Disclaimer: Kazuya Minekura owns Wild Adapter. I do not.

Warning: Violence, language, sexual content, Kubota.

Notes: Don't be surprised if the story's pace picks up from here. Also, it was good to hear from some of you again after so much time has passed. Glad you're still enjoying it.

Beretta

brkstrtrcr

January 2011

At a quarter after nine that night, once the shop is closed to prying eyes, you kneel on the floor in front of Tokitoh. He begins to protest that you're blocking his view of the TV but you clap your hand over his mouth and instead hand him a piece of paper. Ryoji and Kou come to stand behind you, and it must make a fairly menacing scene because he quiets immediately, violet eyes scanning your familiar scrawled kanji. You've spent the last twenty minutes writing down as detailed an explanation as you can manage, and emphatic instructions for him.

You can't make any noise. It's going to hurt, but we can't risk tipping them off. Sanada could be listening right now. We're going to cut this thing out of you.

Tokitoh's wide eyes stare into yours for what seems like hours, and then he chews his lower lip and leans forward, around you and towards the Playstation. It powers down quietly, and the TV resumes broadcasting some stupid game show, its volume deafening in the silence that's overtaken the Toukohan. When your cat gets to his feet and walks away, towards the back room, Ryoji makes a show of stretching and groans loudly. "I don't know about you, but I'm beat. You mind if I crash on your couch for a while?" Had this whole fiasco been happening to someone else it would almost be comical, but you don't find a damned thing about this humorous. You know that he's trying to establish an alibi in case someone really is listening. You turn to Kou. His dark eyes convey the need for urgency—you can't afford for Tokitoh to back out of this.

You find your cat writing on the back of your instructions in the back room of the shop, his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth in concentration. When he's done, he hands you the paper and stands before you with a strangely relieved expression on his face. You read his untidy writing carefully.

How will we keep him from finding out we took it out?

You motion for the pen in his hand and write.

I've got an idea. It's going to be 'damaged' in an accident.

Tokitoh arches a questioning brow at you, prompting further explanation.

There are a few plausible excuses for you ramming your arm into a piece of furniture. A fistfight, tripping on something and falling, or really rough sex. Which one do you think will raise the least amount of suspicion with a pervert like Sanada?

Tokitoh's eyebrows shoot up to his hairline and his face is redder than a firetruck. He rolls his eyes angrily and pushes the paper into your chest with enough force to rock you on your feet, then stalks back into the main room of the shop. You feel a little guilty as you follow him, but if this is what it takes to ensure his safety you're positive that it's worth his embarrassment. Once out of the storage room you find Kou sterilizing medical equipment on the counter, Ryoji laying out a tarp on the floor. Your cat gives you the most pathetic look you've ever seen on his handsome face and sits dejectedly in the center of the plastic sheet. When your Izumo partner reaches out and lifts the hem of Tokitoh's t-shirt, the younger man gives him a dangerous glare and removes the article of clothing himself. Kou moves from behind the counter with a tray of wickedly sharp implements, gauze, and disinfectants.

Tokitoh tenses beside you as you reach for his left arm, the one Sanada's crack medical team insisted on using to draw blood. You run skilled fingers over his bicep, prodding until you feel the diminutive, tell-tale bump just under the surface of his smooth skin. Kou hands you a marker and you circle the implant carefully. Your Chinese counterpart cleans the area with half a bottle of expensive vodka before motioning for you to hold Tokitoh down.

You watch your cat closely as you straddle his thin hips, take his left forearm in your undamaged hand and pin it to the floor at his side. It's an eerily similar tableau of how you'd restrained him at the Izumo-run medical building and the deja-vu must be affecting him because he looks ready to bolt. He stares directly into your eyes, violet on hazel, as Kou begins the incision. You see blood sliding from the wound in your peripheral vision, but you don't break Tokitoh's gaze. Beside you, Ryoji is ready with gauze and clean water, wincing in sympathy as Kou continues to cut carefully around the implant. He's trying to ensure that the incision will look like the kind of mark fingernails might leave on skin. He's making damned sure that there's no reason to doubt that your facetious version of how the transmitter was broken is reliable.

