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[Fic] Stalking the Angel (1/4)

Title: Stalking the Angel

Authors: sinnatious and kaorismash

Summary: TezRyo AU. Tezuka Kunimitsu, up-and-coming detective, is transferred to assist in a case of serial murders.

Rating: R

Authors' Notes: I don't normally do collaborations, but since Ka0richan and I spend so much time bouncing fic ideas off each other to often epic effect, it would be silly not to. So we started this one during the great hiatus, and recently remembered to finish it. Yay!

Can you guess who wrote which parts? :3 To make it interesting, for whoever is the closest by the end of the fic, I’ll write a one-shot of that person’s choice. Ka0richan has offered as well (under the stipulation of pillar pair + infinite time). \o/

Title taken from Robert Crais’s crime novel. Second part up next week on Kaori's journal. Hope you enjoy!

First Movement

City life beamed through a suppressive fog that was thick and dirty with pollutants. He could hear the distant buzz of chatter, the purr of engines rolling, the howl of strong violent winds; he could hear a heartbeat that was running out of time, pulsing irregularly as blood squeezed through blocked arteries.

The figure clad entirely in black tilted his head down and peered through the scope to see a tanned man wearing a pair of clear-cut glasses. A golden eye trailed almost lazily after him as he paced back and forth within the confines of the solid windows of the tallest skyscraper. The angle of the rifle shifted down – a man with bleached hair and equally tanned skin was typing away on his keyboard – down – a taller-than-average man wearing a suit and shades was moving towards the emergency stairwell – down a good ten floors. He froze the positioning of his weapon and locked it into place. Sitting at the centre of the reticule was a man drowning in rolls of fat; sinking into his recliner while consuming more donuts than he could handle at once.

Kei Tanishi, sang a voice in his mind, connecting the man to the brightly coloured photographs within the manila folder to his right.

"Target acquired," he murmured softly under his breath; so quiet not even a whisper of it danced upon the wind. His finger twitched, but he waited. A plane was scheduled to fly overhead within moments and he knew for certain the fat man would not be moving for another five hours. Patience, he thought, repeating it over and over and over again. Patiencepatiencepatiencepatiencepatience.

He rubbed his cheek against the stock, head swaying slightly from side to side as he hummed an obscure tune as if it were a lullaby to a newborn baby.

The wind quickly washed it away before anyone could hear.

Then the gunshot that followed, swallowed in the wake of the passing jet.

It was after a long tiring day of filling in transferral paperwork and familiarising himself with folders upon folders of dead-end leads on his soon-to-be case that found Tezuka leaving work late at night. He was in no real rush to get home, and the long walk would help organize his thoughts. The case was more challenging than any of the others he had taken on in the past – it was quite a promotion. The Ballistics division had only been able to determine the possible model of the firearm, the direction of the shots, and the approximate distance the sharpshooter was situated. None of it particularly helpful in identifying the phantom killer.

Tezuka buried his hands deep in his pockets and exhaled against his muffler. He closed his eyes, relishing in the warmth spreading along his cheeks from behind the scarf. Winter had come early and it was colder than he was used to, colder than the last city he was in.

He looked up towards the sky to see if he could catch a glimpse of the stars hidden behind the thick blanket of cloud. Instead he saw a large cross, connected to an even larger tower that was part of a magnificent building; a cathedral with stained glass windows, burning from the dim candlelight within. He could hear the faint hum of an organ, and the closer he got, the clearer the song became. The melody was something typical for the gothic structure looming among the business buildings: a song of pathos; haunting – beautiful even – in a way that made him evocatively melancholic.

There was a frown on his lips as he stopped in front of the wide steps leading up to the cathedral. Tezuka was not a religious man. He held no belief in any god, and had never stepped foot in a church save for that one time he was chasing down a psychotic evangelist. But he felt something, his instincts were pulling him in that direction. It felt almost foolish to deny it.

He placed a foot on the first step, and found himself standing at the large entrance moments later. The frown deepened marginally when he freed a hand from the warmth of his pocket. After much deliberation, he pushed the door open and was met with a rush of warm air.

He could not see aisles upon aisles of seats, or even an altar as he had imagined. It was instead a small room not unlike a waiting room, with a table to one side, a pamphlet stand on the other. The only difference was the bountiful paintings and candles lining the walls. He spotted an archway to the right and walked towards it. It led to a pathway of stone columns and glass and angels. He took care to keep his footsteps light.

After what felt like a dreadfully long time with nothing but flickering flames and solemn statues keeping him company, Tezuka found himself staring through the glass wall into the heart of the building. There were a few elderly people sitting among the rows praying, but Tezuka’s eyes were drawn immediately to the figure sitting by the steps of the altar: a boy.

Somehow he found himself entering the sanctuary and walking down the long aisle as quietly as he could. He stopped midway, a strange reverent feeling washing over him at the sight – almost like a fallen angel praying at the foot of whatever deity existed.

The boy’s head was tilted back. He was staring at the large statue on the podium behind the altar, a glowing aureole of candlelight burning into the marble. He was swaying from side to side, just barely, as if deeply immersed with the forlorn melody.

Tezuka took a step closer, and cringed when his heels clicked loudly against stone. The boy froze, and Tezuka saw the hands by his sides twitching.

Suddenly the boy was standing upright, twisting around with a swish of his coat to face Tezuka. The abrupt movement had Tezuka stepping back in surprise as he committed the boy’s appearance to memory. His eyes were large, but not with shock – Tezuka couldn’t imagine eyes that bright ever being shocked. They were eerily catlike; wide, gold and alert with pupils contracting in a way that almost made them appear like slits.

They stared at each other for one brief moment; Tezuka frozen on the spot with his breath caught in his throat, the boy with his arms away from his sides, standing in a slightly crouched stance. Predator, Tezuka thought, there was nothing else that rang so loud.

