Aah plotbunnies, you strange little things. I very much suspect this may become a 'universe' so to speak that I write several fics for, though I guess it's really not an AU so much as a 'what-if?' scenario. Thanks again to my wonderful watchers, readers and reviewers :) Hope you enjoy!

Hey Chiba! Have you heard from Takagi at all yet tonight?

Megure frowned as he approached the keiji's desk, his tone matching the worry that the keibu wore on his face. "It's not like him to not have checked in with us yet, especially on something interdepartmental like this."

Not yet, keibu, but I understand that he and his assigned partner are out at the docks right now waiting to make thier arrests tonight.

First Division Homicide had been called in to help with a string of what were believed to be drug smuggling-related killings in the Tokyo prefecture after one of the victims was found to have resided in First Division's Beika district. After several weeks, Takagi and his assigned partner were finally ready to move in and bust up the ring that they believed were behind a very large percentage of the violence.

Well, if we don't hear from him soon let's head over that way and see if he needs any help. Of course, we'll have to be really careful to stay hidden. A marked unit could ruin the entire thing if they're in the middle of a sting...

It felt strange, Megure reflected after he interrupted himself mid-memory, that it had only been a month and a half since that terrible, strange night - the night that had turned the First Homicide Division upside down on thier collective heads. It seemed like it had been a lifetime ago to him. He drummed his fingers across the desktop after he heard Satou Miwako's firm, but carefully polite voice issuing from the squad room through his open door, the rest of the light chatter in the next room coming to a dead halt after she spoke.

"Excuse me, but that's Takagi-kun's desk that you're trying to sit at, Takashi-san."

Welp, obviously no one warned our new hire about trying to sit at that desk. Deciding to intervene and show thier newest promotion to her desk, Megure quickly got up and exited the room, deliberately stepping in between the two women and offering Takashi Chiyoko a polite incline of his head. "Aah, Takashi-san! Welcome to First Division Homicide. I'm Megure Juzo-keibu; I'll show you where your desk is." He then waved her over to another desk in a different part of the room that had been stocked with notepads, pens, papers and a new coffee mug for her arrival. "Congratulations on your promotion; I will say you really stood out head and shoulders above the others. Go ahead and mingle a little until the morning assignment meetings and get to know everyone."

Chiyoko bowed her head, her shoulder-length dark brown hair slipping forward. She adjusted her small, square-lensed glasses after she lifted her head back up and offered Megure a smile. "Thank you, Megure-keibu. I'll be sure to do that."

He nodded and left her with a faint smile, noticing that Chiba was already waiting for him in his office when Megure walked back in. "What's going on, Chiba?"

"Keibu, we need to do something about...that situation soon," replied Chiba firmly after closed the door, pointing through the window towards Takagi Wataru's vacant, slightly dusty desk with his thumb. "She's always very polite and calm about it, but Satou-san is like a mother bear protecting her baby when it comes to that desk."

"Yeah, I've noticed." Megure rubbed his mustache with his finger in thought. "But you know what he told us, and I know we both agree with him. The fewer people that know about what really happened that night, the better, including Satou-keiji."

"Speaking of people knowing. He's still on our payroll for right now, right?" Chiba leaned forward a little in the chair he'd taken.

"Until our HR and payroll people start asking too many questions, yes, and even then I'll try to come up with something to keep them at bay for awhile. I'm keeping his checks in my desk until we can figure out how to cash them for him. But why do you ask?" Megure's eyebrow rose upward as he asked the question.

"Well, when I visited him last night to bring him some more food and his mail, he said he's been starting to get weird looks lately from the neighbors." Chiba rubbed his chin and looked at the ceiling. "I told him it might be a good idea to look at enrolling in high school." He paused, looking at Megure again and shrugging his shoulders lightly. "You know, considering how he looks now and everything. It might help him not stick out as much if he goes. And he'll need money for food and new clothes if he's going to do that, on top of paying for the apartment."

What do you mean this is Takagi? This is a teenager!

I know. I don't believe it myself! But keibu, these were the clothes he was wearing, and this is his wallet. And here's his badge...as crazy as this sounds, I really think this is him!

"Hrm." Megure looked up at the ceiling, mulling the idea over for a few moments. "Probably not a bad idea, especially if he's got nosy neighbors. No need to have a policeman from that side of town start poking thier nose into things." He looked back down at Chiba. "Is he going to do it?"

"I'm pretty sure I had him talked into it before I left last night. Hey, anything's gotta be better than being cooped up in that apartment all day and only sneaking out at night to do his laundry, right?" Chiba shrugged again and stood up, stretching a little. "I think the closest high school to him was Ekoda High, or something like that. I told 'em I'd disguise myself like I do when I go visit him and pose as his father to sign the enrollment papers, if he needed me to."

