Disclaimer: Characters belong to CLAMP, used without permission, making no money. Doing it strictly for the Voices amusement. *nods*

It All Changes
by Icka! M. Chif

It all started with a telephone call.

Takeshi and Kentarou were camped up in Takeshi's bedroom doing homework when his mother informed them that there was a call for Kentarou downstairs. Since they ended up camped out at Takeshi's house to do homework as often as they did at Kentarou's, this wasn't anything extraordinary, or cause for alarm.

Kentarou bounced down the stairs, as cheerful and genki as ever, making Takeshi's mother smile, and leaving Takeshi alone to do his homework in relative silence.

Silence that extended just a little bit too long for the blue Duklyon's comfort. His partner in crime made noise no matter what he was doing, and Takeshi had become accustomed to keeping an ear out for his friend. Even on the telephone downstairs, there should have been some sort of noise, cheerful exclamations or the sounds of Kentarou bouncing around, but there was nothing.

The un-nerving silence continued when Kentarou finally entered the room again. "Kentarou?" Takeshi scrambled to his feet, noticing the brown-eyed boy's pale face and dull eyes.

Kentarou's response was to fly at him, wrapping himself around the taller boy. Takeshi blinked, taken back even as his arms automatically moved around to help hold his trembling friend up. "Kentarou?"

"Don't..." The word came out as a half sob, half whisper against the material of his shirt. "Don't... say anything. Okay? Please? Just... don't say... anything."

He nodded his assent, awkwardly resting his chin on top of Kentarou's head. The wrongness of the situation just screamed out at him. This was wrong. This wasn't -normal-.

And he didn't know what to do.

It was several moments later before Kentarou moved again. "Can I... Can I stay here?" He asked, his voice un-naturally soft and hesitant as he loosened his grip a little. Not much, just enough to make it easier for the other to breathe.

The question took Takeshi back for a moment. They would often crash at whomever's house they were studying at, a spare futon was easy enough to unfold and set out for an extra person.

Once again, his instincts screamed out that this wasn't NORMAL. That there was more to this then met the eye.

Then he understood the question. It also wasn't normal, but he didn't want to think about the alternative at the moment.

He nodded again, loosening his grip on his friend and moving slightly back. "Let me get you something to sleep in."

Kentarou looked faintly relived, releasing him and standing upright. "Thanks."

Takeshi waved it off, pulling out a spare set of nightclothes and his futon from the closet. He handed the night clothes to Kentarou, then started packing up their books and school supplies. He knew there would be no more homework done.

The other boy took the opportunity to change while he did that. The pyjamas were a bit large on him, but they would be comfortable enough for the night.

Kentarou shooed him away from the futon, motioning that he would take care of it while he changed into his own set of pyjamas. Takeshi nodded and did so, changing in record time. It wasn't that he was modest about it, he and Kentarou changed in front of each other all the time to suit up for Duklyon, but the strange sense of -wrongness- sped up his actions.

"Which... which side?" Kentarou asked, hovering around the futon nervously.

Takeshi shrugged. It didn't matter to him. Kentarou nodded, curling up on the side farther from the door. Takeshi turned off the light and crawled onto the futon as well, pulling the cover over them as he did so.

It was weird, sharing a futon with someone else. He could sense his friend in the darkness, a shivering warm spot on one side of him. Close, but not touching. It felt weird. Not bad weird, but combined with Kentarou's strange behaviour, it was enough to send his nerves on edge. He was... scared.

True sleep was elusive, but he finally relaxed enough to fall into a half doze. He was vaguely aware of when Kentarou moved closer, wrapping himself around him and resting his mop of red hair on his chest with a contented sigh. He was less aware when he wrapped his arms around his friend and finally fell asleep.

****

The alarm went off, causing Takeshi to startle and jolt upright in bed. Reality came crashing down as he turned off the obnoxious object and glanced around the room.

There was no sign of the brunette, his clothes or his books. Takeshi's own clothes were neatly folded where he usually set them, backpack packed and ready, waiting next to the door.

Takeshi frowned. If he didn't know better, he would have said that last night, and Kentarou's bizarre behaviour, was merely a dream. Fortunately, he knew better. He'd make a lousy accountant if he forgot such major details.

A glance at the clock made him shove that train of thought to the side as he scrambled to fold up the bed and get dressed. He still had newspapers to deliver.

And he could ask Kentarou about it when he got to school.

****

Kentarou wasn't at school that morning. Takeshi called his house twice, and both times the phone line was busy.

****

Kentarou wasn't at school the next day either. Takeshi was beginning to get slightly nervous. He called Kentarou's house several times, and every time the line was busy.

Erii said she didn't know where he was either.