He didn’t take his eyes off the gold, and the gold didn’t stop following him even as the owner advanced. Tezuka stayed as still as possible without really knowing why. Then the boy slinked by him like a shadow, brushing past and slivering through the gaps of Tezuka’s clothing like the cold winter breeze.

Tezuka refused to look backwards even as he heard the bang of the entrance door reverberating throughout the entire structure.

He felt as if the music had stopped, but the organs were still playing.

The city square was always full of activity; businessmen speeding along with briefcases in hand and women strolling in packs, laughing and gossiping with arms full of lightweight shopping bags. There were children with their guardians, fidgeting on chairs too high or licking on cones too cold in cafés and restaurants neighbouring skyscrapers and circling the large fountain littered with white, black, grey birds. It was a typical day in the city with the bright sun shining overhead and not a cloud in the clear blue sky.

There was a boy lounging on the edge of the fountain, hands cushioned under his head. As far as appearances went, he looked every bit the delinquent teen dressed entirely in black; typical trench coat, typical buckled boots, typical metallic chains. Just typical. He scowled and kicked a foot out at the birds getting too close into his personal space. They fluttered back in search of more crumbs and food scraps.

"I know," the teen grumbled under his breath, a pout turning down his lips. He rubbed at his head after freeing a hand, and cast a sidelong glance past the cascading water. He could make out the blur of a black limousine pulling up in front of a restaurant in the no parking zone.

"Yes," he breathed, pushing off his back when the occupants exited the vehicle. A tall bulky man in a suit was followed by a smaller, dusty-haired man decked in something horrendously gaudy. He was thankful for the curtain of water to soften the details. Bright colours never sat well with him. It made him feel edgy. Feeling edgy always sent nervousness tingling through the hairs on the back of his neck. He clicked his teeth together and let out a hissing breath.

"Fine!" he snapped suddenly as he stood. The movement sent a ring of birds fluttering away from him. There was a sullen expression on his face now. The hand by his side twitched as he watched the previous occupants of the limousine settle at a table outside of a particularly fancy restaurant. The smaller man was blocked completely from view by his hulking bodyguard. Across from them was a man with a crew cut dressed in a standard business suit.

Ooooh, the teen thought as he eyed the sparkling jug of water across the tabletop. Perfect.

He casually slid his hands under his coat as he trailed along the edge of the fountain. He felt the hairs along his arms stand to attention and paused mid-stride. The businessman was looking at him.

Fuck, he thought, hands grasping the grip of his weapons.

"FREEZE!" a voice boomed through a megaphone from behind.

"FUCK NO," he screamed. Panic and adrenalin raced through his blood. "I DON’T FUCKING KNOW!"

Frantically, he darted forward. The movement set off a shower of bullets in his wake; he paid it no mind as he simultaneously aimed a bullet at the jug with the gun in his right hand and multiple electrodes from the taser in his left. The glass shattered, spraying over everyone at the table with pulsing electricity. The teen barked with laughter as it laced around the men, rendering them incapacitated with seizures. The screams sounded like music.

His laughter was cut short with a choking gasp of pain. The teen looked down to see blood seeping down his leg. "No," he whispered. "I don’t…" He was breathing heavily, stumbling and crying out in pain as more bullets tore through his side. "Whywhyfuckingwhy?!" He spun around on his heels to the left, cursing at the pain jolting through his body but ignoring it as best he could – he was good at that. He could make out his target’s back. He aimed.

A bullet embedded itself into his wrist just as he triggered the taser; the electrodes fell short of the target and latched onto the bodyguard. Had it been in a different circumstance he would’ve laughed with glee – the charge of electricity was enough to kill with a direct hit.

An angry screech tore from his throat when he lost grip of his weapon. "AAARGH! I’LL KILL YOU. I’LL KILL YOU ALL!" He rotated around full circle, triggering bullets from the semiautomatic to fly towards the tight circle of police.

He relished in the chaos coming from the few unlucky citizens caught within the square. The only sounds were screaming, shouting, crying as bullets pierced through people, through cars, through glass. The commotion halted when another bullet ripped through the teen’s working hand. The gun dropped to the floor, harmless. As if piloted by the weapon, the teen wasn’t moving around anymore either. He was breathing heavily, drenched in his own blood with bullets embedded in his torso and arms and legs. It was crazy for him to even still be standing.

The police team had him cornered.

He opened his mouth and the police waited with baited breath, all taking aim.

"I’m number one." He sounded half-strangled, brows furrowed together with a devastated expression on his face. Then he threw his head back, laughing and laughing and laughing because this was just so fucking hilarious. "I’M NUMBER ONE!"

A policeman directly in front of the boy blinked and cursed, looking frantically towards his commanding officer. "Shit! He’s got a bomb!"

The metal choker around his neck flashed.

The wind buffeted his hair, roaring dully in his ears. The scope adjusted slightly for the unexpected gust, jerking back down to the correct floor. Glass windows leading to empty rooms passed by dizzily, until a shock of colour caught his attention.

Compared to the rest of the floors, the room was positively bustling. It was rather late in the evening, after all – most office workers were well on their way to their homes. The twilight hid his presence well, allowing him to get relatively close without being seen.

There was an impeccably dressed man with purple hair, gesturing somewhat flamboyantly from where he sat as he addressed the others in the room. He clearly fancied himself something of a king… though it looked like he was ruling over a squad of monkeys. The thought amused him briefly as his gaze lingered – he wasn’t the target, but he looked familiar.

He abandoned his inspection as the purple haired man and his enormous, brick-like bodyguard left the room. They looked agitated about something – given the timing, he could guess what. Four employees remained. A golden eye lazily tracked them through the scope. Two were sitting on a couch: a grey-haired man, smiling weakly at something the scowling one next to him was saying. A blue cap obscured his hair. Inconvenient. He didn’t want to take his eye from the scope to check the picture again.

