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[Fic] Stalking the Angel (3/4)

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: Thanks to everyone who has commented so far, hope you enjoy this part as well!

Third Movement

Tezuka was trying to enjoy a quiet lunch, wondering where exactly the itch at the back of his neck was coming from this time. He hadn’t seen Echizen since that latest encounter in the police station, and the detective thought that perhaps he had finally driven the boy off.

His peaceful lunch was not to last. Halfway through his sandwich, a telltale clack of high heels approached his table. "Detective Tezuka!"

A relatively young woman with short reddish-brown hair and camera slung over her neck dropped herself into the seat across from him without invitation. She immediately pulled out a small notepad and a pencil, giving Tezuka chilling visions of Inui. "Shiba," he greeted neutrally.

"Lucky for me to run into you here, huh?" she asked with a wide grin. "I was hoping that maybe you could answer a few questions…?"

Luck probably had nothing to do with it. Normally the feisty police reporter just bothered Inoue, but the older detective had been somewhat scarce of late. Tezuka had for the most part escaped her attention after their initial introduction, but it appeared that in Inoue’s absence that good fortune had reached its end. "There’s really not much I can talk about in regards to the case. If there is something, we’ll release a statement," he replied patiently.

She waved a hand about airily. "Oh, stop giving me that same old tired line. The public just wants to know that the police are working on this case. Everyone thought things would be all sorted after that explosion, but nothing much has changed, has it? Did you make a mistake?"

"We’ve already released a statement in regards to that matter," Tezuka recited dully.

"But the killings didn’t stop, did they? Oh! Do you think it’s a copycat?"

"If you have questions, you’re better off directing them towards Detective Inoue. I’m just the junior detective on this case."

She tucked the pencil behind her ear. "But Inoue leaves you to do your own thing a lot, doesn’t he? Is that really responsible?"

"Inoue trusts me to follow my own line of investigation. We cover more ground that way."

"Right, because there are so few detectives on such a case," she commented. "Can you cope?" Tezuka didn't reply immediately. He knew how she was trying to paint the situation, and refused to be goaded into a hasty response by the perceived slight.

"It's a large city, and we're understaffed as it is. This is a long-running case, and the leads acquired that we can follow up are few and far between. We can't afford to neglect other homicide cases in the city just because this is a particularly difficult one." Honestly, Tezuka had asked similar questions at one time. Their superiors didn’t really ever pressure them about their slow progress, and the resources dedicated to something as serious as a serial murderer were conspicuously few. It was rather suspicious, but then, it wasn’t unreasonable to think that Yukimura’s influence could extend even into the police force. The fact that the department head was able to keep quality people assigned to the case, however few, was probably a small victory in itself.

"It’s taking an awfully long time though…"

"As already stated in previous interviews, we are not dealing with a common psychopath. We are trying to find a trained killer who is very good at hiding his tracks. We’re working as fast as we can to prevent further deaths." No matter how many assassins they caught, it was meaningless if they didn’t cut off the head of the serpent.

Sighing, Shiba snapped her notebook shut. "I should have known it was silly to hope I’d get anything out of you. Oh well, I was on lunch break anyway. I’m going to go order! Mind my bag, will you?"

Tezuka nodded his assent, even though he wasn’t particularly appreciative at the insinuation that he’d be enjoying her company for the rest of lunch. At least he was nearly finished eating.

He almost jumped out of his seat when a familiar voice suddenly spoke up behind him. "I could kill her for you."

Tezuka resisted the urge to turn around. If Echizen wanted to show himself, he would. "No."

"Why not? She irritates you, doesn’t she?" The black-clad youth sidled into view and threw himself carelessly into the chair next to him. Tezuka didn’t acknowledge his arrival other than to turn his head slightly.

"It would be wrong."

"I know you’re not allowed to kill her because of your job, right?" Echizen sounded almost eager, as though he’d figured out an answer to an important question. He ran his fingers lightly over the small backpack cradled in his lap. Tezuka didn’t really want to think about what was probably inside. "But it won’t matter if I do it."

"It’s not because I’m not allowed," Tezuka corrected sternly. "It is because it is wrong."

Echizen frowned. It continued to amaze Tezuka just how warped his social understanding was. He seemed incredibly mature one minute, and then almost like a child the next – it completely destroyed the psychological profile the criminal psychologists had written up. But he had the feeling things were starting to change a little. The mere fact that Echizen was asking these sorts of questions gave him hope.

Tezuka felt like betting on his gut feeling this time. Maybe it was that ‘detective’s intuition’ Inoue was always talking about.

"…I guess if I haven’t been ordered to, it’s wrong," Echizen conceded. "…I might do it if you ordered me to, though."

Tezuka wasn’t sure whether to be exasperated or flattered. "Would you stop killing altogether if I ordered you to?"