*****

Kentarou wasn't at school the day after that. Takeshi started to get a bit more nervous. He didn't mind the fact that he could walk to classes without people looking at him strangely because Kentarou wasn't there to call him 'Darling', but the whispers in his classes of people wondering where his partner was were getting on his nerves.

He stopped by Kentarou's house and was abruptly told that the other boy wasn't at home.

*****

On the 4th day of Kentarou's disappearance, the music started up, heralding the call for Duklyon. It was almost a relief to stand up and excuse himself from the classroom, citing he wasn't feeling well. The teacher glanced over at where he had left indents in the desk where he had been gripping it and was all too willing to excuse him for the rest of the day if need be. Which was probably for the best.

The dash to the bakery was odd, he was used to attempting to keep pace with the School's Track Star. He knew that Kentarou slowed his pace down to allow him to keep up, but the brunette was still incredibly fast no matter how much he attempted to slow down.

Luck was on his side as he got into the bakery, they weren't using the oven today. He opened the door, paused for a moment, waiting for his partner to go in first, then jumped in when he remembered he appeared to be solo today.

This was really starting to get annoying. It wasn't like he was -missing- his friend or anything. He was just used to having him around.

Now that was a scary thought.

Erii was waiting for him at the bottom, looking rather ticked off, as usual. At least some things hadn't changed, he was pleased to note. Even if it wasn't one of the more pleasant constants. He looked around, not seeing anyone else. "Where's Kentarou?" He asked, half expecting to get yelled at for the question.

"He's not here." Erii said, a strange flat tone to her voice.

He blinked. Did that mean she did know where he was? "He's not-" the Boss' screen flashing on cut off the question. Both of them snapped to attention.

"Ah, Chuusonji-san, Shuukaidou-san, good to see you." The Boss smiled at them. "There's no need for formalities, our campus is not in need of your services today."

Takeshi glanced over at Erii, a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach intensifying. Erii looked straight ahead, her face a mask.

"So what's going on?" He asked, seeing as he would get no information out of her.

"I'm afraid that I'm the bearer of bad tidings today." The Boss said seriously, as the 2 ladies behind him bowed their heads slightly, hands clasped in front of them. "Until further noticed, Duklyon is off of active duty."

"What?!" Takeshi blinked, taken back. He hadn't expected that. "Why? Does Kentarou know?"

"Higashikunimaru-san is aware of the situation." The Boss informed him. "It is because of him that I am making this announcement. He will no longer be joining us here at CLAMP Campus." His fan, which he was using to cover his mouth, read 'Sayonara' on it.

Takeshi could only stare numbly at the screen, hearing the words but not quite understanding their meaning. How could that be possible? He and Kentarou had just been studying for classes a few days ago...

"Shuukaidou-san, I have one last favour to impose on you if possible." The Boss continued, apparently oblivious to his reaction. "I need a packet of information to be delivered to a certain person, and then your leave will begin, should you agree to do so."

"Uh, yeah." He mentally shook himself, agreeing to the errand. "No problem."

"Thank you." The Boss smiled faintly at him, folding his fan with a faint 'snap'. "Chuusonji-san will fill you in on the details. Have a good day!"

The screen went blank.

Takeshi continued to stare at it for a few seconds more. Finally he tore his shocked gaze away from it to look at Erii. She had a solemn look on her face, holding a packet out to him.

"The address is on the front of the envelope." She explained as he took it. "You need to deliver this to the President of the company. They should be expecting you."

"Errr, okay." He nodded, giving her a small salute. "Thanks."

"You're welcome." She gave him a sweet, yet sad smile. "I'll see you later."

"Right." He turned and walked out of the headquarters, feeling somewhat like a martini. Shaken and rather mixed up.

****

"Just a moment." The elderly man motioned for Takeshi to wait by the door. "I'll go see if he's available."

He nodded, moving to the motioned to spot. "Thank you."

The older man smiled and opened the door to the president's office, giving Takeshi a chance to look around. The atmosphere at the large corporate office as sombre and solemn, even as the employees bustled about, taking care of their work. A black funeral wreath decorated the space on the other side of the door. Takeshi briefly wondered who died.

The door opened and the older man stepped out. "You can come in now."

"Thank you." The man held the door for him as he stepped into the other room. It was darker in here than the other room, and it took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust. Finally it did, and he walked forward towards the large desk in the middle of the room, where a man was diligently working on several large stacks of paperwork.

"I'm sorry for the interruption." He apologised, pausing before the desk. "I'm here to deliver a letter from CLAMP..." His voice trailed off as the occupant of the desk looked up.

"Kentarou! Where have you been?! I've been worried about you!" He blurted, taking in the sight of his friend. Kentarou looked completely drained, devoid of his usual exuberance. His skin was pale, like he hadn't seen daylight in more than the few days since Takeshi had last seen him, and there were faint shadows under his eyes.

