Annealed: All In One

Ebook cover for the arc

The rapprochement of Akai and Furuya, and how they come together. (Because you know we’ll be lucky to get it in about ten years, from canon.)

Ground Fire

Their work finally pushes Akai and Furuya together once too often, and Akai forces the issue of what happened to Scotch. In the wake of it, they find in each other some of the understanding they’ve both needed. Kinda Romance, Porn with Characterization, I-4

Character(s): Akai Shuuichi, Furuya Rei
Pairing(s): Akai/Furuya

This arc is undoubtedly in the process of being jossed, but that just means I get to write it again in another couple weeks. Or months. Well, by the end of the year, surely.


Furuya Rei, currently known to his targets and associates as Amuro Tohru, knew he was not at his best when he was surprised. As Hiro had trenchantly put it once, Rei’s observational ability meant he just didn’t get surprised often enough to figure out how to deal with it very well. Rei knew it was a vulnerability, but since he wasn’t about to stop observing the world around him, he hadn’t seen any good way to fix it. 

At least not until just recently.

Akai Shuuichi had been responsible for most of Rei’s least pleasant surprises over the last few years, and Rei rather hoped that his pursuit of Akai would help fix the issue. Surely it wasn’t unreasonable to want Akai to be at least a little useful before he died?

Unfortunately, it seemed Rei still had a ways to go. Admittedly, Vermouth’s message was enough to occupy anyone’s mind—that Gin might be scouting the same professional sniper that Conan was currently tracking (and of course he was, if there was one place their miniature Holmes should not be, you could count on finding him there every time, and yes Rei was aware of the irony of his exasperation). So when he came out of the stairwell onto the roof, he was prepared to either tackle a sniper or bullshit Gin just as fast as humanly possible, and perhaps to restrain Conan from charging straight at a rifle barrel.

He was not expecting to find Akai Shuuichi vaulting up the last steps of the fire escape onto the same roof. 

They both froze for one long, startled second, and then years-long rage sent Rei’s hand diving for his gun in the same moment that Akai lunged straight for him. He tried to turn out of Akai’s line, but even the most sternly trained muscle memory tripped over the unexpected. One hand occupied, he missed his stance (trying to do two things at once, the remembered voice of the Academy jujutsu instructor berated him, in the back of his head) and the full weight of Akai’s body slammed him back against the wall beside the stairwell door. When Rei had managed to haul breath back into his lungs, he was pinned, and Akai had an iron grip on his gun hand. Rei bared his teeth in a furious snarl, outraged that he’d had a clean chance at Akai, and as himself instead of as Okiya for once, and he’d missed it.

Akai’s expression, half in shadow as he looked down at Rei, was pensive. "Can you not let this go?" he asked, quietly.

"Let it go?" Rei spat, yanking futilely against Akai’s grip, nearly wrenching his own shoulder with a twist he didn’t have the leverage to complete. "Let it go that you killed my best, oldest friend, with your damned illegal interference?"

Akai’s eyes narrowed. "You know better than that. You, of all people, must have seen better than that."

"So he pulled the trigger himself! You were the one who made him do it, just to keep your cover!" Rei threw back at him. "You must have been! He’d never have done that on his own!"

Akai stared at him silently for a long moment, and then bent his head and let out a long, faint sigh. Anticipation pulled Rei’s muscles taut, waiting for the moment that well-earned guilt might give him a break in Akai’s hold or attention. "It wasn’t on his own, no," Akai said, very quietly, and rage cranked Rei’s whole body a notch tighter, teeth grinding hard on that admission. When Akai lifted his head, though, it wasn’t guilt in the pinch of his brows or the sudden softness of his mouth. Only… what? Sadness, yes, but also something else.

"You see so clearly, most times," Akai said, very softly, almost a whisper between them. "Remember what you saw, Furuya-kun. He didn’t do it on his own. Think about what he would have seen and heard, up on that roof. Already sure that the Organization would be coming for him, what did he hear right before he shot?"

Rei stared up at him, mind turning the thought over and poking at it automatically. Did Akai mean there was something he’d said to Hiro just then? Or was he trying to palm this off on something else, a phone call, or another member approaching, or…

Rei’s breath froze in his lungs. Another member approaching.

Footsteps, fast and intent, rattling up the metal steps of the fire-escape stair. Rei’s memory played them back as if it were just yesterday.

"No," Rei whispered, eyes wide and blind with the image building itself inexorably in his mind.

Hiro had heard footsteps approaching and thought it was another member. He’d heard Rei’s footsteps.

And then he’d pulled the trigger.

"No!" It ripped out of his throat on a scream, furious and helpless and pained (it had been him) but the sound was muffled in his ears. It took a moment for Rei to realize there was a hand cupped around his head, pulling him down against the worn leather of a jacketed shoulder. It took longer to realize that the hard clatter he’d heard was his own gun, fallen from his hand. The realization was like a fist in his stomach—it had been him. He hadn’t thought anyone could have found Hiro before him, had counted on his friend’s steadiness, even under the worst pressure, to make Hiro wait and see who was coming, never thinking that someone else might have gotten there first, that Hiro might already be on a hair-trigger.

He hadn’t thought. Hadn’t looked ahead. Hadn’t seen what was right in front of him, that night.

Hiro had died because of him.

Rei barely felt the rough tar-paper under his knees as he collapsed, didn’t think about whose hands caught him or whose jacket was muffling the sobs tearing out of his chest. That one damning thought echoed through his mind and pushed out everything else, until all he could do was howl with the pain of it.

But there was nothing that grief could change—that was why it was grief and not rage, even though he’d tried so hard to make it stay rage, to imagine that vengeance would change something, if only in his own heart. Eventually even nearly four years worth of tears ran dry, because there was nothing else to do. That was when the realization finally made its way to the surface of Rei’s thoughts that Akai was kneeling on the roof with him, and the hand resting on his head was Akai’s, and so was the shoulder his face was buried in.

The very wet shoulder.

As soon as he stirred, the hand dropped to his arm, helping him upright as he pushed away. Rei didn’t look up as Akai stood, just scrubbed his sleeve over his aching eyes; how were you supposed to talk to the man you’d just cried all over, who you’d been trying very hard to kill right up until that moment? 

Two hands appeared in front of him. "Up," Akai said.

Rei did look up at that, startled.

"Come on, up," Akai repeated, and flicked his fingers, beckoning. "We can’t stay here."

That was good enough sense that Rei mustered the coordination to take Akai’s hands and haul himself upright, biting back a curse as he almost fell and Akai had to catch him again. "What do you mean ‘we’?" he jabbed, half-heartedly, voice rough and hoarse.

The look Akai gave him made him feel like a rookie again, and the heat in his face made his raw cheeks burn. "You shouldn’t be somewhere the Organization knows about, right now. So you’re coming with me."

"They know about Kudou’s house," Rei protested, even as he stumbled toward the fire stairs after Akai.

"Which is why we’re going somewhere else." 

Rei sighed and climbed onto the stairs after Akai, wondering if he was this annoying himself, when he was keeping some tentative conclusion behind his teeth. It was hard to hold on to the thought, though, or to noticing the way Akai stayed poised just a few steps below him, as if he thought he might have to catch Rei yet again. By the time they reached Akai’s car, he’d completely lost track of why he should refuse, and climbed into the passenger seat silently.

He didn’t keep good track of the passing streets outside the dark windows. The disorientation seemed of one piece with the fragments of thought that spun through his head, bits of memory and shards of future plans swirling together. Hiro’s quiet laugh. The glint in Conan’s eye when they found that sniper’s name. The number he’d meant to call in a tip to, when the man’s location was nailed down. The lyrics of the first song he and Hiro had ever written. The name of the garage he’d left his own car in. None of his thoughts connected to one another. When they finally stopped, and Akai’s hand under his elbow guided him up some stairs and over to a low bed, he was glad to let those fragments go, to let himself sink down onto the worn blanket and down into the dark as his eyes fell shut.

The last thing he heard was a faint creak of floorboards as Akai sat beside the bed.

Shuuichi was just finishing a message to Conan, agreeing that yes, it would be wise to take some of the Metropolitan police along to the next stop he hoped to find the sniper at, since "Subaru-san" was delayed and Gin might be present, when he heard Furuya stir. He closed his phone and slid back from the little apartment’s low table just a bit, in case it took Furuya a minute to remember why he might not want to kill Shuuichi any more.

When Furuya’s eyes opened, though, they were dark with knowledge and memory, and he pushed himself upright on the bed slowly, as though his whole body ached. Shuuichi silently passed him the tumblr of water waiting on the table, and Furuya took it with a tiny nod. It wasn’t until he’d drained it that he even looked around, and Shuuichi noted that he’d won his bet with himself. Furuya was still in shock. 

Not completely out of it though, because his first question, voice still hoarse despite the water, was, "Where are we?"

"One of my bolt-holes, just over the district border in Edogawa."

As he’d half hoped, though after a longer pause than he liked, a faint smile tugged at Furuya’s mouth. "Edogawa?" 

Shuuichi let his own amusement warm his voice. "It seemed appropriate."

"And you brought me here." Furuya stared at him for a long moment, and finally gestured with an open hand, as it to take in the whole past day. Or possibly the past year. "Why?"

Shuuichi had known that question had to be coming, but he still sighed a little as he leaned his elbows on the table. "Because I’ve lost someone I loved to them, too." 

