Everyone still paying attention?
Disclaimer: The only ones I didn't make up are the Digi-cast. The rest are mine. Except for Akira, but you'll see why. This is yaoi, so be on your guard. If you don't know what that means…you shouldn't be reading.

Rating: R – for a reason, people. Sex, drugs, violence, angst…did I mention it was boy/boy sex?

Some terms you should be aware of:
'Providers'(or provs) are the people who make the drinks.
'Runners' are the waiters and/or servers.
'Floors' are the people who watch the cameras and doors.
'Eyes' are the people that Ken has stationed about five feet from the ceiling; they watch the people and spot fights or problems.
Accordingly, the Kaizer is head of security, hooked up directly. He literally has the entire system in the palm of his hand… :3

-8 Part 3 8-
(Friday, 4:16 pm)

"Yo," was Ishida Yamato's traditional greeting, whether in person or on phone.

"Hey, Yama—"

"Takeru? What's up? How's school?"

"Yeah, it's okay—" There was a pause; Yamato held the phone with a shoulder and strummed a few absent chords, waiting until Takeru exhaled and asked, unexpectedly, "What happened with Daisuke's dad? Did he really put Daisuke in the hospital?"

Startled, Yamato managed a "What the hell? Who told you that?"

"Daisuke did. I saw him at school and he's moved back or something—he said something about his dad kicking him out—"

"Really," Yamato mused. "I thought he might. And yeah, his dad beat the shit out of him."


Takeru was quiet for a second; Yamato took a moment to set his guitar down and leaned back in the effort to crack his back. "Alright…so was he trying to piss you off, or something? "

"No, not really," Takeru exhaled. "He says hi…I just didn't know…"

"Idiot had it coming."


"He did," Yamato replied impassively. "He was in too deep with the wrong end. His dad caught him first."

"Yeah, but…"

"Trust me," Yamato murmured. "I would've beat his ass too, if I had known. How's he doing, then?'

Takeru made a disgruntled noise. "I suppose he's okay. Jun set up an apartment, and he's got a job—he starts school next month."

"Yeah? How long has he been in town?"

"Less than a week, I think."

"Huh. Little shit must've gotten lucky. Where's he working?"

"Some club, I guess."

"Club?" Yamato paused with a smile, and wiped traces of it from his voice. "You sure you're not pissed off?"

"No," Takeru insisted sullenly. "He was just being Daisuke."

"Come on, Takeru. He really twisted your chain, I can tell. What happened?"

There was a long moment where Yamato heard nothing but a strangled sigh, then "It's just—it's stupid. He's stupid. He bitched me out over Ichijouji, like the prick's his best friend—"

"Ichijouji?" Yamato repeated, surprised. "Where did he—"

a club, his mind connected. Daisuke's new job. Ichijouji—

Oh god, that little bastard's working for Ichijouji—

"I don't care. Daisuke said they met on the bus or something. It's stupid, though. Daisuke got all mad 'cause Ichijouji's a freak—"

"Takeru," Yamato said quietly. "Ichijouji's not a freak."

"…whatever," Takeru made a face at the phone and toyed with the cord. "Look—Hey, mom, no—I'm talking to Yama…Mom says hi."

"Hi back."

"Hi back, mom!" Takeru called. "—yeah, I'll be right there! I gotta go."

"Yeah, sure. Feel free to call."

"Nn. Later."

The phone clicked. Yamato stared at it, amused and surprised and irritated, all at once. "Ichijouji, huh?" Yamato shook his head and set the phone on the cradle. "Dammit, Daisuke, you little punk."

Less than a minute later, his phone rang again in the middle of a chord.

"Dude!" was the first thing he heard, before he could even try a greeting.


"Did you hear? Daisuke's in town! This is awesome. Have you talked to him, yet?"

"—yes, Tai, I've heard. Takeru told me."

"This is awesome."

Yamato could almost see Taichi's grin of excitement over the phone, speaking dryly. "Yeah, as long as he stays out of trouble. Takeru mentioned our lucky little wiseass got a job at the club."

"True, but this is Daisuke. Trouble is like…I dunno, candy to him. What club? Where's he working?"

"Ichijouji's club."

"No shit? Damn…" Tai whistled softly, only silent for a second. "Does he know that Daisuke's?"

"Don't think so. We'll probably have to keep an eye on him, but I'm not worried yet. I'm gonna head off Ichijouji with some ground-rules."

"…yeah, but what does Ichijouji know?"

"That's what I'm gonna find out."

(Friday, 11:49 pm)

The Kaizer let his finger flick the sensors wired secretly in his gloves. ID numbers lit briefly beside their dim counterpart names and status—one ID for every face and name registered by electronic signal of each bracelet. A list constantly scrolled inside the left lens of his glasses and the Kaizer watched them with absent manner of long practice. Several hours into the night, the Kaizer hadn't moved from the upper catwalk in nearly an hour. Standing there, his back thrummed with the subsonic vibrations through the metal he leaned against. Even without the conducting structure, he could almost feel the sound in the room.

He touched a thumb to the com-link and selected the solitary com. "Obi," he said, leaning into the pillar. The bass thumped through the steel and the music drowned all but the loudest whoops and shouts out; Kaizer had no doubt no one but Obi could hear him.


"I trust things go well?" the Kaizer scanned his gaze slowly over the fluctuations of the crowd below, registered and ignored the dim shine of the names still scrolling along the inner curve of his shades.

"Better than well; kid's a natural."

And that doesn't surprise me, Ken thought with eyes tracking the wild mop of hair through the crowd and shadows, unable to pinpoint the irritation, the puzzlement… why it bothered him.


"Hmm?" Ken exhaled, tearing his eyes away to scan the crowd for more than just the normal outbursts, catfights and scams. He tapped fingers against his leg and thought of how Motomiya had made his first run to the table, shy and grinning, how the boy never seemed to stop moving. How he had chanced to see Motomiya dancing to his tables not long after the head-count had been reached and the doors shut for the night.

"Keiichi's spotted a problem in the third sector. I've got Nobusaki and Eiji headed there; you're backup if they can't handle it."

"Understood. Notify Hisato, just in case." (1)

Still interested and somehow annoyed, he watched as Motomiya balanced the serving tray on one hand, engaging Takahara in a brief whirling dance-off as they passed each other, then slid up to his table; the Kaizer could only assume the music had possessed him. Part of him wondered how much muscle it took to snap his hips like that.

No, he concluded after a moment of speculation. …the question is how much trouble he will cause.

He didn't have long to wait.


Daisuke found out the hard way why everyone thought the Kaizer could chew you up and spit needles. It was after midnight, but with the party was in full swing, Daisuke had no sense of time with the confusion of dropping straight into the mix of names and faces and sheer abundance of crowd, but he wasn't having too many problems. The few appreciative hands he could deal with, and a spilled drink or two, well, that was expected.

Even the music was good; he couldn't resist dancing on his way to the tables, swamped by a cocky cheerfulness he didn't have to fake.

It felt like everything was going great, even as Daisuke walked up to one of the tables in his section, the farthest in the corner and half-hidden in shadow. It was then he noticed something…odd. He'd been to this one several times and while one or two faces had changed, three of the four young men hadn't ever gotten up.

And the round he'd brought previously…

It could be just the shadows; they were really dark in this corner. Out of habit, Daisuke grinned as he slid into place. "Hey, I've got a two, four and another six," he said, sliding them one by one to the four occupants of the table placed back in the shadows, only a flicker in his smile to give away his suspicion.

"Thanks," the shortest drawled, blond and skinny, decked out in tight fabric and glitter, young and out of place next to the larger, college-age jocks. Nodding, Daisuke flicked off a short salute, spun his tray into his hands and sauntered off.

Damn, Daisuke thought. I hope I'm just seeing things.

At Obi's station, waiting for the next set of drinks to deliver, Daisuke asked softly, "Hey, uh, how do we deal with scamming?"

"Scamming?" Obi glanced at him, raised a mild brow while he filled the cup. "Didn't anyone show you the rules?" He reached out a knuckle and tapped a piece of paper, framed and hung on the wall.

Daisuke took a moment to scan through them.

Rules and Regulations
NO FIGHTING - of any kind, for any reason, including but not limited to weapons, emotional baggage, or discussion of property.

NO THEFT - of any kind, at any time, including but not limited to drinks, drugs or person(s). Further clarification or problems concerning the aforementioned, contact any staff-member.

Final Warning: ANY infraction will cost your existence within this building, with a minimum sentence of one month applied to each charge, and excessive force will be used, if necessary. This does NOT include whatever penalties you may pay beyond my walls.

If you're reading this, you have no choice but to submit.

This just gets even more fucked up the longer I'm here, Daisuke thought. Follow the rules or I'll kick your ass? Damn. This is going to get me in so much trouble.

"If you think you have someone, you should tell the Kaizer. Here, you'd better have a copy." Obi handed him a folded slip of paper. It stuck to his fingers with the condensation from the glasses.

"Don't know yet." Daisuke slipped it into his pocket before he grabbed the thick plastic cups, set them in place and balanced the tray on his palm. "I'll let you know," he shrugged and shook wetness from his free hand with a glance of speculation.

Like the condensation streaked all over that table.

