Don't Trust Me

Title inspired by: 3OH!3 – Don't Trust Me

Disclaimer: I don't own KHR.

Author's note: I was baffled by all the lovely comments and I'm eternally grateful for those who are still reading this! The love issue will be addressed in chapter 17 but let me tell you: Hibari is NOT in love with Chrome. I can say that without spoiling anything.

And I'd like to give a shout-out to acetatedbubble for the amazing fanart. Thank you so very much!

Thanks for reading. I truly appreciate it

Love was always considered to be 'oh so romantic' because it was based on the idea of finding the ideal partner who complements one, who was the other half and opposites attract and just look how that very one makes your heart beat.

All in all, love was nothing but a concept. An idea.

Hey, love was


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


New Year.

Oh. Please.

Well, to be absolutely frank, Chrome was actually glad to welcome the New Year alone. On her own. In a sense. But on the other hand, she wasn't really truly 'alone' anymore even if there was no one around. But that wasn't the topic, right here and right now.

No, it was all about having no one to celebrate with.

Yet it was by her own choice. Hence one was mistaken if they assumed the reason would have been because invitations were lacking or, if she had actually accepted them, because she would feel like a fifth wheel (which she would have, thank you very much).

No, the melancholy of this day belonged to her and only to her.

New Year's day had tasted like roses, like Turkish delight (or halva, she hadn't been sure. Either way, it had been sweet) and tangerines. There was no traditional New Year food on the table (no Osechi-ryōri or whatever her mother would have asked the cook to prepare for them instead of making it herself). She hadn't written a single postcard and she wouldn't receive any gift money because she wasn't a child anymore. All in all, it wasn't very different from any other day of the year.

The only difference was: There was nothing to do.

Rolling around on the floor, she sighed contently as the warmth of the heated table spread through her body. No matter what, holidays were meant to be lazed away. Cheers filled her small apartment when the people on the TV applauded for a singer from Team White.
A single eye glanced tiredly at the screen and its owner tried to move her hand upwards to reach upwards to grab some food but only knocked the remote from the table instead. The channel switched to the 'Batsu game' and the previous cheering was replaced by roaring laughter.

Ah, she really needed to turn the volume down. Flailing a bit around and wobbling from side to side, the female gave up when (even after she had stretched out her arm to the maximum) only the tips of her fingers could brush against the plastic of her remote control.

"Ugh." The only thing the dark-haired woman could mumble before deciding to just lay there and watch this show instead. Not that she had any interest in watching television at all. Five minutes into the show and her eye was close to slipping shut. Tiredness. One of the few pregnancy-related symptoms she actually had (and dear Lord, she was eternally grateful that she was neither overly sensitive to odours nor suffered from constant morning sickness). In order to prevent falling asleep, she turned around from lying on the stomach to lying on the back and just stared at her ceiling.

"I wonder what everyone else is doing."

Only a few people had actually told her about their plans. For some reason, the members of the Mafia world were just secretive like that. What she did know, however, was: Bianchi-san and her husband had gone on a last-minute trip to Italy, probably to rekindle their relationship. Of course, they had invited her to join them as a thanks for how she had helped them but they certainly needed some togetherness. Without a social inept person tagging along.

The other girls were together with their husbands or lovers while Boss, Rain and Storm had formed an alliance of singles. Without any work to take care of, the three of them had planned to spend the whole day playing video games. Naturally, she had also been invited to join them.

She had turned them down.


And then there was Hibari-san.

Actually, she had no idea what he was up to. Which was fine, in all honesty! Because now that they were in a relationship (and she had to remind herself. Constantly. For it didn't feel any different from before), this probably meant that she alone would have to carry the onus of maintaining the status quo and preventing any chance of them falling apart. Because she was aware that a relationship based on inexperience and responsibility could only last that long... if there was no one to see to upholding it.

And no matter how pessimistic it sounded, this entailed it was her duty to call him and to keep the contact with someone whose world revolved around fighting, Namimori and... a yellow fluffy bird. Needless to say, they hadn't talked once since Christmas.

