Authors' notes: First, this takes place(and was also written) after Dice and Claire face off on top of the Vita building, but before Episode #16 (Target). Secondly, yes, Claire is a little off in the beginning chapters. He has a good reason, trust us. Reviews are greatly appreciated.
General disclaimer: Don't own them, not making any money off them. Liberties taken with characters' pasts but with only 26 episodes total we believe there is room for that.
In a Different Light
Tal and One
"Don't put your feet on my chair," Shun Aurora scolded his brother as the younger man slid across the huge desk and leaned on his knees. Not paying any attention to the warning, his feet-- still wet and muddy from walking to the huge office building-- dropped into the expensive leather desk chair. The older man put his fingers to his forehead and sighed. "I have enough to worry about without wondering if I have your dirty footprints on my ass."
"Take it easy, bro. From where I'm sitting life's been pretty quiet. Haven't done much other than play that new online game on my computer. In between paperwork of course." Daisuke picked up a neat looking crystal paperweight and began looking through it, watching the kaleidoscope effect it had on his older brother.
"That would be because thirteen of the crime world's heavy hitters have turned up dead or damn near dead over the last couple weeks." Shun frowned as he plucked the paperweight out of Daisuke's hand. "If you could look at the file I…" He looked down at the desktop where the file had been. Sighing, he shoved Daisuke over and pulled the file from under him. "Look at this. There's someone new in town, but we don't know who yet." Shun retrieved his coffee cup from its precarious perch on the very edge of the desk.
"We hardly have the budget to protect the innocents from crimes about to happen." Flipping through the more boring parts, Dice pulled out several photos of victims. "These are all connected? Wow, they got the head of the Farillo family. That must be fresh. The news hasn't reported it. So what are you telling me? We in the business of protecting criminals now?"
"Since we haven't any evidence to arrest any of these men, they are technically law-abiding citizens and we have to protect them too," Shun replied, moving to the side of his office to refill his coffee cup.
Dice made a derisive sound in the back of his throat as he continued to peruse the file. "Oh no, not him…" He held up one of the photos. "Why is this guy in here? Tell me we've finally got something solid and he's behind this. Is that it? He might have brought in some new talent but it just has that Leonelli flare doesn't it?"
"Actually, Daisuke, Clair Leonelli took two bullets in the chest the day before yesterday. And," Shun paused to measure sugar into his coffee. "Though the wounds weren't fatal, nothing has been released to the media about him at all. Though I'm sure you saw the report about the shooting at his casino on the evening news."
"Yeah… but no one said he was shot. Can't say I'm surprised." Dice found something new to play with. "Hey when did you start smoking cigars? They look expensive. Probably a kickback. Anyway, I doubt it's even related. Clair Leonelli has more enemies than we could possibly keep track of. Just the old guard of the families alone who dislike his more youthful --as in crazy and reckless-- way of business number in the dozens." The feet went back up on the desk chair. "Then you've got to consider he staged it to get us off his track. I mean if I wanted him dead I'd do bit more than two bullets to the chest and these guys have easily taken out some serious heavies. It's either no relation or a diversion. So what do you want from me?"
Shun grabbed Daisuke's arm and hauled him off the desk. "We're going for a ride, Dice. You're going to go on bodyguard duty for a few days."
Dice shrugged his arm away. "Only if you're buying me some lunch along the way. And I don't like where this is leading, Shun. Just who am I guarding and since when is that even in my job description and where are we riding too?"
A commotion in the outer office drew Shun's attention before he could answer Daisuke's questions. His secretary's voice carried into the room, obviously telling someone off. The intercom lit up, and her voice filled the room. "Mr. Aurora, you have a vis-- Hey! Get back here you little punk!"
"Guess one of the taxpayers wants to chat with you about the job your doing," Dice said purposely opening the door for whoever was making their way down the small alcove to the Chief's office.
The thick wheel of a motorized wheelchair bumped unapologetically over Daisuke's foot. "What the hell is going on?" An angry voice hissed as the wheelchair skidded to a stop, leaving tire marks on Shun's polished floor. Narrowed lavender eyes glared up at the Chief as Clair Leonelli waited for an explanation.
"I was just heading over to drop off the guard you requested, Mr. Leonelli." Shun replied, seemingly undisturbed by Clair's sudden appearance and outburst.
"I requested a guard, not that worthless slacker!" Clair gestured to Daisuke.
"I'd be offended," Dice was walking off his throbbing foot. "But since I'm not about to be his bodyguard, I'll let it slide. You don't pay me enough. And remember what I said? I mean a wheelchair. A few weeks ago I took three bullets to the chest and look at me."
