A new story! Since the old chapter up and killed its dashes, here is the ... new and better version, I suppose.

x coincident and luck intertwined

'What now, old man?' A young boy glared at his father. 'I want to go buy the new book, and if I wait any longer, it might be sold out.'

His father smirked. 'Book. What are you, some studying freak? Just listen to me for a second, would you?'

The boy rolled his eyes, but obliged.

His father pulled his hand out from behind his back, inside it a CD case. 'Keep this safe for me,' he said seriously, his previously playful expression gone.

The boy cocked his head. 'What is it?' he asked curiously, taking it.

The man replied, 'Just keep it with you for today, okay?'

'Why?' the boy asked, still interested.

The man responded with a cryptic 'Keep the most important things close to your heart' before leaving the boy in front of the bookstore.


Echizen Ryoma cursed inwardly. He knew he shouldn't have taken the higher-paying job, he knew it had been too good to be true, he knew it, he knew it, but he had taken it anyway. He should have known that a simple employee would never have been paid that much if there weren't going to be some extra benefits for the employer.

And now he was wandering the streets with his shoulder-length olive-green hair falling on the maid costume that his employer had forced him to wear, with no job to speak of, as he had forcibly objected to his being forced to serve his employer tea. He had to have some dignity, despite his wearing disgusting frilly costumes.

And after firing him, his employer still had the nerve to withhold his clothes. So he was stuck in the maid costume until he got to his home, which wasn't even his home any more, as it was company housing!

If he could have killed his employer, he definitely would have.

Ryoma didn't want to go back to his home. Returning would mean that he would have to take all his stuff out, and where would he go with it anyway? He looked up to the skies, which were dark and stormy. Even the weather seemed to be laughing at him.

Where would he go now though? He had nowhere to go.

He couldn't go to Nanako, his cousin; he'd be such a burden to her, with her high-classed, important job and her impeccable life. His appearance would ruin it. He wasn't sure that he would be welcomed on her doorstep, after what he had done anyway.

He had no friends to meet up with either; he had avoided contact all throughout his educational life, choosing to not join any clubs and simply stay in the library during lunches. Books were much better company anyway. They didn't giggle at you when you walked by, and didn't chatter away annoyingly either.

He had no immediate family to return to, his grandparents and parents having all died, with no siblings to stay with. He had no aunts or uncles that he could remember the address of, not that he would want to stay with one of them anyway.

And it started to rain. It was quite akin to the phrase 'raining on his parade', except Ryoma was sure that what he was experiencing wasn't anything like a parade at all.

He really had to get out of the maid costume though. If he had to hear his high heels clacking against the hard pavement for much longer, Ryoma knew he would go insane.

Thinking about his actions after he had already acted on them (which wasn't the best time to be thinking them over), perhaps he should have just poured the tea. He could have gone on with his life, with his large salary still with him. And he would at least have housing, which would have definitely been good.

But the past was the past, and there was no way for Ryoma to get his job back now, unless he begged and grovelled for it and prayed to the deities of high salaries. Which was something Ryoma would never do.

He would need to find a place to stay for the night. Something cheap, so his money could last longer. And then he could go around looking for a cheap apartment, or some place he could rent.

And then he would have to get some job that would definitely not pay as well as the one he had had.

Unemployment was really lame.

Ryoma meandered on the sidewalk. He wasn't exactly sure of where he was, having never been in this part of the city before. He then spotted a man confronting a young woman a little distance from him. He paused. The man started speaking.

'You're late, Ryuzaki,' the man said coldly. He had short brown hair with a pair of glasses. He was probably older than Ryoma by ten years, from the way he was dressed and his expression. 'That's the third time this week.' Ryoma could hear the man clearly, as the street was deserted save for the three of them.

'I'm sorry, Tezuka-sama' a girl with brown braids squeaked, her face pink. The braids were quite long, and Ryoma frowned at them. Long hair wasn't exactly what Ryoma would call sensible. 'It's just that I didn't realise that it would take so long to type up the documents, and then your chauffeur had called in sick so I had to take a taxi here myself, and the traffic was bad...'

'Your tardiness is still inexcusable,' the brunet replied quite harshly, and Ryoma thought to himself that just maybe the man could have been a bit kinder with his words. 'I had hired you because your mother recommended you, but you are not living up to standards, Ryuzaki-san.'

The girl was in near tears. 'I'm sorry, Tezuka-sama!'

'You apologised the other two times,' the man named Tezuka responded, his face expressionless. 'Apologies do nothing if one does not try to avoid falling into a situation where they will be needed.'

The girl was actually crying now, and ran off, leaving Tezuka on the sidewalk by himself.

'... That's the fifth secretary I've lost this year,' Tezuka said to himself.

Ryoma started walking again, in the direction of the man named Tezuka.

The man's phone rang. The tune was vaguely familiar to Ryoma, but he couldn't figure out why. When had he heard it? On some television show he had watched in his childhood?

The man answered him. Ryoma kept walking in his general direction, not really caring about what the man was doing.

'Yes, Tezuka Kunimitsu speaking,' Ryoma heard the man say.

'Hyoutei Corporation wants to make a deal?' the man said.

Ryoma stopped in his tracks. Hyoutei? The man had to have some very nice connections, if the Hyoutei Corporation wanted to make a deal with them... Hyoutei was a renowned business corporation, with links to almost everything that was even slightly related to money. From healthcare to tourism, Hyoutei was in it all.