The frown deepened. He was never given the opportunity to hear the answer, as Shiba returned to the table with her sandwich and coffee right at that moment. "Oh, what’s this? You didn’t tell me that you were meeting someone, Tezuka."

In an instant, Echizen’s expression reverted back into his usual blank mask. "I’m his cousin Ryoga," he lied smoothly. At least he was keeping his cover story consistent.

"Ooo, Tezuka, he’s so cute!" she declared. "Even in that ridiculous fashion. Kids these days! Thinking dressing all in black makes them cool." She giggled, and flapped a hand at Echizen "But you actually pull it off! That’s a first."

Echizen stared blankly at her, seemingly perplexed as to what the appropriate response would be. Tezuka was starting to feel decidedly edgy about the tight grip the teen had on the bag on his lap. It wasn’t big enough to hold a rifle, or even a shotgun, but the words I could kill her for you kept ringing in his mind.

"It makes him seem all dark and mysterious, hey Tezuka?" Shiba asked brightly. "Though I guess that’s the whole point." Tezuka nearly choked on his coffee. If she only knew… "You should dress more brightly, though, you know? A cute kid like you… it’s a waste looking so moody all the time!"

"You’ve just met him," Tezuka pointed out, finally finding his voice.

"A reporter can tell, right off the bat. I bet he never smiles, just like you," Shiba retorted stubbornly. "Look at how serious that face is! I bet you’d be even cuter if you smiled! C’mon, give us one!" She held her camera up.

Echizen was eyeing the piece of equipment in a calculating fashion. Before Shiba could snap off a picture, Tezuka placed his hand in front of the lens. The reporter pouted when all she got was a very high-resolution image of his palm. "What did you do that for?"

Tezuka had just saved her camera, and maybe even her life. He had no doubt that Echizen was under strict orders to never be photographed, given that after poring over the security camera footage from all the previous sniping sites, and even the police station, he’d not caught even a glimpse of the teen on film. That he managed to so effortlessly navigate using the blind spots left the detective with chills. "You shouldn’t be taking photographs without permission."

"Hmmm, he’s protective of you, isn’t he?" she asked ‘Ryoga’ with a smile.

Echizen tilted his head to the side. "I guess he is. He’s always telling me not to do things."

"He’s such a stiff board. You’ll have to get him to loosen up a bit," she whispered conspiratorially.

"Heh, he’s already letting me run amok." Tezuka closed his eyes, and started counting backwards from ten. No, maybe twenty. Even if Shiba was oblivious, did Echizen really have to dangle the bait like that?

She pouted. "Is that so? He must have a soft spot for you, then. He won’t even answer a couple of questions off the record for poor little old me. All procedure this, procedure that!"

"He’s so obsessed with the rules and right and wrong," Echizen added in a deadpan. "And did you know he even gets dressed in the exact same order every morning? He always puts on his left sock, then shoe, then ties the shoelace and does the same with the right foot. So boring."

"Really! But I guess that’s what you should expect from a detective!"

Tezuka was too busy being alarmed at discovering that Echizen was watching him get dressed every morning to be offended. He was obviously going to have to be more careful about ensuring the blinds were closed all the way in the future. He’d briefly forgotten that his stalker was equipped with a long-range scope.

"As enjoyable as it is discussing my private habits, my lunch is almost over and I really must be getting back," he declared.

"But I thought you still had another half hour," Echizen remarked innocently. "Lunch runs until 1:30, right?"

This was the problem with stalkers. "I was planning on only taking a half lunch. There’s a lot of work to be done."

"But I only just got here." Echizen’s voice was quickly approaching a whine. Tezuka tried not to flinch at the mock exaggeration – the performance most likely for Shiba’s sake.

"Yeah, Tezuka, stay," Shiba added in a similar tone not befitting her age.

"I really should get going," he insisted.

"I’ll walk back with you, then," Echizen announced, standing and slinging his bag casually over his shoulder.

Tezuka would rather he didn’t, but at least that meant he didn’t have to worry about leaving the teen alone with a reporter he’d offered to kill.

Shiba waved them off cheerfully. "It was nice meeting you Ryoga! Hey, see if you can get your cousin to be a little looser-lipped in the future!"

"But then I’d have to kill him."

That joke was somehow less funny all of a sudden.

Tezuka exchange a polite farewell with Shiba and headed out of the small diner with ‘Ryoga’ in tow.

"Are you stupid?" he asked tiredly as they entered the lunchtime rush of people. He vaguely recalled that it was school holidays, which would account for the increase in pedestrian traffic, but the concept of a holiday seemed so foreign to him lately that it didn’t really register. Tezuka was, however, privately jealous of the way the crowds seemed to flow around his tag-a-long like water – as though the collective consciousness recognized that this was an individual better left not jostled.