As if on cue, the phone rang.

She still had to develop an appreciation for irony.

Instead of taking things slow, the mother-to-be blinked in confusion before twisting her body around in order to crawl away from the kotatsu and to reach the phone. Chrome managed to pick up after the third ringing.


Not a question. Never a question. The men she knew weren't like her – weren't bound by insecurities.

"Yes," she breathed nevertheless, a whisper of a reply though there had been no inquiry. The skin of her forehead touched the wall and she closed her eye, waiting to hear anything from the man calling her. He kept quiet.

"Mukuro-sama." Her voice was flat and her head felt heavy from all the loafing around yet she still waited for him to explain why he had called her.

Give me a reason to wait.

He always did.

"Are you all alone at home?"

Finger drawing little invisible shapes and symbols onto the wall, the female tried to imagine what kind of expression he was wearing right now.

"It was optional. My own decision."

"You could come with us." Some background noises caught her attention before her former master cleared his throat. "Should. You should come with us."

Who was... 'us'? Biting the inside of her cheek, she shook her head, unaware of him being unable to see this gesture. He must have felt it though because the motion of her head was subsequently followed by a brief sigh.

"I'd rather stay home, Mukuro-sama."

"I am worried about you, my dear Chrome."

"Are you?"

Are you?


This wasn't fair. He knew how to push her buttons. Knew what he had to say in order to reduce her from a grown woman back to a scared child.

"I am," he repeated after a few seconds that felt like he hadn't said a word in hours, "Things will be very difficult from now on." So many things were lacing his sentence and she couldn't even begin to understand the most simple implications he was offering. The reason for his actions were beyond her knowledge, the poor female was just left puzzled as to why he had been way too interested in her life lately. And with confusion came suspicion. Everything raised her hackles.

"A hunch or a warning?" she asked, head finally raised as she turned around to lean her back against the wall instead. Maybe she had become his pawn once again in a game she didn't know she was playing. Mind focused on her unwillingness to be his marionette on this occasion, Chrome closed her eye and listened to all the sounds surrounding Mukuro-sama. It appeared he was somewhere outside. In front of an exit or something because people passed him and there was the sound of... wheels? As if someone was moving their luggage around.

"No matter what happens, Chrome, don't forget that I have always warned the Vongola. And you were..." A loud knock on her door made her flinch and seeing that Mukuro-sama didn't continue only confirmed her assumption he had heard it too. Before she could excuse herself for a moment, the male Mist made a whistling sound. "Chrome, take care."

Another pause interrupted the conversation before he said his final goodbye in a rather unconventional way: "Your feelings are one-sided."

The line went dead.

The men in her life only left confusion behind.

There was a whirlwind of thoughts in her mind and she put the telephone back, absent-mindedly tracing the edges of the plastic device with her fingers. His premonitions had stirred the deepest fears within mother-to-be.

A second knock. Even louder this time.

Swallowing some saliva after her mouth had become surprisingly dry, Chrome headed for the door and breathed in when she moved to open it... only to stagger back step or two.

Astonishment twisted her face into an wide-eyed gape when she stared at Hibari-san.

His stoic expression was unreadable, for all she could say he didn't seem to be annoyed. Not waiting to be invited in, he brushed past her, slipped out if his shoes and disappeared into her living room. Perplexed, she followed him, unable to make sense of his sudden appearance.

"Hibari-san," Chrome greeted him and offered him a seat by pointing at one of the cushions which were almost hidden under the kotatsu. He sat down and she followed his example. "I can't say I'm not surprised to see you."

"You stayed home," he countered.

Well, yes. That statement was kind of redundant with both of them sitting in her living room. With the sound of the telly in background and the peel of some tangerines covering her table. With her unflattering clothing she always wore when she craved something comfortable and did NOT expect guests. Besides there wasn't much she could have done after declining all the offers from her friends to join them. And there was no one to visit either (not that any relative would expect her to; They were likely assuming Nagi had died after a horrible car crash involving a cat. Which, in a certain way, was true considering she was Chrome now).

