play your cards right
"Listen, honey," he drawls, "I don't think you know what you're getting yourself into." He stands hipshot, making it clear that he doesn't see her as a threat. He's a member of Japan's most powerful gang, and he has no reason to be wary of a little girl.
"I do," she insists stubbornly. "I want to join Rikkai." Malnutrition has left her thin, sick-thin, her hips and wrists and collarbones sticking out as if to tear through her skin like it's paper.
"Yeah? What makes you think we want you?"
"You need me." Her chin is up, defiant, but her eyes are level. "I'm quick. I can defend myself. And I can gather information about all your rivals."
"We already have someone for that," he points out, bored. She's determined, this girl, and young, though he suspects her skinniness makes her look younger than she is. She might be sixteen, seventeen, eighteen. Maybe even nineteen, like him.
She won't grow to be much older, not without the protection of a gang like Rikkai.
"I can go places Yanagi Renji can't, can talk to people he could never get close to. Who's going to suspect a girl like me?"
Anyone that notices the fierce spark in her eyes, he thinks. "If you're so invaluable, why aren't you already part of a gang? Why are you on the brink of starvation?"
She pushes hair out of her eyes. Her hair is tangled, and so dirty as to be of indeterminate color, but her eyes are a clear blue-gray. "I came all the way from Kyushu."
She must be lying. There's no way a girl like her—jailbait, he sneers mentally—could have made it from Kyushu to Kanagawa by herself. No way she could have made it through all those gang territories.
But somehow, he believes this scrap of a girl, and Yukimura is always telling him to listen to his instincts—when he's not telling him to think for once, Akaya, just take a moment and use your brain.
"I came because…" she continues, and kicks at the cracked, graffiti-scarred pavement. "I can't live like this anymore," she says with clear bone-aching weariness, gesturing vaguely to her state of ill-health and filth. "Without the safety of a gang.
"So I figured I might as well come and join the best one."
Mildly gratified, he reaches up to run a hand through his hair, and he sees her take note of the imprint of blades hidden in his sleeves. He knows she is already aware of the handgun in the lining of his jacket.
"Tell you what," he says slowly, savoring the power he has over her. The decision he makes now will determine her life or death. She won't survive without him, without Rikkai. "You might be just pathetic enough to be worth investing in. So I'll take you to see Yukimura, and he'll figure out whether we should keep you… or do you a favor and put a knife through your ribs."
He doesn't know whether or not to be disappointed that the threat doesn't rattle her. She just gives him a small nod, and he thinks—this girl might be just what they need.
So he advances on her languidly, and is pleased that she at least goes stiff with wariness at his approach. She isn't so fearless as to lack common sense.
"Come on, then," he says, letting his hand rest on her. Her shoulder blade pokes sharply into his palm. "We should get going before it starts to get dark." He grins delightedly, devilishly. "That's when the bad people come out."
She eyes him. "You're out early, then."
"I am," he agrees, his eyes dancing with mirth and malice and wild things. "Lucky for you, isn't it? Because I may be a bad person, but I could be your best friend."
His grin is a flash of lightning, or perhaps the gleam of a switchblade. "All depends on whether or not you play your cards right."
Thus ensues a harrowing game of go-fish.
Set, I don't know, in post-apocalyptic Japan. Think Hunger Games, only with complete anarchy and gangs, not the Capitol and Districts. This was supposed to be one part in a "six ways Tachibana An did not meet Kirihara Akaya" oneshot, but... let's hear it for laziness.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Prince of Tennis.