'Right now, Oishi?' the man asked, sounding slightly alarmed. 'Rikkai? Where?'

Ryoma started walking again. What the man was talking about really didn't concern him.

Suddenly, he felt something pierce his shoulder. He glanced at it. A dart was stuck in it.

Then, it all went black.


When Ryoma came to, he was lying on a white chaise longue. It was very simple design, as was everything else in the room Ryoma was in. The whole room seemed very modern, with its angled things and plain designs. He sat up, and found that his shoulder wasn't hurting. He couldn't even tell that a dart had been stuck in it earlier.

'It was one of the newest tranquilliser darts. It leaves no trace of it ever being used.'

Ryoma looked around and found a bespectacled man with spiky black hair standing in the doorway. 'Who are you?' Ryoma demanded immediately. 'What am I doing here?'

'You were shot with a tranquilliser dart as you were in the line of fire.' the man explained. 'I am Inui Sadaharu, and I am glad to make your acquaintance.'

Ryoma's eyes narrowed. 'In the line of fire of who?'

'Oh, of our dear Tezuka,' a voice said cheerfully from behind Ryoma. Ryoma jumped off the chaise longue, startled. He wheeled around to see a brunet smiling at him widely.


'Fuji Syusuke at your service,' the man replied in response to Ryoma. 'And who might you be?' The man smiled in a way that seemed harmless, but somehow, Ryoma wasn't so sure, despite the man's feminine exterior that seemed so innocuous.

'... Why do you want to know?' Ryoma asked rudely.

The person named Fuji laughed. 'It's okay if you don't want to tell, Ryoko-chan.'

Ryoma's eyes widened. 'What-'

The man named Inui then said, 'Your ... uniform.'

Ryoma looked down at his maid costume, and there was indeed a nametag on it that had the words 'Ryoko-chan' embossed on it clearly.

'You could tell us your family name so we don't have to speak to you using your given name,' Inui suggested. 'There is a 94 percent chance that you would find it less unnerving.'

Ryoma simply gave Inui a strange look, and said nothing. Why should he give his name to these people that he didn't even know?

'I think I'll call you Ryoko-chan anyway,' Fuji said in his light-hearted tone. 'It's cuter for a girl like you.'

Ryoma stared. What had the man just said? 'I'm not-' he started, but then he was interrupted.

'You're awake?'

Ryoma spun around yet again to face the doorway. There were three people there now, with Inui off to the side, a man with the strangest haircut Ryoma had ever seen on the other side, and the man named Tezuka that Ryoma had seen earlier.

Tezuka continued, 'I am sorry to have inconvenienced you. That dart was meant for me.'

Ryoma ran the possibilities through his head. This man named Tezuka was supposed to be hit by this tranquilliser dart. He also had connections somehow to Hyoutei. Who was this man?

Ryoma asked, a small smirk playing on his face, 'Can I leave now?'

Inui turned to Tezuka. 'There is an 84 percent chance that she will find out a bit about what is going on, Tezuka. You say she heard your phone conversation, right?'

Tezuka nodded. Inui then continued, 'It would be unwise to let her go now, Tezuka. The wrong people might overhear her if she accidentally lets anything slip.'

'If you think I'm staying here,' Ryoma retorted, 'you're mistaken.'

The man with the strange hairstyle said worriedly, 'Tezuka, she doesn't want to stay though... What should we do? We can't force her to stay, because that would be illegal, and that would be exactly what we're trying to fight against!'

Tezuka raised a hand to silence the man. The man silenced immediately. 'I can offer you a job,' Tezuka said to Ryoma impassively. 'And lodging as well.'

Ryoma shrugged. 'What good would that do me if you don't plan to let me leave the place? I think I'll decline.'

'Ah, but Ryoko-chan,' Fuji said slyly, 'we can offer you three times whatever your past salary was. And it's not as if you have anywhere to go, right?'

Ryoma was startled. 'What-'

Fuji smiled. 'Do you, Ryoko-chan?'

Inui appended, 'We will provide adequate provisions for you as well, whatever is needed.'

'Why are you all this desperate to make me stay quiet?' Ryoma asked, uncaring. 'What's so important?'

'We can't tell you unless you agree for employment,' Tezuka said sternly.

'Tezuka,' Oishi said anxiously, 'shouldn't you at least give the girl an interview first? We don't have any space for her either...'

'I lost my secretary,' Tezuka informed him.

Oishi frowned. 'Again, Tezuka? You should be a bit more-'

'Now is not the time for this, Oishi,' Fuji interrupted. It was all very confusing for Ryoma, seeing the conversation fly from one topic to another. 'Will you accept then? If you don't accept, we will have to take measures to make sure nothing of us is said.'

Ryoma's mind supplied plenty of possibilities for the 'measures' that Fuji, who was smiling angelically, might put into action.

'I accept,' Ryoma said slowly, hoping dearly that he wasn't going to regret his decision.

Tezuka walked up to him, and bowed. Straightening himself, he said, 'I am Tezuka Kunimitsu, president of the Seishun Agency. Welcome aboard.'

x tsuzuku

I think a review would be just lovely, don't you? Give comments, flames, feedback, whatever. Any sort of feedback will be appreciated. -awinchan