A/N: The summary is a bit vague but I'm sure you all figure out… many things while reading this chapter ;) There will be some OOCness on Bakura's part but I'm hoping that as the story goes on, you'll see that he's more IC than he first may appear. Also, Bakura Ryou will be addressed by his last name by most people so don't get confused. The characters will be mentioned surname-first name, except for Malik because he's not Japanese. I debated with myself about Bakura's last name because I wanted it to be something no one had used before (and so it's not Touzoku or anything like that). Yes, I hope you like it, I do xD
(Edit: Reworded some sentences, hoping they'd start making more sense.)
"So, Bakura, what do you think about all this?"
Brown eyes rose from the file Bakura Ryou had been reading and hiding behind. The whole room was looking at him, waiting to hear his opinion. A faint blush rose to his cheeks. The attention wasn't unwanted but not fully appreciated either. The head of the investigation team smiled at him in encouragement.
"Well…" Ryou spoke, his voice sounding quieter than he wished it to. He placed the file on the table, making sure it was straight. "Based on how the victims lack body parts it could be some kind of cult but cults are more systematic." He glanced around and got a round of nods from the people sitting and standing around the long table. "The victims are large and sometimes moved around so it's a male…" He paused; these situations always unnerved him, and looked at the file again for reference. "It could be a group but if it were, I think Mr. Nakashima's wife's throat would've also been slit like the other victims'."
The head of the team made an impatient gesture for him to go on. "So you agree with me on that. Good, but is there anything else?"
Ryou bit his lip, not liking the way his next statement sounded in his head. "There's rarely anything missing from the victims' home so I think he's doing it for the sake of killing, and also… there's no pattern in the missing body parts." He stopped to breath in and out. "When the police announced on TV that they're looking for the killer, two days later an officer got killed near the station, throat slit, and just one day after that two were killed in the apartment building next to the police station."
He looked around, hearing the heated whispering, and making eye contact with the head of investigation. "He's taunting us, 'Ha haa, I'm right under your noses and you can't catch me'."
The man ran a hand through his hair, letting out a heavy, stressed sigh. "He's toying with us."
Ryou nodded even though the statement did not require an answer. "I think… I think he's doing it for fun."
A lean figure crouched over a body of a middle aged round man. Blood flowed from the man's throat, tainting the blush carpet. A shame really; it was a pretty carpet. In the faint light coming from the window the one living inspected his knife and idly wiped it on his victim's shirt, flipping a stray lock of white hair away from his face. There was no blood on him thanks to the disposable rain coat he wore, a plastic hood covering his tied hair he worried about to the point of vanity.
He dug out a bone saw and with a trained hand, sunk it into the motionless arm. "Supplies, supplies," he said in sing-song and hummed while he worked. The lifeless eyes stared at him as if accusing him for maiming the body. The arm was placed inside a black garbage bag with the saw and the knife, and that done he flipped the bag over his shoulder before tipping his plastic glove covered finger into the pooling blood and bringing it to his lips. "Yes, yes, good material," he mumbled and patted the corpse on the cheek as he stood up. "Thanks for contributing."
A grin lit his face when he walked through the door, mind on something else already. No use worrying over spilt blood after all. Or was it perfume? He chuckled to himself and passed through an alley, disposing of his rain coat and gloves, lighting a match and throwing that in the garbage as well. The slowly starting fire lit the alleyway, casting tall shadows on the graffiti covered walls.
He put his free hand in his pants pocket and began humming again, a cheerful tune that once had words. Maybe his next work would feature fire somehow…
Ryou packed his things and got ready to go home. It was past midnight, he was getting tired and hungry. On his way out he passed several desks with people still behind them but stopped in front of a specific one. The occupant raised his head from the stack of papers. Tired eyes with bags forming under them found Ryou's gaze and held it.
Ryou offered a kind smile to his long time friend. "You should be heading home, too, Honda. You look terrible."
Honda Hiroto scowled at him, but it was more playful than anything. "You don't look too hot yourself. I was just finishing up."