Letting the view scroll slowly to the side, his gaze stopped fleetingly on a slightly tan man wearing a suit and perfectly round spectacles. Not the target. Unimportant. A little further to the right, and he caught a flash of red. Bingo. "Can’t escape from me, little monkey," a voice murmured into the wind.

Mukahi Gakuto.

The bright red of his hair was rather like the colour of blood. It was sort of pretty. A shame.

He started humming, adjusting the crosshairs just a fraction. There wouldn’t be a chance for a second shot.

The gentle melody abruptly cut short to make way for a frustrated sigh. The target was far too energetic – he alternated between bouncing around the office and rocking back and forth on his heels every few seconds. The redhead waved a finger at the man wearing the glasses, lips mouthing words hidden by the distance. It was like watching a silent movie. They were well-dressed actors, waltzing about the set in their own little world.

A chance.

His finger tightened on the trigger, and the set was sprayed crimson.

Tezuka walked out of the elevator at a brisk pace. Inoue spotted him almost immediately, waving him over.

"There’s been another one," the older detective said in a hushed voice.

Tezuka nodded. "I read the report downstairs. Mukahi Gakuto, correct?"

"Right. He never saw it coming. Left a nice blood splatter that forensics is going over. Happened right in front of his co-workers, too. They’ve had a rough month." Inoue glanced about. "Come on, we should probably talk about the rest in my office."

Once safely secluded from prying ears, Inoue started talking again. "I know you’ve only just transferred, but any chance you’ve been able to read through all the documentation yet?"

Tezuka nodded gravely. "Everything you gave me."

"Good. What are your thoughts?" Inoue was a pleasant and rather personable sort of individual, and his tone was lightly conversational, but Tezuka couldn’t shake suspicion that he was being tested.

Squaring his shoulders, he replied, "They are clearly professional hits. The profile doesn’t fit your standard serial killer. It’s an assassin working for hire."

Inoue nodded, "That’s the assumption we’ve been operating under for the past month. I’m surprised you arrived at that conclusion so quickly on your own. I can see why you were recommended." He looked pleased. Obviously the test had been passed.

Tezuka didn’t acknowledge the praise. "Assassins wouldn’t be easy to come by. He’s probably only working for one employer, otherwise someone would have sold him out already." He laced his fingers together, staring over them into empty space. "This case has been running for some time. Surely a motive has been discovered. A common thread that links the victims together?"

Inoue hesitated, but didn’t say anything. Tezuka straightened, and stared the man down. "What?"

"There's only speculation," he explained reluctantly. "And it’s not like we can even act on it…"

"Who?" Speculation could at least give him a place to start.


"As in the company?" he asked, surprised. They did a lot of military contracts.

"More specifically, their CEO. They've been dogged by accusations of white-collar crimes, but there's a lot of hearsay that they do a lot of dirtier stuff too, and control a lot of mob groups. There's even rumours that they train professional hitmen. We had one witness break down in custody once, and claim that Yukimura had methods. That he could even rob people of their ability to feel. There were some pretty horrific accounts."

"Why wasn't this investigated?" Tezuka demanded.

"They're untouchable. Witnesses wind up retracting statements or disappearing. We can't get warrants without evidence, and can't get evidence without warrants. It's all mired in legal talk."

"But surely..."

"As you pointed out, we've been on this case for a long time," Inoue reminded him. "The detective you replaced found a pattern. Yukimura always benefits from those murders, either directly or indirectly. Unfortunately, motive alone isn't enough to act against someone with that many lawyers."

Tezuka set his mouth into a thin line. So they were going to pursue the assassin after all, instead of seeking the root of the problem. "So what was this classified information you needed to share with me?"

Inoue produced a wad of manila folders with a flourish. "I’ve been keeping this inside the department."

Tezuka opened the first folder, eyes widening. "This is…"

The older detective sat back, looking pleased with himself. "That’s right. There were two of them, but now it looks like we're down to one."

"How did you arrive at that conclusion?" Tezuka asked, leafing through the folders.

"Two different modus operandi. One was rather messy - would take out any bystanders, and always left a rather gory scene for us to find. Likely a psychopath. The second one is a crack shot. Only ever hits the target, nice and clean death, no collateral damage."

"And…" Tezuka prompted.

"The first one got in too deep. Since he gets up close and personal with his targets, we were able to corner him. Went nuts, blew himself up." Inoue sounded tired at the recollection. He slid another folder over to Tezuka, who opened it and took a cursory glance at the contents. There was an artist's recreation of a surprisingly young man with black curly hair and bloodshot eyes.

"The murders haven’t stopped, obviously. The second one is still out there, doing the work for both of them we figure. He would have been to one to take out Kei Tanishi and Mukahi Gakuto."

"Surely that is preferable. Fewer people suffer this way," Tezuka pointed out.

Inoue lit a cigarette, thought better of it, and then put it out again. "Maybe. But it's the more dangerous type. They're calm and collected, and so don't make mistakes. They're harder to catch, harder to profile, and that sort of cold-bloodedness is downright scary."

Tezuka hadn’t expected the case to be easy. Cases that prompted detectives to resign rarely were. Thinking about it, he had to wonder if his predecessor felt he was getting too close to the fire. It was one thing to track down a serial killer. Tracking down information on an assassin was likely to leave yourself as the next target. Those suspicions in regards to Yukimura might have some serious merit to them. "Then we’d better get started."

"…Relationship issues?"

"Yeah. Yagyuu tells me there’s some scandal with the lover." The man with blindingly white hair ran a thumb over his lower lip in thought. "A Shiraishi Kuranosuke." The name meant nothing to either of them. The man shrugged, smirking roguishly. "Target’s currently in there-" he jerked a thumb over his shoulder, "-drowning in booze."

The younger couldn’t understand that. He eyed his tall companion doubtfully. "You’re sure?"