Clair stood, slower than he liked, and he had his gun leveled somewhat shakily at Daisuke. "Shall we see if you can take three more?" The color was quickly draining from Clair's face and he tried not to clutch the back of the wheelchair too obviously.
"Like you're going to shoot me in here." Dice stood his ground even took a step closer having noticed the shaky way Clair was gripping the gun. Ready for anything he looked to his brother. "Alright he really is hurt, but what does that prove?'
"Mr. Leonelli has received a second round of threats. Our guy sends several vague warnings to his intended victims," Shun explained as he walked towards Clair. "Now Mr. Leonelli, why don't you put that away?"
Several of Clair's henchmen appeared in the doorway, panting from having run up the stairs after Clair took off. "Mr. Leonelli."
Two shots fired, wildly sailing off to chip the woodwork near the ceiling. Clair's gun clattered to the floor and he slumped over the wheelchair. Beating back the henchmen who ran to check on him, Clair glared at Shun then Daisuke. "I'm going to trust you this one time, Mr. Chief. But I'm sure you can guess what'll happen if you're wrong." Clair sat back down and rubbed his forehead as he rolled out of the room. "I'll wait for him out here. Hurry up and issue him his gun and plenty of bullets."
Dice stepped to the side not wanting any wayward wheels to find his other foot. He gave his brother a murderous look. "I don't like this, Shun. I can't imagine why you would stoop so low as to follow a request from him. And," this he said loud enough for everyone in and out the room to hear. "Why would he ask for our department if he didn't want me to guard him… Unless he's trying to cozy up to Kyoko or he suddenly likes androids."
"Give me back my gun!" Clair's voice echoed into the office as Shun finished with Daisuke's briefing.
"Clair is going into hiding for a few days, until we can find the killer. You're to stay with him, 24-7. There's no doubt that if he can be found, the killer will attack. If you can capture the man responsible, I know I don't have to tell you what that will do for your department. And," Shun didn't seem to want to continue. "Clair is keeping up his father's tradition of contributing an unhealthy amount of money to the police force. He virtually signs your paycheck. If he gets killed... Again, I don't think I have to tell you what that would do to your department."
Dice turned his back and walked towards the door. "Yeah well bro, I don't have to tell you what I think of this whole thing, do I?"
"Just do it, and I'll see about getting you some paid vacation time," Shun promised, returning to his desk. "I'll be in touch, Dais."
"Not even a good luck don't get your head blown off protecting public enemy number one," Dais grumbled as he joined Clair and his cronies in the outer office. "Well, we gotta go down and get my weapon before we do anything so let's get a move on, roller boy."
Clair frowned even more and crossed his arms, working his way into a full-blown pout. It broke after a moment, and his shrugged. "Whatever." He maneuvered himself into the elevator, his entourage following.
"We taking my ride or are we all going to climb on the back of your wheelchair?" Dais asked feeling a bit unnerved standing alone with three of Clair's top henchmen and the brat himself.
"THEY are all going back to their jobs. The casino is understaffed and overfilled." He glared at the henchmen, definitely angry with them. "And I was told you would know what was best," he turned a sardonic grin on Daisuke. "DICE."
"Well Clair," Dais wished he had a more annoying familiar name to refer to Clair with. He didn't much like how Clair had said his name but he was not going to get caught up in some immature game. "I thank you for..." Oh, how to say it? "Realizing you're out of your league and leaving the strategy to those who know what they're doing." Dais pulled out his cell phone as they approached the lobby floor. He pressed the emergency close button so it wouldn't open at the lobby and pressed parking area three while he dialed with the other hand.
"You won't get any reception on that in here. Too many thick walls," Clair offered, pointing to Daisuke's phone. He leaned his head on his hand, propping his elbow on the arm of the wheelchair. He looked to be half-asleep as he stared up at Dais.
"Now I thought you said you trusted me." Dais tried to not look embarrassed. How to cover up such a simple error? There was one way. "My phone has decent reception when I'm calling one particular guy." Dais hit a button that would alert J of his need for him. "My partner will likely be waiting for us before the doors open." A plan was formulating and if it caused Clair some discomfort… Well he was only doing his job.
Clair looked bored as he wheeled past Daisuke into the garage. "Look, no robot. Let's just go already." He glared again at his henchmen as they scuttled off to get back to the casino. Clair turned semi-amused eyes on Daisuke. "How about we go to your place, hmm? They'll never look for me there."
"Actually that's what I was thinking. I was just going to get an unmarked unobtrusive vehicle for your complete safety and comfort." But if he stuffed Clair in the sidecar of the bike it would probably work, especially if he used the cover. "But if you don't mind abandoning your roller skate we can take my bike."
