EDIT: May 1 2010. Apparently this site screwed up my formatting yet again. I hope it's easier to read now. For the fully-formatted versions of my fics (and for more fics, in general), please visit my livejournal page, which is linked in my profile :D Thank you for reading!


title. absolute territory
summary. So what if he's always busy with work? So what if he's friends with a lot of people? So what if he's loved by many? So what if I'm not the only one in his eyes? That's easy to fix~
content. 6443 words. PG-15. Crime, Romance, Mystery. AU: tsundere Shouichi, yandere/yangire? Byakuran, undercover cop Shouichi.
more info. This is in Shouichi's POV. So there's some, um, consequences because of that. Definitely not the usual serial killer mystery suspense story… maybe. Tsundere (acts 'hot and cold', 'hard to get'). Yandere (acts sweet and innocent, but hides a really batshit side regarding his/her love interest).

. As always, the better-formatted version is up in my livejournal XDDD

"This is your fault," white hair tickles his cheek; a nasty whisper breathes on his ear, "Irie Shouichi."

absolute territory
transcending everything.

Shouichi swallows, hoping that the graffiti displayed in front of his eyes will suddenly make sense—no, he doesn't really want it to make sense.

"Secure the perimeter," Shouichi mutters loud enough for his subordinates to hear, loud enough to jolt them out of the same horrified stupor he's suffering from. He hears their weak footsteps milling around, securing the crime scene, gathering evidence, though those sounds are but a distant echo—Shouichi's mind is filled with nothing but the rush of his blood and the beat of his heart.

This is the third case in the string of murders scattered all over the city and every citizen wavers between criticizing the police and fearing for their lives.

Like the previous two cases, the grimy alley wall is splayed with a dark red color, the words 'I love you' in the middle of it all. The victim's body is on the ground, face still contorted into its final agonized scream, no wound on his body aside from the messy hole above his heart. Like the previous two cases, the victim's heart is chopped into pieces, painstakingly arranged on the mildly wet floor to form a letter. This time, the remains of the victim's heart forms an 'O'—and Shouichi carefully steers his thoughts away from sheer paranoia.

No suspects, no witnesses, no conclusive evidence. DNA Banks help confirm the victims' identities; autopsies help pinpoint the fact that the causes of death are unable to be determined.

So far, there have been three bloody 'I love you's and three letters to form 'SHO'.

Shouichi hopes that their investigations will discover something, anything about this case.

He looks at the wall—red with blood, red with death, red with challenge—and feels his stomach bubbling with acid.

I love you.

His nervousness doubles when he takes a closer look at the victim's face.

I love you.

"—Shou-chan? Mou, Shou-chan isn't listening to me at all," Byakuran complains with a childish pout, throwing a piece of marshmallow toward the face of his friend.

The white confectionery hits Shouichi between his eyes. Shouichi blinks stupidly for a moment, before letting out an exasperated sigh. "I'm sorry, Byakuran-san," he apologizes half-heartedly, "you were saying?"

"I was telling you about my day~" Byakuran stretches out his arms above his head. There's a sound of bones popping back to place. "But it doesn't matter~"

"I'm sorry," Shouichi repeats and means it a little more this time, "I've been—"

Byakuran quickly puts a hand over Shouichi's mouth, stopping him. He stops talking, though it's more because of the shock of a hand suddenly touching his lips.

"I know Shou-chan has been really busy lately," Byakuran slowly pulls his hand away, catching and holding Shouichi's gaze in the process, "so I'm really, really happy that Shou-chan made time for me today~❤"

Rather than Shouichi making time for him, it's more like Byakuran practically abducted him as soon as he stepped out of his workplace. But Shouichi decides that he can let that little detail slide for the moment, because he's a bit glad that he gets to talk to someone about something aside from the recent murders.

After all, despite the amount of migraines he regularly receives from his friend, Shouichi is actually more relaxed whenever he's with Byakuran. He chalks it up to the other's happy-go-lucky and super-enthusiastic personality, though he knows that it's not just that.

"I won't be able to make it on Friday though," Shouichi remembers how excited Byakuran was about the movie they're supposed to watch on Friday.

"Eeeeh," Byakuran whines, picking up the marshmallow he threw earlier and pinching it neatly in half (quarters-eighths-sixteenths). Shouichi doesn't miss the vicious force in Byakuran's fingers, unsuccessfully masked by the other's childish actions.