A dusty blond wig was waved in front of the boy’s face. "Hey, you wanted clean and swift, I’m giving you clean and swift." With a huff, the man expertly pulled the wig over his head. He crouched down by a decent-sized mirror on the floor and proceeded to tuck in all the colourless strands. After that he pulled out a small tube, unwound the lid, and dabbed at the mole on his chin. He smoothed it out and slid the concealer back into his pocket.

"Hmm…" He studied his appearance critically in the mirror, and flashed it a brief smile. The man placed a hand in front of his face and ran a finger up the bridge of his nose, grinning all the while. "How does he look?"

"You look stupid."

"Moron, Shiraishi’s the stupid looking one."

The boy stared at him blankly, but didn’t bother questioning his change in accent. He glanced down at his watch.

"’Bout time I head out yeah?" The now blond switched back to his normal slang. He spun around to survey the location and whistled low. "I’ll call you."

The boy knelt down by the wall of the rooftop and began setting up his equipment. "Niou."

"I know, I know, geez." Niou rolled his eyes. "I’ll get him out; don’t worry your pretty little head over that."

"No," the boy said as he wiped his scope. "Your tail’s showing."

"Tail?" Niou reached behind his neck. Ah, so it was. His lips stretched out in an insincere smile, eye twitching. "Puri."

Two men stumbled clumsily out of the club, completely intoxicated with their lips locked together in a heated kiss. The taller of the two had a hand down the blond’s pants; the other hand was wrapped around his shoulders. His movements were desperate, needy, drunken. "Nnngh, Kuranosuke." The black-haired man’s breath stank heavily of alcohol as he nipped a trail of light kisses up the jaw line.

The brunette pushed him away from the kiss, panting heavily. "Name’s Kuro, bastard."

The words didn’t seem to register, as it seemed the man had gone back to shoving his tongue down his companion’s throat. 'Kuro' reciprocated wholeheartedly, pushing him violently into the trunk of the nearby tree.

On the rooftop miles away, the sharpshooter watched the exchange passively, wondering idly if his partner was trying to suffocate the target to death. He watched through his scope, and saw when his partner reached into his pocket and dragged out his phone.

A few seconds later his phone buzzed with a high frequency tone. He didn’t move to pick it up, merely slid into position, fingers stroking the trigger. It was almost time, he thought with a short hum.

Niou clicked his phone shut and returned his attention to the pathetic mess of a man bent over on his knees, retching onto the tree. He cringed at the nasty mess, but was feeling rather smug with his perfect timing.

"Taxi’s coming in a few," he called out while sliding his phone back into his pocket. The target continued to heave. "Aw shit," Niou slurred, and made a show of searching his pockets while stumbling over his feet. "Left my wallet by the bar." He intended to slap the man on the back but missed by a mile, hand falling onto the man’s rear. He laughed. "I’ll be back." He twisted around on his heels, winking inconspicuously in his partner’s general direction, before staggering back towards the club’s entrance, walking into a few people who were leaving, bypassing the bouncer too quickly for the man to stop him. He shoved his way through the crowd on the dance floor and headed towards the restroom.

His inebriated demeanour washed away as the door fell shut. He quickly scanned the dingy room and kicked all the cubicle doors open. He was satisfied to find not a soul in sight. Swiftly, he pulled a knife from his back pocket and proceeded to slash roughly through the material of his pants. He pulled off his jacket and reversed it, sliding his hands through the now red coat. He yanked off his wig, replaced it with a spiky black one from a concealed pocket in the jacket’s lining, put on a pair of plano glasses, and took the thin metallic ring from around his finger to hook it by the corner of his lip as a mock snakebite. Running a hand through his new hair, he pulled up his collar and gave his reflection a wink. "Fuck am I hot."

He reached a hand behind his neck to feel for a rattail. He grasped nothing but air. Satisfied, Niou slouched down, shoved his hands into his pockets, and pushed through the door with a foot to make his way back to the dance floor.

The shot outside was drowned out by the thumping rhythm blaring from the speakers.

Inoue looked tired when he entered the office, but offered him a smile. "You heard about the other one?"

Tezuka nodded. "I’ve already read the report. It was an unusual target."

"A drug dealer. Sorry to say, the world is probably better off without him."

Tezuka sent his senior a reproachful glance, but the older detective didn’t seem to notice. "I find it curious that Yukimura would target someone like that, if your suspicions hold true."

"Chitose was allegedly the head of quite a powerful drug ring. Supposedly they ran alternative pharmaceutical stores as a front. Yukimura has recently been involved in a lot of transactions in the health care industry. It’s probably related."

"But no solid evidence, of course," Tezuka observed.

Inoue gave him a wan grin. "Of course not."

"So what do you have then?" he asked. "You didn’t call me in off the scene just to discuss that, did you?"

"Right. Take a seat." He gestured to the couch, opening a bottle. "Whiskey?"

"I don’t drink." Tezuka’s tone left no doubt about his opinion of drinking on the job, and Inoue at least had the good grace to look abashed. It didn’t stop him from pouring himself one, though.

"I think I need it today." He gestured to the folder resting on the coffee table. "I’ve been investigating the one that blew himself up. I think I found out who he was."

Tezuka blinked, mildly surprised. That was big news. He plucked the folder from the table. Opening it, he was surprised to see a series of old case files. Missing persons? The date was from over ten years ago.

The picture on the first file looked like a younger version of the man in the artist’s recreation of the killer. "Kirihara Akaya," he read aloud.

"Went missing from an orphanage twelve years ago. There were traces of a struggle, but no ransom note ever arrived. He was never found, and eventually presumed dead," Inoue explained.

"And these others?"

"Do you remember that case? The media was calling it a serial kidnapping. Half a dozen or so kids – all orphans – just vanished, all within about a month of each other. There were accusations of human trafficking, but nothing ever came of it."