"What? She stopped asking you questions, didn’t she? And I didn’t even have to kill her."

It irked him to hear Echizen talk about it so blithely in public where anyone could listen in – even if the statement without context was harmless enough. "Stop taking such stupid risks."

"Heh, worried about me?"

Immensely. And in more ways than one.

Tezuka frowned when a businessman nearly bowled him over in his haste to get to his destination. The man didn’t even stop to apologise – he just scurried down the street without a backwards glance. He then stepped aside to make room for a woman carrying far too many bags. If he’d known it was going to be so busy he would have just packed a lunch instead.

"Che." A second after the barely audible scoff reached his ears, Tezuka registered a small hand grabbing his own and tugging him through the crowd.

His first instinct was to demand that he let go. But strangely, the crowd didn’t seem so bad anymore. With Echizen’s fingers laced between his own, the pedestrians seemed to part for him too. It was like magic.

They started walking again. They didn’t talk – just wove through the throngs of city folk who were going about their lives in an endless hustle of bustle. It was surreal. Tezuka felt like he should be saying something - berating Echizen for teasing Shiba and spying on him getting dressed in the morning at the very least – but the words wouldn’t reach his lips.

It was just holding hands. It was the most innocent thing in the world. It shouldn’t have felt so profound, so important, even knowing the amount of blood staining the pale hand entwined with his.

His grip tightened. The pressure was immediately returned.

The station soon came into view. Tezuka blinked, as though the sight of the building had broken the spell. "Echi–"

Before he could finish forming the word, Echizen had dropped his hand and melted back into crowd. Tezuka stuck his hand back in his pocket and tried not to dwell on the warmth lingering on his fingers.

The last light flicked off, and Tezuka’s apartment grew dark. Ryoma sat there for another ten minutes, listening to the distant drone of traffic and the faint sputter of the streetlight several metres below. With a yawn, he stretched and lightly hopped up, making his way to the side of the building and climbing down the fire escape. There wouldn’t be anything else interesting to see until morning.

The cathedral wasn’t that far away, but when a chilly breeze washed across the street, he turned in the direction of base instead. Black boots scuffed the damp pavement. He was in no hurry and took his time; thoughtfully replaying everything he’d seen that day in his head. Tezuka was always interesting. The long days went a lot faster when the detective was in sight.

He continued two blocks past his destination and then doubled back, entering the building through the side entrance and punching in the security code without looking. The foyer was dark and filled with boxes, casting pitch-black shadows across the gloomy interior. He navigated the dark hallways between them with practiced familiarity.

The elevator was stuffy and smelt of cigarettes – Niou had obviously been going behind Sanada’s back again. He hit the floor number and rocked back on his heels, humming to himself as the elevator carried him to the sky.

The door didn’t ping – just slid open with a quiet breath of air. There was only one door on the floor, and it was unlocked. Ryoma pushed it open, stepped inside, and let the door fall shut, catching it at the last minute so that it would close silently.

All of the lights in the apartment were on, and there was a bustle of activity in the kitchen. Golden eyes squinted at the brightness, and he retreated towards the comparatively darker living room.

Yanagi was sitting at the coffee table, face illuminated by his laptop screen. "Echizen," he greeted.

He didn’t reply – just looked towards the kitchen. Marui was bopping around with headphones on while Jackal appeared to be nurturing a small fire on the stove.

"They returned yesterday," Yanagi answered the unspoken question. "Sanada’s off delivering their report to Yukimura."

Of course. Sanada would never allow fires in the kitchen. Even so, there was a sort of electric energy in the air – a nervous anticipation.

"A big mission came in," Yanagi said by way of explanation, even though he hadn’t asked. Ryoma nodded to show he heard, but kept watching the chaos.

Yagyuu shook his head, reaching around Jackal to turn off the stove and then yanking the headphones from Marui’s head in one smooth motion. He pointed towards the dining room table. "Sit. I’ll take care of it."

Marui folded his arms. "Yagyuu is turning into a mini-Sanada."

Niou was lounging against the wall next to the fridge, and gave the redhead a lazy smile. "Bit short, but if he lost the glasses and changed his hair…"

Yagyuu gave the white-haired man a dithering look. "Sanada doesn’t need a double."

"Wouldn’t hurt to practise in case," he drawled.

Yagyuu just rolled his eyes and started pulling vegetables out of the fridge. "You know, you could help."

"You’re right." Niou’s expression stretched into a leer. "I’ll go get that apron you look so good in."

"Niou!" Yagyuu hissed. "Don’t say that sort of thing when…" He jerked his head in Ryoma’s direction.

Niou scoffed, pushing off from the wall and heading towards his bedroom. "Since when was sex more offensive to the kid than murder?" He breezed past their youngest member, tapping the side of his nose with a wink. "Puri."