The whining (and the subsequent ignoring of the whining) continues for a couple more minutes; Byakuran gets bored of it eventually. The pout disappears and is swallowed by a teasing smile; the whiny voice melts to a honeyed tone. The smile widens and Shouichi's brain suddenly rings out alarm bells.

"Mmm, I know that work is important, so I'll just let Shou-chan make it up to me, okay?"

Shouichi manages a weak nod, because it's not like Byakuran is that unreasonable.

After they finish their dinner—ordered from the new Korean restaurant down the corner, because Byakuran plus cooking equals instant disaster—Byakuran offers to drive Shouichi back to his apartment. Shouichi usually declines the offer (which will be followed by thirty more minutes of harassment and persuasion, before he finally gives in) but tonight, he is tired and the offer of skipping all the hassle of public transportation is too tempting.

Shouichi thinks that his entire neighborhood already thinks that he and Byakuran-san are dating (which is absurd) so it's not like he's soiling his (beyond-help) reputation any further.

Furthermore, the brilliant smile that Byakuran flashes him when he agrees to be driven home—like a girl, after a date—isn't half-bad.

Instead of welcoming the weekend with rest and recreation, the National Police Force is holding its forum to discuss data available and reassign investigators to handle the dubbed 'Bloody Valentine Murder'.

1. Case One: January 11, 20XX

[a] Victim found at the emergency exit of a closed-down club in the red-light district.
[b] Time of death estimated at 4:30 to 5:30 AM. Body discovered at 6:45 AM.
[c] No signs of struggle. No wounds on the body, aside from the hole in his upper-left chest. Victim's heart found on the ground, chopped and arranged to form the letter 'S'. Autopsy found a high concentration of an unknown, foreign chemical in the victim's bloodstream. Most of the victim's blood sprayed on the alley wall and write the message 'I love you'.
[d] No witnesses. Murder weapon and any other evidence absent from the crime scene.
[e] Picture identification and DNA testing of the victim confirms his identity as --------, 27, formerly working at ------- Chemicals, ----------

2. Case Two: March 5, 20XX

[a] Victim found at a dead end of an abandoned sector in Chinatown.
[b] Time of death estimated at 10:30 to 2:30 AM. Body discovered at 8:21 AM.
[c] No signs of struggle. No wounds on the body, aside from the hole in his upper-left chest. Victim's heart found on the ground, chopped and arranged to form the letter 'H'. Autopsy -----.
[d] No witnesses. Murder weapon or any other witnesses are absent from the crime scene.
[e] Picture identification and DNA testing of the victim confirms his identity as --------, 25, formerly studying at ------- Engineering Institute, ----------

3. Case Three: May 30, 20XX

[a] Victim found at a blind spot of an alley near the illegal housing district.
[b] Time of death estimated at 9:30 to 10:30 AM. Body discovered at 11:11 AM.
[c] No signs of struggle -----. Victim's heart found on the ground, chopped and arranged to form the letter 'O'. Autopsy -----.
[d] No witnesses -----.
[e] Picture identification and DNA testing of the victim confirms his identity as --------, 56, formerly teaching at ------- University of Engineering, ----------

Shouichi looks at the information on his workstation—stares at the pictures of the victims—barely comprehending the words of the chief investigator.

He is already dreading the point when the police force notices the connection between the victims.

Even though their deaths happened at different times, on different dates, in different places—once upon a time, they spent time together in one place—in one room, even.

Shouichi continues staring at the pictures of the victims, unable to remember anything beyond the alley drenched in a bloody declaration of love.

I'll make sure to catch the murderer.

It's a fervent promise, because it's only right to do so.

After all, once upon a time, they were all inside the same high school homeroom.

The fourth case intensifies the anxiety crawling all over Shouichi's spine, so he's very thankful (or is he, really?) to see Byakuran waiting for him in front of the station, leaning against his new flashy sports car that's attracting a lot of awed looks and jealous mutterings.

"That's a nice car," Shouichi comments, feeling lame as soon as the words leave his mouth. Cars don't really interest him and he knows that they don't interest Byakuran either.

"I'll give it to Shou-chan," Byakuran offers generously. Shouichi knows that his mind is already rattled after the rough day at work, so he couldn't have heard it correctly—

"Yep," Byakuran smiles at him winningly, easily reading his thoughts, "I don't mind giving it to my dearest Shou-chan~ "

"T-T-There's no need for that," Shouichi allows Byakuran to open the door for him—like a gentleman, like a well-mannered gentleman—and he sighs when his nose is bombarded by the smell of sweets.