Thinking back, Tezuka thought he could recall several news stories on the phenomena, though it was so long ago his memory had grown fuzzy. He’d only been in his teens at the time himself. "These are the rest of them?"

Inoue nodded. "I thought it might be a useful lead in tracking down the other one."

Tezuka’s eyes widened at the implication. "You think Yukimura was responsible?"

"We can’t assume anything," Inoue stated tiredly. "But we can’t rule it out, either. In any case, it’s the best lead we’ve found for a long time."

Tezuka leafed through the old files, considering each one carefully. One of those missing children could have grown up into the assassin they were trying to catch? That had all sorts of troubling implications. Inoue’s speculations about Yukimura’s methods came back to haunt him.

He paused on the last file, mildly disconcerted when the face struck him as oddly familiar. The frame captured a small child glaring at the camera, clearly displeased at having his picture taken. His hair was black, though Tezuka fancied it bore a slight tinge of green in the light, but the captivating part was his eyes – they seemed to shine almost golden.

Where had Tezuka seen that shade recently?

The boy in the cathedral.

Was it just a coincidence? Thinking about it, the resemblance was uncanny, though Tezuka wasn’t sure how trustworthy his memory of the surreal encounter was. He certainly wasn’t sure enough to mention anything of it to Inoue. After all, what were the odds that he’d randomly encounter their suspect without knowing?

His fingers traced over the name. Echizen Ryoma.

It was a lead. It wasn’t much of one, but it was a start.

There were times after a mission where he scaled rooftops and darted between alleyways to reach a place he knew he should never be anywhere near, but felt instinctively drawn to – the cathedral, Niou had said, a place where idiots wasted away their lives praying to a deity. He didn’t know what praying was, but Niou didn’t like it, so he wasn’t supposed to like it either. But he liked the cathedral. It was big, with high-reaching ceilings and thick, majestic columns. He was captivated by the statues of people with large appendages sticking out from their backs covered in feather-like engravings. He wondered if he could sprout wings like theirs and fly. He always liked flying.

The ringing of bells pulsed through the atmosphere and he sped up his pace. He was getting closer and the music louder. He ducked under the overpass and scaled the wall, balancing upon the edge and holding onto the nearby lamppost. He could see now, the large towering structure with thin spires stabbing through the thick, heavy clouds. He held his breath while watching as crowds of people exited the building. He jumped from his position to land lightly on the walkway, and blurred towards the side entrance.

He could hear the strong melody of the organ so clearly now, and closed his eyes as he headed towards the source.

It was a month ago when Tezuka last stepped foot in the holy sanctuary. Now he was back again, and this time he had a purpose. Squaring his shoulders, he pushed open the door and was prepared for the gust of warmth circling around him.

Tezuka quickly retraced his steps from the last visit. He paid no mind to the small room, ignored the details of the pathway, and within minutes was passing by the glass wall before the main chamber. Sure enough the same boy stood by the altar, never quite on it, staring up at the angelic statue.

Tezuka took a moment to still his breathing and tried to suppress the adrenaline running through his veins; he had told no one where he was going, that he knew of a boy resembling the orphaned Echizen Ryoma. He felt almost relieved that there was no one else in the cathedral that night.

He walked down the long aisle, extremely conscious of his steps that his shoes ghosted along the stone with barely a whisper. When he was but three meters away from the boy, he opened his mouth to speak. He had to resist the urge to whisper. "Beautiful, isn’t it." The first words Tezuka uttered in this place of worship; he wasn’t quite prepared for the way his voice bounced off the walls. The organ wasn’t playing.

The boy didn’t seem at all surprised – most likely he had heard the door opening, heard Tezuka’s footsteps. "Beautiful…" the boy repeated, voice torn between confusion and agreement.

Tezuka was surprised to hear him answer and wondered if he really understood him. He came forward a few steps, careful not to get too close, and took a seat at the end of the nearest row.

"Why do you always stare at the angel?" He tried to keep his tone light, tried to be casual even as his nerves were standing on end.

"Beautiful…" the boy repeated again.

This time Tezuka was unsure if he was answering his question or simply entranced.

"…wings," the boy whispered a moment after.

Tezuka stared at him carefully. From his position he could see how the boy’s eyes traced around the feathered stone appendages over and over again. It was why he looked like he was swaying, he realized.

Tezuka cleared his throat and ventured, "Do you ever think about flying?"

The swaying stopped. Tezuka tensed, but forced himself to remain calm while the boy turned his body around ever so slowly to face him. He studied the young face carefully, etching every detail to memory as the golden eyes stared at him blankly.

Echizen Ryoma. It had to be.

"Flying." The boy looked over his shoulder and saw nothing but the ground. He wrapped his arms around himself, as if he was trying to feel for wings that he might have not noticed before but had always been there. He felt nothing, and stared sorrowfully back at the statue. Tezuka was left to stare at his profile curiously.

"Niou says humans can’t fly."

Tezuka took note of the name; it definitely belonged to one of the missing orphans.

"Humans can fly," Tezuka said simply.

"No," was the fast reply. Echizen was scowling at him with a frown on his lips. "Like a bird. Free." His hands fell limply to his sides. He looked strangely dejected, and rotated his body around to stare at the angel again.

Tezuka felt something in his heart move. After a moment’s deliberation, he said, "Flying isn’t just about flapping wings and being airborne." His lips quirked up in what could almost be a smile; bitter, but a smile nonetheless. "Flying. It can be a feeling. Feeling free. Being free.

"Humans can fly," he said simply.

Echizen glanced at him from over his shoulder, head titled to one side as he furrowed his brows.

"Fly…" Echizen murmured with a renewed touch of awe. He blinked at Tezuka for a long minute, before gradually turning to face the altar again. He crouched down on his haunches and rested his chin between his knees.

Tezuka felt strangely at ease, and that worried him much more than being in the presence of a possible serial killer.

He spent the rest of the night watching Echizen stare at the wings of the angel.

