fingertips, earning himself an annoyed hiss from Daisuke.
"Careful," Daisuke protested, "it's still tender."
Takeru sat back, trying to look Daisuke in the eye, "What is it?" For some reason though, Daisuke was refusing to make eye contact.
"It's nothing," Daisuke repeated again, this time shrugging. Takeru did not buy it for a second. His hands gripped Daisuke's shoulder, his fingertips digging deep into the flesh of Daisuke's back, sparing no concern for the still reddened flesh that Daisuke had just told him was tender.
"God damn it!" Daisuke jerked his body out from under Takeru's angry grip, annoyed with the blond man and yet still somehow troubled by having upset him. "It's really nothing to be upset over," Daisuke was aggravated that his voice had already taken on a placating tone. He had wanted to stay angry at Takeru for longer. Still, at the skeptical look Takeru gave him, he could not help but try to explain, "It's just a little something to make it easier for Ken to find me if he needs me. That's all." Daisuke smiled, leaning forward as if to kiss Takeru, trying to remind the blond what it was they had been doing.
Takeru, however, was not to be so easily distracted. "That's all?" Takeru moved a half space back, making it impossible for Daisuke to reach him even as he pinned him with a dirty glare, "That's all?" he questioned again, "That's bullshit, Daisuke!" Takeru's fisted hand pounded the futon between them.
"Takeru," Daisuke warned in a low voice, reminding the other boy that was still the middle of the night. Takeru took a deep breath, his head back, eyes closed as he tried to bring his ire under control.
"That's bullshit, Daisuke," he repeated after a moment, his voice lower but still every bit as angry. "You're telling me that," there was a short pause before Takeru practically spit out the name, "Ken decided he was going to put some chip, some tracker in you like you were no more than some runaway dog. Ken's little pet? And you're okay with that?"
Daisuke couldn't help it. He was getting mad again, too, "It's not like that!" he insisted. He did not know why the look of disgust on Takeru's face was enough to make him want to scream, "It's not like that at all!" Takeru gave a derisive snort, turning his face away. Daisuke found himself scooting along the futon until they were once more looking eye to eye, "You're blowing this all out of proportion!" he whisper-pleaded. "Ken's--" Takeru turned his head again at the mention of Ken's name, forcing Daisuke to move to the other side of the bed so as to look him in the face, "Ken's not like that." That, at least, seemed to catch Takeru's attention. He stopped trying to look away and instead pinned Daisuke with a hate filled glare.
"Not like that?" Takeru asked carefully, his voice barely more than a growl challenging Daisuke to contradict his previous statement.
Daisuke swallowed dryly. What Takeru did not know is that when he was angry, he could scare Daisuke as much as, or even more than Ken. When the ice slid behind Takeru's eyes, it was all Daisuke to do to manage to speak.
"You don't know Ken like I do," Daisuke began carefully, not wanting to upset Takeru further but knowing that silence was no longer an option, "I know he has done some terrible things," Daisuke paused, "He knows he's done some terrible things!" Judging by the way Takeru's hands were fisted in the kakebuton, he was fighting hard not to reach out and strike Daisuke, "But you have to understand, that’s not the real Ken." Daisuke hesitated, chewing his lower lip as he thought about his next words, "The real Ken can be so gentle and so kind," Daisuke's voice trailed off again momentarily before coming back, "Things are just--"
"Things are just nothing." Takeru answered shortly. His voice was hard, cold, seemingly without any emotion. "That bastard is the reason Taichi is dead." Takeru's eyes flashed over to where Taichi's old goggles sat near the corner of the futon. "He as good as killed Taichi with his own hands." Takeru reminded Daisuke, "And now, shocker, he's set his sights on you." Takeru pushed himself up from the futon with a grunt, cinching tight his yukata even as he reached for the goggles in question. There was a long pause before Daisuke felt Takeru's hand run through his hair. The blond man sighed, his voice losing its angry edge, "You can't ask me to pretend I don't care."
"Takeru?" Daisuke could not help but ask as the other boy walked toward the door, leaving Daisuke sitting alone of the futon.
"I just need a little air," Takeru assured him, slipping out, "Just go to bed."