Furuya blinked at him. "You really loved her, then? Akemi-san?"

And that was why Shuuichi hadn’t really wanted to say it, but Furuya was already wincing at the clumsiness of his own words and Shuuichi couldn’t hold them against him right now. He has his own share of responsibility for Scotch’s death, and for the shape Furuya was currently in. "I did, yes," he said over the beginning of Furuya’s apology. "It was probably unwise, with someone who was only supposed to be a way to get deeper into the Organization, but this job is easy enough to die in as it is. Anything that reminds us we’re alive is worth some risk." The memory of Akemi’s smile flashed through his head, and he pushed himself abruptly to his feet, gathering up his glass and Furuya’s to refill at the sink. When he thought he could keep his voice steady again, he finished, "Even if it ends."

Furuya had his head down when Shuuichi turned around, leaning over with his elbows on his knees, hands hanging loose between them. Shuuichi recognized the shape of it, the braced position that you hoped would hold you steady through something shaking your heart so hard you thought it might stop beating. He’d spent weeks, after Akemi’s death, sitting like that. He set the glasses on the table and sat beside Furuya on the bed. Jodie had spent more than one day sitting beside him like this, just being another living person close enough to hear her breathe, and it had helped.

"Morofushi Hiromitsu," Furuya said, voice low, not lifting his head. "That was his name. We grew up together. After the Academy, when we both chose Public Security, the Tokyo bureau for him and National for me… It was natural to assign him as my liaison, and we did a lot of fieldwork together." Furuya lifted a hand to rub his forehead, shoulders hunching a little tighter. "I was the one who took the assignment to infiltrate the Black Organization. Once I was inside, I asked to bring Hiro in after me." Furuya’s hand banged down on his knee, and his voice turned stifled. "And then, up on that roof… It was my fault…!"

Shuuichi straightened, eyes narrowing at the tight-wound strain in Furuya’s voice. He’d said something similar, once, on the phone with his mother right after hearing about Akemi’s death. She’d nearly reached through the phone to shake him by the scruff, and maybe now he knew why, if he’d sounded anything like this. "It was hardly your fault alone."

Furuya laughed, ragged. "You were the one who told me to think about what he heard right before he pulled the trigger."

Shuuichi frowned; yes, that was more than enough of that. He reached over to take Furuya’s chin and force his head up again. "Three people made choices, that night, Furuya-kun," he told those startled blue eyes, "and we all made mistakes. I shouldn’t have let go of the gun. You shouldn’t have charged in without warning or scouting the situation. He shouldn’t have been so quick to assume the worst and fire before even seeing who it was." Furuya started to shake his head, and Shuuichi tightened his grip. "I’m glad you don’t think I drove him to his death, any more, but that doesn’t mean you should take all of that guilt and pile it on yourself instead."

"I don’t… I’m not…" Furuya’s voice was softer now, much less certain, and trailed off completely at the look Shuuichi gave him. "All right," he finally said, face a little red, eyes falling away from Shuuichi’s.

"Better." Shuuichi started to let go, but his attention was still snagging on something about Furuya’s expression. It wasn’t that dangerous bleakness, any more. In fact, now he was thinking about it, that flush looked less like embarrassment and more like… something else. Especially with the way Furuya’s lips had parted when Shuuichi had grabbed his chin. That had been startlement, yes, but also…

Well, now. Wasn’t that interesting?

Rei was in so much trouble.

He watched Akai’s eyes flick over his cheeks, his mouth, his throat as he swallowed, and he could nearly read the words of the conclusion forming behind that look.

So, so much trouble.

And the thing was, Rei knew this about himself. He was careful about it! He hadn’t had many senpai worth the name in his life; the ones who hadn’t turned away from the halfblood had been scared off by his intelligence, the things he saw, his passion for the chase. So when an older student or agent had stepped up, once or twice, to try to guide him… well, Rei responded pretty intensely. He watched that, in the field, to make sure his little quirk wouldn’t get him into trouble! And now he’d been blindsided by a stern talking-to from Akai Shuuichi of all people, whose brows were lifting just a little, whose thumb was sliding up to stroke gently over Rei’s lower lip. Rei pulled in a quick gasp of breath, stumbling over just the man’s name. "Akai… -san?"

"I wouldn’t mind," Akai murmured, fingers still curled around Rei’s chin. "As long as you’re sure."

"I… it wouldn’t be…" Smart, or sensible, or other reasonable things that he couldn’t quite think of with the warmth of Akai’s fingers against his skin. It had been so long since anyone had really touched him. And Akai… Akai was waiting for him calmly, eyes steady on his.

Anything that reminds us we’re alive is worth some risk.

The words echoed back to him, and they rang so true. So painfully true he had to squeeze his eyes shut against it and try to breathe through it. They’d both risked love and lost it to the Black Organization. Rei understood very well some of the fire that drove Akai, and of all the people he might call on in this moment, of all his allies, old and new, permanent and temporary, Akai Shuuichi was the one who knew right down to the bone how this was driving Rei.

And god but he had to find someone to confide in, to reach out to, before Vermouth started looking like a good option!

He opened his eyes again, calm settling over his spinning thoughts, the familiar certainty of having found the right answer, and answered quietly, "I’m sure."

Akai nodded, unsurprised. "Come here, then." His fingers tipped Rei’s chin up as he leaned in, and Rei really couldn’t help the way his breath caught. In the back of his mind, he was expecting a kiss between the two of them to be fierce, to be heated with the memory of how they’d stalked each other through this city. It wasn’t, though. Akai’s mouth on his was warm and slow, and Rei closed his eyes, leaning into the understanding that warmth told him of, more clearly than any words. Akai slid back to stretch out full-length on the bed, tugging Rei down against him. The steady slide of his hands up and down Rei’s back eased away Rei’s hesitance until he settled against the length of Akai’s body and tucked his head into the curve of Akai’s shoulder. "That’s better," Akai murmured to him, and Rei felt his face heat again. He was never going to be able to listen to that husky voice turn low again without getting turned on, was he?

For as long as they both survived, anyway.

The thought made his fingers wind tighter in the dark cotton of Akai’s shirt, and the corner of Akai’s mouth quirked like he’d heard the words out loud. He slid his hand up to curl around the nape of Rei’s neck. "Easy, Rei. I’ve got you." 

The intimacy of his bare given name tugged a breathless sound out of Rei, sent him pressing closer. "Akai-san…"

Akai turned his head and pressed a kiss to Rei’s forehead. "Shhh. I’m not going anywhere." His lips curved against Rei’s skin. "You should know that better than anyone."

It wasn’t desire that made Rei’s face heat, this time, and he growled a little, thumping Akai on the shoulder when he laughed.

"Easy, easy!" Akai gathered Rei closer and Rei let him, though not without one last glare. Akai smiled down at him, wry and warm. "We’ve both beaten the odds for years. We know how to keep doing it." He hesitated for a breath, but finally finished, "We will keep doing it; even after we’re finished. Deal?"

Rei froze, eyes widening. For one moment it was Hiro’s face he saw, and the private smile they’d shared over agreements. No one else had ever had seen Rei clearly enough to put their finger on the risk that he’d spend his life to finish the last job they’d taken together. And maybe no one else had for Akai, yet, either. Rei swallowed hard and pressed close, ducking his head back down against Akai’s shoulder, suddenly ashamed that he hadn’t let himself see how alike the shape of their actions were, since the business with Miyano. It had been less than a year ago, hadn’t it? And even still raw from that, Akai hadn’t lashed back at the man trying to expose and kill him, had understood, had been amazingly gentle about fending him off, all things considered. Akai didn’t press him now, either, just waited again, fingers sliding slowly through Rei’s hair.

"All right. It’s a deal," he finally agreed, and added more fiercely, "You’d better keep it."

Akai’s arms tightened around him. "I will. After all," his voice lightened again, "I’ve found a number of things around here that make me think it might not be such a bad thing to keep going on."

"Myself, and Conan, and what else?" Rei asked with a sly glance up at him.

Akai’s open laugh warmed him like another kiss and Rei pressed closer, holding tight to that warmth.


Rei had thought it would take longer to get used to working with Akai Shuuichi, instead of against him at every opportunity. The handful of jobs they’d both been sent on, when they were both still in the Organization, had been tense and edgy even before Hiro’s death, neither of them sure of the other, neither of them trusting the other with his back. Rei had thought, after three solid years of enmity, that working together would still be rough.

But it wasn’t.

Three nights ago they’d sat on the roof across from the cafe and the Mouris, talking about a hacking attempt on the agency’s records, plus both Ran and Conan’s school records. They’d throw the thread of reasoning back and forth as smoothly as a shuttle to weave the profile of the hacker, until their eyes had met and neither of them had even needed to speak Bellini’s code name out loud. Rei hadn’t been too very surprised by the shared reasoning, after the number of Conan’s cases they’d met over. But now…

Now he barely needed to glance at his watch to know that Akai was in position, and it was just in time, just as Bellini was about to break through Rei’s defense to Agasa’s records. Rei was folding his tablet as the network icon blinked off, and he smiled, imagining the way Bellini was probably swearing. He stood, dusting off his jeans, and slipped in the fire-door without bothering to glance across the street at the next roof. The crack of quite a high-caliber handgun didn’t make him start; he was expecting it. It did start the timer in his head, and he waited as seconds ticked away, as the door four floors down slammed open and hurried steps started upward, waited until he knew Akai had crossed the street to start down the stairs, letting his heels ring against the concrete. 