The thing that scared him however, was the look in Kentarou's eyes. His normally warm brown eyes were flat and dull, like all the fire had been drained out of him. They were dead.

Kentarou gave him a smile so bland it hurt to look at it. "I had asked them not to tell you what had happened." He said, his voice sounding older, more mature than his years. "I didn't want you to worry."

"Not to-?" Takeshi shook his head slightly confused and not a little bit exasperated. "How can you expect me not to worry? The last time I saw you-"

"I had just received a phone call that my parents had just died in an accident." Kentarou said evenly, his eyes glued to his desktop. "I meant to thank you for letting me spend the night, but I had be here before you woke up. As their sole heir, it is my duty to see that the company continues to run smoothly."

Silence reigned as Takeshi absorbed Kentarou's words.

"I understand." He finally said, his voice devoid on any inflection.

Kentarou looked at him with those flat eyes as he set the letter on the desk and bowed. "I'm sorry for the interruption. I'm sure you have a lot of work to do, Higashikunimaru-san. I'll leave you to it."

"Thank you for your visit." Kentarou rose and bowed as well. "Have a safe trip home."

Takeshi turned and walked out of the room, his face carefully pooled into the same calm mask it had been when he had walked in. As he opened the door to leave though, he could have sworn he heard someone call 'Takepon'. But when he glanced back, Kentarou was buried in his work again.

*****

He understood.

That was the worse part, Takeshi mused to himself as he walked through the central park of CLAMP Campus. He well and truly understood.

It was so easy to forget that Kentarou was one of the rich elite, maybe not on par with the Imonoyama, but then nobody really was on par with the Imonoyama. But when one looked at any of the Imonoyama family, it was easy to see the power and breeding that practically radiated from them.

Kentarou usually reminded people more of an oversized puppy. He was so happy and energetic, always running around with a grin on his face and a cheerful wave for everyone.

Takeshi should have known better. He was supposed to be Kentarou's partner after all. And yet Kentarou had fooled him too, managing to make him forget about the differences between them.

Kentarou was rich. Takeshi was not. That was a pretty big social gulf.

Poverty is an oni.

Kentarou was now in charge of an entire company, with all the responsibilities that came with it. And his eyes were so dull and flat...

It disturbed him to see Kentarou like that. Kentarou was the energetic one, full of fire while he was he cool one.

But now... It was like his friend was split into 2 people. 'Kenpi', who was genki and ran around with an oversized bento box calling him Takepon and got him in trouble. And there was also 'Kentarou', the responsible president of a company.

And in pain.

Takeshi grimaced and ran a hand through his hair. Why was he so worried about Kentarou anyway? He was the source of basically all of the chaos in his life. The name calling, chasing after him with a bento, insisting that he was going to be his wife. It wasn't normal. How many times had he wished that Kentarou would knock it off?

But he had never actually wished that Kentarou would -leave-.

After the past several days of tensely waiting for Kentarou's call of 'Takepon', it was rather disturbing to realise that he wouldn't. Kentarou was gone.

He shivered. He was a loner by nature, and as such the idea of being by himself had never bothered him before. He'd never bothered with having many friends before. And yet for some reason he was disturbed by the thought of being alone.

No Kentarou chasing after him. No 'Takepon' or 'Darling' and the snickers that the nicknames caused. No Duklyon. No Erii chasing after him with her mallets waving. No more chaos. Just the same problems and worries that normal people had.

Normal.

He hated it. If this was 'normal', he wanted his strange normality back.

He missed Kentarou.

Kentarou was hurting.

It was only normal to help your friends, right?

Takeshi sighed and turned to head towards his home. He had an idea.

He just hoped that his suit still fit him.

****

"Your resume is very impressive." The elderly man who had been acting as Kentarou's secretary looked over the piece of paper with a critical eye. "Your accounting skills are excellent, and with the amount of martial arts you have listed here, I can think of several people who most likely be interested in hiring you on as a bodyguard. It says here that you were even part of the CLAMP Campus Special Security force."

Takeshi sweatdropped and made a mental note never to let Erii 'help' him with his resume again. He still wasn't sure how she had discovered his plan, but she had practically broken down his door demanding to let her type it up for him.

"It's... not a big deal." He attempted to downplay it. From the shrewd look in the other man's eye, he wasn't buying it.

The older man set the piece of paper down on the table, folding his hands over it. "I'm afraid we do not currently have an opening in the accounting department."

"I see." Takeshi attempted to keep his face from falling and failed. He had hoped to be hired as an accountant at the Higashikunimaru main offices. He wouldn't be able to keep a close eye on Kentarou, but it was better than nothing. And it looked like he wasn't even going to be able to do that.