Clair almost smiled at Daisuke. "Yeah, I think I'll be fine without this thing." He weakly kicked the wheelchair as he stood. "Where'd you park?" Clair stuffed his hands in his pockets and slouched a little to cover he weakened state.
"Back up to level one, I can call it and we can board it there." Dais held open the elevator door.
Clair entered the elevator and leaned against the far wall. He watched Daisuke, not bothering to hide his stare. "I hope your wife can cook. I'm starved."
"Yeah well you might be surprised at the hospitality you'll receive at Chez Aurora." One look at his messy small apartment would likely make Clair offended and he'd want to go back to his happy little casino no matter the risk.
Clair nodded and drifted off into his own thoughts. He started singing to himself, some obnoxious pop song that sounded totally wrong coming out of Clair Leonelli's mouth.
Dais found trying to ignore both the song (which he'd heard earlier that morning and had already had it stuck in his head for half the day) and the lewd way Clair was making it sound nearly impossible. Ok, it was already suggestive but Clair was accentuating all the wrong parts, making it oh so deliciously naughty. Dais stepped out and pushed a small tab on his finger glove. With a gust of tailwind, his bike appeared.
Clair stopped singing and looked it over approvingly. "Mind if I drive?" he asked, stroking the tailpipes sexually. He smiled over the chrome at Daisuke.
"She's a beauty," Dais said proudly. "However I don't think you could handle a bike like this. Especially in your condition. You'll have to take the sidecar, I'm afraid."
"I don't have a condition. I have a bullet wound. That's not the same." Clair slid into the sidecar and gave Daisuke a glare.
"Don't sulk. Trust me, even down there I'll make sure you get a feel for what I can do with it." Dais grabbed up and strapped on his helmet and handed Clair the extra one. "We're talking 400 in 40 seconds."
Clair smirked, reluctantly putting on the helmet. He suspected Daisuke would make him walk if he didn't and he was in no shape to walk right now. "I've got a hard-on already. Let's just get going."
Dais looked away from Clair after he was making sure he was strapped in. Wouldn't want Clair flying out of the sidecar. Would kind of defeat the whole purpose of protecting him. "Must you say such… Raunchy things? You're worse than the streetwalkers."
Clair shrugged. "Did I embarrass you?' He reached up and squeezed Dais's thigh. "Or turn you on?"
Dais was unsure how to respond. After all, he'd spent most of his life hanging out with what most would call the slime of humanity. Down at the docks the talk was far worse than anything he'd heard Clair say. So why did he feel a bit warm when Clair spoke? Like he'd never been exposed to that kind of talk. Time to regain control of this whole situation. He removed the hand from his thigh and hopefully the light violet eyes from his body as he said.
"It takes a lot more than that to embarrass me. So don't try it again."
Clair sat back, looking like he'd just won. "How far to your place?"
"Just hold on. We'll take the back alleys. A lot of cornering. It'll be fun." Dais kicked the bike into gear and took off.
Clair shielded his eyes. The sun was bright in the space Daisuke had found to park his bike. The head of the Leonelli family was waiting as patiently as he knew how for Dais to return from getting his gun. He was too tired from the exciting bike ride to even attempt to walk up to the building. His shoulder was throbbing almost more than he could stand. He should take the painkillers soon. Clair fished the bottle of pills from his pocket and tried to twist the cap off. His injured arm was shaking and holding the bottle was impossible, let alone using that hand to grip the cap.
"Piece of shit," Clair snarled, throwing the bottle at the floorboard of the sidecar. He'd just deal with the pain.
"This is a first." Dais was talking to himself but walking up to Clair. "21 regulars, 6 reds, and a buncha blues. They must be expecting me to have face down an army of androids, humans and beast-heads." He saw Clair was very tense and grew concerned. "Did you see something suspicious? You look… I don't know… Just not like your usual carefree self I guess."
"It's nothing. Just bored. Let's go, I can't wait to see your adorable little house, meet your wife. Maybe play with your dog." Clair replied tersely.
Clair jumped on the bike. "My APARTMENT building doesn't allow pets, so no house. No wife and well, no cooking. Mostly take out. On the bright side I live in the penthouse." If you call the top floor of what you'll regard as a slum a penthouse.
Clair shrugged, and had to stifle a wince as pain lanced through his body. "Whatever."
"Hey no one asked you to stay with me." Dais hit top speed in record time mistaking Clair's wince of pain as a haughty 'I'm better than you how do you expect me to put up with such conditions?' kind of sneer.
"Let's just get there." Clair muttered, leaning back, and closing his eyes. He started to get lightheaded from the pain and by the time Daisuke pulled up in front of his building Clair was barely aware of anything else.