Pulp Life

BY : CrunchySalad
Category: Prince of Tennis/Tennis no Ohjisama > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 825
Disclaimer: I do not own Prince of Tennis or its characters. I am not making any money from this fanfiction.

(This fic was written for the lj comm 30_kills, which is why there are 30 themes throughout the three chapters. It is loosely based on Grant Morrison's Kill Your Boyfriend, which I highly recommend you go buy and read. Kind of ooc and very rushed. I actually don't like this fic, I just wanted to finish it once I started it.)

Let's Kill Your Boyfriend

Beautiful. Big, brown eyes, and dark blue-black hair that falls in waves around his perfectly formed face. Those moist red lips curl into a smile, and you can't tell if it's coy or wicked, and at any rate, he's only reading a manga while spread out on his bed. A perfectly normal pastime, because he's a perfectly normal boy, and this is a perfectly normal scene. But then he's talking to you.

"People always talk about personality, like it's such a concrete thing. Like it's something that defines you." His eyes gleam, and he puts the book down, pages ruffling as they close. "Like that innocent boy in the church choir isn't completely capable of murder."

A laugh, like bells, a fleeting sound, and his voice is all light and easy charm. "Well, guess again, because given the right conditions, he'd do so much more. I'm the innocent boy in the choir. I'm the degenerate druggee you ignore on the street. I'm the class valedictorian. I'm the disillusioned boyfriend, flavoring his lover's dinner with rat poison. I can be all these things, and so can you, and if you think you're not capable of it... well, than you're lying to yourself."

A smile, sweet as chocolate, and our story begins.

1. Our Distance and That Person

Sanada was serving him tea. Sanada was serving him tea because that's what Sanada did. Yukimura had never liked the bitter stuff, but Sanada seemed to enjoy making it so much, and it's not as if he really minded drinking it. He just didn't like it.

Sanada was making him tea and discussing tennis, telling Yukimura things he already knew ten times over.

"... dark horse, and they have a tendency to demoralize other teams by attacking the coach-"

"Empty," Yukimura interrupted, holding his cup upside down.

"Oh." Sanada looked mildly aghast at his lack of manners. Sanada was always too serious... a trait Yukimura quite agreed with when it came to tennis, but a trait that became quite tedious in any other aspect of life. He took the teapot and poured Yukimura another cup, adding milk and sugar because he was under the impression that Yukimura liked it that way.

"You know our coach probably won't be there. And if they try to attack me, provided they even get far enough to play us, it's not as though I won't be able to defend myself."

"Of course." Sanada stared into his cup, trying to think of something to say that wasn't repetitive or old news, and couldn't think of anything. "They're quite vulgar, though, Higa Chu, to resort to such tactics."

Yukimura sighed and drummed his fingers along the table. Sanada was so dreadfully boring. Life was so dreadfully boring. Before the surgery, his life was tennis, but now... what exactly was the point? What was the point of winning another tennis match, of winning Nationals, of doing anything at all?

Going through the motions, and he was sick of it all. Yukimura half listened to Sanada, but he had already heard it all before, and already knew the right times to interject with words of agreement or encouragement. After the tea pot had run dry and Yukimura's tongue was bathed in the taste of rotted leaves (exactly what tea had always tasted like to him), Sanada walked him to the door. He leaned forward, and they kissed for a few moments before Yukimura drew away.

"You can stay over if you want," Sanada said. It was always 'if you want'. Sometimes Yukimura wondered if Sanada ever really wanted anything for himself. "We can watch a movie."

"I'm pretty tired."

"Hn. You should get some rest then." Maybe Sanada did want things. Maybe Sanada wanted him to stay. Maybe Sanada wanted to offer him a ride home, but knew Yukimura would hate the offer... ever since his sickness, no, before that even, Yukimura disliked taking favors from other people. It reminded him of weakness.

"I'll see you tomorrow." One last kiss, and it tasted like tea. One more goodbye, and Yukimura was walking home.

Sanada lived in a gated community, and Yukimura smiled and waved to the security guard he passed after walking down Sanada's street. A perfectly manicured ledge, a cluster of trees, one street block and then the stores were there. Your typical fare of small shops and restaurants, and Yukimura wasn't really paying attention when he heard a scuffle from the terrace seating of one familiar restaurant.

He looked up and saw the topic of Sanada's earlier conversation seated at a table. Yukimura had never actually met any of them, Higa being a relatively new sensation on the junior high tennis scene. The rumors about them didn't seem to be exaggerations, and one of them, Kai was his name, was holding the waiter up by his collar. Threatening, volatile, and Yukimura stood and waiting for the explosion.

But then something was said, and Kai smiled as he lowered the frightened man down to his feet. Gentleman that he must have been, he even straightened the man's shirt, brushing away any dust that might have been caught on the fabric.

Yukimura's glance flickered then, landed at the very center of the scene. Kite Eishirou, staring right at him, and their eyes met even through the glare of Kite's rectangular glasses. He was slouched down in his chair, arms slung over the back of it, legs spread, and with his slicked back hair he looked like a tacky yakuza. Yukimura stared, caught, and then Kite's lips turned up in just the barest of smiles.

Yukimura almost laughed to himself, but he only smiled back. An answer, and then he turned to head back to his house.

Kite Eishirou was an interesting player, Yanagi had told him. Kite Eishirou wasn't some one who should be taken lightly. Inside his head Yukimura had chuckled, because the name Kite always reminded him of the anime and of pubescent female assassins. Then ending had been so sad, and so beautiful.

He saw Kite again that very night. He wasn't even sure what had happened. He was taking a jog, and then some one was pulling his arm, and he was about to throw off his attacker when there was a loud thud and a sickening crunch. The hand let go of him and he jerked forward, turning around to see some man in a ski mask fall to the floor. Kite was standing above the body, his glasses glinting in the moonlight.

"You should be more careful."

"I could have handled it myself," Yukimura bit out, because he was always most offended when people underestimated him.

Kite smirked, and for some reason it made Yukimura want to smile back at him. Then the other boy was leaning down and looking through the man's pockets, and Yukimura frowned.

"Is that okay?"

"He was about to mug you," Kite replied, "besides, he won't be needing it any more."

Yukimura's eyes traced over a black-clad body, and he realized exactly what made that crunching sound from before. The man's head was bent back more than ninety degrees, and he wasn't breathing anymore.

Yukimura knew he should have felt sick. He should have felt appalled. He should have felt, at the least, a pang of sympathy for the loss of human life. The death penalty was a stiff price to pay for trying to make an easy buck. Yukimura knew he should have felt something. Instead, he tilted his head, and said, "I wonder what he needed to money for."

Kite shrugged, and Yukimura saw a glimpse of a pistol and a wallet transition from the man's pockets to his. "Food, child support, new sneakers, who knows."

Kite stood up, and reached for Yukimura's hand.

"We should go."

"Won't the police look for us?"

"He's just some two-bit criminal, and this isn't the best area; he won't even make it into the newspaper."

A small tug on his fingers, and Yukimura was intelligent enough not to ask any more questions. They were walking now, a brisk pace, and Kite's fingers were long and cold against his. His palm tingled where their skin was touching. He thought maybe he was in shock... but then a part of him told him that no, he wasn't, he just didn't care. Every one died eventually, a fact he had become very aware of during his stay at the hospital.

"What do you think?" Kite asked him, not a hint of curiosity or any other emotion in his voice, and Yukimura felt as though he was being studied.

"About what?" Yukimura asked back, completely nonchalant, and it must have been the right answer because Kite was smiling.

"We saved him, you know."