Tezuka wasn’t certain what exactly to do about Echizen Ryoma. The responsible thing would be to report his existence to Inoue – the mere fact that the boy had mentioned the name Niou suggested that those orphans were still alive and together, and that had all sorts of implications.

Kirihara Akaya was dead, and they knew for sure that he was one of the assassins they’d been tracking. Which made it all the more likely that Echizen either was the serial killer they were looking for, or knew who it was.

It was something of a conundrum. Tezuka never had a problem with following procedure before – it was one of the things that helped his speedy rise to his position as a junior detective. This time, however, he found himself reluctant to act. He consoled himself with the thought that he really didn’t have any proof. To silence his nagging conscience, he stayed back late every night, pouring over the case files.

The main difficulty in catching a sniper was that they always had plenty of time to cover their tracks and make a clean getaway. The only way around this was to acquire prior knowledge of the sniper’s movements and targets. Inoue had been trying to get a mole inside Yukimura’s company for some time, but Tezuka didn’t expect much from that quarter.

All he could rely on was pure deductive reasoning. He was currently combing through the information on the victims and all of their actions before death. As Inoue had said, all of them had caused problems for Yukimura.

There was a ruckus at the department entrance, distracting him from his work. Tezuka stood, heading from the office into the hall. A purple-haired man dressed in what looked to be an astonishingly expensive white silk business suit was leaning over the front desk, his enormous bodyguard standing behind him watching the hallway. The receptionist was glaring up at them, clearly not even remotely cowed.

"Is there a problem?" he asked levelly.

Their attention swivelled to him. "Tezuka! This oaf here is demanding to see the detective in charge. His people have been bothering us all week," she announced, turning her nose up.

"I see. Thank you, Tachibana. Your name, sir?"

"Atobe Keigo. I have come here personally, taking time out of my busy schedule to speak with the detective in charge of the case of Mukahi Gakuto’s murder. This wench seems to not appreciate the enormity of my generous gesture."

Tezuka’s mind was already rifling through the case files he’d been reviewing. "Head of the Atobe Corporation," he recalled.

Atobe drew himself haughtily to his full height, flicking his hair back. "That’s correct. I demand an audience with your head detective."

"Inoue isn’t in right now, but I’m the other detective assigned to the case. You may speak with me." Technically he was meant to be assisting Inoue, but the older detective preferred to leave him to his own devices.

Atobe considered that, then relented. "You’ll do. Kabaji!"

The lumbering giant of a bodyguard followed after them as Tezuka led them to his office. Once inside, he asked, "What exactly is it you wanted to talk about?"

"I desire to know what your progress on the case is," Atobe announced, taking a seat without being offered. "There was some rather nasty business last month, and now one of my most trusted subordinates has been killed."

"I’m afraid that sharing details on the case is not permitted with people outside of the department."

"I have a right to know!"

"The only people who have a right to know are the immediate family members of the victims, and even then it will cause us problems if some of this information is released to the media," Tezuka replied evenly.

"I think you are misunderstanding," Atobe continued smoothly. "It is necessary for me to know. This serial killer has targeted my people twice now. If work is to continue smoothly, we need to be aware of what we are up against."

Atobe’s choice of wording was odd. After a moment of consideration, Tezuka asked, "Your corporation has been in close competition with Yukimura’s lately, hasn’t it? Your law firm in particular."

Atobe narrowed his eyes briefly, and then leant back on the couch with a condescending smile. "I see that they’ve assigned someone quite thorough this time."

"You shouldn’t be putting yourselves at risk. This work is better handled by the police."

"And what good will police work be without good lawyers to make use of it?" Atobe dismissed airily. "This is the worst-kept secret of your department, Tezuka. Everybody knows that Yukimura must be responsible, yet he remains untouchable, so people tiptoe around him. I, on the other hand, have no desire to limit my business opportunities due to the machinations of a sadistic madman."

"It is such a careless attitude that caused the death of Mukahi Gakuto."

Tezuka knew he’d hit a sore spot there. Atobe bristled. "Are you suggesting that I just sit back and do nothing?"

"Not nothing. I would recommend that if you feel at threat that you take extra security precautions into consideration. Making yourself a difficult target for snipers might be a good place to start," Tezuka suggested.

That was very obviously not the answer that Atobe wanted to hear. He stood with a flourish. "Come, Kabaji. I’ll need you to restrain Shishido when I tell him how useless the police are," Atobe announced, breezing from the office. Voices floated back down the hallway. Tachibana sounded annoyed.

Tezuka let out a sigh. Atobe hadn’t been the first person to storm the office demanding information, but he was certainly the most arrogant.

It was worth it. Atobe had unwittingly given him a lead. Tezuka sat down at the computer, opening the file on Mukahi Gakuto’s closest co-workers.

Shishido Ryou was a frustratingly active individual. Tezuka lost several nights of sleep in his race to track down all of the man’s most frequented locations. He was mildly pleased to see that Atobe had at least taken some of his advice and strengthened security around his corporate headquarters, but that still left the bar that the senior employees often frequented, the apartment shared with Choutarou, and the fitness centre several blocks away.

It wasn’t a sure thing. Tezuka knew that he might be wasting his time, but while Inoue was harassing forensics and digging up information on that old kidnapping case, there wasn’t much else for him to do anyway.

Once he had an idea of Shishido’s usual haunts, it was a matter of taking into account the surrounding buildings and figuring out which one would provide the best vantage point for a sniper. Ballistics had deduced the sniper’s maximum range based on the type of rifle used, giving him some parameters to work with. After that, it was just a lot of legwork.

His thighs burned as he scaled the last set of stairs. Tezuka stoically ignored the discomfort – he still had another three buildings to check, and not all of them could be expected to have an elevator to carry him all the way to the top floor.