There's a tense moment when Kou's fingers slide into the wound to retrieve the device and Tokitoh's back arches silently off the floor in pain. You lean down over him and press your forehead to his, maintaining his agonizing gaze, and he struggles to control his breathing through gritted teeth, and even with the unlicensed doctor digging into his arm he manages a strained smile up at you. You could kiss him then, pinning him to the floor of Kou's shop, his arm covered in blood, but you don't. Tokitoh's a fighter, through and through, and you know that he'll pull through this just like every time before. Broken ribs, piano wire, loaded guns, and every other implement of torture used against him don't matter so long as you're there at the end of the day.

Ryoji's brow furrows as Kou extracts the device, a tiny and delicate piece of technology, and your cat slumps against the floor in relief. Eyes finally closed, Tokitoh lays pliant while Kou stitches up the incision with expert hands, then cleans the blood from his skin. Ryoji pats Tokitoh's shoulder affectionately, clearly glad for this gruesome experience to be over.

Sweat trails from your flatmate's temple, beads on his forehead, and he pushes himself upright with his gloved hand. You're sitting rather awkwardly in his lap now but he doesn't seem to mind so you stay. The bug is now taped rather crudely to the outside of his arm, just above the thin threads binding the edges of the wound together. With a wordless, pointed look at you, Tokitoh gestures to the back room, then to the device. You nod. He's eager to destroy this damned thing. Good.

Kou and Ryoji occupy themselves with cleaning up the crime scene in the main room of the shop while you follow your cat up to your shared, makeshift bedroom. He sits down on the edge of the futon and rubs his eyes with the heels of his hands before standing again and pacing anxiously. You sit in his vacated spot and begin the tedious process of removing weapons from your person, the knife in your boot as you toss those towards the ladder, the comforting weight of a gun from the small of your back, a second pistol from the shoulder holster under your right arm. You know that there's a switchblade in one of your pockets, but before your can begin your ritualistic self-patdown you find your lap full of Tokitoh, and his crushing, demanding lips against yours stifle any questions raised by his erratic behavior.

What ensues is twenty minutes of the most desperate, frenzied, and exhausting carnal activity to which you have ever been a party, however unexpected. There is no foreplay, no sly glances and teasing touch to prepare either of you for this violent act. He quite literally rips your shirt from your shoulders, bites the hell out of your neck, and clothes become an afterthought. Tokitoh's cries are loud enough to attract the attention of your associates downstairs but there's not a damned thing about them forced or faked. The clawed welts ripped from your shoulders to your waist are real, bleeding brightly down your back. The bruise on Tokitoh's narrow waist is shaped like your grip and obvious against the jutting ridge of his hipbone. The furious way he growls into your ear, demands more, Kubo-chan? You don't recall exactly how you both ended up on the floor, but that has you pinning his thin arms over his head with your unbroken hand and fucking him hard enough to do actual damage. And that's still not enough to stop him from begging, from cussing at you and snarling. Caught up in him as you are, however, you still remember to slam his wounded left arm into the floor with force enough to make him scream.

Tokitoh arches into you, comes messily between you, and it's a simple matter of auditory stimulation and pressure that insists you follow his example seconds thereafter. As you collapse across his chest your good hand seeks out the tiny transmitter taped to the outside of his arm, and you feel relief flood you as your fingertips encounter shards and fragments of metal. Your cat hisses slightly at your weight atop him, prompting you to roll onto your side, still close enough to content yourself with his proximity. He rolls into you of his own volition, kisses you deeply. Sanada has had his show. That transmitter is so hopelessly broken that you're certain your conversation is now private. Knowing that, you wrap your undamaged arm around Tokitoh and pull, falling onto your back on the floor, looking up at his tired, sated violet eyes.

Without thinking, you open your mouth to tell him that you love him, that he's the only thing in Japan that you care about, that you've ever loved. You try to tell him that the day he dies will mark your own end as well, that you'll take bullets and stab wounds and broken bones and unimaginable mental trauma to keep him safe, that he's the only reason you haven't killed Sanada or taken out all of the Izumo in Yokohama. You attempt to articulate that you don't care about his past, or what his real name is, where he's from or how his right hand will overtake his lithe body one day and kill you both. But before you can make the first sound Tokitoh leans down, closes the distance between your mouths and murmurs into your lips. "I know," he says quietly.