"I didn't want to go to Italy," she replied honestly and fiddled with the hem of her shirt. None of them said anything else. Silence reigned. Well, it would have been silent if not for the conversation between two people on the TV.

Looking up from her lap, she noticed how Hibari-san's head was turned away from her and she followed his gaze. Her eyes fell on a small pile of... peels, tissues and some plastic wrapper from various sweets and a spluttering noise left her mouth as she jumped up, collected them and stuffed them into the nearest bin.

The black-haired man in front of her stared at her with grey eyes. Wonderful.

She didn't like the thought of looking like a messy person. However, he gave no hint that he would address the insignificant matter and her cheeks flushed red when she remembered how clean his offices were. Hibari-san liked order. And this preference wasn't limited to the peace in Namimori. Yet, as she was mulling over this topic, she also had little doubts that it was actually Kusakabe-san who did those kind of odd jobs for him.

Time passed and neither of them was saying anything.

Oh dear, why had he come? She was positive she would never truly understand him but there was this persistent hope things would work out if she could get used to his idiosyncrasies. It would be enough, she tried to assure herself.

Perhaps coming here without telling her beforehand was just his way of making sure she was doing well. In the depths of her mind, a part of her suspected this was most certainly not the case but there was that fifteen-year old version of her who had been saved by the elusive Cloud after the Storm Guardian of the Valanga famiglia had attacked her. And that young girl was somewhere within her head or heart and kept on chanting: 'This is his way of showing you that he actually acknowledged your relationship as being what it was: A relationship.'

It was easier to ignore the innocent voice when he wasn't around. Because with him sitting here, looking at her, the fifteen-year old Chrome was explaining that people could gossip about him all they want: Once he had said he would be responsible for something, he saw through it till the end. Eventually, Chrome realised merely two things: Hibari-san was as unreadable as always. And after Mukuro-sama had left her thoughts, she had to fill the void his presence used to occupy with her own ideas.

But both notions didn't answer her questions in the end and she was tired of behind left in the dark. Clearing her throat, the dark-haired woman glanced up and allowed her lips to part.

"Hibari-san, why are you here?"

Oh. She had really done it. In closing, hearing her own inquiry still surprised her. His answer even more so.

"Wasn't it one of your conditions? To see or call me 'every once in a while'? I just thought I should keep my end of the deal. I trust you do the same."

Not sure whether or not he meant a particular rule of his or if he just meant all of them, she did nothing but nod. Additionally, under normal circumstances, she would have been happy to hear those words... but for some reason, she had this odd notion. Almost as if things weren't quite right.

"While I am very happy you came today...," she started carefully, subsequently moving her head in a circular motion because the hours of doing nothing but lying around were slowly starting to affect her muscles, "I'm sure you had more important things to do today."

"I wouldn't be here if my schedule wasn't adjustable," the taller man reasoned. Lips pressed together tightly, she nodded. Again, neither of them said a word and the television was the only source of sounds. Eyes fixated on the table, Chrome leaned forward and collected the various, uneaten sweets to form a small heap. "Would you like something to drink?"

Fair enough. She should have asked this sooner but now that the current situation had taken a turn to be more than simply awkward, this little query was the perfect mean to break the silence (and it was that very moment the television was making it presence known again: The audience's guffaw filled the room). Picking the remote up, she swiftly turned the telly off.


His voice made her cheeks flare up. Why did this man have such an effect on her, she wondered. Contemplating if she should reward him with a smile (she could try to train him like a dog: Every time he did something she approved of – such as calling her name – she would give him something back. A smile or another sign of affection), the female stared at her fellow Guardian.

And paused.

No. His expression, sober and grave, was more than enough to establish that this was not the time to smile.

"Hibari-san, you didn't come to me because of agreement, did you?"

His decision to remain mute was her answer.

"What... did happen?"

They were part of the Mafia. There was ALWAYS something happening.