As he reached for the door leading to the exterior, he paused. He could hear music. There was a radio outside? No… it was faint, but it sounded like a person humming. The tune was strangely familiar. Where had he heard it before?

A sharp crack marked the end of the melody.

Alarmed, Tezuka threw the door open. Wind and sunlight streamed into the dim stairwell.

At the edge of the roof, Echizen Ryoma was swiftly packing away a rifle.

Tezuka’s heart thudded loudly in his chest. He hadn’t thought that Yukimura would move so soon.

A pair of calm golden eyes swept across him as Tezuka made his entrance, but the boy didn’t otherwise react to his presence. Tezuka ran to the edge of the building, glancing down. His stomach churned with guilt when he saw the commotion three blocks away, with small crowds of people milling about on the street in confusion.

Shishido was dead. He was too late.

Taking a deep breath, Tezuka turned back to the roof’s other occupant, who’d already finished disassembling his rifle and looked about ready to make a break for the door. His fingers felt for his gun, but he didn’t draw it.

"Stop right there," he ordered, flipping open his badge briefly.

The boy halted his forward movement, though shifted his feet slightly. Tezuka noted with some trepidation from his stance that he was prepared for a fight, and was confident that he would win.

Tezuka was no slouch himself. With his grandfather’s training, he’d been the top of his judo class at the academy. It gave him the confidence to proceed. "You’re Echizen Ryoma, aren’t you?" he asked.

The boy tilted his head, considering him carefully. "You’re from the cathedral," he eventually stated, ignoring the question.

Tezuka hadn’t wanted to believe it. Standing in the sunlight, Echizen Ryoma looked just like any other teenager. Both nights he’d seen the boy in the church he’d been dressed entirely in black, but that had been exchanged for ordinary jeans and a plain t-shirt. If it weren’t for the equipment he was packing, Tezuka might have mistaken him for just another bored delinquent wasting time on an empty rooftop.

It drove home how young he was. Far too young.

In disbelief, Tezuka asked, "Why did you do it?"

The boy tilted his head slightly. "What are you talking about?

"Don’t play stupid. You just killed Shishido Ryou. Why?"

He paused. His expression was eerily blank. "…I was ordered to."

"No, I mean… why agree to kill in the first place?"

There was a longer pause this time. "Why not?" His voice was flat, save for a hint of incomprehension.

Tezuka felt chilled. He really didn't feel anything at all. Did he even understand the difference between right and wrong anymore?

He was a child, he realised. Yukimura had trained a child to kill.

Tezuka was disturbed.

Echizen glanced back towards the street. Sirens were blaring in the distance, their mournful warble growing louder by the second. It wouldn’t take long for the police to figure out where the shot had come from.

It was a terrible breach of procedure – the sort that would get him fired on the spot. But Tezuka rationalised that he wasn’t interested in arresting and convicting some unfortunate youth who didn’t know any better. It wouldn’t be true justice. It was meaningless if the real criminal remained untouched by the law.

When Echizen started walking towards the exit, Tezuka let him breeze past unopposed.

Second Movement


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 5th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
I get all my punctuation marks and offer them up to you two
why is there a clickable second movement at the bottom that still leads to first movement

other than that I think this is one of the greatest collabs ever with kaorichan's transfixion with golden golden golden eyes and frail uke ryoma and things with a dash of yukimura in them

and and sinnatious keeps the people in-character while doing things that would have otherwise made them ooc and with her describing the air of a scene which makes it seem as if you're there

and I think I've got it all wrong but oh well I'm posting anon anyway
Apr. 6th, 2009 09:41 am (UTC)
Re: I get all my punctuation marks and offer them up to you two
Because Second Movement isn't up yet. :3 The link will be changed when it is.

Glad you're liking it~. Although I would never have thought 'frail uke Ryoma' with Kaori before. XD She normally makes Tezuka the uke. It is a point we agree to disagree on, since both outcomes are lovely. ;)
Apr. 8th, 2009 06:14 am (UTC)
Re: I get all my punctuation marks and offer them up to you two
...and things with a dash of yukimura in them

Apr. 8th, 2009 01:41 pm (UTC)
Re: I get all my punctuation marks and offer them up to you two


must've been thinking of another author @___@
Apr. 5th, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
ALSKDJALSDKJALDA, OH YOU GUYS. ♥♥♥♥♥ (I haven't even read it yet and I'm expecting big things. asd;akd, I WANT TO WIN THE CHALLENGE TOO. >:D)
Apr. 5th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
:\ It's almost 3am but alsdjadla, I COULDN'T STOP READING. :| :|


HERE'S WHAT I THINK. I might be completely off, since you didn't even say if this chapter was completely written by one person or if it was also a collab. :S But I should know your writing styles by now, so no excuses! >:D

Kaori-chan: 1, 6, 8.
Sin: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12.

These guesses are going off Kaori-chan's fluid actions and character behaviours, Sin's tendency to fact and creating the situation without too much added. Sin's logical thinking too and need to write long fic, while Kaori-chan's more short? :P Her tendency never to longfic is added too.

Apr. 5th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)

GUYS. :3 I can see all your favourite things here.

asldajkdlak, sniper!Ryoma reminds me of Black Cat, melancholy ways and all. He makes me ;____;, with him wanting to fly and not feeling emotion. (This emotionless state seems to happen a lot. D:)

Trench coat! Buckled boots (SIN!), chains (KAORI-CHAN!). I saw what you did there~

Eeeh. I misplaced Kirihara with Bel for a moment. Couldn't help myself. But the CHOKER. *___*

THE SETTING OF CITYSCAPES. All that glass, space and air. ♥♥

I SEE YUKIMURA IS ONCE AGAIN 'EVIL VILLAIN'. You know for being a bad guy, he doesn't actually do much of his own dirty work. (I'm expecting a plot twist though. It's Horio behind it all isn't it?)

