"Shiki," Rima said in an undertone, "We need to leave for work in fifteen minutes. I'll wait at your door." He nodded and she sped up, hurrying into the moon dorm. He watched her gracefully hop up the steps, pigtails bouncing as she did. His eyes lingered on her black hair ribbons and he paused, distracted by the memory of giving them to her several years ago.

"Shiki. Shiki. Hey, Shiki, don't ignore me!" Ichijo pulled him from his thoughts as he caught up and waved a hand in Shiki's face. Swatting away the hand, said first year sighed. "What is it, Ichijou?" He asked, beginning to walk again.

"Well," The brightly smiling vampire began as they made their way though the common room and up the stairs, "There's something I've been wondering about for a long time. It's really starting to bother me."

"Well if you don't mind," Shiki said hurriedly, rushing into their shared room, "It'd be nice if you could wonder for five more minutes- I'm in a hurry." Ichijou nodded agreeably and sat down on his bed, watching as Shiki grabbed some clothes from his dresser, then rushed into the bathroom, shower water starting the moment it was closed. He allowed himself a wry smile as he wondered how many times this had happened in the single month he'd been at this school, sharing a room with the most complicated freshman he'd ever met. Shiki tended to dodge personal questions, or give the vaguest answers possible. It was a habit that, instead of annoying, intrigued Ichijou, and his curiosity only grew when he realized that his roommate was very close to the heiress of the Touya family, and that the two of them disappeared to a mysterious workplace almost every day. He was also used to Shiki's impossibly quick showers, which he always took just before he left the school. Another of the younger boy's strange quirks. Would Takuma ever be able to understand him?

His musing were interrupted when the shower was turned off and Shiki emerged from the bathroom, wearing only a pair of stylish black pants, and rubbing his hair with a towel. "Ah-ha!" He breathed, spying the shirt he'd somehow lost on the way to the bathroom, hanging on one of Takuma's collectible manga-hero action figures. He pulled the black and white checkered shirt on and grabbed his hairbrush from the dresser. Pulling the brush through his damp hair, he turned to Takuma. "So what did you want to know?

"Since you're in a hurry, I'll get right to the point. You're always disappearing off to "work"- what exactly do you do?"

Senri froze like a deer in the headlights, paling considerably. Ichijou watched in interest. Normally, if he didn't want to answer, Shiki just sighed and found a way to dodge the question. What was it about this particular question- one that, really, he should have seen coming- that was different?

He didn't get to find out, though, because Touya chose exactly that moment to pound on the door. "Shiki!" She demanded. "Get out here, we're going to be late!"

Shiki didn't meet Ichijou's eyes as he reached down and grabbed the black backpack he always took to work. "Coming!" He called to Rima, covering the distance across the room in two strides and half-running out the door.

Hmm... Very strange. Very strange indeed. It would seem that Shiki had a secret. Ichijou didn't like secrets unless he was in on them. But he did enjoy solving mysteries.

***

As they stepped out into the darkness, Rima turned to examine Shiki. He walked briskly, but seemed tense. "Senri." She said. (What's wrong?)

"It's nothing." (Not telling.)

"Relax." (Why are you so tense?) "If you start that nervous sweating thing again, Keiko-san will kill us- no, she'll kill me. She always assumes it's my fault." (Whose fault is it?)

"In this case, it doesn't concern you." (No, it's not you're fault- just stay out of it.)

"Senri." She repeated. (Just tell me. I won't laugh.)

He sighed. "Yes, you will."

"..." (I'm waiting.)

"Fine. ...Ichijou..."

She waited.

"He asked me what my job is." He muttered, a faint pink tinge coming to his face.

The silence for a moment, then Touya burst out into laughter. She gave him a sideways look as she giggled hysterically. He had only gotten redder. "Stop laughing." (It's not that funny!)

She quickly composed herself, but a glimmer of amusement shone in her eyes, despite her serious look. "And?" She prompted. (What did you tell him?)

"He still doesn't know." Shiki admitted quietly. (I didn't answer.)

The corner of her mouth twitched, but she stopped her grin before it came. "Why not?" (Why don't you want him to know?) "It's nothing to be ashamed of." (Why are you ashamed?)

"It won't be the same anymore." (He will treat me differently when he knows.)

"How so?" (Why would he do that?)

"Rima." (They always do.)

"What makes different so bad?" (What do you like so much about the way he treats you now? Why does it matter?)

"He's always been very friendly." (He acts like he care about me- He won't want to be my friend anymore.) "Sometimes it's annoying..." (...but I hope it never stops. )

"Oh, Senri." (I'm sorry.) She stopped and wrapped her arms around him. (I'll still be here.)

"I know." He leaned into the hug, laying his head lightly on hers. "I'll get over it." (You are enough. I'll just miss having another friend, that's all.)

***

Takuma slipped quietly back to the moon dorm, deep in thought. He had followed Shiki and Touya out of the dorm and down the street, listening to their conversation.

On the way to the gate, Rima spoke. "Senri." Was all she said, but it seemed to mean more to him.

"It's nothing." He replied, unsurprised that she had used his given name. Takuma, however, had never heard her do so- maybe she only called him that in private?

"Relax." He was still tense, then-? Maybe it was just the distance, but he looked fine to Takuma. Or maybe Touya could tell he was upset despite looking fine? "If you start that nervous sweating thing again, Keiko-san will kill us- no, she'll kill me. She always assumes it's my fault." Keiko? Their boss, perhaps? But why should it matter if Shiki was sweaty or not? What kind of job could he have that could be thrown off by perspiration? But the idea that Keiko always assumed Touya was responsible for a nervous Shiki made him grin. No matter how you looked at it, that sounded like reason to believe he was correct in his suspicions that the younger two vampires were romantically involved. After all, it made sense for them to hide it from the night class, what with all the political implications of such a match. But there was no reason to hide that from their human boss! (Takuma was pretty sure they worked with humans because Shiki tended to take a bunch of blood tablets just before work.)