"This car can accelerate from 0-100 kph in 2.3 seconds~" Byakuran hops in to the car, carelessly shoving the dozens of empty marshmallow packets from the dashboard—How many packets did he eat?! How long was he waiting?!—to the backseat. "I can't remember if it's faster than free fall though."

"It is," Shouichi confirms, feeling the serene hum of the engine as they zip through the streets, "free fall is at 2.83 seconds—"

"Hahaha, I was just testing Shou-chan~ "


Byakuran gives him a sideways look, an obvious smirk on his face. "Shou-chan really likes physics, ne~"

"It's not a matter of liking it," Shouichi leans against the window, the glass cool against his mildly feverish forehead.

The smirk twists to something more unrecognizable—not that Shouichi is paying attention, what with his eyes focused on watching the buildings pass by, watching the people bustling around.

"If Shou-chan says so…"

"Are you okay, Shouichi-kun?"

Sawada Tsunayoshi is famous for looking like a dweeb, yet being able to command the taskforce made of some of the scariest guys Shouichi has ever known. Shouichi gathers that a huge reason for their loyalty is because of the emphatic, wide-eyed stare Tsunayoshi is giving him now.

"I'm fine," Shouichi replies automatically, wondering whether Tsunayoshi's team being included in the investigation is a bad sign, "but I appreciate your concern."

Shouichi isn't really that keen on receiving Tsunayoshi's concern—the rumors about his 'guardians' are too widespread and too terrifying to be false. Not that he's going to be ever interested in Tsunayoshi that way—but jealousy tends to derail a person's common sense. Not that a person who threatens to blow up people, or someone who always prattles about possessing people's bodies, or someone who destroys anything or anyone who stands in his way can be considered as having a healthy amount of common sense.

"Reborn-san sent us here," Tsunayoshi grins nervously at him, referring to the infamous police chief that has no qualms about working his subordinates to death, "to help keep an eye on things, he said."

Shouichi's breath catches in his throat. He looks up from the report he's typing about their fifth victim, looks up from the vivid colors of the chopped heart forming the letter 'I'. "…Keep an eye on things?"

If Tsunayoshi noticed the sudden deep tone of his voice, or the sudden slow pronunciation that's different from his usual frantic pacing, he didn't say anything. "He said a couple more things, but I wasn't really listening that well, hehehe—"

Shouichi's fingers resume the steady click-click-click motions against the keyboard. He didn't even notice his pause from typing.

"Then, I look forward to working with you," Shouichi says with all of the sincerity in him.

(Which amounts to nothing at all.)

"Wow, I wasn't expecting Shou-chan to come visit me~!" Byakuran opens the door to his apartment, his shirt nearly falling off his shoulders with each enthusiastic gesture he makes. "Come in, come in~!"

Shouichi's not really sure why he braved the very crowded trains, why he traveled for nearly an hour even though he wanted nothing but to fall into a dreamless sleep—but deep down, he knows why. Admitting it, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter.

"I'm sorry for the intrusion," Shouichi mumbles, leaning against Byakuran a bit when the other places both hands on his shoulders, playfully pushing him towards the kitchen.

"Mmm, so what brings Shou-chan here?" Byakuran looks at him curiously, because since the time they knew each other when they were still in high school, Shouichi never visits this place on his own. It's always Byakuran bringing him over after a lot of wheedling and whining.

Shouichi avoids those all-knowing eyes. He tosses his briefcase to the nearby couch, nearly flinching at the loud thud that accompanied it, nearly wincing at the knowledge that his briefcase is heavy with photocopied documents regarding the Bloody Valentine Murder Case.

"I…" I wanted to see you? I wanted to check some things? I wanted to—? "I…"

"Maa, you don't have to look so serious! I'm sure Shou-chan missed me and wanted to see me, that's why he's here~" Byakuran turns off the stove and turns to shove some things—including some particularly sharp-looking knives—to the sink. "Ah~! This must be how pretty housewives feel after their husbands return from a long day at work~?"

Shouichi spies the steaming stew that Byakuran apparently cooked with an apprehensive stare. "Did you just compare yourself to a pretty housewife?"

"Only if Shou-chan is my husband?"

"I'll—I'll help you with that," Shouichi manages to croak out after coughing at the unabashed and insincere flattery. He helps Byakuran set out the table. He swallows a lump on his throat when he recalls that Byakuran never cooks.