Half an hour later, Daisuke swung by the off-side table and asked "Hey, how you doing?" he glanced at the table from the blond's cup to right in front of the only man not drinking.

"Another round!" one of the others shouted.

"Sure, why not? Arms up, please!" Daisuke pulled the scanner out on its cable and reached for the nearest wrist on the left side of the table. Again, he received a total of three orders and the dark-haired heavy-muscled man, Yasuhito-or-something, seemed more interested in conversing with the pimple-faced brunette on his right.

Cheap-ass bastard, Daisuke thought, dropping his eyes to the drink that belonged to the blond. I invented that, asshole—The streaking condensation said otherwise. Daisuke sized him up from under his lashes while he took the second order.

I don't have to take this shit, he thought, indignant and irritated.

Then, without bothering to think about it twice, Daisuke let go of the second boy's wrist and ignored the blond's upheld arm, smiled brightly at him. "Okay, guys, I'll be back in a—"

"Hey, hey waitaminute!"

"Didn't you forget someone?"

"Nope! Yasuhito, right?" Daisuke smiled wider at the man and let the cord ziiip back. "You think I'm stupid? You wanna drink, you pay for it yourself instead of ringing up your buddy here."

"…is he serious?"

"You're refusing to take an order?"

"What the hell? Can he do that?"

"No, the dipshit can't—"

"Bullshit I can't!" Daisuke snapped back, smacking his tray down onto the table, smiles and cheer wiped away. "You've been using his account to buy your drinks, you monkey-faced cheap-ass shit—" he leaned in when Yasuhito started cursing. "You either offer up, or do something else. Your choice."


"How the fuck would you know?" the pimple-faced third sneered.


"I invented this game," Daisuke scowled and leaned in with one upheld, warning finger. "I'm better at it. Make your choice, bitch."

The asshole gave him two seconds of narrowed eyes and shoved to his feet, chair clattering. The blond beside him flinched, hunching, pushed out of the way and hitting the floor as Yasuhito tried to come at Daisuke, too fast to dodge away—

"Fucking newb—"

—On instinct, Daisuke clocked him over the head with his tray, furious, snapping, "Get your own, asshole!"

He would've gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't bumped the ring on his thumb. Daisuke heard a perfect second of screeching static and then someone tackled him. Pimple-face, probably. The blond was dragging himself out of danger.

"What the hell was that?" the Kaizer snapped in the moment before Daisuke hit the floor. The irritation was hard to miss. The floor knocked the breath from him and saved him the trouble of exhaling when the fist of pimple-face hooked down and into his side just as painfully.

"Kaizer!" That was Obi—

"Hey, does the newb know we're not allowed to fuck with the coms?" Takahara?

What the hell—did everyone have to listen in?

Then the voices reduced to white-noise with the asshole on top swinging fists at his head. Daisuke didn't have a chance to answer, taking a punch high on his shoulder and half-blocked another, tasted blood when the next one landed and left him with a bitten tongue and lacerated cheek. Hissed and twisted around to stiff-arm the bastard clutching his back, then kneed him in the kidney. Yasuhito-something was staggering to his feet with help from a chair, bleeding from a gash on his cheek and temple.

Daisuke half-blocked another punch and gave out one of his own and tasted blood when someone's foot kicked him on the side of his face. Tasted a lot of blood. The inside of his mouth was bleeding more than he wanted.

"What—oh shit we've got a—" sounded like Takahara again. "Hey—hey!"

"Motomiya!" was Obi, alarmed. "Kaizer! Motomiya's down—"

Daisuke cursed and kicked the asshole trying to kill him with hair-pulling in the gut and heard a grunt in pain. Daisuke squirmed enough to slam an elbow to the soft flesh just under the collarbone. The grip on his hair loosened enough for Daisuke to buck him off, just in time to catch the foot aimed at his stomach.

"All of you shut the fuck up!"

"Sunuvabitch," Daisuke heard or gasped, curling in pain and gagging on the blood in his mouth. He had enough strength to grab the ankle and twist it, ignored the ringing thud of the painful pressure in his ears—god that fuckinghurt—scrambled to his knees and caught the knee meant for his face on his forearm.

"Fuckin' kill you—"

Easy to ignore the swelling pain in his face when Pimple-face crashed to the floor, easy to ignore when all he wanted to do was kick the shit out of them and force-feed it down their throats. Daisuke punched Yasuhito just below the sternum when he tried to join, watched him stagger back and noticed he was caught by a wrist and a handful of hair—swallowed half the blood in his mouth and spat the rest, then punched that one too while still on his knees.

—motion in the corner of his eye—

It gave Yasuhito enough time to yank Daisuke by his much-abused hair, rearing back to strike with one knuckly fist.

"Ohshit, Yasu—" one of them cried.

—and something crashed onto the table—Daisuke had the wrist of the offending hair-pulling hand in his grip and didn't know how he was going to dodge the fist aimed at his face—

—was he hallucinating black, buckled boots on the table?

No, his hallucination was dropping off the table to kick Yasuhito's knees out from under him. Before Daisuke could register it, the Kaizer twisted with the momentum to take down the other by the knees and somehow ended up with one knee lodged against the middle of Yasuhito's back. Daisuke could see one gloved fist on the tied-back hair yanked tight, hissing with the painful tugs on his hair as the Kaizer pulled away on the hand not connected to his hair; he watched in savage satisfaction as Yasuhito went up on his toes when the Kaizer tried to introduce it to the shoulder blade.

"Let go of my property, Yasuhito Uzumi, or I'll break every bone in your neck without killing you," The Kaizer said coldly in his ear, yanking back his greasy hair.

The fingers loosened; Daisuke smacked away the hand, scooting out of the way and seeing in one glance through the head-rush of adrenaline the blond hunched on the floor; the two friends of Yasuhito were stiff and frozen in some sort of anxiety attack and Yasuhito himself grimacing with pain, still as stone.

Daisuke quietly spat as much of the blood in his mouth as he dared, unwilling to try standing yet. For a moment, no one moved. Around them, the club swarmed and flowed; the music was a counter-throb of pressure to the pain. Daisuke wasn't sure if anyone saw or not; he had the suspicion that every time the Kaizer was off his catwalks, people watched.

"—andyou," the Kaizer hissed without letting go, without looking his way. "Explain what stupidity you think you're doing, Motomiya. Is there a reason for this situation or do you like getting your ass kicked?" The Kaizer paused long enough to haul Yasuhito in a different direction. "Sit, Uzumi. Do me the favor of moving, I dare you."

"He was scamming drinks off the blond," Daisuke rasped. "I refused service, he tried to hit me so I clocked him with my tray." Wiping a hand over his mouth, Daisuke narrowed his eyes as the Kaizer shoved Uzumi into the nearest upright chair with one final acidic stare.

Such explosive fury in that calm, drawling dangerous voice and part of Daisuke twisted weirdly to think it might turn his way. A part of him was more interested in spitting out the blood pooling in his mouth, but he swallowed it again.

"Is that so, Motomiya?" the Kaizer muttered, tugging on the glove of his left hand, gaze sliding to the three assailants. All but Yasuhito flinched and cursed as something blipped. A red light outshone the green on their bracelets.

"This isn't fair!" the smallest cried.

"Hey, I gave you a choice!" Daisuke snapped back, tentatively feeling his cheek.

"Yasu!" Pimple-faced, the one who kicked him in the stomach whined, then threw up his hands. "Aw, fuck this. I like this place—How long am I red?"

"All of you are red-status for two months," the Kaizer replied impassively. "You know the rules. One month for false acquisition and one for assault. You have five minutes to log out."

"All of us?"

"Two months?!" Yasuhito finally snarled. "This is bullshit! I paid good money to get in here, dammit, you can't just—"

The Kaizer inclined his head and responded dryly. "Well, of course. The appropriate measure is six. I hope it suits you."

Daisuke didn't like the anger trembling out of Yasuhito's control. Grimacing, Daisuke set a hand to his side and tried to force away the cramping ache in his stomach, nausea twisting his throat. Swallowing too much blood, he knew, isn't good. Daisuke winced at the throb in his wounded mouth and the way his stomach protested with a crushing ache and suggested nausea.

Better watch the asshole, he wanted to say, but the cut in his mouth was still bleeding. He wasn't sure he should move his jaw, yet, but he couldn't force himself to swallow any more. Daisuke carefully spat as much as he dared, his stomach grateful to be on his knees yet.

The sound caught the Kaizer's attention. He glanced at Daisuke , unreadable, jaw set with some annoyance but Daisuke couldn't tell what it was. Yasuhito uncoiled off his chair, grabbing it in the same motion and using the momentum—

swung it—

—and the Kaizer dropped as fluid as water, right snapping up under Yasuhito's extended arm, hand around the wrist and twisting until the man gave a rabbit-scream of pain. In the same moment the Kaizer pulled him around and elbowed him in the back of the head, kicked out his knees and slammed Yasuhito face-first onto the table.

"Damn," Daisuke muttered, heart thumping, aborting the reflexive grab for his waistline. "I should've done that."

The Kaizer bit off some dark word under his breath and straightened, tugging on his gloves again as Yasuhito groaned, sliding to the floor. "Take him with you," he ordered coldly to the associates, pushing him with a boot. Then, as the blond lost his nerve and bolted, ignored by the Kaizer and his group, the dark boy turned away and left the other two to relocate Yasuhito.