"That complex has bulletproof glass on the windows," he’d said, three nights ago.

"But only Level 3, at that age," Akai pointed out, eyes gleaming in the nighttime lights of the city. "She wouldn’t have thought more was necessary. After all—"

"Gin prefers handguns," Rei finished. "Especially his 92. If you’re going to make it across the road inconspicuously, to catch her at the bottom, though, you’ll need—"

"Who do you think you’re talking to again?" Akai asked with a smirk. "I can handle a .50."

Rei excused himself for not knowing that, honestly. Akai had never shown just how much ability he had as a sharp-shooter, in the Organization. Understandably. To do so would have sent him straight to the snipers, and the Organization liked snipers who didn’t ask questions, which meant they had a lot of crazy ones with little intelligence value. Of course, Gin didn’t like anyone who asked questions, which undoubtedly led to both Bellini’s precautions in her living space and the panic behind her hurried footsteps after getting one of her bulletproof windows shot out.

The footsteps below hesitated. Rei took another heavy, measured step and smiled as Bellini reversed and made for the ground floor, clattering downwards and slamming out the back fire-door.

Right into Akai.

By the time Rei reached the ground himself, Akai had just finished zip-tying the unconscious woman’s hands and ankles. He looked up, smile sharp, already reaching out a gloved hand. Rei bared his teeth in answer and handed over the printed note with Bellini’s code name and affiliation, to tuck into her waistband. And, right on time, there were the sirens of the police who would have been called by someone after the gunshot earlier. Rei sprinted after Akai down the back alley.

Around two corners, over a wall with two running steps and a vault that they made in perfect unison, slowly down a well-lit block like two friends out for a drink, quickly down another side-street, and they were safe in an alley with no connection to the first. Rei leaned back against the wall, laughing softly as the rush of triumph swept through him. Akai leaned beside him, breathing just as quick as he was, with a light in his eyes that made Rei think of the gleam on the edge of a sword. Rei knew that light, could feel it burning hot in his veins, and it was that feeling, that knowing, that made him reach out, slide his hands over Akai’s shoulders, curl his fingers in the collar of Akai’s jacket, and pull him down for a kiss. The way Akai’s hands wrapped around his hips and pulled him closer told him that Akai recognized the same thing in him, and he laughed into Akai’s mouth, hooking a leg around Akai’s and grinding up against him.

Yes, Akai was definitely feeling the same thing Rei was.

"Akai-san?" he purred, sliding his hands down over Akai’s chest. He could feel the vibration of Akai’s silent chuckle.


Rei smiled up at him, hot and wild. "Fuck me. Now."

Akai surged a step forward, bearing Rei back against the wall of the alley, brick prickling along his shoulders. His voice was low and cool, though, and the contrast stroked a shiver up Rei’s spine. "Are you sure? I don’t have anything on me…"

Rei snorted. "What kind of an agent are you? Isn’t ‘always prepared’ the motto of one or another of you lot?"

"I believe that’s the Boy Scouts." Akai’s voice was perfectly sober, at least until Rei fished a foil packet out of his jacket’s inner pocked and slapped it against Akai’s chest. He was laughing as he caught Rei’s mouth again.

Rei only waited until Akai took the packet before he reached down to undo both their pants, reaching into Akai’s to stroke slow fingers down the already-hard length of him. Akai groaned, husky, against his ear. "Rei." 

The sound of that smoky voice wrapped around his bare name slid through Rei, hot, and he hooked his thumbs into his own pants, pushing them down off his hips. "Akai-san, now."

In three quick movements, Akai had the packet ripped open, a handful of slick stroked over his cock, and was sliding his hands under Rei’s thighs to lift him. Rei approved completely, and wound his legs around Akai’s waist, deliberately relaxing into his hands as soon as Akai’s weight pushed him up against the bricks. Akai made an approving sound of his own, and finally Rei felt the blunt press of Akai’s cock against his entrance, pushing into him hard and slow and steady. The fierce stretch of his muscles matched the edge this whole night had had in his senses, and Rei moaned, low and breathless, feeling his body open up for that that burn and slide. "Yes."

"Ah." Akai’s sound of understanding was huskier than usual, but when he pressed a kiss under Rei’s ear, his lips were curved against Rei’s skin. That was all right, though, because he also lifted Rei up a little higher and drove into him hard, which felt just perfect.

Akai fucked him deep and sure, every stroke sinking in and driving him up against the rough brick, and the flood of hot sensation shook loose all the tension of the night and the days running up to it. It was sweet and wild in a way Rei hadn’t felt in years, and it shouldn’t have surprised him that he didn’t last long, but the crest of pleasure still came as a shock. His voice echoed off the close walls as heat burst down his nerves and wrung him out around the hardness of Akai’s cock inside him, and oh it had been too long since he’d had someone close enough to trust with these moments. Akai’s groan, against his ear, told him Akai was still right with him, and it felt so good to know that that he was breathless with it.

When they’d both stilled, they just stayed there for a moment, and Rei let the settling calm sink into him. Finally, though, Akai shifted back and eased Rei down to the ground. Rei winced a little as his muscles protested their rather abrupt workout; it had been worth it, though. 

"Better?" Akai asked quietly, and Rei couldn’t help his chuckle.

"Much." He slid his hands over Akai’s shoulders, thoughtfully. They did seem a bit lower. "And you?"

Akai’s smile was crooked in the shadows of the alley. "Not one of my usual coping methods, but I think I like it." And then he pulled a packet of tissues out of his jacket pocket and handed them over. "A bit messy, but very effective."

It took a moment before Rei could stop laughing and clean up. He really should have known Akai would have exactly this sly sense of humor, after the go-around with the ambush at the Kudou house. At the time, he’d just been too blazingly furious to really consider it.

He’d certainly never expected Akai to be openly protective, and he rolled his eyes a little as they moved toward the lights at the mouth of the alley and Akai’s hand settled at the small of his back. "Akai-san…"

"You know, after this evening, I think you can probably call me Shuuichi. Don’t you?"

Rei paused with a startled glance up at him. This certainly wasn’t the first time they’d had sex.

That wasn’t what Akai had said, though, was it?

The glittering clarity of their work that evening came back to him for a breath, and he remembered the weight of it in his mind, like his gun in his hand, of knowing where Akai was at every step of the way. A tiny shock ran through him with the thought that Akai… that Shuuichi might have felt the same thing. Rei swallowed and took a breath, feeling like all his attention was taken up by the warmth of the hand at his back. His voice was husky when he said, "Shuuichi-san."

Shuuichi smiled, eyes warm for him. "Better."

Out of everything that had happened, that night, that was the thing that made Rei’s face heat, but he didn’t shrug off the hand at the small of his back as Shuuichi guided him out of the alley.


At the sound of five long strokes1 rapped on the back door, Shuuichi marked his place in the book he was reading and switched off his voice-changer. They were rapped considerably harder than was really necessary, so he was expecting it when Rei stalked into the living room glaring fit to set something on fire. He’d been expecting that even before Rei tried to leave dents in the door with his code knock, to be honest. "Long day?" he asked, mildly, crossing his ankles and leaning back against the arm of the couch.

"Kir is an absolute madwoman," Rei snapped, immediately starting to pace the room. "How she’s lived this long, I don’t know. She’s taking ridiculous risks to eavesdrop on Vermouth, of all people, and remind me again why I should be risking my neck for a foreign operative?"

"You diverted Vermouth for her," Shuuichi translated, and cocked his head at the blistering glare Rei gave him. If he was that annoyed… "You mentioned Conan to do it, hm?"

Rei growled and paced another length of the room. "It’s just about the only thing that’s sure to turn her aside. The woman is obsessed! And if I can get her interfering with Rum, all the better."

Shuuichi felt a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Rei was very good at what he did, and used that expressiveness of his to create just as impenetrable a mask as Shuuichi’s own calm. But he never showed anger, as part of that. Anger was too revealing, for both of them. Rei would smile charmingly while he pulled the trigger. 

He never showed open temper to anyone but Shuuichi, and the intimacy of that always settled warmth into places that had been cold for years and frozen hard for months. 

On Rei’s next pass by the couch, he reached out to catch Rei’s wrist, returning Rei’s irritated look with a calm, "Come here." He tugged until Rei huffed and let himself be pulled down to the couch to stretch out with Shuuichi. "Vermouth won’t do anything to hurt Conan," he said quietly, running his fingers through the fine texture of Rei’s hair.

"I know that, that’s why I did it." Rei still sounded snappish, but Shuuichi could feel the subtle tension in Rei’s body easing. Sometimes, he knew very well, even they needed to hear a conclusion echoed by someone else. Who knew if he’d have been able to carry through the plan that had landed him on this very couch as Okiya Subaru without Kudou’s fierce (if pint-sized) agreement and backing?

And if he hadn’t landed here, who knew if he’d have ever come so close to Rei, again, that he’d need to force the issue of what happened on the roof the night Morofushi had died? Thinking of that, he settled Rei closer against him. Rei promptly undid his effort by leaning up on an elbow to examine him, but softened against him almost immediately, settling close again. "I thought I was the one getting wound up, today," Rei murmured against his shoulder.