"But from what I heard," Byakuran's dark tone contrasts with the hospital-white walls of his apartment, "Shou-chan is going to be someone's husband?"

"That's…" Shouichi wraps a hand around Byakuran's wrist. "That's just a misunderstanding. It's nothing, Byakuran-san."

"Oh~? Is that why Shou-chan kept it a secret from me?"

Shouichi grimaces at the sharpness of Byakuran's usually-happy smile. "I didn't tell you about it because it wasn't important."

Byakuran puts a hand over Shouichi's; it takes all of his self-control to not suddenly pull his hand back from the ice-cold hold. "Shou-chan will tell me if it's important, ne? Because I'm important to him, ne?"

Shouichi thinks about things like pride and resolve and about how those things are irrelevant. He manages a nod and he doesn't think about the right and wrong decisions when Byakuran lets him go, satisfied with his answer.

"I wonder what mother is thinking," Byakuran muses in the middle of their surprisingly edible dinner, "I mean, Shou-chan's work is very challenging, especially with his current case, so it's not really a time to force him into engagements~ His would-be fiancée will just be disturbed with all the investigations he's doing~"

"I am more disturbed by the fact that you call my mom 'mother', Byakuran-san."

"I'm sure I made a tastier beef stew than her," Byakuran gushes with overflowing confidence, his white-toothed smile nearly blinding Shouichi.

The beef stew in his mouth suddenly tastes a lot less delicious and a lot more creepy. "Did you read my e-mails again?"

"Just your personal email," Byakuran confirms with pride, "even I know to leave work emails alone~"

"You liar," Shouichi retorts, because Byakuran isn't the type to do a half-assed job—whether as the world's most annoying guy, or as the most persistent stalker. Rather than feeling offended over the breach of privacy (Byakuran is capable of a lot worse, he knows), he's more worried about the safety of his parents and the girl they're match-making him with. He makes a mental note to tell his mother to stop inviting her over for some 'mother-daughter bonding time' or whatever they're calling it.

"Hmm, but I do make sure to let Shou-chan know if I'm lying, don't I?"

"That doesn't make sense." Shouichi smiles around the curve of his spoon despite the warning bells that resound in his mind again.

It's the sixth case and nobody in the department even bothers to disguise their apprehensive stares.

Six messages of 'I love you' painted on walls with rich, crimson blood.

An incomplete name made of literal hearts: SHOUIC.

Shouichi locks himself up in the supply room; the only sounds accompanying him are his breathing and the whirr of the photocopying machine. Shouichi wonders, not for the first time, if he's ever going to get caught photocopying classified files and taking it outside the building.

"I know a 'Shouichi' from a manga I read," Byakuran tells him, head heavy and warm against Shouichi's right shoulder as they flip through high school and college yearbooks.

"It's not a very common name," admittedly, it's a bit hard to flip pages when someone is nearly crushing your arm, but Shouichi manages, "but it's not that unique either."

"Well, I'm sure the murderer will spell out the whole name—" Shouichi's hand trembles as he traces the faces of the first five victims—four seatmates, one homeroom teacher—with his fingertips. "—since I'm sure he wants that person to receive his message."

"He doesn't need to murder people to confess—"

"I love you, Shou-chan."

Shouichi ignores the sudden tightening of the hold on his right arm. "You're not very convincing, Byakuran-san."

"See, see? Maybe the murderer is afraid of SHOUIC brushing off his confession? After all, words are just that: words."

"…Byakuran-san, you know—"

"Hmm, how about I drive you home tonight?"

"That's strange," Shouichi curls his fingers around Byakuran's hand, "you don't want me to stay over?"

"Shou-chan always does naughty things whenever he stays over~"

"I do not—!"

"Yes you do~"


"Shou-chan needs energy to work, hm? He's been really busy for the past few days, after all~"

"…You'll tell me if—"

"I'll tell Shou-chan something important happens," Byakuran says, nearly crawling all over Shouichi's body to press their foreheads together, "because Shou-chan is important to me."

(And it's only when Shouichi is at home—leaning against the closed front door—that he replies: Liar.)

I love you, SHOUICHI.

While the first three murders are evenly distributed, the following five murders all happen in quick succession, with less than four days separating the cases.

There are still no leads and despite the mess left behind, the killer is smart and careful enough not to leave any evidence.