"Did we now," and Yukimura's voice was amused, all laughing, dulcet tones.

"From life." They were far away from the scene now, and Kite grabbed Yuhimura's other hand, and then they were staring at each other and standing so close. Just like a romance movie, Yukimura laughed to himself, true love and murder. "Think about it... all these people, living everyday, and for what? They're numb inside, and they're so settled into their routines that they don't even realize like. Like that couple, over there."

A nod of his head, and Yukimura glanced over to see a perfectly normal middle-aged couple, loading groceries into their car.

"Dead inside. They've bought into everything every one tells us life is supposed to be about. Go to school, go to college, go to work... slave all day, come home with a nice big paycheck, buy that new car they wanted. Buy a new flat screen television, new cell phones, a bigger house. And what then? Some day they die in a tragic car crash, and what's their life amounted to... nothing. They're dead, they're fertilizer. Too busy living the way people tell them to, that they've never actually fucking lived."

"And you do," Yukimura teased, but there was a resonance in Kite's words. Hadn't he been thinking it himself so often lately... life was so boring. Life was so meaningless.

"Yeah." Kite grinned, stepped closer, and Yukimura could feel his breath on his cheek. "I'm leaving this. This whole living thing we're supposed to do, I'm not doing it. You should come too."

"Why?" He was so dizzy all of the sudden. Something about Kite, body pressed against him, something about pheromones or something, and he wanted to go along with it.

"I could tell when I first saw you. When I saw your picture in those tennis magazines. You're better than this life they've made for you. Yukimura Seichi, tennis star... is that what you're going to be for the rest of your life? Do you want the new car... the flat screen television?"

"No," Yukimura whispered, and it made him lightheaded to say it. He didn't want any of it. And then Kite was leaning down, their lips brushing, and Yukimura turned his head away. "I have a boyfriend..."

To think of social responsibilities, at a time like this, and Yukimura vaguely thought that maybe he had gone crazy.

Kite grimaced. "He's already part of it. Stuck in the routine... you're no better off with a corpse."

"But he's my boyfriend..."

"Let's go then. Let's go save your boyfriend."


"Let's kill your boyfriend."

2. Overflow

"What?" Yukimura laughed, and Kite smiled. His teeth were too square, too white.

"Let's go."

Kite's hand was on the back of his head, pulling him closer, and then they were kissing, world narrowed to that one point where lips and tongues intertwined. They pulled away... Yukimura didn't know who stopped, maybe it had been mutual, but he felt so dizzy. He felt intoxicated. His heart was racing, he couldn't stop smiling, and he thought... "Let's go."

Kite kissed him again, long and deep, and he tasted like bitter fruit.

They didn't take the way Yukimura usually took to Sanada's house. It would have been much too stupid, and Yukimura knew another way, through a neighbor's back yard, and they didn't have to pass through any security gates. He pulled Kite through the woods, their fingers still interlocked, and Yukimura wondered at the breeze that blew in his face. It felt so fresh, so new, and it was amazing what a different outlook could do to your life.

Then they were there, and Yukimura was ringing the bell. Sanada's family was away, so Yukimura knew who was going to answer, though it took a few moments. Sanada had probably finished kendo practice a while ago, Yukimura thought. He was probably doing his homework, television on as he focused on facts and numbers. A strange habit, for a boy who took everything so very seriously, but Yukimura thought it was because the television emulated the noise Sanada's tennis club members were always causing. In other words, Sanada left it on because in some way he missed the ruckus Rikkai caused.

Sweet, really, and then the door was opening, and Yukimura could hear the television on in the background.

"Yukimura?" Sanada seemed pleased, for a moment, or at least as pleased as his facial features would allow, before he noticed the boy who was currently leaning over his boyfriend. "Kite Eishirou."

Yukimura almost wanted to laugh. He could tell Sanada wanted to tell him to get away from Kite. He could tell Sanada wanted to pull him into the house. But Sanada would never issue an order to Yukimura, would never take liberties with his buchou.

Sanada was so very predictable.

"Hi." Yukimura waved, giddy, and maybe he was a little drunk. Strange, he hadn't remembered drinking anything.

"Yukimura, are you okay?"

"He's fine." It was Kite who responded, and then he was pushing open the door, and Sanada stepped back. "No thanks to you."

"What's going on?" Sanada looked so confused, and Yukimura felt a pang of sympathy for him.

"You're killing him with boredom," Kite snickered. "You have him trapped inside your mundane standards of normalcy, and it's killing him."

Sanada narrowed his eyes. "I don't know what you're talking about, but get the hell out of my house."

Sanada pushed Kite back out of the door, and Yukimura wondered for a moment who would win if the two got into a fight. Sanada had his kendo, but there were no swords nearby... and Kite had his Okinawan martial arts. But then Sanada was reaching for him, and he stepped back, out of Sanada's reach.

"Yukimura..." Sanada's voice was a plea. Please come in. Really, he was so sweet.

"Sanada, you always were such a caring boyfriend."


Everything that passed in the next few moments happened so quickly. Sanada looked hurt. Sanada looked hurt, and Yukimura thought, maybe this had gone far enough, when he felt something wet and sticky splatter all over his face. He hadn't even heard the bang (weren't guns supposed to make bangs?), but he did hear the noise of Sanada's head exploding, and the noise of Sanada's body hitting the floor.

Yukimura's eyes were opened in shock... Kite had actually done it. Kite had actually killed him. He looked over at the other boy, and Kite was grinning, pistol in his head, and then Kite was reaching out his tongue to lick blood off of his lips. He looked down, at the body, and wondered at how Sanada's handsome face had been completely blown off.

Yukimura started laughing. He had never felt so alive. His heart was beating like crazy, his palms sweaty in a way they never were in tennis. When he looked over at Kite, drops of blood trailing down his face, Yukimura thought, I think I'm in love.

It was too much to feel at one moment, and he wanted to explode, or maybe it was implode, or maybe he already was. Then Kite was grabbing him, kissing him, his boyfriend's corpse at their feet. They cleaned themselves off of the blood as best they could, using water from the foyer bathroom, and then Kite was turning to him again.

"We should get out of here."

Yukimura nodded, and Kite dropped the gun, the mugger's gun, on the front steps as they left the house.

Yukimura didn't know where Kite was taking him, but he followed any way, because with Kite, it was bound to be exciting. They wound up at a hotel, and in the elevator Kite pushed him up against the wall, kissing him, hard, and their bodies were grinding up against each other. Yukimura felt as though he could actually feel every centimeter of his skin. Every place that Kite's fingers gripped him, every hair follicle that brushed against his cheek, and it was all too much. This whole night had been too much.

Then they were stumbling out of the elevator and Kite unlocked the door. Long, tangled hair stirred at the top of one of the futons, and sleepy eyes looked up at them. They landed on Yukimura for a moment, and Yukimura's head supplied him with a name: Hirakoba Rin. A disinterested look shot at Kite, lifting his head to rest on arched fingers, and a raised eyebrow.

"Go sleep in Kai-kun's room," Kite said, and Hirakoba only wasted a moment before getting his things.

"Fine, fine. But the next time I bring a boy over, you better leave me the fuck alone." Hirakoba shuffled, still half asleep, out the door and into the cool beige of the hotel hallway.

They were stumbling onto the floor then, onto Hirakoba's futon, onto Kite's futon, it didn't really matter. There were things poking into him, creases from the blanket and maybe an alarm clock, but then they were out of the way, and Kite's tongue was tracing spirals in his ear. They tumbled and laughed as they removed their clothes, removed each other's clothes, still high from the events of just an hour ago. And then there wasn't any fabric between them anymore.