"You are," Shuuichi told him, and chuckled silently when Rei thumped him on the other shoulder. "It was just a passing thought."

It wasn’t really a surprise when Rei said, quietly, "I’m not going anywhere." They knew each other’s minds so well, after years of sparring in the shadows. He gathered Rei closer and pressed a kiss to his temple.

"I know."

The entire length of Rei’s body unwound against him, at the quiet certainty in Shuuichi’s voice, and Shuuichi smiled against his hair, settling back against the couch cushions.

They knew each other’s minds and responses so very well.


"You’re just incapable of not looking alarming, aren’t you?" Rei smirked at the raised brow Shuuichi gave him. 

He was teasing, but at the moment it was also true. In the middle of a club full of people dancing, drinking, laughing, shouting, Shuuichi was a silent, watching shadow. Plenty of people in here wore black, but Shuuichi wore it with a definite air of being working clothes rather than play clothes. That and an unsmiling expression seemed to be keeping everyone but Rei at arm’s length, despite the crush.

"Stop worrying about me," Shuuichi told him, putting his finger directly on why Rei was teasing, of course, which made Rei’s smile turn sharper. "I don’t dislike being here."

Rei flicked a glance up and down Shuuichi’s body, noting the way his weight was on his heels, and completed the sentence for him. "You just don’t dance."

Now it was Shuuichi’s mouth that curved, sharp and pleased. "Mm." He plucked the drink from Rei’s hand and set it down beside his own, supplying an iron-clad reason, for any watchers, why he was staying at the table. "Go have fun."

Rei laughed out loud and turned for the dance floor. He loved the electric flow of thought and perception between them; there was nothing quite as much fun as that. He had come to dance, though, and that would be fun too. He was kind of overdue, actually.

This was one of the reasons he’d lasted as long as he had in his current cover, after all. He was careful. Not just the way all agents were taught to be careful—with what they said and where they went and who they saw. But also careful to make room in every cover for something that the core of him loved. For music in some form. For crowds and sound and moving to a beat. For food he could make with his own hands. He might have gone out as Furuya Rei, tonight, but Amuro Tohru was also with him, and there was a wild laugh in the back of his head whenever Amuro remembered he was out with Akai Shuuichi at his side.

It was a good night to dance.

Aside from an absence of Organization interest, Rei had broad standards for acceptable clubs. This one had generally cheerful crowds, mostly palatable drinks, and actually quite a good DJ, so it he was marking it a success. It also had the usual share of cheerful groping out in the surge of moving bodies, but nothing he’d have to break anyone’s fingers for yet, so he shook his head, laughing, at the most persistent young woman and gave himself up to the rhythm driving out of the tall speakers. It resonated in his chest, drove the sway of his hips and opened up the swing of his arms until he felt like he was breathing all the way down in his lungs again.

He was drenched by the time he finally decided it was time for a drink and pushed his way back off the floor to the table Shuuichi was still holding down. He was entertained to see that, despite the crowd, no one was even looking suggestively at the empty stools on the far side of it. He broke out of the crowd and fetched up beside Shuuichi, catching up his now-acceptably-watery drink and finishing it in three long swallows. "Thanks for watching it," he teased, smirking up at Shuuichi, knowing that it was the people Shuuichi had undoubtedly spent most of his time watching.

"Mm, it’s an excellent evening for watching things, yes." Rei saw the gleam in his eyes, but was still startled when Shuuichi reached out, set his hand against Rei’s back, and pulled him in close, so firmly Rei stumbled against him, hands spread against Shuuichi’s chest to catch himself.

"What…?" he started, laughing, only to lose it on a gasp as Shuuichi set a knuckle under his chin and tipped it up. "Shuuichi-san?" he asked, considerably more breathless than a moment ago.

"I noticed quite a few people getting pretty familiar with you, out there." The gleam was definitely wicked amusement, Rei noted, despite considerable distraction. "Since you brought a scary-looking companion along, you might as well get the full benefit out of it." 

Rei had just connected the dots when Shuuichi tipped his chin up a little further and kissed him, deep and slow and thorough, and Rei’s inarticulate sound of maybe-protest-maybe-not slid into a breathless moan. His thoughts tangled between mischievous glee and a little honest shock at being so public. His senses overrode all of it for a long moment, though, with the lean, warm line of Shuuichi’s body against his, the slide of Shuuichi’s fingers into his hair to cradle his head, the heat of Shuuichi’s mouth and the wet stroke of his tongue against Rei’s. When Shuuichi finally drew back, smiling down at him, still with that wicked quirk at the corner of his mouth, it took Rei a second to pull words together. It came out a little husky when he said, "That wasn’t necessary."

"Probably not, but it was fun." 

Rei couldn’t help laughing at that deadpan delivery. "And is that why you still haven’t let go, yet?" Which was making sure the flush of heat over his skin didn’t go away; he could feel the eyes on them, from the surrounding tables and possibly even from the dance floor, watching how close Shuuichi was holding him.

It hadn’t taken him long at all to realize that Akai Shuuichi liked to tease, if he thought you could take it.

"That too, certainly." Shuuichi’s hand against his back spread wider, thumb sliding under the edge of Rei’s shirt to stroke against bare skin, and the sensation pushed Rei up onto his toes against Shuuichi’s body. "But I was also serious, Rei. If you don’t enjoy something, there’s no reason to tolerate it. Not here. Not right now."

Rei closed his eyes and let out a shaky breath. He knew that Shuuichi had seen the hunger, in him, for a guiding voice. Shuuichi teased him about it enough, after all. But that was just it; Shuuichi teased him, let it be an inside joke between them. Except that, every now and then, he turned it real, and those moments shook Rei. "I wont, then," he agreed, softly. 

Pressed up this close, he could feel Shuuichi’s silent laugh. "Not now you won’t, no."

Rei reflected on the likely effect of having a tall, dark, dangerous looking boyfriend standing on the sidelines watching over him, after a display of apparent possessiveness like this, and had to laugh out loud. He pushed back, hands against Shuuichi’s chest, teeth bared in the flashing lights of the club. "I’d better go take advantage of it, then, shouldn’t I?"

Shuuichi let him go easily, mouth curling up at one corner. "You should, yes." 

Rei’s own smile softened helplessly at that encouragement, the unspoken assurance of Shuuichi’s support that ran under it. "I will, then." He would accept it. He would trust it, this alliance between them. Shuuichi nodded silently and held Rei’s eyes until he spun to dive back into the crowd of dancers.

All of whom suddenly minded their hands much more carefully.

Rei stretched his arms up to the glare of spotlights above, whole body arching up on his toes, head tipped back as he laughed. Some people might think he was crazy for giving this much trust to the man he’d tried to kill for three years, but those years were exactly why he knew he could. The wonder of having an ally he would rely on lifted him up like the beat of the music, and he let it. This was a rhythm he could dance to.

It felt amazing


Shuuichi pressed closer up against his lover’s back and nipped at Rei’s nape, lips curving at the breathless sound Rei made.

He loved Rei’s contradictions. His precise reasoning and his impetuous actions. His sweet manners and his cutting ruthlessness. His fashion-conscious looks and his ability to fade out of people’s attention.

His iron will and his desire to be overruled.

It had taken Shuuichi a while to be sure how deep that last one ran. He’d never really had that wish. For Shuuichi, the desire that lived deep in his heart was to have his judgement trusted by those he trusted and loved. For Rei, though, who seemed not to have had much support he could lean on for a very long time… well, he wanted some. Provided that support could prove itself to him. Given Rei himself, Shuuichi wasn’t sure anyone besides Shuuichi himself would pass—an older agent who could match Rei’s brilliance and skill, who knew exactly what it was to take dubious actions while fighting to keep hold of your soul. Shuuichi was possibly the only person in the country right now who Rei would trust to overrule him.

This evening, Shuuichi was finally sure enough to that trust that he was prepared to act on it, further than just teasing.

He leaned up on one elbow and tugged Rei over onto his back, smiling down at him. Rei was always lovely, but there was something more elemental about his beauty, like this, flushed and relaxed, skin nearly glowing against the white of the sheets. When he ran his fingers through Rei’s hair, Rei tipped his head back, nearly purring with pleasure at the simple touch.

"Yes," Shuuichi told him, softly. "Just like that." He leaned down and closed his mouth on Rei’s neck, sucking firmly enough to mark.

Rei arched up taut against him, hands closing hard on Shuuichi’s shoulders. "Shuuichi-san…!" He sounded shocked, and Shuuichi wasn’t surprised; they’d been careful not to mark each other anywhere that would show, until now.

"Hush, Rei," he said, quiet but firm, satisfied at the shiver that ran through Rei. Shuuichi stroked his tongue over the mark and Rei pressed against him harder, breath coming short.

"Shuuichi-san…" Rei’s voice was a little uneven, now, and Shuuichi wound an arm around him, cradling him close.

"Hush, I said." When Rei did finally hush, he brushed a soft kiss over Rei’s lips. "What’s the point of having learned excellent disguise skills if they can’t hide a love-bite or two?"

Rei was staring up at him, eyes wide at the suggestion that Shuuichi would use those skills for something like this, and it took him a moment to whisper, "Oh."

