Title: The Key

Chapter: 1/?

Rating: T-M

Pairing: Atobe Keigo/Tezuka Kunimitsu, Sanada Genichirou/Oshitari Yuushi, others

Warnings: violence, blood

Genre: action, drama, romance

Summary: Atobe Keigo, a popular actor, leads a orderly life he is pretty content with - until one day, he finds a corpse on the floor of his bedroom. Since then, everything breaks down. Who's a friend, who's a foe? Who is the mysterious Tezuka Kunimitsu and why does everybody want seem to want him dead? Atobe learns just how different action films are from real life, and he's not sure he can survive the lesson.

A/N: Yes, I know I've got a ton of fics to finish. A new chapter to Boy and Girl is due on Sunday; Monday-Tuesday will bring a much awaited second chapter to The Justice, and later next week, I will update Miss:Understanding. A few one-shots are on their way as well.

Sorry for the delays. But I hope you will enjoy this new story as well~

Chapter One: The corpse on the floor. Homecoming surprise

Atobe Keigo was a decent man. He didn't drink much (only when an occasion came up did he indulge himself with a glass of good wine or a cocktail; however what he loved most about alcohol was collecting it. His collection included many exclusive, luxurious beverages, as well as the more common ones. It was all because as a child, he used to associate his father's wealth with the impressive alcohol cabinet that was always praised by the man's business partners whenever they visited. To Atobe, the various alcohols were a symbol of high position), he didn't smoke (except for the most stressful situations; however, being Atobe Keigo, he was almost never in any of those) and he never made any promises to the women he went out or slept with (and those were many). For a famous actor, he was really proper. After all, his many colleagues tried different things: drugs, young boys or even, scarily enough, marriages. He, on the other hand, didn't care for anything that could ruin his career; he'd given up a lot to be where he was and he wouldn't back down now.

He finally won the role he had been trying out for for weeks. It was the first time he was not going to play a charming lover-boy (like he did in most of his dramas), but a young, idealistic, but tough cop. Every man must have dreamt about this at least once; to lead the chase for highly wanted criminals, to shoot the bad guys with real guns (or their realistic replicas) and save citizens from the evil. The additional company of a beautiful woman made it all the more pleasant.

The man smiled to himself; his fellow lead and partner on the set was Tachibana An, his ideal woman – beautiful, sensual and outgoing. However, she did have a slight flaw that couldn't be missed: since the year before, she had been happily married and obviously had no plans to cheat on her beloved. Even if she did, Atobe didn't intend to break her up with her husband, Kamio Akira, whom he liked and respected as a fellow actor (one of those brave enough to have tried a marriage). An was his friend, simply enough.

Atobe wasn't an intolerant jerk. He did believe with all his heart in the existence of friendship between a man and a woman. He acted on his belief pretty well.

His thoughts were suddenly brought to a halt by a shot. Or rather, a sound which brought to mind gunshots, of the Hollywood kind. He'd heard the same sound before, on the set, while filming the opening chase scene for the drama series. Real gunshots probably didn't sound like that. It was probably a car tire blowing up, or maybe a crash happened somewhere, or something similar. Or maybe a thunder in the distance? But the sky seemed clear...

Just in case, he decided to remove the laundry from the balcony (yes. He did his laundry by himself. Being a famous actor didn't make him afraid of a little work, not anymore. Plus, he spent enough money on other things, there was no need to hire somebody just to clean his dirty underwear). Summer storms tended to come and go in the span of a few minutes.

He did his shopping, which consisted of fresh vegetables and a bottle of soy milk. The latter was for his coffee. He usually refrained from buying it, because putting anything in his coffee instantly made the beverage taste somewhat better, causing Atobe to drink insane amounts of it in order not to fall asleep. It couldn't be healthy. A heart attack at twenty two wasn't something he was looking forward to.

He packed the newly bought products and finally went home. He lived on the twenty fifth floor of a modern apartment building in a closed housing estate with a big playground for kids and a nice walking lane for the elderly.

He hadn't seen his obscenely rich father in years and he owed him nothing. Being able to live there was something he had earned by his own work only. Apart from the pure talent that could be seen in every production he was a part of, he was also gifted with one more thing: an incredible insight. He was able to perfectly pinpoint the one acting offer which would guarantee his success and popularity from the innumerable amount of proposals. His manager was proud of him.