The Kaizer's gaze slid to Daisuke still on his knees. "On your feet, Motomiya," the Kaizer hissed with three steps in his direction.

He is fucking crazy, Daisuke thought, instincts flaring at the raw aggression in his stance and had time to appreciate the strength in the wiry arms when he was yanked to his feet before he could protest. His stomach suggested flipping him off would be better. "Hey, wait—"

"If you have a problem, Motomiya, you tell me—I do notallow infraction on the rules of this establishment, staff or not!" The Kaizer clipped his words off icily, stormed off with him in tow with no room for discussion. "The next time you feel like doing something so brainlessly dipshit stupid, without warning, I will make you eat that tray, do you hear?"

"Yeah, could you just—"

"The posted rules will be followed at all times and you should know because I see them sticking out of your pocket—"

"Hey—Hey, dammit, I didn't get a chance to—fuck—" Daisuke protested, but no response. He's so fucking furious, Daisuke thought helplessly, irritated and drawn to the wire-tight tension—but dammit, hot or not, he wasn't up to being dragged around when he felt dangerously close to puking. It hurt to walk. He couldn't even breathe right yet—Daisuke stumbled with his stomach's insistence that nausea was the way to go and yanked back his arm, desperate.

"You're not helping!" Daisuke half-yelled, hunching over with a snarky "Do you want me to puke on your bitch-boots, asshole?"

—and that was as far as he got, intending to say more, but the Kaizer had reclaimed his grip on Daisuke's arm, yanked him around and pinned him to a black-painted pole before Daisuke could draw breath to say it. The club didn't exist at that moment; the music was the background pulse to his pain.

The Kaizer said nothing, one hand fisting the fabric at his shoulder to hold him there, the other gripping his chin nearly hard enough to bruise. Daisuke allowed his head to turn side to side, wondering how the Kaizer could see anything with those shades. Wondered just how strong he was, and if Daisuke was in the mood to take it. Watched the jaw tighten

"I don't have that much time to waste on you, Motomiya. Suck it up." the Kaizer finally murmured, the fury replaced with deceptive softness in his voice, pulling back and taking Daisuke's arm again.


"Shut up and walk, Motomiya."

As the Kaizer pulled him off in a seemingly random direction, Daisuke heard a crackle in his ear.


"What?" the Kaizer growled.

"I see we have a few new names for the list. Everything clear on your end? Motomiya's not dead, is he?"

"It's fine, Motomiya's fine, everything's fine. Takahara, go cover Motomiya's tables until he gets back from the Doc."

"…uh, okay. No prob. Dammit! I can't believe I missed that!"

"Takahara!" the Kaizer barked.

"Okay, fine, I'm going!"

Doc? They have a doctor here? Daisuke thought, blinking, wisely keeping his silence. Is there anything else I don't know about this place?

"Alright," Akira said, blandly, amused. "Don't take too long. There's a drunk on 2nd that might pick a fight."

"I'll be right out," the Kaizer paused at a door set back behind a row of shielding pillars, pressing a hand flat to a door Daisuke didn't know was there. Daisuke heard a click and didn't see a latch. The Kaizer pushed it inward to a dark hallway and stepped through, pulling Daisuke behind him.

What kind of place is this? Daisuke thought after a short walk through the darkness. Daisuke hoped he wouldn't stumble or empty his guts on the floor, when he felt the Kaizer stop again. He brushed against the arm where it linked to his.

"Clear?" the Kaizer asked, softly. Daisuke never heard an answer, but after a pause he saw the Kaizer illuminated from the light of a more familiar hallway. They'd come out, literally, from the wall between the Security room and one of the storerooms of the 'Staff Only' hallway.

Daisuke glanced back and watched it close seamlessly behind them.

It's a fucking maze, that's what it is! Daisuke had a moment for one bewildered look down the staff-way before the Kaizer strode off for far end. All clear, no one in sight. Swallowing back bile, Daisuke noted that the Kaizer had a better spy-kit than he did, access to the info behind the info.

Something to think about, anyway.

They stopped at an unmarked door with chipped blue paint. Apparently, there was a doctor behind this door, and inside, it even looked like a doctor's office with a dozen beds stretching out along the narrow walls, guarded by machinery that beeped. There was even the standard bright fluorescent lighting, bland sound-muffling curtains and a sterile gray-tile floor.

The Kaizer pulled him by the wrist to the very back of the room where a make-shift shower curtain waited; the dark boy swept it back without warning.

A mild-faced man nearly jumped out of his chair, juggling the papers and a donut in his hands as he spun to face them. "K-Kaizer! Good god, announce your presence like everyone else—!" the man said just before he caught sight of Daisuke and his eyebrows shot up.

Surprise! Daisuke thought in the split second before the Kaizer answered, pushing down the insane urge to grin and laugh. Hi Jyou, nice to see you—what the fuck are you doing here?

"You should've heard the door," the Kaizer replied waspishly. "This is Motomiya—"

Jyou's eyes flicked to the Kaizer, and Daisuke knew the gesture. Trust? the man had asked, silently. That meant the Kaizer didn't—couldn't—know. Sure the Kaizer wouldn't catch the motion, Daisuke minutely shook his head to the right.

"A-ah, I see," Jyou set his papers aside with the faintest of trembles, and after a glance to his donut, set that on the pile of folders. "Another victim?"

Daisuke grimaced, one hand resting gently to the side of his stomach, pale and still out of sight. Shaking the head wasn't the smartest move he'd made all night. Getting kicked in the face ranked the highest, thought—shit, if he didn't find something to puke in, anything—even a shoe would do—

"Hardly. It's his first night as runner. He did something stupid and got himself jumped—"

"He's what?" Jyou echoed, shocked. "Jumped?!"

Daisuke snapped his fingers to get their attention, feeling the chill that preceded any kind of violent stomach upheaval edging up on him. Shit. Shit shit shit—this was so not cool—

Stiffening, annoyed, the Kaizer turned his head around with some acid comment ready to fall—for a second, amidst his stomach's declaration of independence, Daisuke was fascinated with the fact he could see the barest indistinct shade of those eyes behind those wicked-cool lenses—

—then, Jyou slid a wastebasket scraping over to Daisuke's feet. Somehow, Daisuke grabbed a fistful of curtain and never figured out how he made it to the floor without falling on his face, the basket becoming the narrow focus of his world—

gonna hurt like a bitch gonna hurt so bad

—and was violently, quietly sick all over the crumpled papers and Styrofoam cups in Jyou's garbage, spitting blood and bile with an anguished little whimper as the ache in his stomach went nearly unbearable. Clenched fingers around the plastic and gagged, unable to breathe at the cramps and heaved again, finally coughing in air.

Why does this always have to happen to me?

"Shit," Jyou exclaimed, there beside him, probing at his stomach. "You didn't get yourself stabbed again did you?"

The Kaizer's eyes narrowed slightly.

"Nnngh," Daisuke groaned, shuddering and gagging and breathless all at once. "Fucker kicked me in the face. Cut my cheek—ow—" and slapped away Jyou's fingers when they brushed his cheek and the beginning of a yellow-purple bruise.

"Here," Jyou shoved a tissue into his hands. "Let me see, dammit—"

"I'm leaving. You have fifteen minutes to take care of it," the Kaizer said with a flat, queerly distant tone.

"He'll need stitches," Jyou said, prying open Daisuke's mouth to see the cut, despite the aggrieved noise he made Jyou's statement.

"Just take care of it!"

A second later, unable to pinpoint the meaning in the Kaizer's tone of voice or see his expression with Jyou's hands on his face, Daisuke heard the door slam. He blinked at Jyou.

"He's got somewhat of a dislike for blood," Jyou informed, amused. "Strange for such a ruthless person."

Daisuke raised a brow, disbelieving, and Jyou nodded before pulling out his spit-bloody fingers. "N'way," Daisuke grimaced, wiping his mouth. "Really?"

"Really." Jyou twisted on his knees and rummaged through a drawer, pulling out a pair of latex gloves and a small, metal tin. "So what are you doing here?! You can't be serious about working here, Daisuke—"

"What? Hey! This job was completely random, I swear! I didn't even know you worked here. What's the deal with that, anyway? What's up with this place? Spy-kits and doctors and goth-boys in leather—"

"I was hired, according to Akira, on my outstanding resume. Yamato got me the job, though." Jyou managed a wry smile, unfolding a towel over his lap and setting thread and two needles on the fabric. "Does anyone else know you're here, yet? Or even back in town?"

"Um, I don't know. I saw TK and 'Kari at school, Friday…so probably. Hey, do you know the Kaizer's name?" Daisuke paused as Jyou took up something that looked like a small hair-spray bottle and shook it. "What's that?"

"Antiseptic and anesthetic. Open up. And what in the world would make you want to know his name?"

"But—I don't need stitches 'cause I've probably stopped bleeding, anyway—and I like his pants. I really don't want stitches—"


"I hate stitches—"Daisuke protested, ducking away from restraining hands until Jyou cuffed him gently.

"You talk too much anyway, and I have a job to do. Open up." After a second, tuning out the exaggerated wincing Daisuke was making, he murmured. "I don't think his pants will fit you."