Shuuichi smiled and caught Rei’s chin, feeling the pulse against his thumb speed up. "Easy, Rei. I have you." It was what he’d told Rei that very first night, and he could feel the memory easing the tension in Rei’s body even as Rei’s breath came faster. When Shuuichi kissed him again, deeper this time, Rei moaned softly into his mouth, and Shuuichi made a satisfied sound. "That’s good."

Rei shuddered as Shuuichi’s mouth moved down his throat again, heat curling low in his stomach. He’d known Shuuichi understood, but he hadn’t expected him to take that understanding this far. Which had been, he was realizing, very foolish of him. Akai Shuuichi had never been a man who did things half-heartedly.

Re’s heart was still beating fast from the jolt of his response to Shuuichi hushing him so firmly, and when Shuuichi’s teeth closed, hard enough to mark his skin again, Rei nearly came right there and then, hips bucking up sharply against Shuuichi. The sound Shuuichi made could only be called a purr, and it stroked down Rei’s spine like a finger. The wet heat of Shuuichi’s mouth slid down to his chest, scattering slow kisses down his body, and Rei’s eyes widened as Shuuichi’s hands stroked down his thighs, caressing and sure, and spread them wide for Shuuichi to settle between them. "Shuuichi-san…"

Those sharp, green eyes flicked up to meet his, and Shuuichi smiled, a slow curl of lips that made Rei shiver. And then Shuuichi’s hands closed around Rei’s hips, pinning him firmly in place against the bed. Heat surged through him before Shuuichi’s mouth even touched his cock, and when slick, wet heat did wrap around him, Rei lost any hope of coherent thought and groaned out loud. Shuuichi’s mouth moved over him, slow and deliberate, and Shuuichi’s hands held him still for it however Rei pulled against his grip as pleasure stroked down every nerve.

It felt so good. So good to be safe in hands he trusted. To know he could, for just a little while, relax and know someone else would do the worrying. That was the feeling that undid him in the end, shaking him apart in a wild burst of pleasure that Shuuichi held him steady through.

When he’d recovered enough of his scattered thoughts to put one next to another again, Shuuichi had settled beside him and gathered him up close. Rei lifted his head from Shuuichi’s shoulder to look up at his lover, still a little stunned. "Shuuichi-san—" he broke off with a tiny gasp as Shuuichi pressed a finger to his lips. Even completely wrung out, that still sent heat curling through him.

"You’re the one who’s still under as one of the Organization, without the support you must have counted on when you first took the assignment," Shuuichi said quietly, holding Rei’s eyes. "You deserve this. You deserve everything I can do for you, Rei."

Rei sucked in a hard breath, arms tightening hard around Shuuichi. He’d never had anyone actually say that to him, and he had to blink back water in his eyes with the enormity of it. "Shh," Shuuichi told him, pressing Rei’s head back down to his shoulder, and Rei made a small sound of agreement, curling close.

Shuuichi cuddled Rei close, one hand sliding up and down his back, soothing him. Slowly, the faint hitch in Rei’s breath evened out and the fierce tightness of his arms around Shuuichi’s ribs relaxed a little. It seemed, he reflected a bit ruefully, that he was doomed to lovers who didn’t say anything was wrong until they were nearly breaking. Admittedly, he knew he hadn’t been much better, himself, for some time. Jodie had had enough to say on that subject that he was aware of how he’d been slipping. He just hadn’t been able to stop. He’d been heading for a crash, had even started to see the shadow of the wall ahead of him.

Until a pint-sized detective had looked up at him with a gleam in his eyes, confident that they were thinking the same outrageous thing, and proposed a way to make it work.

And just like that, his life had opened up again, had filled with the Kudous, with Agasa and the children, with whole divisions of the Tokyo police. With Shiho, not dead after all, not yet beyond reach of his promise to Akemi. With Furuya Rei, the last one he’d expected to settle this deep into his heart. Shuuichi rested his cheek against Rei’s hair, smiling small and crooked. One of these days, he’d have to find a way to thank the boy.

Rei stirred and lifted his head to eye Shuuichi a bit suspiciously. "You’re laughing. I can feel it. What’s so funny?"

Imagining Kudou’s face if Shuuichi ever specified exactly what he was thanking Kudou for, Shuuichi couldn’t help chuckling out loud. "Just thinking about how surprising our lives have gotten."

Rei snorted. "Of course you think that’s amusing. You have the worst hobbies."

He was smiling as he snuggled close again, though, and Shuuichi’s own smile softened. He didn’t like a lot of how they’d gotten here, but this… this was good.

This was something he’d hold on to.


1. International Morse code for 0 is five dashes. back

Last Modified: Jul 06, 20
Posted: Feb 03, 19
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sent Plaudits.

Crown Fire

Bits of the daily life of two agents and the people around them, how the work is wearing on Furuya, and what Akai plans to do about that. Humor, Definitely Romance, A Sprinkling of Porn, I-4


Rei was dreaming.

He was aware he was dreaming.

It just didn’t help.

Every step Gin took, his vicious smile as he walked past the man bound to a chair in the middle of the room, had the weight of inevitability.

“You’ve been waiting for this, haven’t you?”

The words flickered, not really words even, just the impression of them, but the grip of the gun Gin held out was heavy and true.

Shuuichi raised his head, and even under a slick of blood, his eyes were calm and level as he looked up at Rei from the chair.

“Yes, I have,” Rei answered. He took the gun. There was no way not to take the gun. Under Gin’s shark-smile, he lifted it, took slow, careful aim, every movement flowing naturally and unstoppably into the next.

Pulled the trigger.


Rei bolted upright in bed, hauling in air desperately past the tightness in his lungs, his throat. He scrubbed his hands over his face, feeling them start to shake as the dream followed him up into waking and he felt the heavy inevitability try to settle back over his shoulders.


He flinched and looked over. Shuuichi was leaning up on one elbow, rubbing sleep from his own eyes as the blanket slipped down off broad shoulders. Those eyes sharpened when Rei shuddered at the sound of his voice. “Nightmare?”

Rei swallowed hard against the sick twist in his stomach. “Just a dream,” he managed, husky, aiming the words more at himself than at Shuuichi. Just a dream, not real, not happening, not going to happen.

When Shuuichi reached out to tug Rei back down against his shoulder, though, Rei couldn’t help the desperate tightness of his arms around Shuuichi’s ribs.

“Ah.” Shuuichi slid a hand up into Rei’s hair, holding him closer. “I’m right here,” he said quietly. “Alive and everything.”

Rei swallowed down a laugh, afraid it would come out too tellingly high and harsh. “Just…” he snatched in another breath and forced his voice level. “Just don’t get caught.” It still came out urgent and demanding.

Shuuichi was still for a breath, and then he pulled Rei closer and rolled them to settle his weight solidly over Rei. When Rei looked up at him, Shuuichi’s eyes caught his, fierce and intent. “I promise you. It will never be by your hand.”

That stilled the quick, thin pull of Rei’s breath for a moment. It wasn’t what he had asked, but then, what he’d asked wasn’t a promise that anyone could be sure of, in their work. What Shuuichi had actually said… that might be. That promise made the tightness in his throat ease, but suddenly his eyes were wet. He buried his head in Shuuichi’s shoulder, pressing closer.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t ask…” How did he have any right to ask for what he’d raged at thinking Akai might have asked from Hiro?

“There are no ‘should’s, for us,” Shuuichi said, soft and steady over Rei’s ragged words, fingers sliding slowly through his hair. “Only what can be done. Of the two of us, I’m the one who can make this promise, right now. So I do.”

That simple, bedrock certainty shook Rei all the way down to the heart, shook his fear loose where it could be grasped. His locked muscles unwound all at once as the future shook out of the inevitable path of his nightmare into moving pieces that could be shifted, again. “Thank you,” he whispered against Shuuichi’s shoulder.

“Shh,” Shuuichi told him, settling back against the pillows, though he kept Rei gathered up against him. Rei wasn’t protesting. “Get some sleep. Or your little waitress friend will make you stay behind the stove all day so you don’t scare the customers.”

Rei’s mouth quirked. Azusa wouldn’t; she liked having him deal with problem customers too much. But she would fuss over him if he looked too rough. The last time he’d had a cold had meant a solid week of dodging home remedies. “Yeah. All right.” He draped himself half on top of Shuuichi, though, far closer than they usually slept, pressed against the living, breathing warmth of him.

It helped.

Shuuichi lay quiet under Rei’s weight, considering the ceiling thoughtfully. He’d had a few uncomplimentary thoughts, before this, about whoever Rei’s control was, that they didn’t take better care of him. Now, though, he was starting to think that Rei had never mentioned his control, not out of any good habit, but because he didn’t have one. Not in the normal sense, anyway. The more he learned about Rei, the more possible it seemed that Rei was high enough up in his division that his ‘control’ was simply his boss, and not trained to be a spy’s contact and lifeline at all. Either that, or Rei’s brilliance meant no one else could see how close to the edge he was coming.

Which meant there might not be plans in place for Rei’s extraction, because he was increasingly convinced that Rei hadn’t made any for himself.

Shuuichi sighed, and stroked Rei’s hair slowly, when he stirred. Personally, Shuuichi thought Rei was far too driven by his passionate commitment to duty, to be undercover where he’d been for the past five years. Oh, Rei had a coldly ruthless side, all right; it was what allowed him to penetrate so deep into the Organization. And, of course, getting into Vermouth’s orbit had kept him from the worst of the hands-on killing. But the inherent contradiction with Rei’s fierce care for his people was pulling a tear deeper and deeper into Rei’s soul. Tonight’s nightmare was only the latest sign of it.