I loved every scene Niou shows up in. ♥

Even though he's still younger and Inoue's got the cigarette image to up his age, Tezuka still seems older than his counterpart. XD

Sentences I loved:
"He felt as if the music had stopped, but the organs were still playing."
"Tezuka was disturbed." XD
"the mere fact that the boy had mentioned the name Niou suggested that those orphans were still alive and together, and that had all sorts of implications." Niou/Ryoma action! :3

Am terribly amused that Ann Tachibana has made an appearance, especially dealing with Atobe. Inoue makes a regular postion in fic! :D ♥ Atobe/Tezuka tension. :D

OH. AND I CHANGE 7 TO KAORI-CHAN. Because sliding phones and slashing is very much her style~
Apr. 6th, 2009 11:30 am (UTC)
Such epic commenting P-chan! :O I like your guessing analysis.

Yukimura makes a great villain. Especially because he gets others to do his dirty work. I don't know why people seem to get upset by it? YUKIMURA IS CANON VILLAIN.

And yes, it was about time Inoue turned up in a fic for more than one scene. ♥

Ha ha, it did sort of turn into a party of things we like, didn't it? Oops. :3
Apr. 6th, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC)
asldkalkja, am I close? :P I'm getting paranoid that you guys have tried to write like each other to confuse us! ;_;

I think I've been reading Kath's mannequin posts too much. :P

You guys make me :3 :3 :3 at you~ Can't wait to see what else is coming up!

Apr. 6th, 2009 07:41 pm (UTC)
I'm getting paranoid that you guys have tried to write like each other to confuse us! ;_;

Now there's an idea~ >:D
Apr. 7th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)
Are you trying to contradict the data? :P

I'm sticking to the ones that I chose because it would do my head in to keep guessing.

Besides, I think Sin has a better chance of disguising her work, since yours is so much more stylised. ;)
Apr. 8th, 2009 06:08 am (UTC)
Aaam I? :D?

:3 ♥ Oh that is VERY true. |D;

Apr. 8th, 2009 10:30 am (UTC)
You sell yourself short! I think you did a pretty spectacular job at disguising your work. You wrote in past tense, just for starters!
Apr. 8th, 2009 10:38 am (UTC)
I do believe there's this damn dramatic flair in my writing I can't ever seem to get rid of, though! :D Not necessarily a bad thing, I don't think. OH ICON HOW FITTING. *_*

You make it seem as if I never write in past tense! ;P
Apr. 5th, 2009 10:59 pm (UTC)
Eeeeee! *_* OMG, Ryoma and Tezuka in a classic detective-assassin story? Yes, please! And Yukimura is the villain again! I think I'm seeing a pattern here. XDD

I think that kaorismash wrote sections 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 12 and sinnatious wrote sections 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, and 11.

My guesses are based off the fact that I feel that sinnatious's writing tends to seem a little more detached and logical, more of a narrative, while kaorismash's has more of a pacing and flow, and is more personal and interactive. Also because she writes Niou/Ryoma. :DDD

Loved Atobe's appearances, and Niou was loved very muchly. I really enjoyed the sniping scenes-there was a really nice buildup of atmosphere and a lot of nice movement and fluency.

Overall, THIS IS MADE OF SO MUCH EPIC WIN. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Apr. 6th, 2009 11:10 am (UTC)
I'm sure I'll switch back to Nanjiroh eventually, but no telling who Kaori's next favourite villain will be. :3 Perhaps the new manga will provide fresh fodder.

Your analysis of our writing styles is sound, but I won't tell you how you did until it's all done. ;) It's actually quite a fascinating exercise. No wonder everyone likes doing the Subrosa challenge.

Hee, thank you! Glad you're enjoying it!
Apr. 6th, 2009 12:21 am (UTC)
tell me there is going to be a next part? i definitive love it! so please you have to continue it!!! XD

see you
Apr. 6th, 2009 09:39 am (UTC)
Definitely! That's what the link to 'Second Movement' at the bottom is going to be used for. ;)
Apr. 8th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
sweet!!!!! thanks you!! XD
Apr. 6th, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC)
I suspect Kaori of writing the entry scene and I suspect myself of being wrong? D:

Apr. 6th, 2009 07:24 pm (UTC)
You have a fifty-fifty chance of being right! Or wrong. Either one. :3

♥ WE LOVE HIM WE REALLY DOOOO. ;; asjkagasuhkgj just, it fit so much. *CLINGS?*
Apr. 7th, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)

I finally took the time to just sit down and read this and wow.


Akaya and Niou are AMAZINGLY written.

I'm not going to guess who wrote what but I think Kaori wrote the first section and Sinn the last section...

Anyway, can't wait for more.
Apr. 8th, 2009 06:11 am (UTC)
AJSHGJKLASG ♥ You're awesome for reading it. Thank you~ I think it's safe to say that both Sin and I quite adored those two. *_*

Next part up on Sundaaay~
Apr. 7th, 2009 11:10 am (UTC)


words fail me, really. Just *_*
Apr. 8th, 2009 06:12 am (UTC)

Glad it's having such an effect on you. ;D
Apr. 14th, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
phew, finally got time to read XD

errrr...question! *raising-her-hand*
with parts, do you mean from parting line to parting line?

yes? yes. then let's see...

sin: 1,3, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12
kaori-chan: 2, 4, 6, 7, 10

why? eerr...guts feeling? ^^;;

Apr. 27th, 2009 05:43 am (UTC)
*hurriedly rushes off for next movement... ignoring the papers I'm supposed to be writing*
Sep. 25th, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC)
While reading this collab, I had the weirdest analogy ever between you and Kaori's writing styles.

Sin's writing is like Inui reading off his data in a calm and logical fashion. Kaori's writing is like Kikumaru running around waving a camcorder until all you see are blurs. (I can so imagine him doing that :D)
Sep. 26th, 2010 01:36 am (UTC)
Ha ha, it's not a bad comparison! XD
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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