And it's as simple as that. No dramatic, heartfelt confessions. No tears and shouting. It's just this primal understanding between a criminal and a stray. Trying to explain yourself to him would only cheapen it, and Tokitoh's never cared about the 'why' or 'how' so much as he's just wanted you there. He lays his head to your shoulder and within moments his breathing evens out into the weary rhythms of an exhausted sleep.

You lay on the floor of your hideout, staring up at the ceiling for not the first time today. You're mentally and physically run down, pushed past your limits and well within your right to sleep for the next eight hours, but you know that rest will again elude you. There's too much work to be done yet, too many loose ends prowling the streets of this cruel city for you to let your guard down. There are Toujo members running drugs in Izumo territory, your youth gang to manage, Kou's shop to secure. Sanada is out there somewhere, probably scheming against you at this very moment, plotting up hundreds of ways to experiment on the snoring young man in your arms, to gain the upper hand in this three-year power struggle you've found yourselves playing. Sekiya is...

What is Sekiya's angle? You know that he's after WA, and that he took quite the interest in Tokitoh's right hand. You know that he watched your stray rip a metal street sign from concrete and beat the living shit out of his gang members. You know that he had the opportunity to kill your cat and he deliberately released him back to you before running. He's a smart man. And perhaps, the thing that interests you the most about Toujo's new leader is that he didn't seem the least bit surprised that Tokitoh had obvious symptoms of WA use and hadn't shredded himself to bits yet. It was almost as if the man was anticipating finding a survivor of the drug. Like he knew Tokitoh existed. That in and of itself is strange.

Carefully, you deposit Tokitoh on your futon, struggle into a pair of jeans, and descend the stairs back into the storage room. You tuck your gun into the back of your waistband as you walk into the Toukohan's main room, run a hand through your disarrayed hair, but it's a futile effort. Ryoji and Kou look up from their quiet discussion over tea at the counter, and your partner looks surprised to see you awake. Kou does not. "He okay?" the former reporter asks, gesturing to the back room.

You nod and pull a stool up to the counter beside him. "It's broken. We'll have to take out those stitches and put the fragments back in his arm, but I'm sure that it's no longer transmitting."

Ryoji nods, his expression distant, and the three of you lapse into a comfortable silence. You're contemplating calling Kasai to discuss the day's peculiar turn of events when your cell rings somewhere near the television. Three sets of eyes jump to the clock over the door of the shop. It's nearly midnight. You pad across the cold wooden floorboards and find your phone atop the Playstation. The caller id display flashes 'restricted,' and you know that it's important. You sink onto the couch and answer.

"I believe your boss has asked you to track me down, question me under duress, and permanently incapacitate me?" You'd recognize that voice anywhere. It's not often that someone kicks Tokitoh in the face and walks away afterward. In fact, it's only happened once since you picked him up and dragged him home two years ago.

"Yes," you answer tonelessly. You don't know how the leader of your rival Yakuza gang got your number. You care even less. Right now you're walking a dangerous line. If Sanada even suspects you of going against orders, again, you're as good as dead.

Sekiya chuckles without humor. "I doubt very much that you have any reason to disobey those orders, Kubota, but I have information that may be of use to that rude little kitten of yours." You hear street traffic and pedestrian chatter over the line. "There's a hotel near Chinatown that I believe you are familiar with. You make deliveries there for your Chinese friend. Meet me in room 401 in an hour. Bring your Izumo partner."

You shake your head incredulously. "How do I know that this isn't a setup?" you muse aloud.

"You don't. This is a one-time offer, Kubota. After tonight it's kill or be killed, and that's bound to get awfully messy. Be a good boy and do as I say."

"Why are you doing this?" is the next question that your taxed mind can't help but to ask.

You don't really expect an answer, but Sekiya surprises you. "Because Sanada doesn't have any answers about that boy's hand. He never has. He's the type of man that enjoys controlling people. I, on the other hand, am a business man, and I know that crossing you in pursuit of Wild Adapter is the worst business move that I can make. I'd much rather have you on my team than hounding my every step. You're the most dangerous kind of junkyard dog."

The call ends and you pull your phone away from your ear and stare blankly at the display, but Sekiya is gone. You toss the compact device onto the couch cushion beside you, lean back, and fish your Seven Stars out of your pocket. As a comforting ring of smoke begins to ring your head you call over your shoulder to Ryoji. "We're meeting Sekiya in an hour. Bring your guns."