The floor was hard on his side, and then Kite was straddling one of his legs, lifting the other one up and forward. Yukimura could feel the head of Kite's cock rubbing circles at his asshole, hard and dripping wet, and then the boy was pushing into him, and it hurt but more than that it felt impossibly good.

There were moans, pants... little gasps for air and grunts, but mostly there was the sound of two bodies slamming together as Kite thrust into him. They must have fucked for hours... at least that was what it felt like... in every position, fully, all over the room. And then Yukimura came, cock twitching as it shot out spurt after spurt of hot semen. They were sticky and sweaty, and they fell asleep with their fingers half interlaced, cold hard wood pressed against there backs and pillow and blankets all around them.

3. News

Niou knew something was wrong. He knew something was wrong because Sanada never took more than five minutes to answer the door, and it had been nine already. Niou grasped the doorknob, and it turned easily, sliding inwards with just the barest of pushes. Sanada never forgot to lock the door. Then the door opened all the way, and Niou frowned.

Shit. Niou stepped into the foyer, sidestepping the puddles of blood on the floor. He assumed the body on the floor belonged to his vice-captain, but with the head missing like that, he couldn't be completely sure. Niou scratched his head. Who was going to help him with his social studies assignment now?

Niou's social studies assignment soon became the least of his worries though, because then some one was stepping through the door, and Niou realized it was that security guard at the gates. The man looked at Sanada's body, eyes widening in abject terror, and he fumbled for his gun. Niou stepped back, sneakers squeaking, and those large eyes shot up to him as the barrel of a pistol shook in his face.

"Man..." Niou raised his hands in the air, but the guard seemed no less fearful. "I didn't do it. I just got here."

"Put your hands up!" The man's voice shook, and he was clearly unable to see things clearly.

Niou sighed, and the very noise seemed to startle the guard. This didn't look good. The man was stepping forward, and he was stepping back, and then Niou's eyes lit up as his gaze fell towards the floor. One of the guy's boots was stepping into the blood, seconds from slipping, and Niou smiled as he looked back up. Sure enough the man's eyes widened even more as he slipped, caught in that state between falling and catching yourself, but then Niou was helping him out, swinging a foot out to kick at his legs.

The gun went off. A loud noise, and a rain of plaster, and as the man toppled Niou aimed another kick at his chest. He aimed it just so... and then the man was falling backwards, out the front door, down the tall, extravagant steps that led to the driveway.

Niou smiled as he jogged down the steps. The body at the bottom was bent at all different kinds of angles, and its eyes were still wide open. Poor guy. But really, Niou thought, Sanada's neighborhood was rich enough to hire better help than that.

At any rate, he should get the hell out of this place. But then something was shining white on the steps, and Niou was bending to pick it up. A shark tooth strung on leather, drops of blood splattered on it. Sanada's blood, probably, and Niou realized at once who the necklace belonged to. He smiled. That Yukimura... Niou always knew he was quite the naughty boy.

The news came a few hours later. Niou was expecting it, of course, and he decided to take a nap before the call came. But he was expecting it, so when the wail of police sirens came sounding through the night he woke up to listen. The police station passed through his neighborhood to get to Sanada's, and he was sure that some one had heard the bang and called the police.

The actual call came some time after the police cars passed by. Niou was amazed it took that quickly, after all, the proper people had to be notified first. Sanada's parents, his brother, and how dreadful it must have been for them to hear the news. Then Sanada's brother, after his initial grief, might have thought to call Yanagi, Sanada's childhood best friend. Maybe he would call Yukimura as well, except he had never really liked Yukimura. At any rate, as long as at least one of them knew, all of the regulars would know, news spreading from one to another via telephone.

"Niou-kun." Of course, it was Yagyuu who called him. Yagyuu's voice was calm, so normal save for its strange undertones. "Something terrible has happened."

"Oi, what's wrong? Did you have a nightmare?" Niou joked, because that's what was expected.

"I'm serious."

Niou smiled as he paused, counting out the seconds. This was when he was supposed to realize, yeah, Yagyuu meant business.

"Yagyuu..." he said it without any afflictions, just his normal voice. "What happened?"

A half hour later, they were all gathered outside Sanada's house. Sanada's family was too far away to get there in time, so it was only the Rikkai members, and a handful of concerned neighbors. The police had the house surrounded, but they could still watch from the sidewalk, and every now and then an officer would look at them sadly and offer kind words of support. Their expressions ranged from sympathy, in Yagyuu's case, to shock, to anger. Kirihara was predictably upset, shaking as Yukimura whispered soothing words in his ear.

Marui was popping bubbles, three times as fast as he normally did, and it was a sure sign that he was distressed. Jackal looked absolutely befuddled, as though he couldn't believe this was happening. Maybe it was a dream, and he would wake up, and the vice-captain of his tennis club wouldn't be dead. Yanagi was nursing his pain into a coffee cup that one of the neighbors had given him, and he nodded as she murmured how things like this just didn't happen in this neighborhood. He seemed calm enough, but there were lines around his eyes, around his tightly pursed lips, and his fingers were trembling just a little bit. Yanagi had known Sanada since they were children, after all.

Yukimura was ashen. Niou had to admit, Yukimura was a consummate actor... then his captain was looking up at him, and Niou smiled. Yukimura didn't even look startled. He went back to taking care of Kirihara, but Niou knew that he knew.

Yukimura was smooth, but Niou could read ten steps ahead of him, and he was going to use it to his advantage.

4. Extortion

There was one lone window in Yukimura's room, but it was taller and wider then most. It opened outwards if you pushed along the handles at the center, French style, and it overlooked the garden. Yukimura's garden, because his parents didn't have the time or desire to take care of it, and Yukimura had always enjoyed working outdoors.

He was watching it now as he sat on his bed, legs crossed halfway and some sports manga open between his fingers. He had been reading it, but it was getting too late for that. Or too early, as the case may be... dawn was close to breaking.

Yukimura crossed his arms behind his head, leaning back, and that's when the lean, graceful figure dropped over to gate and landed in his backyard. Yukimura frowned. Right in his prized azaleas.

Well, it wouldn't do to keep his guest waiting, and with that thought Yukimura opened the window and climbed out. His feet sunk into dewy grass and moist soil as he walked along his lawns, and then he was right in front of him, bleached hair jostling as the figure stood up.

"Yo. Long night, huh?" Niou grinned, looking up as though he were contemplating. "Probably longer for you than for me, though."

Yukimura smiled pleasantly. "Can I get you something to drink?"

"Oh, no, I couldn't impose." Niou chuckled, and took a step forward as he reached into his pocket. He was pulling something out, long and thin, and at the end was a white tooth surrounded by two small beads. Yukimura's hand reached to his collar, and he noticed the specks of red encrusted on the tooth and leather. "I think this is yours."

Yukimura reached up to take the necklace in his head, but Niou jerked it away. Yukimura laughed. "And here I was thinking you were so kind to return it to me."

"You should know me better than that." Niou slipped the chord back into his shorts, studying Yukimura's face. The other boy still had that smile pasted on, no real changes in his expression, but that was to be expected. "I'm sure the police might be interested to get a hold of it."

"Get a hold of what?" Yukimura's smile widened. "The necklace I gave Sanada yesterday afternoon?"

Niou laughed. "So that's how you're playing it. But, you know, even if you say that it's a pretty good lead. And if I found this, who knows what they'll find, if they know what to look for."

"What do you want, Niou?"