It was his after all then. Ryoma headed to his room, leaving the bright and noisy kitchen behind. A plain brown envelope sat on the bed.

It looked like there was work to be done.

"Echizen?" Tezuka paused mid-stride and narrowed his eyes.

The boy, dressed in casual clothes, had a large bag slung across his shoulders. It looked like a racquet bag of some sort. Tezuka had his doubts. They were in the heart of the city; any park or centre that had a court for any active sport that required such large equipment was a fair distance away.

Tezuka smiled thinly. "A surprise," he murmured while running his eyes down Echizen’s body pointedly. He was rarely found in anything that wasn’t black, yet was currently wearing a pair of faded three-quarter jeans and a red shirt that made him look like any other ordinary teenage boy. That set him on edge; Echizen was blending.

The boy noticed, smirked, and slouched as he hooked his thumbs into the pockets of his pants. "You don’t look very surprised." Echizen tilted his head to an obstinate angle to return the assessing stare.

Tezuka wasn’t one to scoff so easily, and merely shook his head with slight exasperation. He paced himself forward two steps, three, four – Echizen twisted around and eyed him curiously. Tezuka stopped walking when ten paces away, then glanced over his shoulder and raised a brow.

Echizen frowned. Tezuka was clearly expecting him to follow. He didn’t know how to feel. On one hand it seemed that the detective wanted to spend more time with him – this made him feel strangely lighter than usual – and on the other hand he needed to finish his assignment – today was the first time in days that gave him an opportunity for such a clear shot. Yukimura wanted the target dead as soon as possible, but Tezuka wasn’t telling him to go away like he usually did; his invitation to accompany him was plain to see. He was a hard man to read, but Echizen knew just where to look, and he knew it was rare for Tezuka to want to spend time with him.

So Echizen had to make a decision. It was rare when he had to make any of those. When he did it was what weapon he wanted to use, what type of death was best suited for the situation, what building had the better vantage point, to abort the mission or not if something went horribly wrong – that only happened once, and his choice was ridiculously easy. Answers always came easier to him in those circumstances, it was never hard to decide; it wasn’t ever big enough to be classified under decision-making moments.

Now it was. In this situation he found himself ungrounded, a little lost, a little uncertain. The right answer was obvious, but for the first time he didn’t feel it was the best, didn’t want to do what he was supposed to. Echizen moved a hand to the strap across his chest and stroked the rough material. He let out a low breath, stared into the reflective glare of Tezuka’s glasses, and took a step forward. Actually, it wasn’t that hard a decision when he stopped thinking of his boss and the document and the heavy dissembled rifle strapped to his back. He followed after Tezuka lazily.

The closer he got, the clearer Tezuka’s expression became; calm, neutral, patient. Echizen’s brow sloped down again and he eyed the man curiously. He wanted to copy the same expression just so that Tezuka would change his own to something else less typical, boring, bland. In less than a second he had the face down perfectly. Inwardly a smirk curled at the edges of his lips; outwardly he looked as stony and cool as Tezuka. A strange feeling overcame him.

In three skips Echizen was in his shadow, two small steps compensating for every long stride. He assessed that Tezuka was heading towards a quaint little coffee shop just a few blocks down. The sniper followed him move for move, staying in the shadow of his steps as his arms and legs mimicked the detective’s gait perfectly.

"Coffee," Tezuka said suddenly. Echizen looked up, breaking his perfect imitation, to determine what he meant. Was Tezuka asking…? Food was a necessity not a luxury; no one ate for enjoyment, it was always the same nutrients and body-strengthening proteins every day; there was a set diet – except for Marui; Marui had a special condition but that wasn’t important. He’d heard of coffee though. Sanada forbid them all from drinking it – including carbonated drinks and anything he deemed junk – though that didn’t really stop Niou, and if Niou did it, then that meant it was fine right?

He recalled Niou saying something about coffee, something about caffeine and energy and bitterness. Bitter. Echizen screwed up his nose and demanded something sweet – he wasn’t very much accustomed to the art of buying drinks like Tezuka – or buying anything that didn’t involve weapons, for that matter. He had no idea what types of beverages there were.

Tezuka glanced over his shoulder once, noted the look of concentration on Echizen’s face, and had to smile. Upon entering he ordered a frappuccino, chocolate, and a cappuccino for himself. Echizen was by now at his side by the waiting counter, eying the workers with something close to interest as they prepared drinks. He hadn’t been aware it took so much effort for just one drink; he couldn’t identify half the things being put into the blender.

Tezuka’s drink was finished first, served in a delicate porcelain cup with an odd blanket of foam across the top. It wasn’t overflowing, and was covered with a fine layer of brown powder. Curiously, Echizen reached out a finger to swipe at it. An ample amount came away with his finger, exposing some of the steaming beverage beneath. The teen stared at it – it was warm, fluffy looking, strange – and gave his finger a tentative lick. It didn’t really taste like anything, was a bit sweet, but for the most part bland.