"Good plan, although I think he's told his parents," nodded Megure. "You, me, his parents. I think we're the only ones besides him that know about what happened." Megure then looked out the window and noticed several pointed glances at his door from the room full of people waiting for thier assignments. "Well, we'd better get out there for the morning meeting; I see people staring at my door." He gave an amused, though grim smile as the two of them headed out of his office.

"Well, your testing came back and I'll be very honest with you, Takenaka-san. You could probably go to any high school that you'd like to, but we would be honored to have you here at Ekoda High." The entrance counselor bowed politely to him as he finished his sentence. "We can place you into a class immediately if you'd like." He smiled, sitting down in the chair at his desk. "Your old school has really lost a gem, but it's our gain if you choose to attend here."

The 17-year-old nodded thoughtfully after the counselor finished talking, looking like he was thinking it over even though he really wasn't. He engaged in a false nervous habit that he'd decided to develop for himself, ruffling the back of his neatly groomed brown hair slightly. "I'm just glad that I was able to find a school that could take me in on such short notice."

"We'll place you immediately. I'll be back with your class assignment shortly, okay?"

After nodding politely and offering a smile, Takenaka Hayato took advantage of the opportunity to look in a mirror. A trim teenaged boy's face stared back at him- a face that literally should have been impossible to look at. Even after a month and a half, he still found himself touching and poking and prodding his face on occasion, as well as pinching himself hard on the hand on occasion still to see if this was some bizarre, impossible dream that he needed to wake up from.

He frowned as he realized that the shoulders on his new suit were a little large; he'd have to have them taken in. Just one more thing to have to take care of, he thought with a sigh as he continued to study his face. Sometimes, it really felt like he was living someone else's life now- and he supposed that in a way, he was. Takagi Wataru had perished that night at the piers as surely as the other officer that had died from whatever the two of them had been force-fed.

"I apologize for the wait, Takenaka-san. Here's your class assignment. It will be straight that hall, then turn left. They're the second door on the right."


As Takenaka Hayato studied the small scrap of notebook paper with his new class' information hastily scribbled on it, he still wasn't sure that this had been a good idea now that he'd slept on it. Then again, he supposed it was either this or keep enduring nosy, weird looks from the neighbors at his new apartment complex because a teenage boy was skulking around in the shadows at home all day instead of being at school -and the absolute last thing that Takenaka Hayato (or rather, Takagi Wataru) wanted to do was stick out.

No, this was definitely the right idea, and Chiba-san was smart to think of it. I've got to try and blend in..try to look more normal so I don't arouse any more suspicion. What's more normal than a teenager going to high school, after all? He finished walking down the halls and stepped up to the door of the classroom, hearing the teacher address the class on the other side of the door.

"...new student in our class starting today who's just finished his registration and testing, Takenaka Hayato. The attendance office said he should be here any minute. I'd like you all to greet him warmly when he arrives, alright?"

Well, I guess that's my cue. Here goes nothing... He reached up and politely knocked on the door, hoping it was loud enough to carry into the room.

"Aah, that must be him now. Come in," came the sensei's voice.

He opened the door and stepped inside, quickly scanning the class and breaking out into a cold sweat at the same time as he felt thier collective gaze on him. What if this goes wrong? He took a deep breath to calm himself as he walked up to the chalkboard, picking up a piece of chalk and writing out his pseudonym so that everyone could see the kanji involved his name. Takagi could tell the moment he'd touched chalk to board that he needed a little more practice writing his new name, but he relaxed a little once he realized he'd done it with no mistakes in his strokes.

He then turned to the class and gave a polite half-bow. "Thank you for having me. I hope that I'll get to know all of you well." He then turned to the teacher to see what desk he was assigned and was pointed to a desk that was behind another empty desk. He went to sit down and put his book bag on the desk, still studying the classroom, and immediately felt something give under his bottom followed what sounded like a roaringly loud fart, one that sent the classroom into peals of laughter.

Except...he hadn't farted, and he'd felt something in his seat while he sat down on it, too. His cheeks flushed slightly with embarrassment while the sensei tried to get the class under control, Takagi sat up slightly and felt the chair where he'd been sitting and discovered a deflated whoopee cushion. Wanting to exonerate himself, he held it up for the class and the teacher to see. The sensei gave Takagi a sympathetic look, followed by turning her attention to a messy-haired boy sitting three desks over in the same row as Takagi.

"Kuroba-san, what was our agreement about new students?" The sensei waved a chiding finger at the boy, though there was an unmistakable look of amusement on her face as well.

"Hey, I put them on everyone's seats this morning, sensei. Not my fault the new guy wasn't paying attention when he sat down, is it?"