Yukimura's voice was still conversational, still the same, but Niou knew he had the upper hand. Checkmate, he thought. And now it was his move. "I want to screw you."

Yukimura couldn't stop laughing. "You what?"

Niou shrugged, still grinning. "Hey, I'm a simple kind of guy. I've always wanted to do it, but I was always too scared to ask."

Yukimura raised an eyebrow. "Of Sanada?"

"Are you kidding? That guy's a pussycat compared to you." Niou snickered, then corrected himself. "Was a pussycat, that is. But I figured if I ever got you pissed off, there'd be hell to pay."

"That's true enough." Yukimura seemed highly amused. "But what makes you think something like that would piss me off?"

"So is that a yes?"

"You don't give me many other options." Yukimura's eyes fluttered to the ground, lighting up for a moment, and he smiled as Niou walked closer to him. He stepped back, to the side, fingers tracing the lower edge of his t-shirt, and then Niou froze as he pulled it off. His chest was smooth and flawless, all lean muscles acquired from intensive training. His shorts sat low on his hips, so low, and Niou licked his lips at the trace of soft curls peeking out from the top of the waistband.

Niou stumbled forwards, hands reaching to feel Yukimura's skin, and then his palms and fingers were exploring the hard contours of Yukimura's chest and sides. Perfect... Yukimura was so perfect, and then Niou was leaning forward, sucking and nibbling at the skin of Yukimura's jaw. He tasted of sweat and musk, and Niou pushed him down onto the grass, their limbs tangling and fumbling together, Yukimura's legs wrapping around him.

Niou rolled his hips down, pressing his erection against Yukimura's, and he moaned at the contact.

"We can fuck whenever I want," Niou murmured, smiling, because he had won.

"Niou..." it sounded like a moan, and Niou was grinding up against the other boy through their clothes, and it felt so good. Yukimura was saying something, but Niou wasn't even really aware of it, he just wanted so badly to get off. He was about to fumble for his shorts when Yukimura's words cut through to his brain.

"... if you had asked nicely, I might have played with you." Yukimura still sounded so damn amused, and Niou frowned at how rational his words were. "But, really, blackmail? You should know better than to fuck with me like that."

In the silence of the pre-dawn then, in the midst of small, fleeting chirps, there was suddenly a sickening, wet sound that would have been familiar to any butcher or housewife. The sound of flesh being torn open, and Yukimura closed his eyes as a flood of red, sticky liquid poured over his face. He rolled over, pushing Niou's body off of him, and pulled the sickle from his throat.

Really, it was lucky that he had a habit of leaving his gardening tools out. He smiled at Niou's body, neck cut halfway open. Niou was so silly, going up against him... he should have known he couldn't win. Yukimura wiped the sickle on his shirt, and took them both into his room... he was rather fond of the tool. Maybe he would keep it with him.

He tossed it into the top of a bag he already had prepared, put the shirt back on, and that's when Kite showed up, tapping fingertips on his windowpane.

"Are you ready?" Kite whispered.

Yukimura nodded, and smiled. He cast one look back on his room, at his manga and his tennis posters, and he thought, he wouldn't be missing any of it.

"Yeah." Yukimura swung himself out the window, bag in hand. "But there's some one I want to pick up first."

5. Cradle

It wasn't the best part of town, but it wasn't the worse. It was, in effect, a very humble, very traditional apartment building in a lower middle-class area. It was the kind of apartment building where every one kept to themselves, and everything was decorated in boring shades of white and tan.

Kirihara lay on his futon, in a small room he felt lucky to have as his own. He was curled up on his side, clutching at a large pillow. There were other pillows all around him, forming small walls around his futon, his own pillows plus any decorative pillows or seat cushions he had managed to find around the house. He knew the walls couldn't actually protect him, but they made him feel safe, and he pulled his blanket around him as he stared wide-eyed at the wall.

Sanada-fukubuchou was dead. Sanada-fukubuchou, who had always been harsh with him, but could be really kind too. Kirihara remembered the time he wanted to practice against a left-handed player, and Sanada had arranged for him to play against all of Rikkai's left-handed alumni. He remembered the time he had forgotten to pack a lunch, and Sanada had given him his bento.

"You need to nutrients," Sanada had said, voice too gruff, and Kirihara pretended not to hear Sanada's stomach grumble. Now Sanada wouldn't say anything any more, even in that too gruff voice.

No more criticisms or words of encouragement. No more slaps or pats on the head. No more tennis games. Kirihara curled up even more.

He had seen part of the body, when the police had removed it from the house. He didn't tell any of the others, but he had seen Sanada's head, or what was left of it, a slimy mess that looked like red vomit, black hairs still attached to the back of it.

He had found a place to be alone, in the shadows of some random house, and Yanagi had found him there crying. Yanagi held him, then made him stand up, dried his eyes, and walked him back to the other regulars. Yukimura was there then, and Kirihara instinctually ran to him.

Then Yukimura had held him, and Kirihara remembered what he had whispered into his ear.

"Akaya. I know who killed Sanada. Don't worry."

A repeated litany, and Kirihara had known that Yukimura had something to do with it. Yukimura was the reason Sanada was dead. But Kirihara only clung to him tighter, because Yukimura was his buchou.

Outside Kirihara's apartment, Kite inserted a long, narrow rod into the door knob. It was so easy to unlock, only took a few seconds really, but he was still dubious.

"Why exactly do we need to bring your kouhai?"

Yukimura, an arm slung over Kite's shoulder, felt a frown tugging on his lips. He hated being questioned. "I can't leave him by himself."

"He has his other sempai."

"It's not the same. He needs me."

Kite frowned minutely, but didn't say anything more, and then the door was unlocked and they were walking into the small apartment. Yukimura held a hand up and then pointed at the couch, mouthing the words, make yourself at home. Kite smirked and slouched down in a love chair, kicking his legs up on the coffee table as Yukimura took care of his business.

Yukimura didn't go to Kirihara's room first. No, first he pulled aside the screen door that he knew led to the master bedroom. Kirihara-san's bedroom.

Yukimura hated him. He was a drunk, and a bastard, and his wife had left him years ago because of it... left him and poor Akaya. And sometimes, Kirihara would come to practice with bruises or cuts and no explanation of where he got them, and he would shuffle around quietly in the background instead of causing his usual trouble. It took the troika a bit of time before they realized what was happening, but when they did, Yukimura swore that he would make Akaya's father pay for it some day.

The room reeked of cheap sake and beer, and the old man was comatose on the floor. He hadn't even made it to his futon. Yukimura crept quietly towards it, though he didn't need to (the old man wouldn't have woken up any way), and picked up a pillow. He kneeled down, by Kirihara-san's head, and lowered the pillow over his face.

The bastard didn't even wake up as he was being asphyxiated, too drunk to notice, and his body only spasmed once before it was completely still. Yukimura smiled, got up, and walked to Kirihara's room.

When he got there the younger boy was curled up in the nest he had made for himself, like a baby, his eyes clenched shut though it was clear he was still awake. Yukimura bent down and stroked his cheek.

"Akaya, it's me."

The reaction was instant. There was a flailing of blankets, of limbs, and then Akaya was in his arms, shaking and asking him questions. Why, what's going on, what's happening, and Yukimura ran fingers through his dark curls before he calmed down.

"It's okay, Akaya. It had to be done. Do you understand?"

Akaya nodded into Yukimura's shoulder, because if Yukimura said something, then it had to be true. He looked up then, and he could see past the hallway into his father's room. He shuddered and tightened his grip on the back of Yukimura's shirt.

"Buchou... did... my dad..."

"It's for the best. He was a bad man. He hurt you."