Ryou left the comment about his hotness, or lack there of, alone and kept his smile on and his tone light. "Good, you can walk me home then."
"I was going to, anyway, what with all the dangerous people on the loose," Honda shrugged and got up, pulling on his coat and leaving the papers lying around. Ryou wiped the disapproving look from his face before the other had a chance to see it and followed him out the front entrance, beginning their journey home. Ryou lived just a few streets down and Honda a little ways from there, both in convenient distances. They had met in high school and when Honda wanted to be a police officer, Ryou went to study criminal psychology but they had managed to stay in touch, unlike some of the other people in their small group who life had took farther away.
"Bakura? You seem so absent. The new case bothering you?" Honda asked when he noticed the thoughtful frown on his friend's face. Ryou raised his eyes from the pavement, blinking the out-of-it look away. He might have had more knowledge of human nature but Honda was pretty good at guessing.
"Well, yes… I've never been a part of an investigation like this, or should I say, never tried to catch anyone who…" He shook his head, smile firmly attached again. "I'm not going to lose my sleep over it, though. This will be just a bit more complicated, that's all." He wasn't sure if he was trying to convince Honda or himself. Either way, it wasn't working.
"Yeah…" Honda drew out. "Maybe you should take a sleeping pill anyway and, you know, get a good night's sleep to work it out."
Ryou waved his hand, dismissing the suggestion. "No need, I'll be fine, and besides, I really don't want to resort to any sort of medicines again."
Ryou's apartment building came to view much to his relief; he wanted to go to bed and stop talking about the new case. The discussion was starting to annoy him because he was sure that if he had to keep thinking about it, he would never get any sleep.
He flashed Honda a tired smile before getting out his keys. "It's good to get home… Are you sure you'll be fine walking alone?"
"Of course." Honda smirked at him and waved, turning to go home. Ryou's teeth found his lip and he called after his friend's retreating back, deciding to voice what was eating him.
"Hiroto!" The other turned. "What if I can't solve it?"
Honda smiled sadly. "You're not alone, Ryou. Good night."
The words gave him some comfort but as the alarm clock on his night stand neared morning, he was still lying awake, watching the ceiling and occasionally glancing at the clock. The red numbers glowed as the only source of light and seemed much brighter than they were, casting a red hue on his face. He turned towards the wall so he wouldn't have to look at the numbers. He couldn't let them ruin his sleep.
In reality, it wasn't the red numbers that kept him awake. Every time he closed his eyes and dozed off, he could see the pictures of the victims lying on their own blood and Mrs. Nakashima's horrified face as the last thing she saw was her dead husband. Maybe he wasn't cut out for this… He wanted to help people and this work was interesting and gave him the opportunity to do so. However, if he couldn't handle the mental strain, he would have to quit.
He had always been the empathetic kind, perhaps overly so, and where that gave him the ability to figure out motives, it also effected to his reactions towards the victims' relatives.
"I can't quit now…"
If he would change profession in the end, he couldn't do it now when he had to help the police to find this murderer who had taken so many lives and made so many people sad. His sense of duty would never let him.
He finally gave up on sleep and turned on the small lamp on his bedside table. The clock showed four a.m. as Ryou got up to go to the kitchen. The apartment was small, decorated only with pictures of family and friends and some paintings he had found and liked. It was enough for him but some times he wished that he would have someone to share it with, even if it wasn't big enough to share.
Ryou turned on the lights in the kitchen and went to pull a kettle out of one of the cupboards. Some tea would be great right about now.
He jumped to sit on the counter and wait for the water to boil, swinging his legs and humming a small tune. His spotless kitchen made him feel better though he wasn't sure why. It had an air of calm about it, he guessed and heard the water to boil.
Kaiba Seto was annoyed in advance as he rode down the busy streets of Domino. He had to visit his egoistical and quirky acquaintance to see if everything would be ready for Friday. He would have done it over the phone if Mikazuki wasn't such a fluent liar. Bullshit seemed to be just one of the languages the man spoke.