The sharp sound of him sucking in a breath made her worry. Hibari-san appeared to be anything but pleased. How could she have missed the tensing in his jaw or his eyes were more narrowed than usual. Her first appraisal had been correct yet at the same time there had been a grievous error of judgement. When he had entered her place, he hadn't been annoyed.

No, he had been, and still was, on edge. And the reason for him to feel this way was most likely not a trifle. His serious calmness affirmed that the matter was of uttermost significance.

"Hibari-san, whatever it is... does Boss know what's going on?"

Then again, it was probably him who had send the Cloud to her apartment.

"He asked me to play bodyguard."

Oh. Disappointing but not surprising. After all, she had feared and expected he would say this. The only positive outcome of being confronted with all these disappointing things was how she started to adapt to her crushed hopes and th- wait. Retract. Bodyguard? Her musings came to an abrupt halting.

"Bodyguard... for me?" As if the high-pitched end of her sentence wasn't enough, she also pointed at her own face with her finger. "Why would I need to be looked after? Mareggiata?"

"Rokudo Mukuro."

And suddenly, it was her who needed something to drink.

Chrome was standing in the kitchen, her bottom leaning against the counter while she took small sips of water from her glass.

"He wouldn't do anything to me... would he?" she asked Hibari-san only to bite her tongue. Asking him was not any different from asking Julius Caesar if it had been who Brutus had betrayed him.

"No," the former prefect said, astonishing her in the progress, "It rather seems like you were a victim in this."

Her reflection stared back at her with one wide eye before turning into a grotesque figure when the water's surface was stirred. After all they had gone through, she still couldn't believe he would actually do something to harm the Vongola family.

"Are you sure? Is he really working together with the Mareggiata famiglia?"

Whatever was going through the Cloud's head stayed there. It annoyed her to be left out again, especially if Boss and the others had had an idea of what was going on. Playing video games? Sure as hell they did. Not!

Yet, she also wondered why she was this shocked. Hadn't her former master always repeated how he would destroy the Mafia world? Yet, she also couldn't help wondering if all those years with Boss and the other Guardians had meant nothing at all to him.

"Let me repeat it... just to make sure I understood everything: Mukuro-sama gave information about the Vongola to the Mareggiata. And he gave information about the Mareggiata to the Vongola. Just... what is going on?"

"The files."

His words confused her even more and the expression on her face betrayed her. What files was he talking about was beyond her.

"The documents you were supposed to work on together with the Rain."

"The ones you ended up helping me with," she added and bit the nail of her thumb as she tried to recall what they had been about. Oh, yes, the Varia's mission in Italy. The shooting in the middle of a crowded, Italian market.

"Most of the casualties had been wives and children of the Mareggiata members."

The glass fell to the ground.

Water and shards danced over the floor, even soaking Chrome's feet.

"They're not simply Mafioso who had some bones to pick with the Vongola. They just wanted to get revenge for their loved ones," the Mist concluded and knelt down, her fingers shaking when she tried to pick up the pieces. Figuratively and literally speaking. Hibari-san crouched down as well and started to help.

"They're still herbivores who are known as the scum of the Mafia world," he scoffed and his lips formed into a grim line, "And Tetsu had said they didn't know anything about honour nor did they understand the concept of Vendetta."

"Obviously, they do," Chrome shot back quietly, unaware of the fact that this sentence could have bordered cynicism. If it hadn't been her saying it and Hibari-san being the recipient at least. "And they didn't do anything wrong. The Vongola would have attacked other famiglie as well if our friends or family members would have been hurt or even worse, killed!"

Suddenly, the male in front of her grasped her arms and pulled her upwards as he was straightening his back. "This is correct. And that's why they'll be bitten to death."

"But they didn't do anything... wrong," the desperate woman tried again, recalling how her mother hadn't even wanted to stay in the hospital when she was on the brink of death. For her, it was only natural to avenge those how had been loved. Boss had died in an alternative future. She would have done everything to make the people responsible for his death accountable. They would have answered to her. "We were the ones doing the mistake..." Or rather Xanxus was.