Kirihara could feel his eyes stinging. It's true, his father had been mean and cruel, but he was still his father.

"Akaya, I'm going away. Away from all of this. Do you want to come with me?"

Kirihara didn't know what to do but nod. His father was gone, and besides, Yukimura was his buchou... Kirihara would follow him anywhere. He still felt so shaken, so frail from everything that happened, but Yukimura was always so strong. So much stronger than any one else. Yukimura would take care of him. Yukimura would tell him what was the right thing to do.

"I want to come with you."

Yukimura smiled, relieved, and started to help Kirihara pack.

6. Radio Cassette Player

Wakato Ritsu was a normal man. He was a salariman, like countless others, just trying to do a good job and take care of his family. He had a loving wife, not beautiful by conventional standards, but handsome enough, and a strapping, athletic son (even if he was a bit flamboyant at times). He even had a new car... used, but new to him, and it was interesting to drive it on business trips instead of taking a train. It had a radio cassette player in it, and he used it to listen to his old cassette tapes, and as he hummed along it reminded him of his college days.

He was humming now as he drove home, excited about seeing his family again after several days away. He wanted to have a tennis match with Hiroshi, maybe take him out for driving lessons, even if he was still underage. It had been a long time since they had spent any quality time together.

Wakato turned the corner, mildly surprised to see two teenage boys caught in his headlights. Why, they must have been his son's age, and it was a terribly late… or early, as technically, it was already Saturday morning though the sun was still far from rising... hardly any one was out, let alone junior high students who should be sleeping. The blue-haired boy looked vaguely familiar, and was smiling as he held out his thumb. Wakato slowed down his car and lowered his window.

"Do you boys need a ride somewhere?"

"We seem to be lost," the blue-haired boy replied, a bit sheepish, though very charming. "We're trying to find the main street."

"I know where that is. Why don't you two get in."

The blue-haired boy murmured a thank you as he got into the backseat. The boy who was with him, with his glasses and slicked-back hair, walked across to the other side and got into the passenger's seat.

"Yes," he said as he got in, "thank you."

Wakato shrugged. "It's no problem. Really, though, you kids shouldn't be out hitchhiking, especially when it's still dark. You never know what kind of dangerous people you'll run into."

The place the kids wanted to go to was a good fifteen minutes out of his way, but Wakato didn't mind helping them out. They were just kids, after all, and who knows what kind of trouble they would get into if he just left them there. A favorite song was playing now, and he started to hum along again, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel as he drove.

It was getting lighter, but it was also foggy, and it was hard to see very far ahead of him even with his headlights. Everything was grey and wet, and he really had to strain to see clearly. He slowed his car, figuring it would be safer, but then his reverie was broken by the voice of the boy with glasses.

"Sir, do you mind if we listen to the radio instead?"

"Oh, of course. Be my guest." A little presumptuous of the boy, but kids were kids, and Wakato let it go. The boy hit the eject button, but there was a sudden screeching, and all of a sudden thin, brown tape was spewing from the player. "Oh..."

Wakato frowned at the cassette, wondering if he would be able to buy another one in this age of compact discs, and the boy was gathering the tape in his hands. It was a mess, a cascade of shiny brown ribbon, and then the actual cassette popped out, ruined beyond belief.

"Oh." The blue-haired boy looked embarrassed by the turn of events. "We're so sorry."

"It's fine," Wakato laughed. "I should buy a cd player anyway."

Kite Eishirou looked down at the cassette tape in his hands, at the thin lines and curves of the ribbon. They had something else planned, but this would be a lot less... messy. He looked at the backseat, at Yukimura, and raised an eyebrow as he smirked. It was all the communication they needed. Yukimura smiled, shrugged, and leaned back to make himself comfortable in his seat.

They were traveling at a crawl now, and the fog was so dense... and there weren't any other headlights to be seen in it. It was perfect. Kite got out of his seat, sliding over the partition to press his foot down on the brake. There was a jerk, a confused expression, and a muddled cry of 'what', but then Kite's hands were around the man's neck, and the ribbons of the cassette tape were wrapping around that smooth column. He pulled, tightened his fingers, and watched as the flesh strained out of the gaps between the strands, turned pink and then red. There were horrible noises, noises of some one trying to scream but who didn't have the breath to do so. The man was clawing at the tape, then at his hands, and his limbs were flailing, but Kite didn't let go.

Then, perfect stillness. Kite released his hold, and the tape tumbled to the floor, disappeared beneath the seat. He got out of the car and walked to the driver's seat, moving the man over so that he could take over.

"What should we do with him?" Yukimura asked, looking out the window. The fog really was so beautiful, and he could see little particles of it suspended in the headlights. Like snow almost.

"There's a bridge nearby, we'll dump him in the river."

Yukimura smiled. Now they had a car... for a little while, anyway, until they found another one to replace it... it wouldn't be smart to stick with just one. They drove to the river and Yukimura helped to carry the body out, and after they tossed it, it took about seven seconds before they heard the splash.

Yukimura checked his watch. It had been fifteen minutes since they had left Kirihara, and the other boy must have been getting anxious. Still, better that than he have anything to do with this, and Yukimura and Kite got back in the car to go pick him up.

7. Our Own World

They left the city. They left the Kanagawa prefecture, and then they were in Tokyo, all vibrant and brightly colored, the streets crowded with cars and pedestrians. Yukimura bought Kirihara sunglasses, and a baseball cap for himself, and they ate at a fancy European restaurant. They bought a map of Japan from a souvenir store, crowded with tourists and gaijin looking at postcards and trinkets to bring home.

They ended up in a park, brilliant greens around them and the clear blue sky overhead. There were children laughing and playing just a few yards away from where they were parked, and teenage girls giggling over jokes and gossip. Kite spread the map out on the hood of the car, and Kirihara held onto Yukimura's arm as he rested his head on his shoulder.

"Can we really go anywhere we want?" Kirihara asked, and in the sunshine he was so removed from everything that had happened that past night. It was almost as if it hadn't actually happened... almost as if it was a dream. Almost, but it was distant enough so that Kirihara could push it to the back of his head, a dull ache.

Yukimura traced a finger over the Japanese shores. "Any where."

All of Japan was their playground now. Maybe even more than that, if they wanted... just the two of them, plus Kirihara.

"We can choose places at random," Kite said, and the golden sun colored even his voice in warm tones, "just point, and that's where we'll go. Or, we can head south..."

Kite traced a path from Tokyo to Okinawa with his finger, Kirihara's eyes following intently.

"... to where it's always warm. There are so many little islands off the shore. Some have small towns on them, but some are empty, and some deserted."

Yukimura smiled, and Kirihara's eyes widened as he visibly perked up.

"Our own island?" Kirihara asked. "Really?"

"Yeah. All we'd need is a boat."

Yukimura folded the map back up, and they got back into the car. Their own island... Kirihara stared out the window as Kite drove them out of Tokyo, his daydreams filled with visions of the ocean. There'd be tropical fruit trees, of course, because it was so down south, and they could play in the sand and swim all day. They could hunt for food too, maybe there'd be wild pigs, and they could fish. No adults, no school... maybe they'd even be able to play tennis, if they bought some rackets on the way. It would be paradise.

Kirihara could feel it now, the warm golden sand between his toes, the gentle ocean water. The sun would always be out, but there would always be a soft breeze too, just the right strength to cool you down. Kirihara closed his eyes, imagining that he could hear sea gulls, and their soft chirps lulled him off to sleep.