"In this case, it doesn't concern you." Shiki replied as they rounded a corner of the street, blinking as they adjusted to the light of a nearby streetlight.

"Senri." She said again.

He sighed. "Yes, you will." He insisted. Okay, Takuma officially saw no connection whatsoever between the last two statements. Something told him this was a multi-layered conversation, and he was only getting the surface layer. She will what?

Rima made no move to answer, and for a moment the only sound was that of her high heeled shoes clicking on the sidewalk. They were wearing matching clothes again, he realized. Rima's long-sleeved shirt and leggings were black, and she wore a black and white checkered miniskirt that was obviously made of the same cloth as Shiki's shirt.

"Fine. ...Ichijou..." Takuma pulled himself into focusing when he heard his own name.

He shifted impatiently as he waited.

"He asked me what my job is." He muttered, face turning pink with embarrassment. Why was it embarrassing? Takuma had more questions than he started out with!

The silence for a moment, then Touya burst out into unladylike laughter. She gave him a sideways look as she giggled hysterically. Poor Shiki was red as a tomato. "Stop laughing." he said quietly. It sounded like a demand, but it was spoken like a request. Almost a plea.

She composed herself, but Takuma thought she had the look of a girl who was going to spend hours laughing alone in her closet later. "And?" She prompted.

"He still doesn't know." Shiki mumbled. Despite stalking you all through the town, no, I still don't know, Takuma grumbled mentally.

The corner of her mouth twitched upward, wanting to laugh, but she didn't let her calm slip away. "Why not?" She asked. "It's nothing to be ashamed of." How could they have this whole conversation without revealing what the job in question was?! It was unbelievable! This suspense was the worst kind of torture.

"It won't be the same anymore." The younger boy was calm as ever on the surface, but their was a twinge of regret in his voice that made him sound miserable.

"How so?" Touya asked, trying to look unconcerned, and failing miserably.

"Rima." He sounded pained.

"What makes different so bad?"Takuma almost thought he heard Why do you care in that question.

"He's always been very friendly." Shiki sounded wistful."Sometimes it's annoying..." Bit shiki definitely didn't sound annoyed. He sounded like he was talking about someone he missed.

"Oh, Senri." Touya stopped walking and wrapped her arms around him, not noticing or caring that there were actually some people walking the streets, despite the hour.

"I know." He leaned into the hug, laying his head lightly on hers. "I'll get over it." That's enough. Takuma decided immediately. This is a private conversation. I can stalk my roommate some other time.

As he settled down into the common room couch, Takuma took stock of what he'd learned.

1. Shiki is closer to Touya than I thought.

2. It's possible to have a conversation about a secret without revealing the secret to your stalker.

3. Shiki is lonely.

The third item on the list was the only one that really mattered. How could he have not seen that already? Despite all his curiousity and careful watching, he hadn't even realised that Shiki was lonely. Well, he would fix that! If Shiki thought he wouldn't want to be his friend anymore if he knew what he and Touya-chan did, then he would just leave well enough alone. He didn't have to know- although he hoped he'd find out someday. It was more important to be Shiki's friend.

Suddenly he turned, hearing stifled giggles comming from upstairs. Two of the first-year girls descended the stairs, trying to look casual but exchanging glances and letting out the occasional giggle. Upon noticing him, they bowed politely, still fighting laughter. "Hello Vice-President." They chorused.

"Hello Miyomaya-san, Jyukoni-san." He smiled at their surprise. Ichijou made it his business to know everyone by name. "Isn't it a little late for you two?"

"Not really. It's only... um..." She trailed off, realizing what time it was.

"It's just past six o'clock in the morning! Which, I'm sure I needn't remind you, is the first-year's curfew." He raised his eyebrows at them but kept smiling- no need to frighten them.

Jyumoni Miriko looked up at him sheepishly. "I'm sorry," She told him. "We must have lost track of time. We were reading and we came across something funny, so we thought we'd email it to our sisters, but we needed to use the scanner down here."

"Well..." Ichijou deliberated. "Maybe if you both smile and say you're sorry, then run back up to bed, I could let you off, just this once."

They both smiled widely. "Thank you, Vice-President!" "Yes, thank you so much! My mother would be so upset if this went on my record!"

"Think nothing of it, Miyomaya-san. After all, it was only an honest mistake. In fact, if you like, I'd be happy to scan whatever it is you wanted to send to your sisters for you."

The two girls traded looks of astonishment and started giggling again, but they thanked him and handed him a magazine. "Just the cover." Jyikoni managed to say between giggles. They both turned and ran up the stairs before he even had a chance to say goodnight. Glancing down at the magazine, he did a double take.

It was a fashion magazine, and the front cover featured a tall male model lying on a sofa under a moonlight filled window. He was dressed all in black, and his was turned to face the camera. His shocking crystal eyes made an eye-catching contrast to his hair and the blood-red rose in his mouth. It was Shiki.

Takuma didn't laugh, he giggled hysterically. No wonder Shiki didn't want me to know about this.


Sorry for the lack of scene description. I know I should go back and add it, but I just like this so much the way it is that I hate to change it. If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks!

---Isuki-chan

P.S. For anyone who didn't get that, the first-year girls think it's funny because they know Shiki (he's in their class, at any rate) and the thought of him posing like that is ridiculous.