Task Force VARIA and Task Force DECIMO are both spearheading the hunt; instead of doing stakeouts at high-risk places like the VARIA, Tsunayoshi compiles a list of people with the name 'SHOUICHI' and interrogates them for any possible links. Shouichi isn't pleased with how he's temporarily pulled away from the investigation because he's now a potential victim.

When he enters the interrogation room, he answers all of Tsunayoshi's questions calmly.

Have you been in any relationships before? Anyone who displayed romantic interests?


Any suspicious people around? Anything?

[Nothing, I'm afraid.]

Do you recognize the victims?

[…I don't think I know them.]

"How's work, Shouichi?"

"It's fine, Spanner," Shouichi sips his coffee daintily, fidgeting uneasily when he looks up to see Yamamoto grin at him from across the café.

"You have police trailing you," Spanner deadpans, "and rather amateurishly at that. I think your situation is definitely 'not fine'."

"I'm a potential victim," Shouichi mumbles tiredly, setting his cup down. "This is just precaution."

"If you stuck with me, we could have won countless awards for robotics."

"You just won the highest robotic achievement award, along with other patent grants," Shouichi points out with a smile, "and I'd gladly help you with your projects if you actually ask."

"But you wouldn't."

"You don't know that, since you haven't asked me before," Shouichi keeps his tone as lighthearted as he could.

"You wouldn't—for the same reason you didn't go for the advanced robotics stream with me, for the same reason you're now—"

"It has nothing to do with Byakuran-san—!"

They're attracting the attention of the other café customers. Shouichi is pink with embarrassment and irritation.

Spanner returns to his green tea, practically radiating a calm aura. "I didn't mention anything about him."

Shouichi flashes a quick glance to Yamamoto, relief flooding through him when he notices the baseball fanatic busy ogling the cakes displayed on the counter. For once, he's thankful that Yamamoto isn't the most observant person around. If it were Tsunayoshi, who has an amazing sense of intuition—(or Gokudera, who has practically negative amounts of trust in him)—they would do a follow-up on his outburst. But because it's Yamamoto…

"I apologize for my outburst," Shouichi's sudden prim attitude earns a raised eyebrow from his companion, "but you have to understand, Spanner. My decision back then has nothing to do with Byakuran-san."

Yamamoto's on the phone and Shouichi needs to wrap up this conversation before his 'bodyguard' finishes getting instructions from the call.

Spanner looks like he's about to apologize (or maybe not, since this is Spanner after all) for broaching the apparently still-sore topic, but Shouichi cuts him off with talk about Spanner's latest robot model that's now in the spotlight of the technology world. Spanner doesn't look amused by the obvious topic change but he lets it slide, as Shouichi expects him to.

When Yamamoto comes over to their table, Shouichi is more than willing to let his fellow investigator listen to their conversation.

"How's Shou-chan's investigation?"

"It's not going anywhere," Shouichi mutters, forgetting to swat Byakuran's fingers that first ghost over his collarbone, before fluttering over his nose, before settling to rub at his temples, "since we still can't find substantial leads from our high school and our university."

"Hmm~" Byakuran's fingers are powdery-soft, almost as if he dabbed his hands on some flour or plaster beforehand. "Our university?"

"Two of them used to be from the same course as Spanner's." Shouichi chooses not to mention that he himself is also from the same course as them, since he doubts that Byakuran needs a reminder of that. "The most recent victim now works at a telemarketing firm."

"But the latest victim used to work in the subject registration, ne?"

"Yes." Shouichi leans away from the fingertips offering free massage. It's not like his headache will ever go away. "Yes, she did."

"I remember I had to make a lot of pleas to get the subjects I wanted~" Shouichi can almost hear the pout that he's sure Byakuran is now sporting.

Byakuran's fingers feel like butterfly's wings grazing across his skin as they travel up his neck, to his earlobes, back to his temples. All Shouichi can think about is how butterfly wings have scales that feel like dust, scales that once touched will be lost forever. Shouichi tries not to think about whether Byakuran's touch will remove him from Shouichi's life.

"You wanted subjects that weren't for your major," Shouichi chuckles a little when he recalls Spanner's reaction to seeing Byakuran protesting about wanting to get into the toughest courses offered like Soft Condensed Matter Physics or Nanoscale Engineering. Spanner is known for his eccentric tastes and his unbreakable poker face, but even he showed a strong reaction to that, since Byakuran is actually a Business student.