Daisuke watched the door slide shut, unable to hear Takeru's footsteps as he moved down the hallway. He threw himself back against the futon, powerless to contain the pained grunt as he was once again reminded of what had started the fight in the first place. Daisuke closed his eyes, throwing an arm across them as he tried not to think about everything that had just been said.
Maybe then, he wouldn't find himself wanting to cry.
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Daisuke was not sure where he was. He was comfortable, a vaguely spring-ish breeze rustling the hair at his temples even as a warm hand rubbed comforting circles along his scalp. Daisuke did not understand why the temperate breeze had such a damp, fishy odor, but he did recognize the song the other person continued to sing, voice low, almost to themselves.
"Cree crawl toads foot,
geese walk bare foot."
Daisuke smiled at the familiar melody. "How many times have I told you? That doesn't make any sense. It's rubbish!" Daisuke couldn't contain the laughter in his voice, reaching up to run a hand along the side of the blond man's face before even bothering to open his eyes.
Daisuke's eyes flashed open, his mind racing to fix the innate incongruity between the voice and his memories. He looked up at the man sitting above him, his hand still resting alongside Yamato's face, dirty with his own blood. Daisuke pulled his hand back quickly, his arm draping over his eyes even as he turned his face away from Yamato.
"Fuck." It was said a moment later with a worn sense of resignation, "What the fuck?" Daisuke allowed his arm to slide off his face, his fingertips scraping against the dirty floorboard, his eyes now centered on the backside of the front passenger seat. He was in a car. Daisuke looked back at Yamato, upon whose lap his head seemed to be resting, "Seriously," he began calmly enough, but Yamato could easily hear the anger underlying his tone, "What the fuck do you think you are doing here?" Without waiting for a reply, Daisuke pushed himself up into a sitting position, grunting with the effort, even as he wrapped an arm around his waist to protect his wound.
"Woah, woah, woah," Yamato chided, hands ghosting about Daisuke as if that could somehow help, "Be careful. Jyou said you shouldn't be moved." All Yamato got for his concern was a dirty look. "You've lost a lot of blood." Did Daisuke actually just roll his eyes at him?
Daisuke's head turned about, taking in their surroundings. Well the fishy scent made sense. It seemed like they were in some sort of industrial dock. "Where are we?"
Yamato shrugged, "I didn't really know where to go. I wanted to take you to a hospital but Jyou--" Yamato broke off. Daisuke was giving him that look that clearly said that he thought Yamato was an idiot again.
"Well," Yamato tried again, "then I thought about maybe taking you back to the compound," he trailed off, suddenly unable to meet Daisuke's eyes as he admitted to a stack of crates on their left, "but I couldn't remember the way."
At first Yamato wasn't even sure what it was he was hearing, but when he turned back around, he could see that Daisuke was laughing, still holding his side even as his mirth bubbled over.
"You got lost." Daisuke finally supplied for him, shaking his head in disbelief even as he scooted along the backseat towards the far door.
"Well," Yamato began again, trying to beat back the defensiveness in his voice as he followed after Daisuke as he moved across the seat, opened the car door and stepped out into the early morning sun, "I wasn't really paying attention before," he explained, watching as the younger man stretched his neck and shoulders with a grunt, "It didn't occur to me that you might actually shoot the guy who drove us there."
That seemed to bring Daisuke's mind back to his previous question, "Which reminds me," he hit the taller man with an ugly look, "Why the fuck are you here? I thought I told them to take you with them."
"You were unconscious," Yamato was surprised by the hurt in his own voice. He had not really known the younger man a full 24 hours and yet felt genuinely bothered by Daisuke's refusal to even try and depend on him, "I couldn't just leave you lying on the floor…" Yamato's voice trailed off, but Daisuke could pick up on his meaning. As if Minamoto weren’t enough.
Daisuke sighed, "And this helps, how?" he questioned Yamato who did not seem to have an answer for that, not that Daisuke had expected him to, then, "Did they even try to beat some sense into you?"
"Of course!" Yamato was quick to back up what he assumed were Daisuke's friends, "I mean, it's not like they were happy about it. That Sora woman even pointed a gun at me," he assured the younger man.