He greeted the caretaker who had just woken up from his nap, then took the elevator to his floor. He opened his door with the magnetic card. They were a bit jammed, like always; he had to do something about that lock. For all he knew, the magnetic card wasn't even necessary to unlock the faulty mechanism. Fortunately, the district was a particularly safe one, and he lived in a closed housing estate, which meant little to no burglaries.

Repairing the lock would be beneficial, though. He wondered if the elderly caretaker knew how to do it.

I will give him a call later, decided Atobe. He walked into his apartment and let the door close shut behind him. He went straight to the kitchen to leave his groceries there; on the way, he thought he'd heart a strange noise, but he ignored it. The walls in the building were thin. That might have just been a neighbour.

He set the water to boil and went to the bathroom, removing his shirt and throwing it to the closet in the hall. All he wanted was to have a nice, relaxing bath in his new hot tub. Only that. He deserved it after a long day of filming action scenes.

Much to his surprise, he found a shoe in the bathroom, next to the washbasin. A white, sports shoe that he didn't recognise. It lay on the floor in a discarded manner. Next to it was a sock and something that looked like a piece of light jeans fabric. And blood.

None of these was his.

In the washbasin, he found more bloodstains, his kitchen knife, an empty whisky bottle (undoubtedly one of his collection) and... a bullet?

He ran out from the bathroom and did a quick search of his apartment. Looking around, he could see the red stains everywhere, there were even puddles of blood in some places. By the bedroom door, the stains seemed blurred, as if somebody was crawling there, leaving a trail. There was also a weak scent of alcohol and a stronger one of blood in the air. Somebody was in his bedroom, without a doubt. Somebody was bleeding out in his apartment.

Atobe took a deep breath and entered his bedroom, which, in retrospect, was not the wisest thing to do, as he almost tripped over... a corpse.

Oh gods, there's a dead body on my floor. Oh gods. What do I do, what do I do!

He looked closely at the corpse to take in every detail he would have to tell the police later. Just calm down, calm down... Do not touch anything, and everything will be alright.

Then, as relieved as he was worried, he noticed the corpse was breathing, which technically disqualified it as a corpse. The positive thing was, there wasn't a dead body on his floor. The bad thing, however, was that he had a (barely) alive, injured and unconscious man on his floor. And he had no idea what to do about it.

Don't panic. Just do not panic. Call the police... the ambulance. Whatever, call the fire brigade, just call for help. Like in the films.

The injured man moaned painfully. Atobe almost jumped up, startled, and he dropped his mobile phone, which he didn't even notice he'd held. The device apparently decided to be evil, since it fell under the bed, away from his reach. With nothing sensible left to do, Atobe knelt down next to the injured stranger. Maybe I can help. He removed some hair from the man's face – and a bloodied hand caught his wrist in a tight grip. The stranger looked at him with widely opened eyes from behind the lenses of his glasses.

He seemed scared out of his mind. If he could, he would probably get up and run away. Alas, he could not. Not only did he lose an insane amount of blood, but he also had a hole in his leg that could fit a finger or two. The pain must have been awful.

'I will not hurt you,' Atobe found himself promising before he could think. His voice was surprisingly normal. 'Let go of my hand, so that I could bring some gaze and tend to your injury. It should be good enough before the ambulance comes.' He could see that the wound needed to be sewn together, but he also knew that he was not capable of doing this by himself. Such a big hole... If he had something as awful as this in his leg, he wouldn't be able to stop screaming. He couldn't even imagine what kind of willpower it took to bear the pain like the man was doing.

'No!...' Protested the man weakly. 'Hospitals... in league with them,' he said. He bit his lip, most probably trying to think of something less painful than his wound. 'Can you sew?...' He asked after a while.

'Oh, no,' replied Atobe, who understood at once what the stranger wanted from him. 'I'm not sewing this up. I can call an ambulance, they can help.'

'No!' Hissed the man between his teeth. 'Needle... thread... I can, myself!...' He said, looking at Atobe strangely. 'Don't wanna die...'

'Shit,' said Atobe, who rarely swore, as he deemed such words too vile to use. However, he found it fitting in this situation.

He got up and went back to the bathroom, where he kept his medical kit. He bought it after a film on accidents that happen to people at home; he could still remember deciding it was better safe than sorry. Not that he knew how to use any part of the kit but the bandages; just having it around gave him a sense of security, though. It was as if its presence prevented bad things from happening to him. At least he liked to think it did.