Well. If Rei wouldn’t plan for his own escape, Shuuichi had no issues with doing it for him.

No matter how loud the argument afterwards was likely to be.

He pressed a kiss to the top of Rei’s head, smiling at the thought, and closed his eyes.


Rei swung his hips to the quick beat in his ears and took a sliding step across his little kitchen space to the fridge, to pull out the chopped pork and onion mixture he’d put in to cool that morning before work, smiling to himself. One of the things he liked most about cooking at home, despite the smaller workspace, was that he could listen to anything he wanted, not just the bland radio stations mandated by the Cafe’s manager. And with his earbuds in, he could crank up the volume as much as he liked without complaints from customers, neighbors, or co-workers.

Of course, he was subject to more irregular interruptions, at home. With customarily perfect timing, there was a knock at his door just as he was rolling up the third cabbage leaf and had his hands thoroughly greasy. Three raps and two taps, which told him immediately who it was and also reminded him that his lover thought he was funny.1 Shuuichi was definitely going to get the second 8 in, today, before Rei could clean his hands and answer the door.

On the other hand, today Rei had a little dig of his own, in return.

He still rolled his eyes at Shuuuichi, as he let him in. “You spent far too long in the States.”

Shuuichi gave him the bright-eyed look that meant he was laughing behind that calm expression. “It’s appropriate enough, isn’t it?” He leaned in and stole an illustrative kiss, which Rei snorted a little at but let him have. Shuuichi’s brows were raised as he drew back. “What are you listening to?”

Rei smirked at the unspoken corollary ‘so loudly’, and caught the wires of his headphones, turning his head to tug them loose. “It’s the latest live concert for this group. They’ve got some real talent.” He held them out, cords draped invitingly over his fingers. “Of course, Hori has been more focused on a musical career, but personally I think Mimori has even more potential.”

Shuuichi slanted a faintly dubious look at the headphones, from which a driving snare could be heard, even from two feet away, but took one of the speakers and held it to his ear. He was treated to hearing the second half of “No Brand Girls” performed live at the LoveLive Dream Sensation concert.

Rei memorized the most utterly nonplussed expression he’d ever seen on Shuuichi’s face, and tucked it away to gloat over later. For now, he gave Shuuichi his very best sunny and innocent smile. Shuuichi looked down at him for a long moment before a corner his mouth started to curl up. He finally gave in and laughed as he dropped the earbud back into Rei’s hand. “Yes, all right.” Rei’s smile got a little sunnier at the unspoken ‘fine, you got me’, and it was Shuuichi’s turn to snort. “What are you making?” he asked, stepping toward the kitchen.

What was sufficiently involved that it delayed answering the door, when Rei really did try to keep the knock down to a single 8, was what that really meant. Rei tucked his earbuds into his pocket, with his player, and thumbed the off button. Game won. “Cabbage rolls. It’s getting colder out, and I was in the mood for them.” He tossed the can of diced tomatoes, waiting on the counter, to Shuuichi. “Here. Make yourself useful and open that.”

Shuuichi did as he was told, which Rei felt was his one true virtue in a kitchen. “Do they go in here?” Shuuichi asked, nodding at the enameled iron pot set waiting on the larger burner.

“Yes, but not until after the garlic and bay leaves are sautéed, which I’m not trusting you with, yet.”

“You’re the chef,” Shuuichi agreed peacefully enough, tucking the can opener back away where it belonged.

Rei didn’t miss the thoughtful glance he gave the headphone cords still dangling from Rei’s hip pocket, though.

When Rei visited the Kudou house a week later, to find Shuuichi stretched out on the couch and “Wonderful Rush” playing on the stereo, he laughed out loud.

“I really do like μ’s, you know,” he pointed out, smirking as he slid down to the couch to settle comfortably on top of Shuuichi.

Even in Okiya Subaru’s disguise, Shuuichi’s smile was still his own, crooked and sharp unless he had reason to gentle it. Which he did now, apparently. He stroked the backs of his fingers down Rei’s cheek. “After listening for a while, that doesn’t really surprise me.”

Rei knew his own smile was softer as he rested his head on Shuuichi’s shoulder. Shuuichi did that to him, a lot.

Not that he thought, for one second, that Shuuichi was finished teasing people with his new musical discovery.

Miyano Shiho, currently and regrettably known to most of her associates as Haibara Ai, had known her sister’s boyfriend was a bastard from the day she’d first met him. That opinion had not been altered in the least, in the intervening years, not by the revelation of his true allegiance, not by his—admittedly laudable—efforts to destroy Gin on Akemi’s behalf, and not by the hints Akai occasionally dropped that he was still hanging around in part to guard Shiho herself.

Especially not by that last one.

Indeed, it was thanks to “Okiya Subaru’s” presence that Shiho had gotten far better acquainted than she’d ever wanted to be with Akai Shuuichi’s idea of humor, which she found singularly unamusing in every instance. It might even be fractally unamusing, because every time she saw that smirk of his she found new and still more detailed reasons to despise it.

The fact that he seemed to find that, in itself, amusing was not lost on her.

So she was always a bit wary, when her little friends wanted her to join them in a visit to “Subaru-oniichan”. The man was underfoot enough at the Professor’s, no need to go looking for any more of him. Today, unfortunately, Kudou was down with a cold and firmly ensconced in bed under Ran’s oversight, and the Detective Boys had a puzzle they wanted answered after watching a more exciting than usual science show last night. Failing Kudou, and with a little too much experience of Professor’s incurable urge to educate at every opportunity, they’d trouped next door to ask “Subaru-oniichan”. And, since Kudou wasn’t there, Shiho had felt mildly conscience-bound to go along and make sure her young friends came to no harm in their enthusiasm.

Goodness knew, someone had to.

So she’d gritted her teeth, instead of baring them, when “Subaru” answered the door, and followed along after as Mikihiko tried to explain their question, not particularly assisted by Ayumi and Genta’s interjections. When they got to the livingroom, though, she ground to a halt in the door, utterly unable to process what her senses were telling her.

There was music playing.

Pop music.

Upbeat, relentlessly cheerful, unfailingly optimistic idol-pop music. She could practically hear the sparkles.

“Ah!” Ayumi exclaimed, bouncing a little on her toes and beaming up at “Subaru”. “It’s μ’s!”

Akai smiled down at her. “Yes, it is. A friend got me listening to them. Do you like them, too?”


Shiho actually felt her brain short-circuit, a visceral twinge of does not compute, input denied.

Akai leaned down toward Ayumi, confidingly. “I have all the live recordings, now, I think. Let me know if you want to borrow anything.” He tipped his head, smile now including Shiho. “I understand they’re very popular with young ladies.”

That smile.

“Haibara-san?” Mitsuhiko asked, giving her concerned puppy-dog eyes. “Are you all right? Your face is getting awfully red, all of a sudden.”

Drawing on the discipline that had gotten her through advanced degrees in bioscience in a handful of years, Shiho tamped down her fury and smiled instead of hissing like an outraged cat. “I’m fine. Just a little overheated, maybe.” She shrugged out of her jacket and sat demurely on the couch. “Why don’t you ask Subaru-san your question?”

Akai took one of the armchairs, looking politely interested. Probably only Shiho noticed the little quirk lingering at one corner of his mouth.

Someday she was going to have her revenge for every last one of those little smirks, and it was going to be so sweet. But that day would not be today, because then she would have to explain, several different times, how something could be colder than ice but still liquid. Let Akai do it. It was a very small, but possibly appropriate punishment. Even if the way he smiled at the children made her suspect it wasn’t actually a punishment at all. She ignored that thought.

She didn’t really want to have anything in common with the bastard.

Shiho tucked her feet up under herself to keep her toes from trying to tap to the beat.


Rei climbed the stairs to his apartment, hands tucked in his pockets, wearing a small, cool smile. He spun his keys lightly through his fingers to catch the door key, and turned the key slowly, as always. He let himself smirk just a tiny bit at the feel of the grimy stiffness in the lock, his low-tech deterrent for impatient burglars and the reason he’d picked this particular apartment from the ones available. He slipped inside on light feet and relocked the door behind him.

And finally let himself sag back against the door, smile turning into clenched teeth.

He hated this. Hated it with every drop of blood in his veins, with every beat of his heart. The usual things he did for the Organization were bad enough—gathering information about people, knowing it would lead to blackmail, to advancing the Organization’s ends, possibly to death. But it was worse when he had to kill with his own hands, when he had to pull a trigger and make himself look cool and uncaring as one of his people fell dead at his feet. His shoulders hunched tighter, against the blow of that remembered sound.


He started upright, eyes widening, before the voice itself penetrated. He still had to swallow before he could answer, “Shuuichi.”

A shadow by the bookshelves shifted and light bloomed out from the desk lamp. In the glow of it, Shuuichi crossed the room to him, taking Rei’s shoulders to draw him away from the door. “Was it bad, tonight?” he asked, quietly.

“Bad enough.” Rei started to reach for Shuuichi, aching for some contact he didn’t have to doubt. In his mind’s eye, though, Yoshimura Hayato’s body fell with the uncaring sprawl of the dead, and his hand—the hand that had held the gun—flinched back. Rei pulled in a hard breath, bracing himself to push past his own response, to bury it like he’d had to bury it over and over and over these last five years.