They ran out of gas twenty minutes outside of Tokyo. The car gave a jerk, and Kite managed to coast it to the side before it stopped. Yukimura laughed when he realized his wallet was empty, and Kite smirked at the turn of events. There they were, stuck on a deserted highway, no cars in sight. Yukimura could make out the dust on the asphalt, this street was so seldom taken.

"Gas is expensive," Yukimura stated, contemplative. Not an order, but the command was there. Ditch the car.

Kite slouched down in his seat, arm out the window. A small movement, just a flicker of his wrist really, and there was a cell phone in his hand, small and black and sleek. "I know where we can get a ride."

Yukimura raised an eyebrow as Kite hit a number on his phone, and listened in on half of the telephone conversation. He was talking to that other boy, Kai, and they seemed to come to some arrangement, because he smiled as he hung up. Then he turned, leaning forward, and Yukimura could see himself reflected in Kite's glasses.

"We should stretch our legs out."

As Kirihara napped they laid on the hood of the car, waiting in comfortable silence and spotting shapes up in the sky. They must have been there for half an hour, they must have fallen asleep, because they awoke to the sound of a bus coming up the dusty street. A rental bus, and Yukimura realized it was probably what the Higa team used to get to Tokyo in the first place. He saw Kai first, all long gravity-defying hair and deceptively friendly smiles, sticking his head out the window to wave at them, and then the bus came to a stop to let them on.

The three of them climbed up the steps, the man at the driver's seat glaring at them as they did so. Their coach Saotome, if Yukimura remembered correctly.

"Where the fuck have you been?" he grunted, but one look from Kite and he was looking down and away, fumbling for the parking break.

As they walked down the bus they passed Tanishi first, body large and corpulent, taking up an entire row of seats. Asleep and drooling, he remained oblivious to everything that was going on. Shiranui, a somewhat average looking boy with no discernable characteristics, barely glanced up, listening to music with a pair of headphones. Two others were seated together in a row, and they were mumbling as Yukimura passed, but he couldn't make out what they were saying. One of them he recognized as Kite's roommate Hirakoba Rin, and the other one was a pale, almost grey-complexioned boy, terribly feminine aside from his musculature. Chinen was his name.

Yukimura took a seat next to Kite behind them, and Kirihara shuffled in across the aisle. After they were seated Kai was still half standing up in his seat, and was smiling at Yukimura in a way that unnerved him a bit.

"You know," Kai finally said, as the bus rolled to a start, "you're boyfriend's dead."

"That's horrible," Yukimura replied, completely deadpan.

"I'm sure. Not that I'm saying anything, you know." Kai's smile widened even more as his gaze shifted from Yukimura to Kite. "Just that some people get off on some strange things, is all."

Chinen muttered something, but when every one turned to look at the boy he was shifted to face the window.

"Huh." Hirakoba crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. "So Eishirou killed some one? It was bound to happen eventually."

"Yeah, right." Kai chuckled, pulling down on his baseball cap. "Like it hasn't already."

"You-" the bus jerked to a stop, and Saotome was standing up. His large body blocked the aisle, red and sweaty, and he was visibly shaking in anger. "You brats act like it's nothing. Well, that kid was from a good family, and the police are going to come after you. They're going to find you, and throw you in jail, if no-"

Kite sighed and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "Shut up, old man."

"Don't fucking tell me to shut up! You can get the hell off this bus, because when the cops come after you, I'm sure as hell not going down for-"

Kirihara saw Kite's hand reach into Yukimura's open bag, and shrank down into his seat as he closed his eyes. He blocked off what was going on around him. He thought of the beach, of the ocean, and playing tennis on the sand with Yukimura. Their own private island.

Kite reached out for something, anything, and then his fingers made contact with something long and hard. He grasped it in his hand and raised his arm, pulling back a little before letting go. He didn't even know what it was when he first touched it, but he smiled to see a sickle going flying through the air. How convenient.

Every one else's eyes were focused on Saotome, so they didn't even see what happened. One moment Saotome was red and ranting, face screwed up into an ugly knot, and the next moment there was a loud thud and the blade of a sickle was embedded several inches into his forehead. He blinked, twice, before he fell, body propelling itself forward to crash onto the aisle floor.

Chinen shot out of his seat. "That's going too far, Kite!"

"Should you really be yelling at me, Chinen?"

Chinen opened his mouth, but closed it again with a small twitch of his eyebrows, face even whiter than it had been a few moments ago.

"Dude," Kai kicked his coach in the head, "what are we supposed to do with the body?"

"I believe Chinen has volunteered to cut it up into pieces so that we can bury it. Isn't that right, Chinen?" Kite's glasses flashed, and Chinen was looking away. "Chinen."

Chinen's eyes shot back up, then down again, and he nodded.

"Hirakoba-kun, if you could drive?"

"Uh... yeah. Sure."

Hirakoba stepped over the body to get to the driver's seat, and Kai finally sat down all the way. Tanishi's snores filled the silence on the bus, and Shiranui removed his headphones.

"Hey, where'd the coach go?"

Kai shrugged and pointed to the floor.

"Ugh." Shiranui made a face before putting his headphones back on. "I so did not need to see that."

8. kHz

There was a tarp on the back of the bus, and they had laid it out on the floor to catch the blood, Saotome's body heavy on top of it. Chinen's hands would shake sporadically as he cut into the meat, along the joints, back and forth motions with a hand saw. He didn't know where Kite had gotten a hand saw. He didn't think he should ask. Maybe it was Shiranui's, that guy always really liked wood shop, but the still didn't make sense... Chinen didn't think he'd be strange enough to carry around a spare hand saw in his backpack wherever he went.

Still, there was one thing that Chinen did know, and his facial muscles twitched slightly as he thought of it. Kite had killed a lot of people, and he was an accomplice. He was going to get caught. He was going to get caught, or Kite would kill him, but either way he had to watch his back. He had to get away... but if he tried to run, some one would come after him. Kite, Kai, Hirakoba... he couldn't trust any one.

His hands shook again as he got to tendon. Muscle was rough, but the tendons were always the hardest part. Fucking Saotome. Why'd he have to be so big... this would be a lot easier if he were smaller... there was a noise behind him then, and startled, Chinen's head shot around. Shiranui was picking up his mp3 player from the ground.

Chinen went back to his work... there, only the legs were left now. He wiped blood and sweat off his face, grasped onto the handsaw. He had to watch his back. He had to wait, and when he got the chance, he'd make his move. He just had to wait.

At the front of the bus, Hirakoba was having similar thoughts of his own as he drove the bus. He needed to get out of this mess. This was crazy... Kite and Yukimura must have left evidence all over the place... they were bound to be caught. He sure as hell didn't want to be around when that happened. Stay awake, stay sharp, he told himself, and he'd bail ship when he got the chance.

"Dude," Kai complained, interrupting the relative silence of the bus, "I'm hungry."

Tanishi was quick to agree. "Yeah, we gotta stop and get some food or something."

Kite didn't say anything, so it was Yukimura who told Hirakoba to drive into Chiba City for dinner. He thought maybe there'd be some dissent, but every one had to eat, and no one said anything about Yukimura giving them orders.

They stopped outside Chiba to bury Saotome's body in a shallow grave, got rid of the tarp, then drove into the city. They wound up in a fast food place, chewing on burgers and fries, and no one had much of anything to say to one another. Kai would joke around, stealing fries from other people's plates, and Yukimura was pleased to see that Kirihara was content enough.

Kite's thigh was nudging against his then, and he looked over at the other boy, questioning, but Kite's gaze was across the street. Yukimura looked over, and saw a drunk man in a white suit, a woman clinging to his arm, a briefcase on the other one.