"This is Mafia business," the raven-haired man grunted and shook his head, "It doesn't matter who started it. The only thing that matters is who's going to end it."

Twisting her arm away from him, Chrome bit her lower lip and dumped the few shards she had picked up in the sink before heading for the living room. Neither of them said a word for the rest of the evening.

The New Year arrived and was already given the silent treatment.

"She doesn't talk to me anymore."

Sawada Tsunayoshi breathed on his fingers to keep them warm before giving up on this idea by pushing his hands into the depths of the jacket's pockets.

"Huh?" Hibari's sentence made little to no sense to him and all he did was to offer him an incredulous stare. "I beg your pardon?"

"Chrome Dokuro," the dark-haired man clarified, albeit grudgingly, "She doesn't talk to me."

"Just... what did you do yesterday?" A sentence layered with accusation and suspicion.

The two of them were standing where normally a crowd should be. Needless to say, if Hibari was involved there was no such a thing as 'normal'. The inner Vongola family (sans those who were on vacation like the bucking bronco and his wife who – and he blamed Chrome Dokuro for this – still hadn't left her husband. Nor did she show any intentions to do it any time soon. Also, Rokudo Mukuro wasn't there. But no one had thought he would come anyway) was visiting the shrine. Hatsumode was a tradition that just couldn't be ignored. Especially in times of crisis, they had to grin and bear it. Politics were just like that: Only the best actors would win in the long run.

Besides, there was the promise of security whenever they were together. The Vongola was strong and no one would dare to attack them when almost all the Guardians were assembled. Moreover, the former head of the disciplinary committee had seen to it that there was no crowding of herbivores whatsoever.

'It's actually nice to have Hibari-san on our side,' the young Vongola heir thought absent-mindedly for the memory of a certain Sakura viewing was more than vivid. But he couldn't say any of that in front of the very person himself. Instead, he offered an useless, "You didn't have some sorts of... special ideas of celebrating in mind, did you? Including... some toys or... uniforms? Or handcuffs... seriously, why did you get them to begin wi-"

Grey eyes fixated on him, followed by the Cloud's trademark scowl.

"I lied. Remember your bookshelf? You should have thrown it into the incinerator."

Sawada Tsunayoshi's mouth opened and closed like a fish on land.

"Hibari-san! Gross! You didn't do it in my office! I... I loved that bookshelf!"

The best thing about not saying anything at all was: He would keep on thinking about his implications.

Hibari knew the Sky's office was safe. Chrome Dokuro knew the Sky's office was safe (though no one would ever ask her such a potentially embarrassing question – not after some ruckus with the Storm Guardian. Or so he had heard). But the Sky would start to think about it, he would mull over it and there was no doubt that – by next week – there would be a new bookshelf in his office.

And depending on his paranoia, there would also be a new desk, sofa, chairs and carpet. Instead of revelling in his victory, Hibari left the alarmed Mafioso alone and wandered off to find Tetsu. Maybe his subordinate could help him understand the workings of a female's mind. Hibari was highly doubtful about that, though.

Suddenly, he stopped dead in his tracks seconds later.

As if he sensed himself being watched, the strongest Guardian lifted his gaze. And he aimed it at the smoking bomb.

"Happy New Year, bastard." An unconventional greeting but a greeting nevertheless. Hibari just glared at him.

"Wearing a fancy suit, I see. Where's Dokuro? The stupid baseball idiot and I wanted to deliver our New Year's greetings."

"She went with the other women to draw their fortune."

A smirk.

And God knew.

He hated that smirk.

"How can you be so sure? Did she use dactylology to explain that to you? Or does that count as 'speaking with you' as well?"

Sadly, the grey-haired man was fast enough to escape the blow of the incoming tonfa.


Happy fucking New Year.