Before he quite could, though, Shuuichi caught Rei’s hand in both of his, folding Rei’s fingers gently over his own. As Rei stared blankly, Shuuichi lifted his hand and pressed a kiss to his fingers, slow and deliberate. When he looked up again to catch Rei’s eyes, his own were dark and knowing and so completely free of any blame that Rei didn’t know whether the sound he made was gratitude or protest. Shuuichi took no apparent notice, either way, and slid an arm around Rei’s shoulders, guiding him away from the door. “Come on. Bath, food, sleep.”

“I do know how to take care of myself,” Rei grumbled as he kicked off his shoes.

“Obviously, or you wouldn’t have made it this long.” Shuuichi sounded perfectly agreeable, but he kept his arm wrapped around Rei’s shoulders and nudged him toward the bathroom as soon as he had his slippers on. Rei huffed but let himself be steered into the bath. The warmth of Shuuichi’s hands helping him out of his clothes was welcome. When the water was running hot, Shuuichi finally left him to himself for a little while, and Rei used considerably more soap than usual to wash with.

More than usual for nights he wasn’t doing the Organization’s work, at any rate. Rei focused on the feel of water running over his skin, pushing away the sense-memories of the night along with each handful of suds. He knew from grim experience that it wasn’t a permanent trick; it broke down without fail when he visited the graves. It would carry him through any reports he had to make, though—whether to the Organization or to his own division.

When he emerged, still rubbing a towel through his hair, Shuuichi was sitting cross-legged at the living-room table with a plate of peeled orange sections. It was a good choice, Rei had to admit. Small pieces, mostly liquid, a strong enough taste to drown the heavy, iron sharpness he kept imagining in his sinuses. When Shuuichi held out a hand to him, Rei hesitated a moment, feeling a little off balance from his usual coping routine, but he finally gave in and went to sit close, in the curve of Shuuichi’s arm. “That’s better,” Shuuichi told him, gathering him closer. “Remember that you have more support, now.”

Rei looked up at that, startled into a faint laugh. “I have a great deal more support, in this country, than you do, you know.”

“You certainly should.” Shuuichi looked down at him with a brow quirked up. “Curious how you never seem to call on it, then.”

“I do so!” Rei protested, indignant.

“If you count the ones you called out to try to catch me, I suppose so.” The mild tone made Rei’s face heat. “But I have yet to see anyone taking the responsibility to check on your well-being.”

“I stay in contact.” Rei picked up a section of orange and bit down on it a little more firmly than necessary. "I call them when I need something done."

“But they ask stupid question, and it’s annoying when they get in your way.” It wasn’t actually a question, which didn’t surprise Rei. Of course Shuuichi would know.

“It’s just… easier,” he said, quietly, turning another bit of orange over in his fingers. “To deal with it on my own.”

“I know.” Shuuichi’s arm around him tightened for a moment, and Shuuichi turned his head to press a kiss to Rei’s temple. “But you have someone here who does understand, now.”

Rei leaned against him with a tiny smile. “That, I’ll agree with.”

He could hear the answering smile in Shuuichi’s voice. “It’s a start.”

Rei noted that for later consideration, because ‘start’ suggested there was more coming along after. But that thought could wait. For now, all he wanted to do was sit here and soak up the presence of someone who knew exactly what he’d done tonight and still held him close.


Shiho tried not to approve too much of anything “Subaru-san” did. The man didn’t need any encouragement; he was a lot like Kudou that way. But she had to admit that, now and then, he could be useful. In a crowded line for the new Okinio Youko release, for instance.

Shiho shepherded Ayumi a little further into the triangle of space Akai held clear with nothing more than broad shoulders and body language, and braced herself with a huff of annoyance against the knee in her back as the line moved up a step. Some days, she really, really missed having high, pointy heels for situations just like this one, and if that made her anti-social, well so be it. She got kneed in the shoulder again and reflected on how very much the college student behind her deserved a high heel in his toe.

And then she tried not to flinch as “Subaru” leaned down toward her. How could he possibly loom more when he was bending down?

“Are you doing all right, Haibara-san?” His smile made her twitch again; for pity’s sake, couldn’t anyone else see how sharp it was? “We’ll be at the front of the line soon.”

Shiho saw the people in front of them start to move, and braced herself to be crowded again, unable to help the sour edge to her voice when she answered, “Good.” And then she blinked, because nothing hit her back. A quick glance over her shoulder showed that the college student had edged back a good fifteen centimeters, which was impressive in a crush like this. What…?

When it clicked, she whipped her head back around to stare at Akai, but he’d already straightened up and was smiling at nothing in particular. She was so startled by her own conclusion that the next step forward caught her by surprise after all, and she stumbled half a step.

Ayumi caught her, looking surprised as she steadied Shiho. “Are you all right, Ai-chan?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” Shiho murmured with a tiny smile. After a moment’s hesitation, she added, not quite directly to Ayumi, “Thank you.”

“Sure!” Ayumi smiled, sunny and pleased.

“Subaru-san’s” smile curled just a bit wider. Shiho shot him a glare on general principles.

However useful he could be, sometimes, he really, really did not need any encouragement.

One of the things Kudou Shinichi truly detested about being Edogawa Conan was the simple, physical fact of being small. Sure he found ways around it—the skateboard when he needed to be fast, the shoes and a kickable object when he needed to be strong. But the fact remained that, without those force multipliers the Professor provided, he was about as inconvenient as a misplaced briefcase to the average adult.

Which meant, of course, that every suspect who wanted to make a break for it broke in Shinichi’s direction. And he had his shoes, today, but he’d already used his belt-ball to stop the guy’s car. He was going to come home with bruises that would make Ran frown again, today, wasn’t he? Crap. Well, no help for it…

Just as he was preparing to throw himself at the man’s legs to trip him, though, a hand squeezed his shoulder firmly, and then Akai-san (or Subaru-san, at the moment) was stepping past him, and the suspect met Subaru-san’s elbow going very much the wrong way. At least, the wrong way for anyone wanting to stay conscious. Shinichi had to wince a little, as the man hit the ground with a meaty thud, and he wasn’t the only one.

“Well,” Subaru-san said, mildly, brushing his jacket straight, “who’d have thought he’d have such a glass jaw?”

Shinichi (joined by not a few of the surrounding police) rolled his eyes. Sometimes he thought Akai-san actually enjoyed how unconvincing he was at being innocuous. Under the sudden bustle of securing the suspect, though, Shinichi muttered, “Thanks.” The wry tilt of Subaru-san’s answering smile said Shinichi was not being subtle about how little he liked having to be rescued, and Shinichi shrugged at him. No one sane would enjoy his current life. Subaru-san tipped his head in acknowledgement, but Shinichi noticed that he stayed fairly close until the cuffs were locked.

Well, whatever. Thanks to Ran, Shinichi was almost getting used to being shadowed by over-protective tall people.

Rei slouched against the door of the train car, arms crossed, as close as he could get to not being on the wretched thing, and gave his lover a disgruntled look. “Remind me why we’re stuffed into this car with every football fan in Tokyo, instead of driving to this game like people who both have cars? Two of them, in your case.”

Shuuichi looked far too amused, something Rei swore his Okiya disguise intensified. “You don’t normally complain about being somewhere in order to locate a suspect.”

“If there was the smallest chance of making useful observations, here, you might have a point.” As it was, the only thing Rei was finding to observe were the backs and shoulders of the five closest passengers. That and Shuuichi’s chest, which wasn’t unwelcome but was far more interesting in less crowded surroundings. “Also, the ‘suspect’ is a middle-schooler, and the children seem to be observing just fine without us.” Indeed, they’d scattered down the car and established their posts with slightly alarming proficiency.

He really should have known, the very first time Shuuichi had brought the Detective Boys out to drop in his lap, that he’d wind up being just as much their adult adjunct as Shuuichi himself was. He suspected that Shuuichi considered the children a sort of therapy for both of them. Well, if nothing else, the growing stream of lost pets, grade-school politics, and occasional robbery in his life was keeping Rei’s sense of the ridiculous alive and well.

He still felt he could have done without the re-introduction to the crush of public transport during peak hours.

Although… now he thought about it, he hadn’t been jostled nearly as much as he probably should have been in a car this crowded. He straightened up a little from his slump, glancing around curiously. There were plenty of other people looking at least as harassed as he probably was who were being crowded even worse, so it wasn’t his expression. Rei had always looked far more delicate than he actually was, so he doubted anyone was intimidated by the rest of him, either. But he had breathing room without having to fight for it, today. Why…?

Which was when the train took another turn and he finally noticed the flex of muscles Shuuichi’s arm, where it was braced against the divider beside them. And just how little Shuuichi was moving as the rest of the car swayed in their direction.

And how that kept Rei’s breathing room open.

A corner of Rei’s mouth twitched helplessly upward. “Subaru-san. Are you actually trying to protect me?”

Shuuichi’s brows rose, and he seemed to take a moment to notice what he was doing, himself. “Ah.” His faint smile turned rueful. “I suppose it’s gotten to be habit.”

