A/N: Hi! I lied,stuff popped out of my head today. This was something short and to get dark juices flowing in my brain. This is a sidefic in between Bullet and Spice. I'm not entirely sure you need the full explanation of Bullet but it helps a little bit. I need to go back and edit Spice. Not today though. This is just a little thing to tide the time. Not entirely sure why it's in present tense but… oh well.

-He isn't sure if the shower has turned red or when he is simply insane. Bullet sidefic, fulfilling the challenge by Leahisadinosaur in the RLt. Short oneshot


In the Red Water

He returns from his kill, not humbled but certainly dirty. He is also hurt.

Taiki brushes at dried, brown specks and realizes its blood. After everything, he only manages a tired, driven sigh and sets down his gun. It looks cold in the light of his bedside lamp and he chuckles. Gods, he is tired. Murder wears down the limbs. He goes to pack the gun away, listening to the quiet hums inside the device in its holster.

"Taiki," murmurs a rasp of a voice from the speaker he can't see. "You need a minute."

Taiki laughs. It is almost like a gargle or even a sob. However, Taiki rarely cries. He's too pragmatic to even try a lot of the time. Tears are a desperate weapon. "Shoutmon, I need a year. I need many years. I need not to have done that."

"Kids woulda' died," reminds the voice. It is endlessly patient, young but long adjusted to being the voice of soothing the heart, since reason was out of the question. "You would still have nightmares."

"Gonna keep having nightmares if you don't let him sleep and stop thinking about it," growls another voice. Shoutmon, inside the device, glares at the speaker. He taps one of his three fingers and blue eyes burn. Taiki wonders if he has the energy to stop the possible feud but then gives up. He slumps in his chair and stares blankly at the ceiling above.

For a moment, the boy is grateful that his mother is asleep and he can't run into her arms and cry like a child or a fool. That wouldn't help her, it would certainly frighten him, and it was three in the morning. Also, being covered in blood and body fluid is something unrealistically disgusting. He certainly wouldn't want to hug himself without bathing in bleach first.

"Shower," he murmurs, looking at streaked skin. His hair feels like there are maggots crawling in it, his lungs full of a soot worse than lung cancer. The two arguing fall silent and mentally, Taiki is grateful. "I am going to shower," Taiki informs them with damp warmth in his voice. "Then I am going to sleep. Can one of you go tell Yuu I won't be there tomorrow?"

Shoutmon's eyes stare at him, sapphire and bothered. Guilt wells up in his chest and he sighs. He doesn't nod, because Taiki can't see that, but gives a growl of agreement. "Okay, I'll go," he says, exiting the device to rest on Taiki's carpeted floor. "If you aren't at least trying to sleep when I get back, I'll beat you unconscious." Without another word, he leaps out of the window. Taiki waves as he goes. Then he sighs and strips. His muscles ache and his bones burn. He smiles like he is crying and heads into the bathroom, hoping his mother will not wake at the sound of the faucet. He does not want her to wake and hear him scream.

The faucet squeaks and spills out chilly water. For a moment, Taiki hesitates, glancing at the mirror. He sees scratches that run up his arms, a bruise slowly purpling on his chest. His legs are practically ribbons of skin and the realization of pain makes his knees buckle. He coughs and shakes his head.

"Honestly," he whispers to the nearly-silent bathroom. "I am such a fool. She played me… again."

Yes, she had. The white angel from the pits of hell played him like a fiddle. Then he hadn't cared. Now… Taiki thinks he cared too much. Otherwise he would be sleeping now, peaceful, content.

He turns the faucet to scalding hot, face paling underneath a slowly fading summer tan. His arms protest and he realizes if he doesn't get this over with his body will be filing a lawsuit. Taiki steps under the spray, and almost yelps at the burn against raw skin and still scabbing wounds. His brain lurches with his stomach and for a second he is reminded of smoke and burning concrete and the popping of…

Taiki shakes his head, water slapping the sides of the shower. It isn't good to think about that now. Best to wait until things didn't hurt anymore and he could think, really think. Murder is not the smartest thing to remind yourself of at this time. His hand reaches for the shampoo and Taiki hesitates. The oncoming sting makes his skin tingle and he winces, almost dropping the bottle.

His chest hurts and his eyes water. He can't cry. Taiki knows that if he does he will never, ever stop.

So, he does the one thing he knows he can always do: he smiles.

He smiles and puts the shampoo down, instead running body wash all over his skin. As the wounds ache like the veins are being gouged out of him, he remembers the screaming and smiles over it. He remembers the face of the man's fear as the water runs. Taiki looks down and sees a puddle of it by his feet. It is dark red, like the stains on the ground. Red blood dribbles from still bleeding scratches and he smiles at it.

The smile aches more than the unshed tears, but he ignores this, concentrating on what matters. He is tired and he is sore. Taiki wants to sleep for a hundred years. He will be lucky if he gets two days. Then he will have to be back to normal, because if he wasn't there would be someone who would pay for it. Knowing this, he turns off the water because he swears Shoutmon is back already and he knows his partner will drag him by his feet to sleep if he is.

Taiki finds his towel wet and streaked with red when he is finished drying and only sighs, running it through cold water. The water turns an instant ugly mix of crimson and brown and Taiki thinks idly of the scent of gasoline. It doesn't make his chest ache as it would moments before. However, he is a special child. Special children think differently from normal children. The cloth is soon relatively clean and drenched and he drops it to dry.

Taiki isn't a fool. He is only lying down for the sake of covering his bases. His wounds hurt and they will drag him into nightmares no matter how well he bandages them. They will twinge no matter how much they heal. Murder is a crime that does not fade from you. Murder is an act that people pretend to praise you for and then despise you for.

He is a murderer. He has spent too many days in that world.

That is why, no matter how many times he washes himself, Taiki knows he will always be cleaned by red water.

Shoutmon returns to find him curled under his blanket, eyes blankly looking out his window. He finds him unblinking, almost sleeping, dreading the bloody nightmares awaiting him.