"However-" The sharp eye in the older man's eye increased. "-we may be able to offer you a job that is more suited to your skills. CLAMP students are usually besieged by offers from various companies, it would be foolish of us to turn this opportunity away after you went to the effort of propositioning us."

Takeshi blinked, not expecting the offer. "What kind of job?"

"Assistant to one of our higher ups. Double checking calculations, making schedules, gathering data, that sort of thing." He smiled. "Why don't you come meet them before saying yes or no?"

"Alright..." Takeshi slowly agreed. The older man was just up to something, he could feel it in his bones. He just wasn't sure -what-.

"Good." He stood up and walked out of the door, Takeshi following behind. "I'm glad that you're considering this. I've been worried about them as of late, they've taking their responsibilities a bit too hard. They need someone who will remind them to have fun, but also to do their work. I think you just might be exactly what he needs."

Takeshi nodded. Any chance was better than none, after all.

"Here we are." The man paused beside a plain looking door and opened it, motioning for Takashi to go first. "In here."

Takashi nodded and stepped through, the older man following. "Sir." The man said calmly. "I have someone here applying for the position as your secretary."

Hollow brown eyes looked up and met ice blue. There was no recognition in them at all.

Takeshi swallowed, suddenly nervous. "Hello."

Kentarou blinked, a faint spark of his usual fire returning. He blinked again, then;

"TAKEPON!!!"

::WHAM!::

Takeshi was suddenly looking at the ceiling, a very enthusiastic Kenpi pinning him to the floor. "Who are you calling 'Takepon'?!" He roared, pretty sure that the entire building had heard them. There was no heat in his voice however.

"You're here? You're really -here-?! And you're applying for a job?!" Kentarou exclaimed, glowing so much he practically lit up the room. He was almost surprised that Kentarou wasn't vibrating. "Here?! With me?!"

"For accounting!" He corrected, motioning towards the older man who was watching them, bemused. "He said that! Not me!"

"I knew it! Takepon does love Kenpi!" Kentarou crowed, a grin threatening to crack his face.

"What?!" Takeshi just -knew- his face was bright red and he couldn't prevent it. "Baka! Get off of me! You weight as much as Godzilla!"

He was actually pretty sure that his friend had lost weight. He was lighter than normal. But the bantering was both familiar and comfortable. And Kentarou didn't seem to mind.

"See? That's what happens when you eat a good breakfast in the morning!" Kentarou retorted, climbing off of him and offering a hand to help him to his feet. "And I suppose you had anpan and milk, as usual."

"Heh." He snorted, dismissing the comment as he accepted the hand up. "And what did -you- have for breakfast?"

"I..." Kentarou's voice trailed off as he gazed into nothing. "I don't remember." He quietly admitted, his cheerful facade fading into a disturbed quiet.

"Then I think that should be the next order of business." Takeshi scolded, straightening his clothing. "Lets get you fed. You can finish your paperwork after you've eaten and can think with your brain instead of your stomach."

The brown haired man beamed, smiling again. "Does this mean that you're staying then?"

"Well, -somebody's- got to keep an eye on you." He said disdainfully. "You'll get into trouble otherwise."

Kentarou just grinned. His eyes were still slightly haunted, a reminder of his parents death, but he no longer looked like a walking corpse. His fire was back.

Which meant that 'Kenpi' was back. Takeshi wasn't sure to be grateful or run screaming. He'd decide later.

"Shall we go?" Takeshi inquired, tilting his head. Kentarou nodded, bouncing towards him and the door the older gentleman was holding.

"Thank you, Takepon." Kentarou whispered as he passed.

"Who's Takepon?" He retorted, unable to resist smiling back.

Things were back to normal.

-end-

This fic saved my sanity. Such as it was... ~_~ The beginning section seems a little stiff... Most of that has to do with the fact that I had been wrestling with the Voices, who had been debating on who would be the uke if the story turned into a lemon and could they please please please turn it into a lemon-? *sweatdrops* My Voices are perverts sometimes...

And the old man never got a name... huh. Mental pic for him was Jii-san from Kaito Kid, the funny old guy who was the original Kid's assistant. Or for those non-Detective Conan fans, picture a kinder, gentler, happy Dr. Wily from Megaman. #^^#

Anyone notice that by the end of the second Duklyon manga that Kentarou has finally figured out how to get Takeshi to go along with his crazy schemes?
Kenpi just grabs Takepon around the shoulders and takes off running. Or jumps out of an office building. And Takepon goes right along with him. (okay, so maybe not exactly willingly...)

Odd fact of the day: Duklyon in French is spelled 'Dukalyon'

Red and Blue Duklyon. Fire and Ice. Energetic and Calm. Kenpi and Takepon. They were a matched set.