Daisuke left the hospice room with one hand testing the limits of his pain in his cheek. The stitches scratched at his gums and tongue; it ached dully as he slipped out of the staff hall and back into the pounding-music noise of the main hall.

This totally sucks, he thought. What a great first night. Gingerly, he worked his jaw and wondered if anyone would understand anything he'd say tonight.

"You were getting your ass kicked!" Takahara grabbed his arm and whirled around to Daisuke's front, almost jumping in his excitement.

"Fuck you," No problem with talking; Daisuke rolled his eyes. "There were three, and I held my own."

"Yeah, but we're not supposed to fight—you should've seen it! The Kaizer came flying—man, I never saw him take off like that—"

"Yeah?" Daisuke tried to speculate what the Kaizer-boy might have looked like, running over those narrow catwalks. Like a cat, I bet. He grinned and nudged Takahara. "He was just worried I was gonna kick their asses."

"You wish, Motomiya." Takahara staggered. "Oh, your humor's gonna kill me."


There was a secured private office designed to monitor every detail of the place, monitors for the multiple camera feeds, sound and the two part screen running red and yellow stats. One screen for the attending list. Red, green, yellow, if they were marked as dangerous or set aside for a different reason, it didn't matter. Akira could watch every single person inside the walls.

In fact, he was paused before one monitor, watching the Staff-way and the Kaizer stomping back to his job. The one next to it, after a three-password clearance, showed the room set up as the hospice. Because it sometimes showed some incriminating, and possibly dangerous moments, it was the only camera-feeds hooked up that weren't under supervision.

"He's got somewhat of a dislike for blood. Strange for such a ruthless person."

Akira smiled to himself, listening to the conversation more out of amusement than worry, more preoccupied with the outcome of the Kaizer's temper over Motomiya's little stunt—but what he heard next didn't surprise him as much as the helpless laughter over what this meant.

"What? Hey! This job was completely random, I swear! I didn't even know you worked here. What's the deal with that, anyway? What's up with this place? Spy-kits and doctors and goth-boys in leather—"

So Motomiya did have ties to Ishida's gang. Interesting. Akira fiddled with a knob just below the screen and tapped the button labeled 'witness' as Jyou spoke.

"I was hired, according to Akira, on my outstanding resume. Yamato got me the job, though. Does anyone else know you're here, yet? Or even back in town?"

"Um, I don't know. I saw TK and 'Kari at school, Friday…so probably. Hey, do you know the Kaizer's name?" There was an anxious pause and Akira watched Daisuke eye the objects in Jyou's hand. "…What's that?"

Akira's smile was edging into a grin. That boy is out to be so much trouble, he thought. Just what we need. He pondered just how many ways Motomiya could screw up the system, not to mention how oddly the Kaizer was taking it.

"—and I like his pants. I really don't want stitches—"

Laughing, Akira turned away from the monitor. He reached the central console and tapped a few keys for the general systems display, switching it to a 3D diagram of the building, rooms, walls and every fixture. The floors swarmed with blue dots, each registering to a single ID. The green specs were the staff—and they didn't know it, but all of their equipment registered them visible, even the providers and the eyes seated high in the shadows near the ceiling.

If Akira rolled his chair to the door, a dot would mimic his actions, unless he removed the headset. He leaned back instead, and hit the tab for the private com-channel. "Kaizer?" he called, watching the little black dot stalk along the image of a walkway. "What are you going to do about Motomiya?"

"What?" A pause, then. "What am I supposed to do, exactly? Congratulate him on a job well done?"

There was a distinct frustrated noise and Akira had to fight to keep his laughter out.

"He's stupid for getting himself into that situation—"

"He held up pretty well; I think he'll be fine. Drop by after a bit and I'll show you how he smacked Uzumi over the head." Akira paused in case Ken had a choice word for him. Then, blandly, he murmured "…and it's not like you're worried about him."

"Of course I'm—" Ken snapped over the com, then viciously bit off his words. "I hate you, old man. Stay out of my head."


3 am rolled around and Daisuke was exhausted with an aching mouth. He sat for a bit with his back to a pillar and watched the last stragglers get herded out by two bouncers. One of them was Nobusaki, the older man that had nudged him earlier.

"Hey, newb," spoke a more familiar voice and Daisuke turned to see Kyosuke grinning down at him. "You and I get to wipe tables; off your ass, slacker."

"What? Slacking? I ran circles around all of you," he quipped, rolling forward and pulling to his feet. "What else do we have to do?"

Kyosuke tossed him a rag with a few steps backward and shrugged. "Clean-up time, but it rotates. This week, runners get to take care of tables, chairs and sweeping. We're pretty efficient, so hurry up. You wanna get home sooner, don't you?"

Daisuke made a groaning noise and exaggerated the strides he took after Kyosuke. "I'm already dreaming of my bed."

"Yeah, after clean-up we get our tips, sign out and go home." Kyosuke laced his hands together and stretched them far above his head. "Man, tonight the place was packed."

"Tips? I didn't know we made tips."

"With a place this classy, we roll on money, Motomiya." Takahara called, two tables away. "If you don't keep getting your ass kicked, though. Man, you guys are slow—these tables don't absorb the dirt, you know!"

"Yeah, fuck you too!" Daisuke called back, laughing.

Half past three, Daisuke gathered with the rest of the staff, restricting himself to less talking and more smiles. His cheek throbbed and he had no idea if there were any painkillers back in his stack of boxes.

"Well," the Kaizer was drawling from the front of the group. "Aside from the occasional moron, it was relatively calm. Rika, you need to watch the pairs checking in; some of them are getting away with more than one partner."

"Of course, sir." Rika grinned. The Kaizer gave her the bird without missing a beat.

From the back, Daisuke could only get a partial view of the Kaizer. His hands were lifting and passing to each co-worker, murmuring a sort of summary of the night to each person and mildly suggesting a different approach.

"—and Takahara, I don't want to see you take more than two shots in a night, you understand?"

"… sorry. Won't happen again."

And then he was in front of Daisuke, who was more than tired and leaning against the rail this time. "Well done, Motomiya," the Kaizer started blandly. "—on getting your ass kicked. Try not to do it again."

"He hit me first," Daisuke nudged at the goggles on his head and shrugged. "I could've handled it, you know."

Daisuke caught a glimpse of a crooked curve to the mouth, and the faintest arching of the eyebrow. "Indeed, Motomiya, I'm sure. Don't make it a habit." The Kaizer took his hands and folded Daisuke's fingers around a folded wad off money.

"Dude, that's—" Daisuke glanced at it cupped in his palm. "That's too much—"

"That's less than half of what Rika makes, Motomiya. You can do better." The Kaizer was already turning away to the nearest coworker. "The doors open at five on Saturdays. Be here by three."

"Uh, sure, no problem!"

(Friday, 3:24 a.m.)

The phone rang late that night, the last of nearly ten calls; Yamato groaned indignantly, close to sleep and dreading the early rise for work. "Goddammit, who the fuck wants to talk to me now?" he groped for the cell and fumbled it open. "Fuck you for waking me up," he grumbled into the phone.



"I'm sorry to wake you."

"No, it's alright. What's up? Something weird happen at work?"

"No, not quite—" Jyou sounded tired and paused a moment.

"Let me guess," Yamato yawned. "You ran into Daisuke."

"I—why, yes. I did. Did you know he's working at the club?"

"Yeah," Yamato drawled. "I haven't had time to check it out though. How's the brat in black dealing with it?"

"The Kaizer? Oh, well enough. Tonight was his first night, he said." Jyou's voice held a smile. "Then Daisuke mentioned something about the Kaizer's name and his pants."

"Oh god, that's the last thing we need." Yamato slapped a hand to his faced and rubbed, trying to think. "Wait, what the hell was he doing in the hospice-room?"

"He called out some guy scamming drinks and the guy jumped him. I had to give him six stitches in his mouth, and he was puking blood in front of Kaizer..."

"…I'm going to kill him," Yamato muttered.

"Who, Daisuke or Ichijouji?"

"Both," Yamato exhaled and managed an exasperated noise. "Damn. Well, aside from the drama, what else is going on?"

"Not much. I haven't had any cases concerning our current project, but there's been a rise of loose-knots in the clientele, lots of shifty faces. I've got a bad feeling about this."

"Okay. Let me know if something happens, or if more of that drug pops up."

"You know I will. Get some sleep, Yama."


"…Yamato got me the job, though…"

I knew it, he thought, a long moment where Ken heard nothing of the recorded moment but his own indignant anger roaring softly between his ears.He pulled off the shades as he twisted his head to stare in cold fury at Akira standing there, arms crossed and an unsuccessful attempt at concealing his amusement.

So Jyou belonged to Ishida.

"You should have told me," Ken hissed, nearly flinging his shades at Akira.

"What? I was asked not to, on the grounds that the less people who know, the better—"

"I need to know!" Ken snarled. The monitor continued its image as Ken pulled in one tight breath before continuing. "Ishida causes enough problems as it is; the last thing I need is him sticking his nose in. You knew and didn't think it was important?"

"—do you know the Kaizer's name?"

Ken snapped his head to the monitor with a disbelieving look. "I am going to have to kill him," he murmured in shock, unaware of it.

"…well, it answers any questions about Ishida and Motomiya." Akira reached out and tapped a few keys. "Do you still want me to search him out?"