Daisuke, however, was far from impressed, "Yeah?" he questioned blandly, "Well she didn't shoot you. I'd hardly call that trying." This time it was Yamato's turn to offer Daisuke a frustrated sigh, which Daisuke ignored, reaching under his jacket to his holster. After a second’s hesitation, he pulled open the jacket, looking at the object in question before turning on Yamato, eyes flashing cold, anger hot.
"Where's my weapon?"
"Wha--" Yamato began, taking an involuntary step back even as he raised both hands in defense.
"My gun, Yamato," Daisuke insisted, stepping forward to close their distance again, ignoring the sharp pain in his side suggesting that maybe Jyou’s patch job had not quite done the trick, "Or weren't you paying attention to that, either?"
"I don't know!" Yamato insisted. The heat rolling off of the younger man in waves was more than enough to challenge the hottest summer sun. "Really, I don't," Yamato repeated, "Why would someone take your gun?"
Daisuke's eyes flashed shut as he took a few deep breaths, his body still leaning in close to Yamato, "What about Sora," Daisuke finally asked, "The gun she had, was it mine?"
Yamato considered the question for a second before shaking his head, "No. She had that old looking one. She picked it up from where the pink-haired girl dropped it." Daisuke had expected as much. He closed his eyes, leaning back against the car, ignoring Yamato as he tried to think. Koushiro would not have taken it. Jyou was deathly afraid of the damn things. Mimi… no, she could have kept the Tokarev if she really wanted a gun and Sora knew better than anyone just what it was Daisuke was planning to do. It just did not make any sense.
Daisuke opened his eyes, a resigned sigh escaping as he acknowledged the dark haired man, "Ken."
"Ichijouji?" Yamato, however, seemed much more surprised to see the young oyabun. "How--?" Ken spared him only the smallest of glances.
"I've already told you once," Ken informed the blond man, keeping his eyes on Daisuke the entire time, "I'm no idiot. I would never allow such a valuable piece of property out of my sight without some way of tracking it down." Ken turned the screen of the small electronic device in his hand towards Yamato. There was a pair of colored lights flashing near the center of the grid. Ken put the device back into his pocket with a smirk.
"You bugged the car," Yamato stated matter-of-factly, surprised when Ken laughed and Daisuke turned his head away as if disgusted.
"Don't be stupid," Daisuke complained, pulling a similar device out of his own pocket. On its screen flashed the same two lights, their positions reversed. Ken smiled at Daisuke, a soft, almost kind smile. It seemed oddly incongruous against the coldness of his next words.
"Minamoto's dead." When Daisuke did not respond, Ken continued, "Takenouchi and little friends have scurried away."
Again, Daisuke did not seem particularly concerned, "They'll be easy enough to track," he assured Ken, completely ignoring the look of pained confusion on Yamato's face. "It's the only way we are going to be able to find their contact."
"I suppose," Ken shrugged, "Did you really have to shoot Minamoto?"
Daisuke ignored the unspoken I liked him hanging in the air at the end of Ken's question, "I had to earn their trust somehow," he stated simply. Ken nodded at the simple logic.
"And him?" Ken glanced to where Yamato still stood, something akin to shocked disbelief coloring his features.
Daisuke looked the blond man up and down before releasing a hearty sigh, "He was supposed to go with Sora and the others," Daisuke complained. Ken chuckled at the red headed man's annoyance.
"How sweet," Ken mocked, shooting a knowing glance at the bandages that could be seen through the section of tee-shirt Jyou had had cut away at the side of Daisuke's clothing, "I suppose he thought it was more important to act as your nurse than escape to safety." Ken stepped over to where Yamato stood; making sure the blond man had nowhere to look besides into his mocking eyes, "I guess recklessness really does run in some families." The corners of Ken's mouth quirked at the pain that flashed across Yamato's face. "But to think, older brother, ignorant until the end, walks willingly, eyes open into the same sad fate as younger brother," Ken's lip curled into a snarl, "How tragic," he mocked.
"Ken!" Daisuke's sharp tone caught Ken's attention, the darker haired man turning towards the younger one, "Let. Him. Go." Daisuke enunciated each and every word precisely, dark anger coloring his voice. Ken glanced up to where he had been unknowingly gripping the tender flesh just under Yamato's chin.
"Hn," Ken released Yamato's throat with a mocking sort of shrug. He took an easy step back, smiling at Daisuke, "Just as well," Ken assured him as Yamato reached up, breathing deeply, his hand offering some protection to his abused throat, "Like Takeru, he deserves the chance to look his executioner in the eyes." Ken reached into his light gray suit coat, pulling out a furoshiki wrapped object and handing it to Daisuke, who balanced the weight in his hands, closing his eyes even as he shook his head in disbelief. Did Ken really think of everything?
"Daisuke?" Yamato's voice was rough, uncertain.
"You know it needs to be done," Ken chided Daisuke when he saw the younger man hesitating. Daisuke nodded, swallowing thickly even as he untied the knot in the furoshiki, allowing the edges to fall back, revealing a Glock 22. Daisuke stared at the pistol a long moment before gripping it in his right hand and allowing the cloth to drop to the ground. It was lighter than he was used to, but effective. He brought the gun up and around until it was centered on Yamato. But after only a second’s hesitation, he brought the gun back down, flicking the external safety even as he slid the weapon into the holster under his jacket.
"Daisuke…" The ire in Ichijouji's voice was practically palpable. Daisuke ignored it, his eyes never leaving Ken even as he addressed Yamato.
"Do you still have the car keys?"
Yamato nodded before realizing Daisuke wasn't looking at him. Somehow he managed to choke out a strained, "Yeah," involuntarily pushing back against the vehicle in question when Ken took a threatening step in his direction. Not that there seemed to have been a reason to, as Ken's action was quickly countered by Daisuke, who moved so that he stood between the two men, his back to Yamato.
"Good." Daisuke praised, a sarcastic edge to his voice, "Then get in the damned car and get the fuck out of here."
"No." The simple statement was out before Yamato had even thought it.
Daisuke shook his head, seemingly unable to believe that he had heard what he thought that he had just heard. "I'm sorry," Daisuke apologized, his voice oddly polite, "But what?"
"I said no."
This time, Ken actually giggled at Yamato's refusal.
Daisuke, however, was not as amused, "Get in the god-damned car, Yamato." Yamato's only answer was to slide along the side of the car until he was close enough to the edge of the dock to pull the keys out of his pocket and toss them in the water. He turned back towards Daisuke and Ken, almost expectantly.
It only took a second for Daisuke’s anger to bubble over. "You god-damned, hard headed, fucking idiot, blond son of a bitch!" he burst as his mind registered the tell-tale splash. Ken nearly doubled over with laughter. Yamato did not wait for him to regain control. He pulled Daisuke's gun out from where he had it hidden in the waistband of his pants and aimed it at the dark haired oyabun. That, at least seemed to sober up the younger man.
"Well, well," Ken praised, smothering his laughter even as he stood to his full height, "Maybe someone in your family actually has some guts." Yamato ignored him, cocking the weapon as he had seen Daisuke do earlier, but before he could take the shot, Daisuke was standing between him and Ichijouji again, his weapon pointed at Yamato.
"And you stole my fucking gun?" Daisuke asked slowly, his tone making Yamato flinch. Daisuke was definitely angry.
"Well…yeah," Yamato answered back, not really sure what Daisuke expected him to do about that now, but the fury flashing in those brown eyes was enough to make Yamato think that he needed a good excuse, "It seemed like a good idea at the time." Okay, any excuse was better than none.
Daisuke wasn’t buying it. He ignored that worrisome stickiness he felt slowly spreading down his side and instead held out his left hand, palm up, even as his right arm held the glock steady, “Give it back.” He insisted, motioning with the fingers of his upturned palm for Yamato to bring the weapon in question over. Yamato, however, only lowered the gun a fraction, and only so that he could give Daisuke his best disbelieving look.
“No,” he stated plainly, bringing the gun back up to his original position, “Now get out of my way. I’m killing Ichijouji.”
“The hell you are,” Daisuke took another step in Yamato’s direction, fighting the urge to wrap and hand around the twinge in his side even as the damp warmth continued to spread. Things were not working out as planned, not that anything had since the taller blond had arrived, "You don't even know how you use that damned thing."