"No," Byakuran chirps, "I wanted the subjects that Shou-chan was taking."

"T-They weren't what you were supposed to take." What else can he say to that? He can pretend to not know all about Byakuran's infamous stalking, but what good will that do, really? Nobody believes him when he says that they're not involved—and that would have been good enough.

"I rarely hate people, you know? But she was keeping me away from Shou-chan…"

There's a barely perceptible increase in the pressure on his forehead. Only years of being the recipient of the sunny man's touch is able to clue him in about the change.

"She was just doing her job, Byakuran-san."

"Don't you want to ask me how many people I hate?"

Shouichi doesn't understand Byakuran. Why does he keep insisting on giving Shouichi chances to ask about things he doesn't want to think about?

"…As long as I'm not one of them," Shouichi feels the sick feeling in his gut bubble along with the acid, "I'm fine with not knowing."

Shouichi jolts when he feels long limbs suddenly hug him; he freezes instinctively when he feels Byakuran bury his face on his messy hair.

"That makes me happy, Shou-chan."

Shouichi hopes that's the end of it.

Shouichi knows hoping is futile.

Less than an hour since his mother called and he's already here.

"We don't have anything to talk about," Shouichi says to the white-haired man. He doesn't take a step back when the other man's face shows a nasty grin. He's an investigator—granted, he's more of a leader behind an operation rather than the one in the front lines, but still. Moreover, he's sure that—

"You can't marry her, because she's mine."

Shouichi really can't understand why his mother picked someone who already has a fiancée. Sure, she's cute and demure, from a respectable family and graduated from Tokyo University—but she already has a fiancée. (Granted, that fiancée was suddenly ditched by her and her family, because apparently, his pedigree and qualifications are a lot better, but still.)

"You can be rest assured that Irie Shouichi will not be marrying your beloved Iris," the elegant tone is out-of-place in the dirty alleyway they're in, "I'll make sure of that."

The man flees from the scene immediately, leaving Shouichi with one of his least favorite people.

"So, Byakuran-san is too busy to stalk me," Shouichi's voice can wither the flowers in the other's hands, "so he sends you to follow me around?"

"I can never accept that Byakuran-sama is giving such attention to a lowly creature like you," Kikyo sniffs in disdain, "and I am not so low as to start following you."

"If you want Byakuran-sama's attention that badly, it's all yours."

Kikyo bristles, disdain curdling to anger intensifying to fury, before the range of emotions disappears like a popping bubble, no trace left on the aristocratic face. "I am here to fetch some things and I so happened to pass by this alley."

Shouichi eyes the flowers in Kikyo's hands, then the unfamiliar plant shop across the road.

"He doesn't have to do anything, since this is my problem."

Kikyo shifts, the rustling of his clothes barely heard over his indignant scoff. "And that's why you didn't stop him until now."

Shouichi knows that Kikyo isn't usually this bitchy, but maybe there's really just a weakness in everyone. "I'll make sure everything turns out okay," Shouichi says after a long moment, and he's sure that the statement isn't directed to Kikyo at all.


Shouichi pushes Byakuran's face away from him. He's way too close and just a little more and it would have been an awkward kiss already and he doesn't want that. Not at all.

"Mou, with the way Shou-chan is asking, you'd think that we're not lovers!"

Shouichi thinks about how his supply of painkillers is gone. "But we're not lovers."

"Spoilsport," Byakuran accuses him with a poke of finger to forehead.

"I'm just telling the truth."

"So what are we, Shou-chan?" Byakuran kneels on the floor, arm brushing against Shouichi's legs. A hand settles on Shouichi's left knee, preventing him from pulling his legs up the couch and closer to his body. The light from Shouichi's computer shades an eerie feel on Byakuran's expression. "You know I'll accept anything you say."

"There you go again," Shouichi tilts his head slightly downward to see Byakuran better, "saying things you don't mean."

"Well, I'll accept anything you say," Byakuran murmurs, lips moving against Shouichi's hands, "and then I'll make sure you change your mind."

Insane people aren't really aware of their insanity, but Byakuran displays a healthy amount of knowledge and understanding about his actions. Shouichi wonders if he's more insane for putting up with these things.

"We've been friends for over ten years," Shouichi answers the previous question after a lull, the music from his computer toned down so low that he couldn't hear any familiar note, "you tried to get accelerated in high school just so we can be classmates," there's a pained wistfulness in his words, "then you tried to take the same subjects in university even though I'm from Engineering and you're from Business."