"You must have said something to upset her again. And seeing that your voice of reason is on holiday with his wife, I'll be the one to rub it in. Oh, that reminds me! Didn't you think my sister would divorce the bucking horse? Well, fat chance. Seriously, Hibari, you're losing your touch."

Not only did the Storm have ears like a freaking bat (this would explain why he had heard about Chrome Dokuro's decision to give him the silent treatment) but he also couldn't stop to push his buttons.

"All we did was to talk about Rokudo Mukuro."

And the Mareggiata. And... Mafia in general. But that was no concern of his.

What did concern Hibari though, was the fact that Chrome Dokuro refused to talk to him. And who could blame him for his confusion?

There had been plenty opportunities for her to show how indignant his actions had made her feel (albeit he would be forever unaware of any wrongdoing – he lived according to the austere disciplines of 'Blame anyone but me') and most of them involved him not taking her emotions into account. That or not acting the way he was 'supposed to' as laid down by a certain Italian blonde.

But: No, she had accepted all that. What had made her snap was the treatment of the enemies. The very enemies who had attacked her. Who had been responsible for her being in the hospital while fearing she had lost her unborn child.

Compassion and empathy could only go so far until they bordered stupidity.

And she had crossed that line and had stumbled completely into folly.

"Well, did you tell her that nobody has seen him since the Christmas party?"

"I did mention his disappearance. Yes."

"And? What did she say?"

Hibari kept his mouth shut. And it annoyed him further how Gokudera Hayato reached a conclusion by analysing his silence.

"She said something about how she hadn't seen him either or something along these lines, didn't she?" The male sighed and pulled a cigarette from his pack. After looking around and noticing where he was (with the shrine being here, it could be considered as 'holy ground'), he put the fag back. "Ever since the illusionist bastard disappeared, Boss had monitored her activities. This includes her calls, inbound and outbound. And if you answer this question correctly, you win the metal boxes of the 300 million yen robbery: Who had called her yesterday?"

The Cloud felt his hands clenching to fists.

"Guess she forgot to mention that, huh?"

Before he could stalk off to find that pregnant woman of his, an arm shot out and grabbed his wrist. With a turn of his heel, he twisted the person's arm around and found himself applying a wristlock to the Storm Guardian. And there was no denying he didn't enjoy the other's cries of pain as he put a tiny bit more pressure on the twisted arm.

"Fuck, Hibari, let go!"

He didn't.

"You can't talk to her about it! She's the only one who could find out where Mukuro is and who would be let in on his intentions and those goals he's pursuing."

The grappling hold loosened but he still didn't quite let go.

"He disappeared before we found out about his alliance with the Mareggiata! But he has been buzzing around Dokuro for a while now! No idea what he wants but Juudaime is sure he has tried to make her join his side!"

Some colourful expletives left the pyrotechnician's mouth once his hand was ultimately released and he rubbed his aching wrist. His team mate crossed his arms and cleared his throat. There was more he wanted to know. "She is probably not even aware of it herself," Gokudera Hayato continued as soon as the pain had subsided, "Knowing her, it's very likely she's feeling that something is wrong but can't put her finger on it."

"She would have possibly considered joining him if she hadn't become pregnant."

"Yeah, that's what I think, too. She won't give up her current lifestyle which is relatively safe, as long as the baby exists." Both men inhaled. That was what they were hoping, at least. The white of his knuckles was visible through the skin as Hibari doubled his fists once more.

"The attack. He wouldn't."

"No, he wouldn't. That's why he had tried to lure her into his arms by offering her to maintain half of the illusion. If he was more or less in charge of her organs, he could easily bribe her back to him."

"I will bite him to death."

"And I'll be damned if he wasn't in some twisted way related to the incident in Italy. Xanxus may be a nutcase but to just go around and fire at people? Something must have triggered him to snap. And knowing him, it could have been an insignificant reason to make him go nuts."

He didn't understand.