It didn't help the matter any that the visitors' tours had started as a part of a campaign in KaibaCorp and it caused tons of extra disturbance. Seto rubbed the bridge of his nose and hoped he had some aspirin as the visit was bound to make his head pound even more.
The car stopped in front of a new apartment building with large, shining windows. Seto stepped out, wondering how that bastard had talked him into buying him the apartment, or an atelier, as he put it. The place was on the top floor and the new metallic alleviator took Seto up, playing a horrible tune to keep him entertained.
He smirked grimly as the door presented itself in all its wooden glory. Mokuba would have been so proud to see him visit a friend, though the term was used loosely in this case. A set of keys was dug out and one was inserted into the lock. He wouldn't have to be in there more than ten minutes max and then he would have it done and out of his mind for good.
Mikazuki Bakura heard his door click and spun away from his unfinished work to meet an icy glare. A smile far too wide to be real split his face to mach his tone. "Ah, Seto! How did you get in?"
The visitor hung a set of keys in the air. "You gave me a spare key," he spoke flatly, looking at Bakura like he was an idiot. In fact, Bakura was sure Kaiba thought him to be just that.
"Oh. I did, didn't I?" Bakura tapped his chin with his paint brush and looked up in thought. "Funny how I don't recall… I must have been drunk then."
Kaiba rolled his eyes. "You're never drunk, Mikazuki."
Bakura blinked at him. "Then I must have dementia."
"You are demented alright…"
The self proclaimed artistic genius laughed at the remark, brush shaking in the air, dotting the floor with red. "You have such a way with words, Seto. The ladies must be all over you."
Kaiba huffed in annoyance. "How many times do I have to tell you not to-" He was rudely interrupted by the other end of the paint brush pressed on his lips, luckily for him it wasn't the end with paint on it.
"Hush, Seto. I have something to show you, Seto." Bakura whirled around to lift his latest finished work from the floor where it had been leaning on a wall, and spun back to present it to his uninvited, not to mention reluctant, guest. "I just finished this last night, just in time." If his little fan base who mostly consisted of women, fancy that, wouldn't like this one, then… It wouldn't really matter either way; he liked it.
Kaiba looked at it with a critical eye, a brow rising before he spoke. "Remind me why I'm sponsoring you again?"
"Because I'm so damn hot, baby!" Bakura cackled at his own humor and his visitor stared at him with a bored look. "Oh come now, Seto. You have your own sarcastic and mean humor and I have My egoistical one."
Kaiba's expression remained flat at all times. "Ha haa…"
Bakura grinned; how he loved that annoyed sarcasm, it always made his day. "That's better. As for my funding, it's for old time's sake and perhaps for your image because, and I quote, 'Mikazuki Bakura is a new upstanding artist with fresh and crazy ideas, disturbing the world of art and upsetting many'. Unquote." He added the last part as if it would otherwise be unclear that he stopped quoting.
"Isn't that a negative review?"
He shrugged, placing the painting back down. "All publicity is good publicity. Besides people are queuing to see My art."
"Only to see what's so upsetting about it."
Bakura's eyes widened dramatically and he held a hand over his heart before he had even spun around to face the other. "Et tu, Brute? I thought we were friends!"
Kaiba's eyebrow rose. "Since when? Seriously, Mikazuki, I haven't even cut off your funding yet, don't be so dramatic."
"I knew I could count on you." Bakura reached up to pat Kaiba's head. "Have you grown?"
Kaiba swapped the hand away. "Get your hands off of me. I'm leaving, I can't stand you anymore."
Bakura grinned, enjoying annoying the other. "Aw, I love you too, let's keep in touch."
"As if I had a choice. I'm coming to your 'art night' this Friday so you better be there and make sure everything goes smoothly."
"Well if you're going to be there…"
"Oh shut up."
Hiroto came to work that morning like every other morning and immediately noticed something wrong with Bakura Ryou. The other looked like he hadn't been sleeping much, his head nodding once in a while as he dozed off. Hiroto couldn't blame him though; he was glad he wasn't part of the investigation and stuck to smaller cases. Bakura hadn't heeded Hiroto's words about the sleeping pills either but that was understandable. The last time, he had gotten addicted.