"Shou-chan is so cute when he's trying to lie to himself~ "

"I'm not—"


"It was a euphemism," like all the other times, Shouichi doesn't swat away the fingers tickling his lips as he speaks, "for doing every possible thing to get your way, without giving a damn whether somebody gets hurt."

"I didn't do anything to Spanner-kun, did I?"

"Is that something to be proud of?" Shouichi used to feel anger, really. Now, there's just a resigned despair echoing in his hollow chest.

Byakuran brings Shouichi's face lower, closer. "They'll catch you tomorrow, Shou-chan."

"You didn't have to do anything," Shouichi mumbles when their noses bump, once, twice. Shouichi closes his eyes when Byakuran slowly slides his eyeglasses off. He's near-sighted so he can probably still see each glaring imperfection this close and he doesn't want that. "I could have handled it just fine."

"Silly, silly Shou-chan~" Byakuran scolds him, "of course I'll do anything to protect you."

"I'm supposed to be your senpai, you know," it's a bit comfortable, leaning this far down, but compared to the other pains in his life, this is nothing, "I'm the one supposed to protect you."

"It's my duty as the pretty housewife~"

"You're not a housewife," Shouichi corrects him, but as usual, Byakuran doesn't listen to him.

"You didn't have to crush my dreams, mou~" Byakuran complains to the miniscule space separating their lips, the distance growing steadily smaller until he's half-talking, half-kissing.

Not even an hour into their first meeting, and Shouichi already knew that Byakuran thought of him in this way. More than ten years and more than ten dead bodies later—and Shouichi finally allows himself to sink into Byakuran's advances.

(But who is he kidding really?)

"Shouichi-kun," Tsunayoshi leads the team that knocks on Shouichi's apartment door the next morning, "we're going to take you to the special witness protection unit."

Shouichi lets them in his apartment—a place without a trace of Byakuran's presence left.

The television displays the news about the twelfth murder.

I love you.


"I'm sorry for the inconvenience, mother," Shouichi tries to soothe her, but he's not very sorry at all.

"Iris-chan is a good girl."

"She's very nice," Shouichi allows, even though they've only really talked once and it was about how she's going to send her Family's men to torture him if he doesn't do as he's told. If his mother didn't see them that day, she wouldn't have thought that Shouichi was finally making friends aside from that dangerous Gesso-kun. "I need to stay all the time at the witness protection center, so it's definitely going to be a burden to her."

The conversation goes on for a few more minutes, but when Shouichi leaves his family home, he's satisfied that he managed to call off the engagement and more importantly, he managed to extend the witness protection to his family.

"It's funny, ne," Byakuran tells him, bouncing slightly on the hotel bed, "how people make so many useless plans."

"They're only useless if they're going against you," Shouichi ignores the brilliant smile he receives at that statement. It's not like he's flattering Byakuran just to get a smile like that. He's just telling the truth. Really.

"Mmm, but Iris-chan thinks that she can get you to work for their Family," Byakuran whispers against Shouichi's right knuckle, "and then turn you against me."

"They're still taking my father and sister as hostage—" Shouichi groans when Byakuran shifts to lie flat on top of him, "—you're heavy, Byakuran-san!"

"So do I get a reward for my excellent job?"

Shouichi blushes a deep red. "T-T-There's no reward!" He may or may not have squeaked the sentence out, especially since Byakuran doesn't waste time nuzzling to his neck.

"But if I hadn't done anything, Shou-chan would have been in jail, then that will make Shou-chan sad, because he doesn't like dirty beds~"

"I'll be more troubled by the jail part rather than the dirty beds part," Shouichi mumbles, putting a hand against Byakuran's hair, uncertain whether he'd like to pull Byakuran's face away from his neck or whether he'd like to pull Byakuran's face up.

"And I'll be sad too, if Shou-chan is sad~"

"And then Kikyo will harass me for making you sad."

"Oho~ my darling research assistant didn't do anything to you, did he?"

"We had a little chat," Shouichi makes the statement as vague as possible. It's a little payback for Kikyo giving him a headache the other day. He's sure that Byakuran will have a field day torturing the explanation out of Kikyo.