"Yes," the Kaizer replied, bristling as '—I like his pants' echoed from the speakers. The only thing keeping Ken from slapping a hand to his face with an exasperated noise was the fact it would be witnessed.

"Look at it this way," Akira lifted a shoulder. "You've got one of Ishida's group; it's not a bad thing. If anything, it makes Motomiya all the more valuable."

"Valuable?" Ken repeated from behind the hand rubbing at his forehead, faintly incensed. "Tell me how it makes him worthwhile, and I'll consider allowing him to stay."

"Depending on who else Motomiya knows?" Akira waited until Ken turned his wild-blue gaze on him. "I'd say that makes it worth a shot."

"…maybe," Ken muttered. "If I don't kill him first."

(saturday, 4:32 p.m.)

Half-past five, Akira buzzed over the private-channel with unexpected news. "Ishida's demanding audience, as expected. You want him in?"

Stilling into silence, Ken didn't reply, weighing the odds of the one reason Ishida would be showing up. Swift as usual…Exhaling a half-thought curse, he dropped the clip-board to the table and stalked off towards the entrance. "Is he alone?" he said with a glance back to make sure no one had noticed his sudden departure.


"Let him in."

His first glimpse was of Ishida glaring icily at Yutaka(2), who was on door-duty. Then, hands in his pockets, Ishida turned his head and focused his gaze on the approaching Kaizer, who knew the look was more for show. Ishida wouldn't have stopped by if it wasn't worth it. He pushed back gel-stiffened locks, adjusted his shades with a chill smile of his own.

"Ishida," Ken drawled, leaning on a shoulder. He waited until Yutaka had shut the door and left them temporarily alone. "Your presence, as ever, is irritable. To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"Nice to see you too. I came to ask you something," the blond replied tonelessly.

"You mean Motomiya, don't you. I wondered when you'd pop in." The Kaizer smiled thinly and watched the blue-ice eyes narrow before he chalked up a point on his inner scoreboard.

There are ties to Ishida. Permanent, irritating ties—

"Something like that." Ishida lifted a shoulder. "How long has he worked here?"

"Mhmm…does that really matter?"

"Dammit, you arrogant shit—You don't even know what you're getting into. You think he won't notice your…quirks, Kaizer?'


"So?!" Ishida gestured violently. "I'm not here to play your stupid games. I'm here because he's a friend of mine! Do you even remember what friends are?"

"Get to the point already."

"I don't want him involved. Daisuke isn't stupid." Ishida replied, flat and bitter, cutting the distance between them to less than five feet in the space of three strides, edging out his words. "There's a big difference between pretending you're not what you are at school when no one knows you, and playing with someone who will—and from what I hear, you stupid brat, Daisuke already jumped Takeru over you and I don't want him involved with this—"

"I'm not stupid, Ishida and no, it doesn't matter." The Kaizer slapped away the hand poking at his chest. "I do not care. I hired him because I decided he was the best choice. If Motomiya becomes a problem, then I will deal with him as I deem fit. I don't see how you have any say in it. He agreed of his own free will."

—and thought, disquieted with revelation, I was the reason he was so angry yesterday?

"Do you even know what you're asking for?! I'm not just talking about Daisuke becoming your problem. I'm talking about this isn't my jurisdiction. I have no power here and the last place I want him to be is here. He could—" Ishida snagged the leather of his jacket and shook him once, furious enough that Ken merely tilted his head in response, more interested in analyzing such a rare temper. Ishida lowered his voice to a hiss. "Daisuke is the most infuriating, unpredictable little brat you will ever know—"

Ken didn't allow his smile to show as he thought of Yasuhito. "Oh, I'm sure he'll prove most useful."

"—and if he gets hurt again in your employment I'll do everything I can to kill you, you hear me?"

Ken lifted a shoulder in mocking compliance, listening to the nuances of Ishida's mother-hen syndrome. It was a side of Ishida that he hadn't seen very often, something he had difficultly understanding.

The problem with deciphering Ishida's unexpected facets turned out to be Motomiya himself storming up behind them, unnoticed until it was too late and the redhead was pulling Ishida aside with little regard for the Kaizer's presence.

"Goddammit! Goddammit, Yama!" Motomiya said as he appeared from behind them, shoving at the blond's shoulder even as Ken twisted away from the blond's grip on his jacket. "What the fuck are you doing?" was his first, exasperated phrase, complete with a push to the chest. "What the fuck, Yama? Did TP tell you I was here? How the fuck did he know, anyway?"

Ken wasn't sure if he should feel irritated at the situation in general or the fact that he allowed someone to approach without notice.

"I'm talking to your boss, Daisuke, shut your black-hole of a mouth."

"I have no intention of finishing this conversation," the Kaizer replied mildly, wickedly raising a brow while Motomiya scowled. This could be very interesting. Useful indeed.

"No, you tell me what you're doing here! Do I look like I need babysitting? Dammit, blondie, I'm fine! I'm fucking fine!" Motomiya threw his arms out to the sides and nearly shouting his words in frustration. "You promised! I don't need this shit, I can take care of myself and you know that—" and stamped his foot.

Ken decided entertainment was meant to be enjoyed; he settled back and folded his arms over his chest, losing the battle with his smirk, taking careful notes on the conversation and the possibilities of its meaning. Even if he was insulted at the lapse in attention.

This is what I get for wanting to know?

"Daisuke!" Ishida snapped, grabbing Motomiya by the chin to catch his attention. A terrible scowl was the only indication that he noticed the bruise fading from Motomiya's face. "This is Nathen's territory now, you remember Nathen? You better, because I'm sure he hasn't forgotten that stunt you pulled. Who hit you this time?"

"Don't worry about it!" Stiffly, Motomiya yanked his chin away and the indignant anger faded to…something else. Ken had trouble telling what type of feeling it took to make Motomiya snap his mouth shut, but didn't care. It was another piece to the puzzle. He watched Motomiya duck his head, nipping at the knuckle of one hand, the other at his waist.

Nathen, Ken marked into memory.

"…damn, that's all I fucking need," Motomiya pushed away the hand and scrubbed at his hair, exhaling, opening his mouth to say something just as Ishida cast a deliberate glance in Ken's direction.

"Oh, don't mind me," Ken drawled as Motomiya followed suit, expression flattening at the sight of the Kaizer still behind him with one shoulder against the wall. Ken could see the frustration in the set of his face and guessed that Motomiya hadn't wanted him to know just how far his ties stretched. He itched with the urge to say Tell me about this Nathenand said, instead"It's quite the show."

"Don't you fucking start, goth-boy!"

The Kaizer bared his teeth in a smile. "You should get back to work." He noted the way Motomiya snapped his mouth shut and glanced back to Ishida, the slight nod in response.

"Now, Motomiya," the Kaizer said with his own warning stare at Ishida. "Dally later, on your own time." He didn't have to turn and watch the redhead leave to know when he was out of earshot; Ishida's gaze flickered back to him and focused.

"I don't think he should be involved with this because it's dangerous for him, you understand? He doesn't have to try to piss people off and I'll kill you if he gets hurt, Kaizer."

In reply, the Kaizer straightened and stood close enough to murmur warningly "Ishida, I didnot know of the link to your…friends when I decided. I did not know until yesterday afternoon when he spoke with that twerp brother of yours and despite it all, I will not refute this. Get over it. Besides," he finished smoothly, mockingly, "harm is the furthest objective on my mind."

"Your objectives better not include Daisuke in any way. I know each and every weakness you have, Ken," Ishida whispered in a voice for him alone. "I won't hesitate to call them."

"Duly noted." The Kaizer adjusted the lenses and allowed a razor-white smile. "Go away, Ishida. I have a business to run."


"How'd it go?" Taichi asked from the passenger seat. He slurped from his soda. "How much did he piss you off this time?"

Silent, Yamato turned his head to give him a flat glare and slammed the door shut.

"That bad, huh?"

Yamato leaned back in the seat. The sigh he let out was both tired and annoyed. "I don't think he knows." A pause. "Either of them."

"You make it sound bad," Taichi shifted in his seat and buckled in. Yamato turned the engine and strapped in. "So, come on. What happened? Why'd I have to stay in the van, anyway?"

"Ichijouji's got something going on—and the last thing I need is you and Daisuke in the same room as the Kaizer. There's too much shit stinking on Nathen's plate and Daisuke showing up out of the blue…" Yamato drummed his fingers on the wheel as he pulled out into traffic. "I got a bad feeling with Daisuke there, that's all. I don't trust Ichijouji not to use him."

"Hmm. Maybe. Who knows what happens when Daisuke's around."

"Mm-maybe. I don't know yet."

"It might be good for them."

"—and suck for the rest of us," Yamato muttered.

Taichi laughed and smacked his shoulder. "We taking bets yet?"

"I thought this was a serious conversation, Tai."

"Oh, come on, think about this. We've got Daisuke, irresistible when he wants to be, and Ichijouji, who could definitely loosen up a few notches. I'm betting—"

"Don't forget that Daisuke gets two shots," Yamato replied blandly. "Didn't Hikari tell you Daisuke's going to their school?"

"Oh shit, that's right," Taichi grinned. "Five bucks if Daisuke hooks up with the Kaizer first."