A stifled sound from his left drew his attention away. Tezuka looked amused, and had by now grabbed hold of both of their drinks. "Here," he said, handing the boy a clear plastic cup. Echizen quickly sucked the foam off his finger as he accepted his drink in the other hand. It was cold. He examined it dubiously, distracted, and Tezuka had to guide him by the shoulder to a table.

On his way past the self-serving counter, the detective swiped up a couple of shakers, napkins and a straw. Echizen was still staring at his drink.

Once they were seated – Echizen was strangely subdued – Tezuka unwrapped the paper from the straw and was leaning over to push it into the hold at the top. "What’s wrong?" he asked with a quirk of his lips. "It’s not poisoned if you’re worried about that."

"Huh?" Echizen looked up and stared into his eyes. Tezuka held his gaze. The boy blinked when the detective started to absentmindedly stir the contents of his cup with the spoon, and then again as he selected a shaker and sprinkled his drink with white powder. Echizen didn’t understand that. "Sugar?" It couldn't have been salt, but Tezuka didn't really like sweet things.

Tezuka set the shaker down, his brow heightened yet again, and he answered, "Vanilla powder." He slid the shaker across the table. "The taste is not very noticeable, but it’s there." He eyed the untouched cup in front of Echizen. "Unless you don’t like chocolate…" His tone suggested disbelief.

Echizen frowned and peered down at his slowly melting frappuccino. There was a fluff of cream at the dome lid, dripping with swirls of dark brown syrup. Beneath that was an expanse of icy, textured liquid. Echizen carefully pulled the cap off and brought himself eyelevel with the cream. He stared at it with more concentration than he usually did a scope.

"Echizen," Tezuka called. The youth perked up, but didn’t drag his eyes away from the fluff. There was something in his voice he should have taken note of. "You should try some." The whispered words were shockingly close to his ear. Echizen started forward, his nose bumping into the cream and chocolate. He jerked away with a shudder, a whiff of white dotting his nose; it was cold.

Light chuckling sounded from the older man.

Echizen grabbed the closest shaker full of cocoa and shook it over Tezuka’s hair.

Echizen hummed as he slunk freely back to his apartment. His steps were light not because he had to be quiet, but because he felt unbelievably energized. It was a few hours later, and he was still bouncing. Just as he was about to insert his key, the door swung open to reveal a grouchy-looking man with messy white hair.

"Must you be so loud?" he grumbled as he scratched at his bare stomach. Echizen continued to hum as he pushed past. Niou stopped abruptly, half-lidded eyes opening fully as he spun around to survey the boy. The door closed with a bang, locks clicking automatically into place. His lips tightened into a thin line and he hit the boy across the back of the head. Echizen staggered forward half a step, his hums stopping as his fingers twitched by his thigh. Niou was the only one who could do that without getting a knife through his hand.

"Yukimura’s gonna be pissed at you." Niou crossed his arms across his chest and leaned back against the door. "Atobe’s still alive I take it."

Echizen was quiet as he turned around. He blinked slowly at Niou, before he adopted an annoyed expression. "Che." He brushed him off and headed towards his room.

Niou tightened his fists. "Idiot."

"He didn’t dispose of the target," Yukimura repeated, a little disbelieving.

"It appears not."

"Why?" Yukimura’s voice was pleasant and calm, but Sanada flinched, able to sense the cold steel beneath those words.

"I don’t know."

The young CEO’s eyes narrowed, and stared at his subordinate through the reflection in the glass. "Tell Niou to follow him when he next goes out."

Sanada hesitated. "Are you sure it’s okay to let mistrust develop–"

Yukimura turned back around and smiled warmly at him. "Are you questioning me, Sanada?"

"…Of course not. I’ll tell him. I just thought… Atobe’s a tricky target," he offered quietly.

"If it were so easy to kill someone, we wouldn’t need to make these sorts of arrangements, would we?" Yukimura pulled out his chair and sat behind his desk.

"…I… guess not." Sanada cursed himself. He was better than this. Why did just being in Yukimura’s presence cause him to become so unsure of himself? He’d been doing this job for years, and he was closer to him than everyone else, his most trusted member of staff… he’d follow his boss through fire if he had to.

Apparently when actually confronted with the fire, however, he was still prone to hesitating. He couldn’t tolerate that sort of weakness in himself. Yukimura trusted him to deal with matters, and he needed to continue to prove himself worthy of that trust. "Is there anything else?"

Yukimura waved him away, picking up a file on his desk. "That’s everything. Say hello to everyone for me, would you?"