"Hmm," Byakuran is obviously disappointed at the lack of information, but he doesn't push it. After all, Shouichi isn't supposed to be out of police supervision, but he's here, using a fake name in a mafia-controlled five-star hotel, having a rendezvous with one of the youngest mafia bosses in history. Of course Byakuran wouldn't waste time with getting information from him. "You can make it up to me by letting me mark you all over?"

"Not a chance," Shouichi replies immediately, but he doesn't swat those hands away, doesn't push those lips away, when they started roaming all over his body.

If asked, Shouichi really could have handled it on his own.

Iris blackmailed him to work for their Family in exchange for the safety and freedom of his father and sister. Working for their Family included working undercover in the police (even though he's an engineer-scientist-researcher), included trying to spy on Byakuran's activities.

The first part was easy to do. The second part however, was foiled not even ten minutes into his act. Instead of being a typical big-shot mafia boss that goes berserk whenever a traitor is found in his ranks, Byakuran instead hugged him close (and added a grope here and there) and told him that they'd destroy Iris's Family together.

Iris suspected that he's going to betray her, so she made sure to add another connection between them when she masqueraded as his soon-to-be-fiancée. She even tried to frame him for murder—of one of the jocks that showed interest in Shouichi during high school—just so she can have another blackmailing trump.

…If asked, Shouichi really could have handled it on his own. He could have destroyed all evidence. He could have hacked into databases to get leverage over the relevant personalities. He could have used the device he was developing during his spare time.

But why do any work when you have someone willing to do anything and everything for you?

"I don't understand, Byakuran-san," Kikyo's tone is regal even when he's being punished, "why do you do so much for that… person?"

"Hmm~ Kikyo-kun is smart, ne? So he should know that I'll punish him even more if he continues bullying Shou-chan, ne?"

Kikyo closes his eyes and remembers the punishment GHOST went through because he tried to threaten Irie Shouichi. Though, the reason for GHOST's punishment had more to do with the fact that he managed to get an almost-kiss from Irie Shouichi before Byakuran-sama did.

Byakuran laughs at the contemplative look on his assistant's face. Really, Kikyo-kun is such a doll, for thinking too hard on these things.

He tampered with the first murder scene, helped remove the planted evidence that would have pointed to Shou-chan as the murderer. And because it's boring to stop there—and because he kind of hated the guy for daring to like Shou-chan and sit beside him in homeroom (he doesn't really care if the teacher assigned the seating arrangements~)—he went ahead and killed other people too.

Not that he doesn't kill other people anyway—what kind of mafia boss would he be without a few kills a day?

But anyway, he decided that if he made it out that the killer was targeting Shou-chan, he could earn a bonus of getting the police to protect Shou-chan's family~ Iris wouldn't dare attack someone under the direct protection of the police, so that'd make Shou-chan happy, which is always his goal (when it's not all about what he wants, that is). The fact that he could kill off the other people who were foolish enough to want to get involve with Shou-chan (not that they ever stood a chance—even if he's a kouhai, he's got a lot of power, ne?) is just bonus.

He isn't a bad man, is he?

After all, he's just protecting his territory.

"That person doesn't know that you're pulling the strings behind Iris's actions or that you're at the root of everything that happened," Kikyo-kun looks like he can't bear the thought of his God being betrayed by an existence he considers scum. It's perfect that way, because Kikyo-kun is beautiful like that: a powerful man completely controlled by thread-light strings that don't even need to be tightened.

"Tsk, tsk, Kikyo-kun is underestimating Shou-chan so much~"


Byakuran turns on the screen that displays a real-time feed of Shou-chan's rooms: living room, bedroom, kitchen, office desk, secret library, secret workstation. Byakuran taps the screen –with fingers that are still powdery from the gloves he used- to focus Kikyo-kun's attention to a computer screen in the room filled with dozens of bookcases. Byakuran zooms in on the screen and he chuckles at the surprised gasp that escapes Kikyo-kun's mouth.


"Of course, Kikyo-kun~ What did you expect?"

The screen mirrors Kikyo's shock clearly. "He's—"

A program suddenly loads on the computer they're spying on; if possible, Kikyo's shock becomes even more pronounced.

It's just one simple line, black text against a light blue background, but—

Stop peeking on my apartment, Byakuran-san.

"Of course Shou-chan sees everything~" Byakuran looks infinitely pleased, like he's showing off his shiniest toy. "It's why I love him the most ❤"

story end.

This story is filled with Unreliable Narrator(s), Red Herring(s), Genre Shift (?) and a not-so-total disregard of the Law of Conservation of Detail.