Her silence had little to do with her being angry but was rather based on her inability to express herself. There had been nothing she could have said to make him comprehend what had been going on inside of her and therefore she had said nothing at all. Social matters were (and always would remain) a mystery to the unfortunate soul named Chrome Dokuro and it seemed she always failed to vocalise her thoughts during the most crucial moments.

"I am not angry," she whispered quietly, trying to practise the words she would never be able to say in front of a certain father-to-be.

She wasn't a person of wrath or resentment. No, life had decided to place her mind in a constant state of confusion instead.

"I am not angry." As if repeating it would carry the sentence towards Hibari-san. No matter what people actually believed, she was wiser than that. And once she acknowledged the fact that stagnancy would always be part of her relationships if she didn't learn to speak her mind, the world around Chrome started to turn once again.

Not wanting to be in the doldrums anymore, the young illusionist ripped the little paper she had been holding onto, open.

"Chrome-chan, Chrome-chan, what did you get?"

The woman in question just raised her chin a little and nudged the tip of her reddish nose. It was cold. As in: 'Why did I bother to leave the house because I would give anything in this world to enjoy the warmth of my kotatsu now'-kind of cold.

"It's a secret," she replied softly, her lone eye staring at the paper. So, this was her fortune for this year? So long, change. Welcome back, doldrums.

"Eh? You're no fun," Haru lamented and puffed her cheeks out, only the release the air with a long-drawn, whistling sound. "Oh no, Haru has super bad luck! What a great way to start the New Year."

Kyoko leaned over her shoulder and glimpsed at the piece of paper. She chuckled in an amused manner. "A 'Small curse'? How unlucky, Haru-chan. I got a 'blessing'. I'm sure my wedding will be a success." The Sun's sister was probably the only person who could be a tease without intending and/or wanting to be one. The strawberry blonde was soon supported by a certain Chinese assassin who held up her own paper slip. "I have a 'Great blessing'. With this and all my hard work, there is no doubt about me acing all my tests!"

"And you could confess to Lambo-kun, too," the older brunette lisped mischievously, obviously enjoying to razz the poor teen as her words were the very reason why the Chinese's face changed from a slight pink to a deep red.

"I-I-I don't know what you are talking about!"

"Or was that poem for Fuuta-kun?"

As always, Chrome decided to drown their voices out. Sniffling, she cast one last glance at her own fortune before trying to let it slip into her purse. A particular breeze didn't like her plan and ripped the piece of paper out of her hand, tossing it into the air with a tinge of mockery. Oh yes, the New Year did start out great.


"Don't worry! I'll be back in a few minutes. I'll just try to get a hold of my fortune," she called back and attempted to run after it. Yet with the paper dancing in the wind, she had little chance to actually grasp it. Much more problematical was to move in her kimono, though. The traditional clothing allowed merely restricted movements and she couldn't run as fast as she would have like to. Especially when she nearly lost one of her geta.

Stumbling, she reached the stairs that led away from the shrine. The slip of paper bearing her fortune had fallen down half-way and the Guardian had no other choice but walking down to retrieve it. The clicking and clacking of wood on the stone stairs filled the silence and she was glad there was no ice on the stairs.

"There you are," the young woman chided the bringer of ill luck and knelt down to pick it up. However, she was beaten to it.

By a man.

Staring at his black shoes, she heard him say:

"You lost something."

Her head tilted back and she looked at the male's smiling face.

"A 'Great curse'? Well, aren't you unfortunate?"

Love was bullshit.

Love was nothing but a concept. An idea.

Yet everyone yearned to find their 'Mister Right', their Yamato Nadeshiko. It had become pretty popular in the course of centuries. Even though it was nothing but a concept. And despite the fact it couldn't be grasped, it held a similar power to money.

Love was a concept. Love was bullshit.

But there was certainly no other conceptual bullshit with more power.

No generic enemies in this story. At least none that are just evil for the sake of being evil and therefore serving as foes. Mafia doesn't work that way, Amano-sensei.
Also, my apologies for not having proof-read this but I didn't want to make you wait another 20 years for this chapter.

Next chapter: The one that is missing and the one left behind.