Sanada executed a brief bow and strode from the room. Niou wouldn’t like it, but he was probably the only one they could trust to follow Echizen undetected. He could only hope that nothing was amiss – if he was lucky, Echizen had just made a mistake and wasn’t willing to admit to it. His workload had more than doubled recently, and it was possible he was having trouble adjusting. He should probably sit him down and give him another talk about his duties and maybe run him through a few scenarios, too, to make sure he didn’t need extra training to cope. And maybe Sanada would be lax and allow him some dessert on the weekends as some sort of compensation. Echizen had been eyeing Marui’s sweets with more than just curiosity lately, and he’d probably burn off the extra sugar quickly enough.

Sanada knocked on the door to Niou’s room after checking that Echizen was out. Yagyuu answered, took one look at his face, and headed off into the kitchen. Even if he was something of an interloper in their household, Sanada appreciated his tact.

"What the fuck do you want?" Niou drawled as he stepped inside.

His footsteps were whisper quiet as he took up his favourite spot in front of the statue. Cold granite beneath his fingertips, a heavy stillness in the air, the haunting melody… He closed his eyes, drowning in it.

The chance was gone. The best chance there would be for days – maybe weeks.

He didn’t regret it. That was the scariest thing.

The music slowly drifted into silence. Soft, hesitant footsteps headed over to him from the organ.

Golden eyes opened only a crack – just enough to confirm that the footsteps belonged to the gentle, smiling man wearing the plain vestments. "You haven’t been coming as often lately."

He made a small noise of agreement in his throat. You should keep playing.

"It looks like something is bothering you. Do you want to talk about it?"

It wasn’t the first time the brother had asked him to talk, and he never took him up on it. They didn’t even know each other’s names. Every time, though, he was surprised by how much the unassuming man observed.

If he didn’t play such lovely music, he might have been tempted to kill him.

Tezuka wouldn’t like that, though.

The brother was still looking at him. He’d asked something, and his mind lazily scrolled back through the last minute or so to retrieve it. "Just work." It was the answer he normally gave. It was even sort of true. He’d missed the target. Yukimura probably knew by now. He wouldn’t have liked that, but a part of him recognised that Tezuka would have liked him to have done it even less.

Which was more important? His brow furrowed in thought. Another choice. It was vaguely upsetting. In the absence of the organ he started to hum low in his throat. Then stopped.

It wasn’t working.

"…Could you play? For a little longer?" His voice bounced off the walls, and he jerked, surprised by it for some reason. As though it was the first time in a while he’d really heard it.

The brother seemed surprised too – he never asked directly, even if the question was implied – but just smiled again, rubbing a long, thin lock of black fringe between his fingers. "I suppose just once more before I close up for the evening." Fabric rustled as he shifted and headed back over to the organ. Strains of music haunted the cathedral once more.

His eyes drifted close, and his body swayed gently in time with the rhythm. The familiar melody calmed his nerves, eased his anxiety, lulled him like a lullaby… but that tightness in his chest remained, stubborn and unmoveable like a rock of ice.

Frustration – such a distant, forgotten emotion – suddenly bubbled within, mixing toxically with something else. He bit down on his finger hard enough to draw blood. He started to hum in time with the music, and he relaxed slightly again, letting his hand drop.

He didn’t want things. Had stopped wanting things, or thinking about wanting things, a long, long time ago. Thinking about things was fine, but wishing for things…

He wanted the music to keep playing, though. He wanted…

The music swelled, and the door banged in a gust of wind.

The crisp air outside made everything take on a sensation of hyperrealism. Clouds obscured the night sky, turning the blackness grey. The melody inside the cathedral slowly drifted to a close.

It was late. Later than usual.

Cloudy, too. It would probably rain later. But he didn’t want to go back to that place just yet. Not like this.

There was one place, though.

The knocking was rhythmic, persistent, and without pause. "Just a minute!" Tezuka called, slightly irritated at the interruption. It was late, and he couldn’t even imagine who would be calling at that hour. Cautiously, he opened the door, just a crack.


"Can I come in?" the boy looked almost despondent, but there was still that familiar blank mask plastered on his face. It was cracking, Tezuka noted.

Tezuka eyed him warily but didn’t widen the gap between the door and the frame.

"You can check me if you want," he said in a quiet voice that Tezuka had never heard before – it was what made him decide. He held the door open wider and stepped away so that Echizen could walk through. Despite himself, he closed the door with a click and twisted the lock. When he turned around he saw Echizen standing with his back to him, arms stretched out from his side. He took that as his cue to move forward and place his hands on his waist.

He could have sworn he felt a jolt of something run through his arms, and mentally chided himself for being so ridiculous. He’d done this hundreds of times before; to criminals, prostitutes, scum of every kind, his own partners, friends even – there was no reason for this to be any different. Yet when he slid his hands down to Echizen’s hips he couldn’t shake the feeling from his mind. His hands pressing heat through black jeans, before he slid his palms heavily down Echizen’s legs, past his knees and to his ankles. Echizen’s shoes were off, and his socks were tight against his skin. There were no knives or needles or wires hidden there.