Now there was finally an occasion to use the kit. It made him nervous.

There was everything in there: a surgical needle, a synthetic thread and everything else. No drugs, however, and he supposed some would be useful. Giving it a little thought, Atobe headed to the living room, where his alcohol cabinet proudly stood, holding the innumerable fine beverages. It was in a slight disarray, nothing he couldn't fix later. He retrieved a bottle of vodka. Then, with all the acquired items, he went back to the bedroom.

'Will this work as anaesthesia? I have nothing else,' he said, passing the opened bottle to the man.

His answer was a nod, and the man took a long gulp of the crystal-clear liquid. He coughed violently and passed the bottle back to Atobe, who decided to drink a bit as well. As the alcohol burned his insides, he felt himself slowly relaxing. Or not. At least the feeling of dread was leaving his body, which was just as well in the situation.

The man gave him a very small, barely noticeable crooked smile. 'I wish I had thought about it sooner,' he said. 'I wasted a perfectly good Johnnie Walker for disinfecting the wound, while I could have just drunk it instead. I wouldn't have had to bite my sleeve in pain,' he closed his eyes. His voice was slightly hoarse, but very pleasant to hear. 'Help me up,' he asked Atobe, as he obviously had trouble sitting up by himself.

The actor helped him and continued to support him as the man took the thread and needle, drank another large swig of vodka and started sewing the wound closed.

It must have been less painful than it looked, because the man worked on the injury without as much as a hiss of pain. Plus he became talkative, probably under the influence of alcohol. His name was Tezuka Kunimitsu, he was the same age as Atobe, he used to be a student but he'd dropped out of university lately. His last job was as a burger seller. He lived alone in an apartment a few blocks from there. He liked tennis and history.

He told all this to Atobe during the short time it took to sew the wound up and tie a perfect knot (which looked like a black, ugly spider sticking out of the flesh). However, he became distant when Atobe asked how come he had been shot.

'I don't know,' Tezuka said simply. 'They must have taken me for someone else.'

He was obviously lying.

Twenty minutes later, Tezuka was asleep like a log. He was even snoring lightly. Of course, Atobe helped him onto the bed, seeing as his conscience wouldn't let him leave an injured man on the floor. He promised Tezuka not to call an ambulance; he also shut the window blinds upon the man's rather hysterical request. He had no idea why he was doing something this irresponsible. Logic dictated that he called for help; not only was helping a stranger dangerous, he also didn't possess the skills to provide medical help if required.

He sighed. He made himself some calming tea before starting to clean up the mess, since there was no option to leave it to his cleaner. Just in case, he locked the door not only with the magnetic card (which seemed useless to him right now, since it certainly didn't prevent Tezuka from breaking in), but also with the two regular locks he had installed years ago and never used. He needed the sense of safety the locks provided now, when there was a shot man sleeping in his bed.

Removing the blood from the floor went better than he'd thought, thankfully. However, one particularly nasty spot refused to be cleaned from the wall in the hall. Blood left a rusty stain that would not vanish no matter what was used on it.

Atobe decided he would paint a flower over it later.

What has he gotten himself into? It didn't seem like one of those situations that went from complicated to simple in the span of one night. For all he knew, he could have been helping a wanted fugitive, hiding him in his apartment and possibly aiding his further escape. He didn't know what to do. The rational thing would be to call the police and inform them of everything, but something told him it wasn't the best option right now.

Tezuka seemed honest enough, and he had definitely been scared each time Atobe mentioned the authorities. Atobe's famous Insight wasn't only useful for choosing the best acting offers; it was also his ultimate tool for reading people, which he prided himself on. When talking to Tezuka, he didn't detect anything but sincerity in what the man told him, not counting the reason why he'd been shot. He still felt he could trust Tezuka. Maybe that was why he was doing what he was doing.

'I wish this was an action film,' he said to himself, settling down on his favourite armchair in the living room. He could sleep there or on the couch, and between the two, he actually preferred the chair. The couch, he had bought purely for the aesthetic value; even sitting on it was a torture, not to mention sleeping on it. The floor would probably be more comfortable.

He sighed. One night of sleep in the armchair couldn't hurt him too much, could it?

Yes, it could.