"Five if he gets into a fight over Ichijouji at school."

They paused and glanced at each other, then chorused "You're on!" and smacked their fists together.


"Man, was that Ishida?" Takahara yelped as Daisuke came around the corner. The energetic young man peered around him briefly and laughed sharply. "You know Ishida Yamato? Holy shit—I thought for sure you were gonna get the crap kicked out of you again—"

"Takahara forgot his medicine today," Dark-haired Yuichi, the 3rd floor provider, explained with a pained look. "Ignore whatever he says."

"Hey!" Takahara aimed a foot at Yuichi, missing and using Daisuke's arm for balance. "Wait, hey, does that mean you're in a gang? Doesn't Ishida have one of the stronger groups around here?"

"And where did you hear that?" Nakayama, Yohei's provider, rolled his eyes. It was the first time Daisuke had heard him speak the entire night. "You're worse with gossip than a girl, Takahara."

"Rika told me."

"No, it's…" Daisuke shrugged. "I'm friends with his friends, he was just checking in, really. My sister probably told him to check in."

"Yeah, but—"

"Crap, Takahara, don't you ever stop?"

"—but why's he talking to the Kaizer, then? You don't think the Kaizer's in a gang, do you? That'd be pretty sweet."

"It'd explain a lot," Daisuke replied with a grin. "But I doubt it. He seemed really annoyed with Yama, though—"

"Yeah, they're always like that," Nakayama said quietly, smiling. "Every time Ishida stops by, the Kaizer's pissed off for hours."

"Oh yeah?" Daisuke mused, slightly puzzled. "So Yama…stops by a lot, huh?"

That meant something else was going on. Pieces were starting to fit; the spy kits, Yama, the whole weird system, hell even the drugs—Yamato knew more than he'd say.

But what? Daisuke thought. What purpose could this place serve?

(3:17 am)

"Then what do we have, besides scattered bits of film? Haven't you found anything about who or its source? Dammit, old man—"

"Calm down," Akira replied, indifferent. "We know there's only a few involved, but without knowing the 'who-knows-who' part, we can't tell when any of this group is involved. I can only do so much."

Ken made some irritated noise from where he was leaning over his own monitor, the club silent and empty of everyone but the two of them. Tonight had gone smoothly, but it left Ken with a bitter, on-edge feeling he couldn't force away. "We need to findthem. Perhaps we need to install more cameras?" he asked sarcastically, waving regally towards the entire room (at last count there was 53 monitors).

"We could use them with the tables, maybe. What about the dance floor?"

"We need to find them," Ken replied, annoyed. To find them, I need to know who would dare—His eyes narrowed in the flash-memory of Ishida and Motomiya and importantly, their words ringing solidly "—Nathen's territory—"

No wonder Ishida was always so eager to hear the gossip of this place.

"…What do we know about someone named Nathen?" Ken uttered softly, almost gently, with a hard-edged glint of a smile.

"Name isn't familiar," Akira glanced at him and raised a brow, already typing. "Where'd that come from?"

"Ishida mentioned something about this was 'not his jurisdiction' and Nathen, apparently," Ken leaned back in his chair, belt clinking as he crossed his legs. He held up his hand with an presenting motion. "—is the name of the one who's in control of it. We'll start with that and see what we dig up."

(2nd week, Monday)

Daisuke had the phone installed in his apartment early that morning, using almost half of his tips from the weekend to set up the account and pay the first month's fee. The first thing he did with it was call his sister before nine just to piss her off.

"What do you mean, you've got a job? What job? Where? You aren't doing something stupid again, are you?"

"What? Oh come on. I'm working at a club and it's not that bad. Jun—I walked away with more than two-hundred, Jun. Two hundred and that's just the tips! I only work the weekends and I make a shitload of money. I love this job."

"I don't think that's enough to pay all your bills, stupid," his sister replied, flatly. "Come on, Daisuke. Think—how much is tuition gonna cost you? Rent? Food and all that other stuff? Make damn sure you're gonna have enough."

"…you're such a bitch."

"You love me."

"Sure, if I can ask you for all that extra money I'll need?"

"Fuck no. You're a big boy now. You've got all this time before school starts, so get another job during the day. Duh, stupid."

"…such abitch," Daisuke muttered.

"Yeah, well, thanks for waking me up."

The phone clicked. Daisuke stared at it in consternation and fell backwards on the bed. Fuck finding a job today; he was going back to bed.

(2nd week Tuesday afternoon)

"Hey, I saw your sign…" Daisuke grinned nervously, charmingly, held out a hand. "Motomiya Daisuke! I was wondering if you're still looking to hire?"

The man in front of him shook it appraisingly. "Well," he said gruffly. "Fujito Hisoka. You look a bit young."

"Yeah, I'm seventeen, but I just moved here and I don't start school until next month."


"Yeah, you're probably overstaffed with a place this nice," Daisuke exhaled and straightened his spine. The paper folded and shoved into his back pocket crackled. "I'm not looking for full time or anything, just the evenings during the week. I've got a part-time on the weekends, so that's out, but I work hard and if you have an extra spot, great. If not, that's okay."

The middle-aged man frowned and hummed to himself, thinking behind an unreadable face. "Can you start tonight?"

"Yeah?" Daisuke exclaimed, flashing a grin. "I'm cool with that, what time?"

"Twenty minutes. Ichiro's shift ends and I'm short. Tonight's a busy night. Follow me and I'll set you up, pay you cash if it works out. Sound alright?"

"I love cash."


On Thursday after school, Ken was in the car and heading for the outer reaches of the city. There was no talking in the car; Ken stared through the window without seeing anything they passed. The only time he reacted was when the car slowed and turned. It had been nearly twenty minutes of silence and they were almost there.

Then they were, with his mother turning to smile at him. "Are you awake, dear? We're here."

Dutifully, Ken unsnapped his seatbelt and exited the car. Tobishi, his father, took Ritsuka by the arm and Ken followed them inside. The restaurant was noisy and packed and Ken could feel the edges of a headache lurking.

He spent the next hour or so picking at his food and listening dully to his father, nodding at the right moments.

"—and what happened at tryouts this year? There's no way you wouldn't make captain, so—"

Ken sighed. "I didn't try this year."

His father's fork scratched over his plate. "I thought we talked about this," he snapped, stiffly. "You need to do more than just study—do something you're good at."

"—now, stop that. Ken's at the top of his classes—"

"But we both agree," Tobishi said with a look from mother to son, "that our son spends too much time burying himself in books, he should find something more appropriate for god's sake. He's seventeen and all he has to say is grades. Kids his age should have girlfriends, at least—"

As appropriate as a club, perhaps? Ken thought bitterly. Knowing how to disable someone in less than ten seconds?

"Tobishi, that's enough," Ritsuka clucked. "Ken, dear, how's your food? You've barely touched it."

"It's good, Momma. Masayo's on the team. He graduates this year. I'll try out next semester, I guess."

"Is he still picking on you? I should speak to your principle—"

His father made a disgusted noise at the comment from his wife and threw down his napkin. "Stop babying him. He's seventeen, he should be able to stand up to some punk and he could, if he dragged his head away from those damn books."

I already can, Ken thought bitterly. If I choose to.

"I've lost my appetite," Tobishi pushed his chair back, disgruntled. "I'm going to pay; you two wait by the car if I'm not back in a minute."

As they gathered their things, his mother said, "You know he's only worried, right?"

"Yes, Momma."

She sighed in a way that Ken knew she wasn't aware of. "You're such a good boy. I'll just be a moment." She patted his arm as she passed, heading towards the restrooms.

Ken wished it was Friday and a different world entirely as he wandered off after his father, waiting for him along the wall, head down, lost in thought. Busboys and wait-staff flitted back and forth in the minute or two it took for Tobishi to return from paying. A minute of enduring the stony silence turned into two, standing side by side with his father.

His father glanced at his watch; Ken ignored the not-so-lurking headache, idly flipping through a mental list of things to prepare for—

—heard a crash of porcelain—

—and from the side, there was a startled cry—Ken's head shot up—

"Momma—?" and Hen reached her side in moments, skidding on the greasy remnants of food. One of the busboys must have tripped. "Momma!"

"Aw shit I'm so very sorry!" the busboy to blame for the accident exclaimed, scooping food and a few shattered plates back into his plastic container. "I didn't see her until it was too late—"

"I'm alright," his mother said, with Ken helping her to her knees.

"M-Motomiya…?" Ken strangled out the sound, feeling liquid seeping through the fabric at his knees. This couldn't be happening. Fate was laughing its ass off, he knew it.

"—and if the floor wasn't wet I wouldn't have slipped at allI swear—Ichijouji?!" Motomiya gaze darted to the spill of food and Ritsuka and back to Ken, flustered and off-guard. "Uh…hi?"

"What the hell is wrong with you, boy?" Tobishi reached down to take the arm of his wife and help her up.

"Oh god are these your parents? I totally ran over your mom?! Where's a hole to hide in when you need it—" Wide-eyed, red-faced, Motomiya scrubbed food-stained hands on his equally messy apron, anxious. "I'm really sorry, really really sorry—"

"Oh, I'm fine," his mother fussed, brushing away Tobishi's hands. "Really, now. He didn't even run into me."

"Motomiya!" bawled Fujita, storming up behind them.