Tezuka knew Echizen didn’t have any weapons on him – it wasn’t like Echizen needed any weapons to kill him – but he was compelled to continue. There was no reason to stop, logically, and it didn’t hurt to be extra careful. Tentatively, he ran his hands up a muscled thigh, slowly, smoothly, pressing slightly against the material. He repeated the process to the other leg, hands lingering and breath quickening.

When Tezuka pushed off his knee to stand right behind him, hands never straying from the body, he found himself lost in the moment. His hands were back on Echizen’s waist, but there was still an inch of space between them, back to front, front to back. He tightened his grip and held his breath.

Echizen closed his eyes and his head fell back, lolling comfortably on Tezuka’s shoulder. Not a moment later the boy became lax, resting his weight against the Tezuka entirely. Tezuka didn’t stop with his search, and his hands crawled up Echizen’s sides, towards his chest, before he crossed his arms over to rest each palm on slouched shoulders. Tezuka knew this was wrong, so wrong, on so many levels. Yet he couldn’t stop, even if he wanted to.

There was a smile on Echizen’s face as he hummed a quiet, vaguely familiar tune. It was a comforting melody, and Tezuka tilted his face into the crook of Echizen’s neck to hear it more clearly. He exhaled, warmth rushing over the exposed neckline of the too-large shirt. Echizen shivered in his hold. It turned into a shudder and a half repressed moan when Tezuka nipped at the bare flesh.

"I’m going to hell for this," he murmured, as if it mattered. A sound bubbled from Echizen’s chest; a quiet laughter. It didn’t make Tezuka’s conscience any lighter for saying it aloud either. Echizen tilted his head up at an angle and caught Tezuka’s lips in a searing kiss, tongue sliding between his lips. Tezuka’s heart pulsed, speeding up the pump of blood through his veins. Damn, he thought dimly as he rotated Echizen’s body around and shoved him into the settee. Definitely going to hell.

Too distracted, neither noticed a flash of white by the window.

Outside, Niou Masaharu perched on a rooftop, and swore under his breath.

Last Movement


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 19th, 2009 01:01 pm (UTC)
Bullshit they're dead... O.o opps sorry for the cursing...I couldnt stop it. The story was so unbelievable and fast that I am now screaming at the top of my lungs!

Okay, I need a minute to fix myself...

So the interaction part was cute and I am very happy that they've finally moved on (just wished you guys wrote a smut though) XDD but I guess it was time to add in some trouble here and there. Frankly speaking I'm quite surprised that they were able to keep their relationship for a long time before the other found out.

Once again, Kaori and Sin you guys have done a wonderful job though it was kind of predictable I just wished that they wouldnt have found out like that. Maybe more of Ryoma telling the truth instead of them finding out perhaps a slipping tongue?

ANyway, Thank you very much for this chapter. I'll be looking forward to the next one again. Which will be....when? I'm hoping to read this ASAP when it comes out so do tell me the date of your next updat,ne? =D
Apr. 19th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)
*monster truck voice* Next Sunday, SUNDAY, Sundaaaaay. (Oh, that never gets old. :P)

And here I thought the groping was quite smutty - perhaps I am still a prude. ;)

Yes, there are certain inevitabilities with fics like these. Hopefully the final chapter will have enough twists to keep you amused.
Apr. 19th, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)

Oh I see (grins) Well I'll be waiting as always.

Hmm...I think that part was more of a fluff rather than that. Sorry about this, this happens when I read an interesting fic.

Yes, I hope there would be more twist in the next and final one. Truthfully I hope that twist would turn in to a knot... and unravel at once but I guess its kinda too late for that now, right?

Oh and I forgot to add in some things I noticed in the story, like Tezuka making a mental note of closing the blinds but forgeting and thus resulting to Niou finding out. I dont think Tezuka's character would allow that and he's even a detective! Tsk tsk XD

Also the part where Ryo never even once noticed Niou was questioning since if it was Yukimura that had trained them, he would've at least make them sensitive to their surroundings (even if it was Niou).

There is also this one where I am surprised that Shiba actually did not know about Ryo since she is a reporter and media gets first hand news, dont you think.

