Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: Greetings from 2013! Persephone is an old story I wrote heckuva long time ago (I cringe at my shot tenses and indiscreet melodrama), and I was thinking about fixing it, but seriously it's so convoluted and confused I don't know where to start. ;_; So i just edited out some of the major mess-ups.

Tragedy: A form of art based on human suffering that offers its audience pleasure.

Byakuran is Irie's first real friend.

Byakuran is the first person who ate with Irie at lunch, who asked Irie to go places with him, who introduced Irie to games and girls and...

Irie rooms with Byakuran with in college, helps him with Calculus homework, and he doesn't know, and sometimes he pretends to not know

(and sometimes he pretends to forget, and then they are just two people with all the world in front of them, just two people and not a future tyrant and he thinks howeasy it could be to just...)

But that is not the conclusion. In the tale of the Mafia, they were side characters, doomed from the start. This did not matter, and yet...

The actors are dressed, the seats are occupied, the lines have been rehearsed and re-rehearsed. It is too late to change anything now. So shall I tell you a story?

In the beginning, there was the Word and-

That summer, Irie enrolls in Tokyo College. Five short minutes into his college experience, he gets lost. And drops all his books.

He is scrounging on the ground for them, shaky hands alternating between scrabbling for books, tugging on his clothes, and pushing up his glasses in a jerky tandem, when a pair of scruffy black boots taps into his vision.

"Yo," greets the man, his eyes nearly completely covered by the shock of white-white hair that sticks up all around his face, sporting a foxy, attractive smile, "need help?"

In the beginning, there was a boy and his friend and that was that.

But Fate is not kind in a tale of tragedy.

"I'm not meant for this life," Byakuran comments as he kicks his feet up on the bed, twisting his body on the floor in a position Irie assumed was physically impossible.

"Well," Irie said, swivelling in his chair, "you could always switch majors."

"Shou-chan," the look on Byakuran's face was stiff and serious, something old and dark, unlike him."Shou-chan, that's not it."

A road, as commonly understood, is never completely straight. It deviates and stops, twists and turns. And sometimes two roads that seem completely intertwined can snap apart at a moment's notice, hurtling their travellers far, far apart.

Irie knows Byakuran is different. From his too-white hair to his lanky thin body to his cat-and-mouse grin, Byakuran is different. Maybe that was what it took to befriend a person like Irie.

And Irie is Byakuran's friend. So he ignores the whispers in his head, the tingling-cold feeling he gets in the pit of his stomach. He ignores it and resolves to follow Byakuran wherever his wanderings took him. Irie is Byakuran's friend.

In every fair tail, there is a hero, and a monster. And in every fairy tail, the hero is good, and faithful, and unwavering, and he is strong and brave, flawless. And the monster is dark and frightful, but in the end, dead, conquered.

This is not a fairy tail. This is a tragedy. And there is always a fatal flaw.

They say loyalty is an admirable trait, they say someone who follows something through to the end is courageous and noble. Irie is courageous, and Irie is noble, so he abandons his path to wade through swamps and highlands always faithfully following Byakuran-sama. But he is not the hero.

In a sense, the monster is the hero.

And the monster is the hero is as flawed as broken glass.

This is not a fairy tail. This is a tragedy.

The monster decides to build an empire. And the faithful retainer follows on his heels.

But a path is a hard thing to shake off, and no matter how far you trek, how hard you run, you will always return to the same road.

June 4th, 2019: In the tangled, dirty backstreets of Western Tokyo live the remnants of Tokyo's once-great crime syndicate. They open their doors this day to the sight of a man dressed all in white, heels tap-tapping against the dirty street.

"Hello," Byakuran purrs, teeth flashing, "may I come on in?"

June 24th, 2019: Byakuran and Irie Shouchi leave Tokyo University with all their things still in their former dorm rooms. No one sees them again.

July 30th, 2019: Three unidentified men are found dead in the alleys of Tokyo. Tattoos indicate affiliation to the Yakuza, but no other information has been found. Their killers are still at large.

August 20th: Police are alarmed at the recent cease activity within the local Yakuza.

December 1st, 2019: A sudden burst of criminal violence, the Tokyo Police Station broken in, its occupants killed, the station set on fire. Police have found no leads.

January 3rd: Continuation of attacks on seemingly random places in Japan: Nagasaki Prefect, the Bank of Japan, Nanimori Middle School...

"Beautiful, isn't it, Shou-chan?" Byakuran sweeps into the bright, new room, running his hands along the glossy wooden desk, the clear, unmarred windows. He turns to Irie, spreads his arms wide, and laughs. "With this, we can rule."

Irie hesistates."Rule, B-Byakuran-san?"

"You watch, Shou-chan, I'll build a whole new world. You and I will build a whole new world."

And here it begins. Let me tell you about...

Early in the morning, barely past night, comes a knock on the door, urgent and insistent. Irie jumps out of bed, stumbles on the carpet, nearly crashing into the door before he opens it. Outside, stands a man, clad in a sleek black suit with a desperate look in his eyes.

"Irie Shouchi? The Vongola need your help."

Irie just stares at him, stuttering out a quick "sorry-youmusthavethewrongaddress-so-sorrybutican't-" Just before he gets the door closed again, the man starts again, his brown eyes full of pain.

"Please," he says, "or my family is doomed. Or the world is doomed."

They tell the retainer he is so brave, he is so daring, to live under the roof of the monster, to trick the monster so fully every day.

They tell him don't worry, we will slay the monster, and it will be all thanks to you.

And the retainer thinks but doesn't say, "I am not thankful."

Irie hurries along the corridor, rows and rows of white tile, like the teeth of some great beast, nervously clutching the brown package to his chest.

A guard strolls past, and Irie hastily hides the package, slowing down. He nods at the guard as he passes, trying to force an air of authority. (But who was he kidding?)

Once he was out of sight, Irie breaks into a sprint to his room, slams the door behind him. Trembling, he pulls apart the string, the crinkled paper.

Nestled within the folds of soft paper lay three silvery bullets, gleaming in the sunlight. It is not what you think. It is never what you think, is it?

"It was a ruse!" Irie shouts, wanting them off his chest, wanting them of and gone so he could breathe and he was so so sorry and

"Oh, Shou-chan," Byakuran grins that terrible, fearful (kind?) smile. "I always knew."

Those are the monster's last words, and in a fairy tale, the hero would rejoice, and they would through a great feast, make jewels out of the monster's teeth. Because the hero is strong and just, and the monster is evil and deserved death.

This is not a fairy tail. This is a tragedy. And the monster is the hero is flawed as broken glass, and far, far, too human.

The curtain falls, and the actors bow- (but what became of the retainer, you ask, what became of the hero who was not, what became of him, what became-?)

In the story of the Mafia, they are barely a footnote, a cliffmark.

There is no happy ending for them.

No one cries for the dragon.