"I'll pay for it, I swear!" Motomiya protested. "I slipped, it's all my fault I'm sorry!—"

"You bet you'll pay," his father grumbled. "You're damn lucky I don't call a lawyer—you sure you're okay?"

"Ichijouji-san, I'm so very sorry, it's his first night—"

"Ken, honey, do you know this boy?" his mother asked, ignoring the question.

In the fog of his shock, still thinking this isn't happening, this isn't happening, Ken replied vaguely. "He'll be attending school next semester."

Motomiya grinned sheepishly between peeling foodstuff off his shirt and shaking it from his fingers. "Yeah, that's…ew…"

Ken couldn't help it; Motomiya was covered in it. It was…Shoulders shaking, hand trying to hide it "You look—" he managed before it started again. "horrible in noodles."

"Hey, but I'll eat for a week with this shirt!" Motomiya plucked at his shirt. "I'm a walking buffet."

Off-center from his control, too busy feeling his heart spasm in disbelief—Motomiya had somehow managed to show up everywhere and surprise him again—Ken plopped to his butt and laughed uncontrollably.

For a second, Tobishi glanced bewildered to his wife, who seemed just as startled. It'd been a long time since anything like laughter had passed their son's lips. They watched as Motomiya grinned shamelessly back, then Tobishi reached out to nudge Ken's shoulder.

"We're going, son."

Ken glanced back with his clear blue gaze, hid it behind lowered lashes and hair before he rose gracefully to his feet. "Have a good night, Motomiya," he said as he turned away to follow his parents.

"Yeah, nice running into you!" Motomiya waved cheekily.

Ken had to bite his cheek to keep from smiling.

"He seems nice," Ritsuka mentioned blandly on their way out. "I'd like to see more of your friends, Ken; you should invite him over sometime."

Ken shrugged without replying, not trusting his voice, not trusting his response and wondered at how easily Motomiya had won over his parents by making such a mess.

(2nd week Thursday)

Just after three, Daisuke sat cross-legged down on the ground in the middle of the school exit since he had no idea what classes his friends were in. By the time the bell rang and the students started filtering out, he had his headphones on, trusting his friends to spot him.

Like they're gonna miss me, sitting out in the middle of traffic, Daisuke thought, grinning shamelessly at the girls whispering behind their hands, giggling.

A minute later, Takeru was walking by with Hikari. Daisuke winked at her when she saw him first and burst into laughter.

"What the hell?" Takeru did a double-take. "What are you doing, sitting in the middle—wait, don't bother. What do you want now?"

"Hey, I came to see if you guys wanted to check out my place!" Daisuke scooped the headphones off, rising to his feet and brushing off his backside.

"We're waiting for Iori, right?"


"You know, you can call us and let us know ahead of time; Yama was gonna pick us up."

"That's cool, he'll probably want to come too." Daisuke grinned and laced his hands behind his head. "Hey, I just got my phone Tuesday, and I don't work tonight. It was a random thing, really."

"So now we're random?" Hikari teased.

"Isn't everything random with him?" Takeru asked. He twisted his head to scan the crowd, spotting Iori high on the steps yet. "Iori!!" he called, waving.

"How is work, Daisuke?"

"Which work? I have two jobs," Daisuke replied smugly. "Beat that, bucket-hat."

"I don't have to work," Takeru grinned. "Beat that."



"Hi," Iori said, hitching at his backpack as he finally made it to where they stood. He nodded to Daisuke. "Nice to see you again, Daisuke."

"Iori, man, you need to keep TP here in line. He's getting a mouth on him."

There was a catcalling noise from the direction of the school; almost as one, the four of them glanced back to the granite steps to see Ichijouji tugging away the shoulder-strap of his bag. The farthest one away, Daisuke caught Takeru rolling his eyes and turning away without a second look. Hikari gave a worried sniff, glancing back to Daisuke as if to say See?

Daisuke furrowed his brow as Ichijouji successfully removed the strap from the grip of a scrawny, mean-looking boy, without a word or protest or change in expression. Daisuke could hear the laughter of the three students trying to entertain themselves with harassment echo all the way to where he was standing.

"Yamato's here," Iori stated.

Then: "Daisuke? Daisuke!" hollared a voice he recognized.

Whirling, Daisuke missed the expression of Ichijouji's shock at the sight of them (and the way he stumbled on the last step) because Taichi was out of the van almost before it stopped and running towards them.

"Taichi!" Daisuke screeched out the happy response, then half-shrieked with laughter as Tai pulled him into a bear hug and spun. "God put me down put me down!"

"Look at you," Taichi said after he'd spun a third time to the sound of the others laughing. He held Daisuke out at arms length and grinned as broadly as he could. "Heard you came back, and you didn't even tell me. I'm disappointed and ashamed, clone-boy."

"What? Hey! I didn't have a phone!"

"You know where I live, stupid!"

"Don't you have anything better to do than run around?" Yamato drawled as he strolled up.

"I don't have school, don't have to work, and if you think I'm going sit around and scratch my ass instead of party, I'll have to kick your ass 'cause you're crazy. You guys want to see my place?"

"Did you walk?"

"Your apartment? Is there beer there yet?" Taichi grinned again and ruffled his hair. "All grown up and living on his own…aw, Yama, we're such good parents!"

"Yeah, I walked. Does that mean you'll give me a lift?"

"We're all going!" Hikari chimed in. "You guys might as well."

"Yeah, well, come on then," Yamato glanced at his watch. "I've got practice in an hour."

"Hey," Taichi said as they all started to migrate to the street and where Yamato's van waited. If Daisuke had turned his head he would've seen Ichijouji passing close by, eyes averted in full 'invisible' mode, still trailed by the three students from before. "How you like working for the Kaizer, Daisuke? Yama says—"

"Wait—" Takeru said, surprised enough to pause a step.

"What?" Hikari blinked.

"You're working there?!"

"—that you had to get stitches. Lame." Taichi made a face. "How many were there, anyway?"

"Yeah, uh—there were three, dammit. I think I did pretty well."

Takeru gave Taichi a raised brow, then smirked teasingly. "Poor Daisuke—"

"Hey, shut up 'cause it fucking sucked getting stitches, TP. Let me poke needles in your mouth and see how you like it."

"So what's he like?" Hikari latched onto his arm, and Daisuke stuck his tongue out at Takeru. Everyone, even Iori, seemed to pause as they waited to hear Daisuke's reply.

"The Kaizer?" Daisuke mused for a moment, then grinned wickedly. "I'm totally hot for his pants."

(2nd week Friday, 10:27 pm)

Daisuke didn't know they were there until he walked up to the tale in the corner, the shadowed one that always seemed to have some sort of problem attached, and heard a voice greeting him that he hadn't heard in six months or so.

"And the rumors were true, Motomiya Daisuke, that you were back and hanging around. But to see you here, well…I'm pleased beyond expectation."

Nathen, the brain behind the body of one of the city's more dangerous gangs, pleasant and mild-natured to talk to. Great. Flicking a neutral gaze to the unremarkable young man with dun-colored hair, Daisuke tilted his head and replied, "Nathen. Wondered if I'd see you. How's life?"

"Wait, what? This is Motomiya? The Motomiya Daisuke? No way. No fucking way this little tampon—"

"Akao," Nathen murmured. "Don't be crude."

There was a punk sitting next to the broad-shouldered Nathen that Daisuke didn't recognize. He wondered if he was Kenichi's replacement, since Kenichi had taken Nathen's right for as long as Daisuke had known him. Daisuke remembered with a distinct shudder he'd been offered that spot once. To take his mind off it, he asked "He must be Kenichi-chan's replacement. Figured you'd get rid of him, since I kicked his ass and put him in the hospital. He ever make it out?"

"Yes, but you ruined his hands, you know."

"Fucker deserved it," Daisuke replied blandly, still eyeing Akao. "He worth anything?"

"Oh, he's better than some. How have you been, by the way? I heard you spent some time in the hospital yourself."

"Yeah, I suppose I did. Dad caught me—" Daisuke narrowed his eyes. "No thanks to you. So what do you want?"

"Simple things, really," Nathen folded his hands at the level of his face. "I've had sort of a problem, here."

Daisuke didn't seem to be impressed. "Okay, so?"

"So, I'd like your help in resolving it."

"…and that's all you're going to tell me?"

"I'd prefer someplace private; perhaps you'll have lunch with me, soon. For now, let's just say we're friends."

In the moment before Daisuke replied, the Kaizer was slipping silently down the shadows on a cable with the pillar to shield him and no sound to give him away. He had no qualms about listening in; he'd find out much more information this way, if his suspicions were correct.

"You never change," Daisuke shook his head and focused sharply on the other male. "I don't know," he said bluntly. "Let me think about it."

"Fair enough," Nathen took up his drink and sipped. "Until we pass again, Daisuke."

Turning to leave, Daisuke merely raised a brow in the face of Takafumi, who wasn't moving out of his way fast enough.

"I'm tellin' you, we don't need him," Akao said from behind, sneering. "He looks like some scrawny wimp-ass little—"

"Leash your dog," Daisuke snapped a glare over his shoulder.

"—little bitch," Akao finished smugly.