Of course, all of these are merely an oppinion from a reader and you can correct me if I'm wrong but these are all what I've thought the third time I've read the story. Yes, this is third time now. XD

I will not forget the tezuryo interaction, of course. I understand how Tezuka managed to change at least a little part of Ryo and I'm very happy about that. Actually, the part where Ryo had started stalking poor Tez had already gotten my heart. Forgive me for this if you've already heard it but again, I am very proud you guys turned out to be tezuryo authors I guess this just proves how great tezuryo shippers are... =) So again, job well done, I look forward to the next one.
Apr. 19th, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)

last time i was going

kyyyyyyyyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa~~~~~♥♥♥ !!!

what should i do now?

well, how about that → .......... (too excited to make a tone)

...oh tezuka, you pedo! ^^;; we all love you ♥

*preparing the maypole and slipping over my eye cancer-inducing tutu*

sin: 1, 4, 5, 7
kaori-chan: 2, 3, 6

there ^^;;

and now i'm going to chant following words 24/7 in a lovely melody

~lalalalalala please don't kill off either (or both!) of the pillars lalalalala~
Apr. 20th, 2009 12:30 pm (UTC)
Heeee. Surreal, yet appreciated. ♥
Apr. 19th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
This is wow. Very, very intense. A bit terrifying because of the situations they're both in, but very wonderful. *crosses fingers and hope they'll both come out all right*
Apr. 20th, 2009 01:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you! ^__^
Apr. 21st, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
lol, they're screwed. XD

gahh. your fic makes sunday seem like it's centuries away. can't wait for the last part. much, much love to you and kaori-chan for writing this. ♥
Apr. 21st, 2009 06:16 am (UTC)
sinnatious: 1,4,7
kaorismash: 2,3,5,6

And the moral of the story is: never smex when Niou is outside your door.

Ryoma with frappucino cream on his nose? CUTE. ♥ I like how he always keeps in mind everything associated with Tezuka. Such a stalker. XDD But Tezuka likes it.
Apr. 24th, 2009 11:40 am (UTC)
I knew there was a moral in here somewhere! XD

Apr. 23rd, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
like a say before in another post of this same theme. dont kill them and update soon!!

see you
Apr. 23rd, 2009 12:49 am (UTC)



Please don't make them die? O:3
Apr. 26th, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
They;re so screwed. But they hit it like Romeo and Juliet, no?
Apr. 27th, 2009 06:38 am (UTC)
(o_o) *runs off for next movement*
Apr. 29th, 2009 10:30 am (UTC)
Stalker!Ryoma watching Tezuka while he's changing. >:D

I love the small details, like how Ryoma manages not to be seen on any security camera. :3

Tennis bag! :D :D

Either I'm completely wrong, or Kaori was the one writing the coffee scene, because she loves to have the two of them tussling with each other. (Her beach story? :D)

Sin is a lot more subtle in her writing. I can't point out one specific example, but you're stiffer when it comes to character movement? Or Kaori is just too fluid. :S BUT HEY, BOTH OF YOU WRITE LOVELY IN YOUR OWN STYLES.

Ehhhh, the pat-down, aksjdhaskjahkjdhakjdhaksdhakds, I could really see it. Just the two of them in the quiet of the night, sharing the same emotion. *______* Ah, what a lovely pivotal scene!

D: I'm sure my guesses are completely off.

Sin: 1, 2, 6, 7.
Kaori: 3, 4, 5.
Apr. 29th, 2009 10:53 am (UTC)
You are kind of doing pretty good! ^__^ I think the current leader may be in severe danger! Ahahaha, you know us so well. <3 And you're totally on the spot with style analyses. Kaorichan is very fluid, both in her choreography and word flow~. She's got a flair for action, I tend to gravitate more towards still scenes.

Read quickly P-chan! You may have an extra day's grace period, as I'm probably not going to get around to making the final post tonight as planned (wooooooooork), but time is running out!
Apr. 29th, 2009 11:34 am (UTC)

♥♥♥♥ I don't read anyone else's Prince of Tennis fanfics, so uh, I guess I'm just in tune with the two of you? Gods, I hope I don't screw up my final round of guessing. :/ To be this close!

About your styles, I can say, it makes for a very compelling story. If you hadn't decided to make it into a guessing game and kept it at both of your strengths, I'm thinking it might have been even more fantastic than it already is? *______*

I had a feeling you were going to do the revealing tonight so I was worried I'd come after the deadline. But yes, one more night!

Good luck with the work! *hugs*
Apr. 29th, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)
Ahaha, the only problem with that is if we both stuck to our own styles 100%, it would be jarring going from part to part! XD Honestly, the guessing game idea was just tacked on in the author's note at the last minute, but it's been fun~! And enlightening!
Apr. 29th, 2009 12:23 pm (UTC)
Not really, if you think about it. Even if you did jar a bit trying to fit in the styles, it would sort of fit, since the assassinations seem very without warning and can be pulled off by going back to something slower and domestic. I'm seeing this all like a movie, cutting from scene to scene. :S

Haha, completely agree. Lots of fun and second-guessing my theories. It made me stop to think about what I like from each of you and how you two differ in writing!
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )