Disclaimer:  all standard ones apply.

Even If

The idea came upon Leon one day.  He wasn't thinking much at that time---going over minor business excursions and trying to pin a degree of worth to them.  A way to excuse them without sounding over-threatened, or as if he had something to hide.  Which he did.  He knew that now, he just wasn't certain if he had been hiding it all that well.  He picked at his nails, a nervous habit even though he was alone at the moment and there was no clear reason to be nervous.

The sky above him was as bejeweled as any sunny day could be, aquamarine with trails of more subtle colours.  It framed his gold hair, light running down stray strands and causing them to shine as if polished.  And when he sighed, it was such a despaired sound, small and wishful of sleep---he stared sightlessly at his hands and contemplated the repression of such an idea.  Was certain he could pull it off.  And if he couldn't?  O well, what other option did he have?

     He could sit here on this bench and pray the time passing would turn him to stone.  Numbness was always a fleeting fancy for him; he was guilty of being over-emotional . . . as well as apathetic.  To describe him as having contrasting moods would be too hopeful.  'Conflicting' suited him much better.  And there were so many conflicts to this 'idea' that he sat still and really didn't feel anything at its coming.

     "Good morning!  Imagine that I should meet you here..."

     Leon looked up at an all-too-familiar voice, one that was woven with quiet respect and under-currents of teasing seduction.  That he should hear these things only took his breath.

The creature before him stood as if brushed in by the most beautiful and silk-like colours, his pale fingers wrapped softly around each other and still lashes that appeared as fine as black lace.  But what really captured his thoughts were two bright eyes veiled by raven threads, threads that moved on the slight breeze as if they lived.  That his own eyes should interpret the vision before him with shifting shades of hunger and poetic flair only produced in him a strong urge to run.  He stayed frozen, watched silently as, with a sweep of some rich, shimmering skirt, D lowered onto the bench.

     "It is a lovely day, too lovely to stay inside.  Don't you agree, Keiji-san?"

     The day had fallen around him.  He was torn between slipping into the role that the Count was providing for him, or acting on the idea he was supposed to forget.  He did neither, just . . . remained.

     "Is there something wrong?"

     He glanced up in time to catch those o so concerned eyes.  In one way it frightened him, and the other just plain sickened him, became a cold, dead weight in his stomach.  Was the concern real, or simply polite?  He knew the Count had a temper, and he knew that he had a way of annoying him that no one else seemed able to duplicate . . . D was a fine actor when he wanted to be.  Problem was---Leon didn't know when he was in the middle of some elaborate production, or the plain truth.  Perhaps the act was the only truth there was . . .

     "Do you care?  Honestly."  The sound of his own voice was unfamiliar, even to the point that D seemed to blink.  'Seemed', he realized, was a word he used often when dealing with the Count.  That should have told him something.

     "Of course I do."  The set of his eyebrows proclaimed pain, but even a mediocre actress can convince the audience that she is dying---when in fact she is dancing.  Leon stared at a tree as its branches broke the blue sky, didn't know what else to do or say.  He didn't have the strength to snap.  It seemed pointless anyway.  And the mood he had descended into didn't support such heights of anger. 

     "I wonder sometimes how you really see me."  Leon said.  "Sometimes I think you see a toy, something you can play with---"

     D's mouth opened, but Leon sputtered on, knowing that he was dropping the 'tough-guy' act and not certain how long he could breathe without it.  It left no time for protests or altercations.

     "Don't tell me it isn't so.  I know better."

     "And how do you see me, Detective?  Am I as weak as you think I am?  Am I as stubborn or deceptive?  Do I really only see you as something I can play with?  And do *you* care?  Honestly?"  The Count sat back, folded his hands almost habitually in his lap and regarded such a beautiful sky.

     Leon stared at him, trying to decipher his words and if there was some small measure of pain to them.  "I wouldn't want you to die or anything . . ." He said finally.

     D laughed softly.  "What an admission, but I suppose it is enough.  Anymore would cost too much."

     "What do you want me to say---that we're friends?!"

     "It would be closer to the truth."  The Count took a soft breath.  "But then again I recall that I am a suspect in your investigation . . .and you certainly wouldn't be friends with a suspect.  Or care how he sees you."

Implications were a whole other language, the ability to say one thing and say another at the same time was a talent that Leon was sure that D had taken years to perfect.  It would take Leon years to understand the whole scope of what the Count said, but what he had just heard was no mystery.  It was, after all, a truth he was trying to bury.

He had a deeper problem though.  And admitting friendship would be taking a step closer to it, and he didn't want to.  No, it was better to leave things as they were and not give the Count the means in which to over-power him.

     Even if it was what he wanted.

.The End.

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