Hiroto could see his friend farther up the hall, talking to a senior officer, once in a while smiling in that polite way of his and nodding his head. Lunch hour was nearing and Hiroto thought that he would offer his friend a lunch. Maybe he could find out more about what was troubling the other.
Half an hour later he met up with Bakura like they had agreed on that morning. The slighter male was sleeping in a chair, chin leaning on his chest. Hiroto almost didn't wake him up but going without food would only make things worse. He shook the other's shoulder gently. "Bakura, hey wake up, it's lunch time."
"Unh wha..?" The young man raised his head, trying to blink the sleep away. "Oh, Honda, what?"
"Lunch, I'll pay." He smiled but it faded when something flickered past the other's eyes.
"Um… I have to go to the bathroom first."
Hiroto knew this was an excuse because his friend didn't want to turn him down. For some reason, Bakura wanted to go alone. The guilty face was a dead give away. "Ok, I'll… wait outside."
Bakura smiled and soon disappeared behind a corner. Hiroto sighed; the bathrooms weren't even in that direction. The other sucked at lying.
He left to go get some lunch by himself, knowing that Bakura would soon feel bad for ditching him and would come back to him. He would have liked to spend his lunch hour with Ry- Bakura who was all around pleasant to be with and pleasing to look at, but realized when he needed his own space. Hiroto just wished his friend would talk about his negative emotions, too, and not just the positive ones like he tended to do. Bakura was always hiding behind a smile.
Stepping out of the airport, Malik Ishtar stretched after the long flight from Egypt and gazed at Domino City. No one at home knew where he had gone. He would have a few days before his sister would come to look for him, no doubt somehow finding out he had gone to Japan. Only a few days to get things done and over with before getting dragged back by the neck.
He could see the tall KaibaCorp building in the distance before going down the stairs to a subway station, hoping to find the right station to get to the center. He had never been here before and had only studied some maps back home. Good thing he could ask for directions.
The place was crowded but getting where he wanted didn't prove to be as difficult as he had thought it would be. Soon, he was sitting on a plastic bench, strange people surrounding him on all sides. His Japanese was fairly good and he could understand almost all the conversations around him, the topics varying from pointless family affairs to strange murders. If people were already dying, what's a few more? He listened in on the murder conversation while deciding how to go about his unformed plans.
Ryou had snuck out to have his lunch break alone. He needed some time to think and the fresh air was wonderful. Perhaps he would stop at his favorite coffee shop to grab something while he was on the move. The sun was shining and people were out and about to get lunch and to meet up with friends. A small smile made it on his face despite his troubled mind. How could he not be cheerful on such a beautiful day?
He stopped by at the coffee shop and got a coffee to go and a large sandwich to munch on. A huge poster caught his eye as he walked on and he stopped to stare at it. Various tones of red made a scenery unlike he had ever seen before. Not that he had much experience about art, just a small fascination. The scenery was strange with open mouths and empty eyes hanging in the sky. It held striking resemblance to Domino City. Ryou stared at it for a good while, not sure if it was beautiful or frightening. His eyes drifted to the bottom of the poster where "Art of Mikazuki Bakura" was written with bold red letters on a white surface and Ryou discovered it was some sort of an exhibition. "Bakura", though…
Ryou glanced at the picture again and decided that it would be fun to go, even if just to see if all Mikazuki's work was like this. The time set for it was from twelve p.m. to four a.m. How weird. In the middle of the night? Who in their right mind would organize something like that in the middle of a night, expecting audience? The days were Friday and Saturday, though. It didn't matter if he stayed up late, and even though he thought it was rather insane, the late hours interested him. Maybe he would even get to meet the artist himself.
He felt much better now when he had something else than work to do over the weekend and set out to find Honda. He had walked out on his friend earlier and he felt like he should apologize. He would ask Honda to come with him but he wasn't one for art and would probably get bored. Ryou spared the strange image one last glance before heading back towards the police station to go find Honda.