"Yakuza," Kite whispered, and every one's attention turned to the window.

Kai snickered.

"Small fry," he said, looking at cheap, flashy suit, but Yukimura was disagreeing with him.

"He has a woman, so he must have money."

They watched as the man disappeared into the hotel, plans already turning in their heads. They didn't have much money left... to get to Okinawa they would need a lot more.

"Kirihara, go wait in the bus," Yukimura finally said, and Tanishi was making an objection.

"How come the brat gets to stay out of this? It's bullshit."

"So get your fat ass back to the bus," Kai sneered, "it's not like you'd be any help anyway."

"I'll go," Kite proclaimed, "you all would just fuck it up."

"And you're not? What are you going to do, your gun's too fucking loud... hotel security would be on you like sluts on a cock."

"Kite and I will go," Yukimura interjected, "we'll improvise."

"I'm going too." It was Hirakoba, and every one turned towards him in mild surprise. "If there's money involved, I'm sure as hell not letting you two run off with it."

Inside the hotel, Narumi Yoshito was on patrol. Some big shot had come in and rented the penthouse, brought some cheap floozy with him, and now he was stuck walking the hallways. Pretty boring, actually, and the noises that were coming out of that room were pretty loud and embarrassing.

He took a break for a while, snoozed off in some chair in the corner. Some one kept trying to reach him on his walkie talkie, some other job to do he guessed, but he was fine in this one... at least he got to relax. So he changed the frequency, 400 kHz, and his walkie talkie was buzzing lullabies. He slept, maybe for half an hour, and when he woke up they were still going at it. Degenerates.

He should start walking the hallways again. He was still half asleep though, so he didn't realize it when he tripped. He reached, flailing in midair, but then there was a sharp pain slicing through his neck, and then there was only blackness.

Yukimura stepped around the corner, kicking the security guard's decapitated head out of the way. He pulled the two trip wires they had set up along the hallway, taut and invisible and sharp (who knew tennis racket strings were so versatile?), and marveled at how well that had worked. He had to give Hirakoba credit for thinking of the plan, for placing the wires at just the right distance to first trip and then decapitate.

Kite and Hirakoba were stepping over the body, and Yukimura wrapped his fingers around the doorknob to the penthouse.

9. Jolt

"Hold on," Kite said, and he was looking through the man's pockets. Nothing really interesting... no wallet, no gun, just a police baton that Kite wasn't interested in. But then his fingers met something square and hard, and he pulled out a stun gun. He smiled... this could come in handy. He nodded at Yukimura to go on, and then they were entering the room.

It was quiet now; the activities from before must have ended already. No one heard their entrance, at least, no one reacted to it, and as they stepped deeper into the room they became aware of why. The woman was asleep on the overly large bed, her floral perfume heavy over the room, mixing with the smell of musk and sex. There was white powder on the nightstand, tons of the stuff, and Yukimura wondered if two people could really consume that much cocaine. There was also the sound of a bath running, and it wasn't hard to come to the conclusion that the yakuza was currently in the bathroom.

They moved through the room first. It was a hotel room, and seemed newly occupied, so there wasn't much to look through. A cursory search turned up a few articles of discarded clothing, and the briefcase they had seen the man holding earlier. Kite muttered something to Hirakoba, something Yukimura didn't manage to catch despite their proximity, and then the other boy started working on opening the lock as Kite made his way into the bathroom.

The sound of soft, off-key humming filled the air as Kite stepped into the bathroom. It was humid in the small space, air cloudy with water vapor, though the shape of a man in the bathtub was easily distinguishable. Kite's footsteps were softer than the dripping water, it was so easy to get so close... a hand's width away, and Kite's taser buzzed to life.

There was a crisping sound as those metal prongs dug into the flesh of the man's neck, a loud, electric whir, small sparks flying into the air. It was followed by the smell of burning meat. The man spasmed, jerked, struggled, but Kite just pushed down harder, and soon the whole bath seemed lit, electric water flying out the sides. It took a while, but then his body went limp, nude and bloated in the confines of the bathtub.

There was a rush at the bathroom door, and Kite turned to see Hirakoba there, and expression on his face like it was Christmas morning in one of those Western movies.

"Kite," he half-whispered, "you have to see this."

A small smile tugged at the corners of Kite's lips. "I assume you got the brief case open?"

"Oh, hell, yes."

Kite followed Hirakoba back into the main room... the woman was, strangely, still asleep, but then again she could have been all kinds of drunk or drugged up. Yukimura was sitting behind the briefcase, looking like he was counting, and Kite didn't have to think to hard to guess what was in that suitcase.

"How much?" he asked, and Yukimura didn't even look up.

"Something like a hundred million yen."

Kite smiled, looked over at Hirakoba. "Now are you still thinking of making a run for it?

Hirakoba had to laugh at that. Really, Kite just knew him too well. "Hardly. When in my life am I going to see that kind of money again?."

"What do we do about her?" Yukimura asked, nodding to the bed, and they looked over to see that the woman was awake, her still half-asleep expression one of puzzlement.

10. Gardenia

Hirakoba made a "tsk tsk" noise as the woman blinked at them. This wouldn't do, they couldn't leave her to identify them... trouble with the police was bad enough, but they definitely didn't want to deal with the yakuza.

"You should have stayed asleep," he said, his voice poised between malice and some perverse type of sympathy.

Now the woman had the good sense to appear scared, and she tried to scramble off the bed and out the door, the blanket trailing after her as it landed on the floor. But it was a stupid move, and Kite was there to intercept her, his hands a vice grip around her arms as she struggled futilely. There was that scent coming from her naked body, that floral perfume that was much too heavy, some cheap mixture of gardenias and synthetic jasmines.

"Please," and her eyes were watery, maybe she was about to cry, "please, I didn't see anything. I won't say anything. Just..."

Her voice was coming in gasps, in hiccups, and Yukimura almost felt a pang of sympathy for her. But if he didn't feel bad over his own boyfriend dying, why would he feel bad over a stranger?

"Please... pleas don't hurt me..."

But Kite pulled her arm back, twisting it painfully, and clamped a hand over her mouth.

"Should we try to make it look like an accident?" Yukimura asked.

"Why?" Kite replied. "What's the point... the yakuza in the bath definitely isn't an accident."

Yukimura shrugged. "For fun."

"He has a point there, Eishirou," Hirakoba said, half laughing, "besides, it'll confuse the cops."

Hirakoba watched as Yukimura scooped a copious amount of cocaine into a nearby plastic cup, as he grabbed the spoon resting on the nightstand and headed towards the girl. Kite lowered her to the ground so they were both kneeling, and she was still struggling, but she was weak as well. Yukimura kneeled down in front of them, and placed a spoonful of cocaine directly underneath the girl's nose. The girl exhaled sharply, causing some of it to scatter, and then seemed to be holding her breath. But with Kite holding her mouth shut there wasn't anywhere else to inhale, and Yukimura was patient.

"You have to breath some time," Yukimura laughed.

It took about a minute before the girl gave in, and Hirakoba could see the cocaine swirl violently in the air as it was sucked into her nose. Almost the whole spoonful, and she tried to exhale what she had just snorted, but to no avail. Yukimura scooped up another spoonful. The woman's eyes were frantic, her head must have been heavy, and Hirakoba figured there wasn't much time until she o.d.ed.

His mind wondered from the scene in front of him as he thought about his plan... things had changed in the last few minutes. He wasn't going to run from that much money, Kite knew that, and he wasn't so stupid that he would try to take the money and flee. He'd just have to stick around, make the best of things, see what happened.