“I know enough.” The way Daisuke rolled his eyes suggested that he might not have agreed, but the point was moot as Ichijouji took that moment to move out from behind Daisuke with a self-satisfied chuckle.
“Well, now, I must say,” Ken made no effort to control the humor in his voice, “I realize your welcome wasn’t the warmest possible, but I hardly believe it merits my death.” Ken chuckled again at Yamato’s frustrated scowl as Daisuke quickly moved to stand between them once more.
“Get out of my way, Daisuke,” Yamato growled, “I know he killed Takeru.” Yamato ignored the pained look that flashed across Daisuke’s face as his eyes briefly fluttered shut, sweat beading on his brow. “Stop trying to protect him.”
“Well now, that is amusing,” Ken remarked, though this time his voice lacked all humor. Ken ignored the aggravated way Daisuke muttered his name as he stepped out to, once again, face Yamato. “I don’t know what paints you as the bigger fool: that you think Daisuke would ever try to protect me or that you think that I would risk dirtying my hands by taking out such pointless garbage.”
“Ken.” This time, the warning in Daisuke’s voice was stronger, but he made no move to cover Ken. It almost seemed as if he were fighting hard to just remain standing. Yamato leveled his weapon at the dark haired man.
Ken’s response was almost instantaneous. “I’m lying?” he questioned, his voice low and hard before speaking up to repeat, “I’m lying?” Ken’s head shook back and forth as if in disbelief, “Do you honestly believe I would waste even a moment on that… that… insect,” and here Ken’s voice took on its most disbelieving tone, “or maybe you are so ignorant as to believe by keeping me alive, by forcing me to live, Daisuke is somehow protecting me?”
Yamato did not buy it, “Then what you call it?” he challenged, keeping the dark haired oyabun in his sights even as he fought to banish the image of the previous night’s boy from his mind.
“Hate.” It was stated simply, without emotion, “Perhaps some ill-considered responsibility or accountability. Guilt.” Ken glanced over to where Daisuke stood, his legs braced, his normally dark skin oddly pale. “Call it what you will,” Ken finally concluded with a shrug before quickly contradicting himself, his voice heavy with distaste, “But don’t call it protection.”
“Fine. Whatever.” Yamato's eyes fluttered shut momentarily as he fought back the odd sort of biting pain that bloomed behind them if he tried to even consider the dark haired man's words, “But that—” Yamato broke off suddenly, surprised by the weight of Daisuke’s hand on his gun. He must have stepped forward while Yamato had been distracted by Ken. The only thing Daisuke offered him in way of an answer to the unspoken question in his eyes was a dirty look. Daisuke wrenched the weapon out of Yamato’s hands with a frustrated growl. Sliding the glock into his holster so that he had both hands free, Daisuke quickly turned the gun Yamato had been brandishing around and flipped off the safety. Then, making sure he had Yamato's full attention, he slid the bar back into the locked position and then slowly released it again, much as if he were trying to explain the mechanism to an illiterate child. Afterwards, Daisuke gave the gun a quick once over to make sure everything was as it should be before handing it back to Yamato, butt first, unable to keep an unenthusiastic sigh from escaping.
Daisuke took a step back, somewhat unsteady on his feet even as he looked down at his middle. What was left of his shirt was matted to the bandages that Jyou had wrapped around his waist, the fabric slowly wicking blood away from his reopened wound. Judging by both that and the tell-tale sensation of blood seeping down his left leg, things would not continue for much longer. Daisuke ignored the odd way his vision seemed to blur and his ears roar every time he moved his head. He let Yamato look deep into his eyes for as long as he dared, hoping, somehow, that the blond would be able to see in them the truth and that he would accept it. When, finally, Daisuke noticed his own sight starting to fade, he took another half step back, offering the blond a true, if sad smile.
“You’re being a fucking idiot,” he informed Yamato, surprised at how easily the words rolled off his tongue, “Ken didn’t kill Takeru.” Never mind how worn and tired his voice sounded to himself. It took much of his strength just for him to reach up and put his hand on the grip of the glock and slowly pull it free. He gave Yamato one last wistful look as he raised the weapon, finally, and for the very first time, admitting out loud, “It was me.”
The glock fired once and Yamato watched in horror as Daisuke’s body crumpled to the ground.