"Akao, right?" Daisuke wheeled to face him, stalking two steps closer and stared him down fiercely. "You're Kenichi's replacement. You know what I did to him? I was quick enough to puncture his lungs in three different spots, and as he was choking on his blood I slashed the tendons in his hands so he'd never smack around anyone. Ever. Back off or I'm peeling the skin off your dick."

"…Yasuharu," Nathen murmured, sounding bored. "Not even I risk pissing off Daisuke, so shut your mouth."

"I don't need you steppin' in, Nathen," Daisuke snapped. "—and you, Akao, don't fuck with me."

"Tch. Whatever." Akao leaned back and flipped him off with contempt, then added a 'suck it' gesture for good measure.

Daisuke drove the pencil an inch into the table, snapped it in half while he snagged Akao's hair before he could react and pulled him close with one knee braced on the edge, the jagged end aimed at Akao's bloodshot, murky brown eye.

"Last warning, asshole."

There was a pause while Nathen pinched the bridge of his nose and protested mildly against the loss of another second, and the remaining members held their tension and waited to make a move.

Then a different voice joined in.

"My my," the Kaizer drawled in cold smoothness. "What interesting people you know, Motomiya. Do introduce me after you've put down the pencil."

Daisuke shoved Akao back into his chair and retreated a step back, staring without expression at the leather-clad Kaizer sliding from the shadows with a distinct tchk of his boots, hands folded at the small of his back. "Where the hell did you come from?"

"You must be the Kaizer," Nathen murmured with a secret smile of his own.

"Who the fuck is that?" Akao muttered, flushed and irritated.

"You must be Nathen," the Kaizer replied blandly. "Having a good time?"

Nathen's eyes narrowed too slight to notice. "It's been a pleasure."

Daisuke laced fingers through his hair and looked bored. "Is this where I get the 'Get back to work' line?"

"I didn't feel up to dragging your ass out of another fight, Motomiya, so yes. Get back to work." The Kaizer smiled thinly, and without quite knowing why, tilted Motomiya's chin with two gloved fingers. "But don't go far…I need to discuss another matter with you."

"Sure," Daisuke said, after a pause and a twitch at the corner of his lip that suggested a smirk.

The Kaizer pulled his hand away from the sensation of Daisuke's jaw moving under his fingers. Then his gaze rolled to Nathen and dismissed any thought of Daisuke, who was already sauntering away with a off-tune whistle.

"While we're on the topic of fighting…and with no need to explain the rules of the house to you, I'll just say this," the Kaizer spoke, voice icing over into malevolent warning. "I will not hesitate to break you if you forget your place."

The look in Nathen's brown eyes was a mix of hate and wariness. It would do. The Kaizer gave a glimpse of his wolfish grin and stalked away into the shadows.(3)


Daisuke turned around on his way back from a table and saw the Kaizer along his path, leaning with his back to a supporting pillar. He spun the tray in his hands out of habit and didn't try to avoid him by dodging off into the throngs of people. I bet I'm in trouble, again, he sighed, mentally preparing himself for another bitch-session.

"And what did he want from you?" the Kaizer asked without expression, without preamble.

"I don't know; he didn't tell me yet. He probably thinks it's the way to make friends or something. What did you want, Kaizer?"

"I'm seeking answers, Motomiya." The Kaizer lifted a hand and waved it dismissingly, voice clinically flat. "And I take this matter most seriously. There is someone, perhaps several, who cause problems in my system. I want you aware of everything around you, Motomiya, and tell me if you see something…out of hand."

"Uh, like…what?"

"Anything, Motomiya. Can you do this?"

"…is it for a good reason?"

The Kaizer inclined his head and replied softly, reflective, "The highest."

(2nd week, Saturday, 3:18 am)

"Hey, newb!"

Daisuke turned to see the girl named Tokiko, small and curly-haired, walking up to him with a box cradled in her arms. "Yeah?"

"Can you run to the storeroom for me? We're running behind and I need a load of towels for the provs. You got time?"

"Sure, if I knew where it was."

"It's at the end of the staff-hall, you can't miss it. You can read, right?" Tokiko grinned at him. "Thanks, newb!"

"Hey, it's cool. Where you want me to put them?"

"I'll be at the far end, where Yuichi is."

"Alright," Daisuke waved over his shoulder and headed off with nothing better to do. Scanning the doors on each side of the wide hallway, passing the blue hospice door with a grimace, Daisuke went all the way to the end to find a door, any door that could be it.

There was only one labeled "STORAGE", set back apart by two other unmarked doors in the hall.

Daisuke tried the handle and found it locked. "Guess that's gotta be the one…" He eyed it and wondered if it was going to be a waste of time going to find the key.


Tired, the Kaizer shut the door behind himself and pulled off his shades. The last two nights had passed relatively calm; Ken tolled his neck to stretch tight muscles and undid his shirt as he passed his desk. His back crawled with unspent tension. Just because it all went well didn't mean there was no threat.

There's always a threat. It just hasn't happened. He paused just long enough to tap a few keys on his laptop out of habit, then dropped the fabric over the back of the chair.

He never heard the faint click of the lock—for a second as the door swung open, caught between desk and bathroom, it wasn't happening. It never happened—

—shit the door


One hand on the knob to prop open the door, Daisuke tucked the stiff wires back into the pocket on the side of his pants and slipped through into the dark room. "Okay, towels," he murmured. "Light, light, where's the swi—"

—something slammed into his side and hit him into the wall. Before he could react or protest, hell even breathe—the same force twisted him around and face-first into the door, snapping it shut.

"Fucker!" Daisuke cursed breathlessly, fingers itching with how close to broken that was, indignant to be slammed against a door in the first place—he kicked back and struggled, twisting—

—and found himself pinned with his back against the door, one bare muscled arm over his throat, the other gripping fiercely at his hair.

"How the fuck did you get in here?!" someone snapped, pressing tight on his hold.

"—Kaizer!? What the hell?" Daisuke couldn't move anything but his hands, disturbingly pleased to realize they were pressed flat against the Kaizer's chest.

The Kaizer wasn't wearing a shirt.

Oh god.

"Answer the question, Motomiya!" the Kaizer growled. "I keep that door locked at all times—"

"Are you naked?"

"…excuse me?" the Kaizer strangled out, shifting out of shock. Daisuke felt the rush of air that the boy sucked into his lungs and assumed it was shock; sitting in the dark, he couldn't tell.

"Uh," Daisuke winced at the return-shift of pressure on his throat. "Hey—"

"This is my room," the Kaizer snarled, apparently recovered, trying to flatten him through the door. "I was changing when you— damn you, just answer the question."

"Shit, I uh—" Flushing, heart thudding, Daisuke pushed back in protest, choking down whatever sound came searing up his spine and was that a nipple against his fingers?

oh god.

"I picked the lock," Daisuke gasped, annoyed. "Lay off, asshole."

"You picked it," the Kaizer echoed flatly in faint disbelief.

"Yeah," Daisuke scowled and hoped the Kaizer could feel it, since there wasn't any light. "It used to be a bad habit; now it's my excuse for a spare key. So what? I didn't know, um, that you were going to be naked."

"I am not naked!" the Kaizer straightened, indignantly smashing Daisuke to the door until he could only kick out at him.

"So I guess it's a bad time to say you're hot?" Daisuke rasped the first thing he could think of, and winced more at the unintended choice than the reacting squeeze.

For a space of twenty-some seconds, the Kaizer didn't speak. Daisuke heard him draw a short, absent breath, then he heard a confused, faint "You think I'm hot?"

"Uh," Daisuke froze for a heartbeat. "Well, yeah. You got some nice—pants."

The Kaizer didn't seem capable of response.

"—unpredictable my ass," the Kaizer muttered distinctly, but Daisuke wasn't sure if he was supposed to respond. Then, sounding flustered, the Kaizer yanked him forward by the shirt, pressed way too close and slid his hand behind Daisuke, right against the small of his back. Daisuke thought for sure the words "Hot" and "Naked" were going to be conjugated right then and there and were already fighting for the order to go first.

"I'm hot, am I?" the Kaizer mused, flexing the arm around Daisuke's middle, and all he could do was shiver through a gasp and try to breathe—

—then, something clicked and the Kaizer was uncoiling his arm to spin him around and Daisuke was blinded by sudden light.

He opened the door, he wasn't making a move at all he was just— the door opened and, twisted away from the warm, naked skin, Daisuke stumbled through it with a glimpse of one pale, curving shoulder—

The door slammed shut behind him almost before he felt the firm little shove between his shoulders.

Heart thudding, Daisuke waited two seconds before he hollered back, "Hey! Where's the goddamn storeroom, then!?"



-a/n – well. That was fun. XD. What do you think, people? next chapter has dancing, make-out sessions (FINALLY!) and Daisuke starting school. Oh, and Ken gets thrown in a pool.

…what? it'll make sense, I swear. Besides, it gives Daisuke an excuse to save him.

1 – Keiichi is one of the 'eyes' stationed in the rafters. Nobusaki, Hisato and Eiji are all bouncers.
2 – Yutaka is one of the floors, responsible for the bracelet distribution. After the doors shut, he monitors and reports color-status.
3 – Nathen, Akao Yasuharu and Takafumi are members of a gang (uh...no shit?); they play an important part of Daisuke's past. I hope it'll make sense when I write out that scene.