With his decision made he turned back towards Kite and Yukimura, and the now limp body of the woman, laying on the floor. There was blood leaking from her nose, and her open eyes were glassy, flecks of black appearing in her hazel pupils.

"Come on," Kite said, "let's go."

Hirakoba nodded, grabbing the suitcase and following them out of the hotel room.

11. Look Over Here

They were waiting maybe half an hour, tense and claustrophobic in the confines of that goddamned bus. Chinen swore he could still smell that metallic scent of blood, could feel it on his hands. He twitched from his seat near the front, wondering how Shiranui could just sing along to his mp3 player while Kai flipped casually though his manga. What the hell was wrong with them. . . at least that Kirihara kid seemed suitably shaken up, crunched up in his seat and desolately looking out a window. Tanishi just looked resigned.

The door opened then, Kite, Yukimura, and Rin coming back in.

"How'd you do?" Kai asked, looking up from his comics to study their expressions.

"We did pretty good," Kite said. "About 30,000 yen."

"I guess that's a pretty good chunk of pocket change," Kai agreed, although he was somewhat disappointed with the figure. Murder should be worth a lot more than that, he thought, but oh well.

"What exactly are we doing here?" Chinen interjected. The words rang through the confines of the bus, and Kite only went to take the wheel in response. He started the bus and Chinen sank back down in his seat, along with every one else.

"You have a point," Yukimura finally said, his eyes contemplative. "We obviously can't take this bus all the way down to Okinawa."

"Also," Kai interjected, "I'm getting tired. And I don't want to sleep on a bus, you know?"

"Idiot," Rin said, "staying at a motel now is out of the question."

"Why? They're not looking for us, not that we know of. Cut up Saotome pretty good, eh, Chinen? Won't be finding him for awhile."

"But they'll be looking for him," Rin said, sending a pointed look Yukimura's way. "He's the one with the dead boyfriend."

Yukimura bristled in the silence, feeling every one's eyes on him. But then the bus came to an abrupt stop and Kite was standing up. "We need gas. Shiranui."

But Shiranui was still nodding his head to the tune of his music. He hadn't been listening to what was going on, had decided earlier to stay out of things. Let nature run it's course. . . the tactic had always worked for him and Higa in the past.


Plump, sausage like fingers grabbed onto his shoulder, and Shiranui looked up into Tanishi's face. He finally took off his headphones. "Yeah, man?"

"Kite's talking to you."

"Go get the gas," Kite said.

"Dude, why me?"

"Just go." Kite got out too, as did Tanishi.

"Could use a stretch," Tanishi mumbled, as he ambled his way out of the bus.

Shiranui made his way to the front of the bus, where Rin was grinning at him and waving some bills in his hand. He snatched them up and hopped down into the fluorescent light of the gas station. It wasn't as though any one else couldn't do such a menial chore, he didn't know why Kite was making him do this. He finished quick enough, and then he headed to the bathroom. He swung open the door, surprised to see Kite on the other side, moving wads of cash from a suitcase to a cloth bag.

"Is that from that yakuza?" Shiranui asked. "Where'd it come from, I didn't see you holding a briefcase before."

But Kite was only staring at him, light reflected off his square glasses, and Shiranui thought, this is probably something I shouldn't know about.

"So no one knows about this money," Shiranui deduced. "How much is in there?"

Kite still hadn't moved, only watched him. His words, when they came out, were measured. "Ten million yen."

Shiranui whistled. No wonder Kite hadn't told the others. "So, now that I know, I guess we're splitting it four ways, huh, Kite? You, me, Rin, and Yukimura."

". . . "

"Hey, Shiranui!"

Shiranui turned sharply at Rin's voice. He saw a second of Rin's smiling face, then he saw a screwdriver coming quickly to lodge in his throat. His eyes widened in shock and he brought his hands up to feel the blood gushing out. He opened his mouth, but when he tried to speak the only thing that gurgled up was more blood. Then Rin was pulling out the screwdriver and stabbing him in the eye with it. He sensed more than felt his eyes explode, rupturing like a water ballon as its liquidy insides oozed out over his cheeks. He sank to his knees, grasping, but something was wrong with his motor functions too.

"Oh, man," Rin was saying. "That didn't kill him? This is going to be messier than I thought."

He pulled the screwdriver out, a sick, wet sound, and drove it into the back of Shiranui's skull. Funny, Shiranui thought, how he couldn't feel anything. Could just hear that crush of bone and squishing of pink matter. But Rin was doing it again, and again, and finally Shiranui couldn't feel, hear, or see anything ever again.

Kite had his arms crossed over his chest. "You're a surprisingly stingy guy when it comes to money."

Rin shrugged. "I never liked him anyway. So boring."

"What are we going to do with him? What are we going to tell the others?"

Another shrug. "We'll have the rest of them come out here to help us with the body. Tell them he freaked and tried to run away, I dunno. That work for you?"

"I suppose it's as good a plan as any," Kite said, reaching down to pull the screwdriver out. They wouldn't want to leave behind such a handy tool, after all.

12. Ano Sa

The groundskeeper flicked the lights on and off as he made his way through the cabin, making sure everything was in working order. It was a large, wood and bamboo manor, situated about a mile off the main road in the woods. There was a path leading out behind it, through forest to a partly-rocky beach. It was a nice property, the groundskeeper thought, if a little beaten up. It was old, after all, and did its fair share of moaning and creaking. He didn't know why its owner didn't just fix it up; he'd be able to rent it out for a lot more if he did.

He heard the sound of wheels pulling into the driveway then, saw the headlights come through the living room window. As quick as he could he was walking out the door, eager to meet the new guests and get back to his home. When he got out there he came face-to-face with a boy with wavy, blue-black hair, who seemed to have been in the process of walking up the path to knock on the door.

"Umm, excuse me," the boy said, "we seem to have gotten lost."

The groundskeeper sighed, looking at the bus waiting in the driveway. "You mean you aren't the students renting the house for the week?"

The boy's eyes seemed to light up at that. "No. . . there are really people coming out to stay all the way out here?"

The groundskeeper bristled at that. Young kids these days, they always wanted to go off to more exotic locations, but this was as good a places as any to relax. "It's a nice place to get away. No one even comes done to this area, so you can get a lot of quiet thinking done."

"Yes, that was our thought when we drove down here," the boy replied. "Is there any one here right now besides you?"

"No, I. . . " but then the man shuddered, eyes rolling up into his head as he pitched forward onto Yukimura's chest. With a sharp yank, Yukimura pulled the swiss army knife from where he had just slashed through the man's stomach, feeling his innards flow out with the knife.

He turned around, but the others were already getting off the bus and gathering around him.

"Apparently some students are renting this place out for the week," Yukimura said. "If we take care of them we'll have at least that long to stay here and figure out what to do next, but I think we should leave in a few days at most. At any rate, they'll be sure to have supplies and a new car, in case someone comes looking for this one."

"And who are you to start making decisions for us?" Rin asked, arms crossed as he glared at Yukimura. "You're not even on this team."

"Now, now," Kai interrupted, placing his hand on Rin's shoulder. "No need to get catty. We're all in this together. As for me, I could use some sleep. See ya."

Kai all but skipped his way into his house, visions of a comfortable bed dancing in his head.

"Yukimura-buchou," Kirihara said, his face a pale color, "I don't feel well."

Yukimura nodded. "Go with Kai."

Tanishi made to leave as well, but Kite's hand on his arm stopped him. "Help get rid of the body. I'll drive the bus somewhere and hide it. We have some new tenants coming, after all."

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