Rei felt his own smile softening, because of course it was a habit with Shuuichi. The better he got to know the man, the more obvious that quiet protective streak got. It was the live current of honor, of rightness, that made Shuuichi’s relentless hunt for the Organization something Rei could join his own hunt to without a shadow of hesitation.

He would miss it so very much, when they were done.

“Rei?” Shuuichi asked, frowning a little. “What is it?”

Rei pulled himself back from the sudden, sharp pain of his own thought, and shook his head. “Later.” He nodded toward the little eddy of disturbance that spoke of miniature detectives on the move. “I think the children found something.”

Shuuichi’s gaze lingered on him for a long moment, but finally he nodded.

“Later, then.”


It was late enough that Shuuichi had scrubbed off his Okiya Subaru disguise, even though he was sitting down in the Kudou library. Yukiko-san had been quite firm that he not wear it at night, once he was proficient enough to put it back on himself, so he rarely did once his bugs told him Shiho had gone to bed. His day wasn’t finished, yet, though, and he paged through a pirated batch of autopsy photos to find the injury he wanted. Head injuries of the right sort were proving annoyingly rare.

The five measured knocks at the door were honestly a bit of a relief. He sat back in the desk chair as Rei slipped in, and held out a hand. “You’re just in time for drinks,” he said, lightly.

Rei came to lean against the chair. “Only if you’ve stopped drinking bourbon.”

“Now, why should I do that?”

Rei rolled his eyes. Shuuichi took a great deal of amusement from getting that expression out of him, which obviously exasperated Rei all the more. Rei was far from the first person to tell Shuuichi that he had bad hobbies.

“I’ll pass, thank you.” Rei glanced down at the screen. “Looking through medical records, today?” Rei leaned over his shoulder. “Autopsies?”

“One of them will be an autopsy record, eventually,” Shuuichi agreed, flipping back through his model records to copy another line of medical findings. A quick glance over his shoulder showed Rei’s brows rising.

“Is one of your team likely to need one of these?” Rei frowned at yet another X-ray of a skull with a hole in it, this one at a rear angle. “Besides you, that is.”

“Yes.” Shuuichi saved his latest version and stretched his arms over his head, shaking out the knots of peering at one image after another. “When you need extraction, you will.”

Rei went very still, at his back. “When that’s necessary, Public Security will take care of it.” His voice was clipped.

“They should have already,” Shuuichi said to his computer screen, not turning yet. “This isn’t something you leave for last minute, if you can help it.”

“We have plenty of resources, here, to take care of it quickly.” Rei turned away from the table with a dismissive wave and Shuuichi turned to watch him. “Besides, if they’re ready, I might—” he bit back the rest of the sentence sharply.

“You might want to use them?” Shuuichi completed it, softly. Rei’s shoulders stiffened.

“How I deal with my assignments is none of your… it’s not…”

“It’s become my business, hadn’t it?” Shuuichi stood and slid his hands lightly over Rei’s shoulders, feeling the hard straightness of them. They jerked with Rei’s snort.

“So, what, you’re offering to be my control, now?”

“I don’t know enough about Japan’s security requirements for that,” Shuuichi pointed out, keeping his voice calm and even. “No. I’m offering to be your partner.”

Rei’s head jerked around, at that, eyes wide. “My… but…” He turned back toward Shuuichi, slowly this time, eyes fixed on Shuuichi’s face, studying him. “You don’t know when you’ll be pulled off this assignment, though, now you’re out not undercover.”

That made Shuuichi smile. “James knows perfectly well I’d resign, if he tried to.” Rei’s eyes went even wider, genuinely shocked by that. Shuuichi lifted a hand to cup his cheek. “I’m not like you, in this, Rei. I’m not loyal to a country—only to my own people. I only went to the FBI because they had the start of the thread I needed to follow.”

“That’s why,” Rei nearly whispered. “I always wondered how your Bureau could afford to leave someone of your skills here so long. Even I… I mean, there are always slow times, and there’s always something else that needs doing.” He smiled, suddenly, wry and tilted. “But if it’s actually a choice between having you on this case and not having you at all…”

“They did bring me back to the States for a little while right after my cover was blown,” Shuuichi allowed. “But that was only until we found another opening here. James and I understand each other, about this. It works out.” He stroked his thumb gently over Rei’s lower lip, satisfied with how the line of Rei’s mouth softened. He wasn’t above playing dirty, if it got Rei to listen. “I will be here, with you, through the end.”

“Then why are you planning my extraction?” Rei wanted to know.

“Because you haven’t done it, yourself. Or let anyone else do it, it sounds like.”

Rei shook his head. “I can’t give everything to an assignment if I’m planning a way out at the same time.”

Which was not an especially good way to survive assignments, in Shuuichi’s opinion, but now probably wasn’t the time to say that. “Then don’t think about it.” Shuuichi ran a hand through Rei’s hair, smiling a bit at the way Rei promptly shook it back into place. “Not until you need it. Just know that I’m taking care of things.”

Rei’s mouth quirked up crookedly. “And how is that different from knowing my people will take care of things, then?”

It was, Shuuichi decided, time to play a little dirtier if he wanted to get past Rei’s determined dismissal of his own welfare. He caught Rei’s chin firmly, lifting it to make Rei look at him. “It’s different,” he said over Rei’s startled gasp, “because I am here. And when you need this, I won’t be waiting in an office for you to call. I’ll be beside you, as your partner should be.”

Rei was promisingly relaxed against him, for all his eyes were wide. “I… I mean, yes, but…”

Quieter, in answer to Rei’s hesitation, Shuuichi added, “This work means as much to me as it does to you, Rei. So will you trust me to watch out for that edge, for you?”

Thankfully, he seemed to have judged correctly how hard to push. Rei lost the last of his tension, hands relaxing and spreading against Shuuichi’s back. Shuuichi let his hold gentle, fingers stroking down Rei’s jaw before he dropped his hand to link with the other at the small of Rei’s back. He was content to wait for Rei, now he seemed to be thinking instead of indulging in reflex denial. It took a few minutes, and Shuuichi wasn’t sure even he could guess all the thoughts turning behind Rei’s eyes. But eventually Rei nodded, just a tiny bit, to himself, and looked up. Rei’s voice was soft but steady, as steady as his eyes on Shuuichi’s, when he answered, “Yes.”

Shuuichi smiled and leaned down to brush a soft kiss over his lips. “Thank you.”

Rei returned the kiss absently, still looking up at Shuuichi, and now looking more speculative. Shuuichi waited some more, smile slowly widening as Rei’s eyes narrowed and sharpened. He loved watching the quicksilver leap of Rei’s intuition, and the iron discipline that followed each possible path and shaped speculation into conclusion. “You took advantage of how I respond, when you’re firm with me,” Rei said, eventually. “To startle me out of my old pattern.”

It wasn’t a question, so Shuuichi didn’t bother to agree. “You needed to start thinking more than you were.” He let his tone be a bit chiding, and watched with absolute pleasure the quick blush across Rei’s cheeks, and how swiftly it was followed by awareness that Shuuichi had just demonstrated in small what he’d done during their argument. He enjoyed this quirk of Rei’s, but the last thing he wanted was for it to be an exploitable opening.

At least, not when Rei didn’t want it to be.

Rei wet his lips, still rather flushed. “You cheat.” He didn’t sound like he actually minded.

“As often as necessary,” Shuuichi agreed.

“And did you intend to stir me up and then not do anything about it?” Rei murmured, getting a familiar gleam in his eyes. Shuuichi laughed, low.

“What was it you thought I should do instead?”

Rei smirked and pushed Shuuichi back until the backs of his thighs hit the desk and he leaned against it. Rei prowled forward another two steps, straddling Shuuichi’s legs and sliding up tight against him. “How about this?” He slid his hands up into Shuuichi’s hair and pulled him down to a hot, hungry kiss.

Shuuichi slid his hands down Rei’s back to curve around his ass, pulling Rei more firmly against him, and swallowed the husky sound Rei made, kissing him deeper. Rei’s open response and demand never failed to touch off answering fire in him, and the perfectly wanton way Rei ground against him pulled a growl from deep in his chest. Shuuichi bent his head to bite up and down the line of Rei’s neck, and savored the way Rei’s body pulled into a taut arch, in his arms.


Shuuichi slid a hand between them to tug open the button and zipper of Rei’s pants, and couldn’t help grinning against Rei’s throat at the distinctly relieved sound he made. Or at how breathless it turned when he pushed slow fingers between Rei’s cheeks, fondling his entrance. “Yes?” he asked softly.

Rei ground hard against him, shuddering, and his agreement was fervent. “Yes.”

“Mm, good.” Shuuichi lifted his head and extracted his hand, which made Rei blink at him, at least until Shuuichi sucked two fingers into his mouth to wet them. He watched Rei’s eyes turn dark and dilated, and smiled, drawing his fingers out. “That looks about right.”

Rei slid his hands up Shuuichi’s chest, leaning into him, and breathed, “Definitely.” He caught Shuuichi’s mouth and kissed him, fiercely demanding. Shuuichi made a satisfied sound, twining his tongue with Rei’s, and slid his hand back down to push only-just-slick fingers into Rei. Rei’s open moan was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Shuuichi wound his arm around Rei’s waist, holding him fast, and drove his fingers in deeper. The sound Rei made was breathless and wanting, and the flex of his body was sinuous as he ground against Shuuichi. “You’re so amazing,” he murmured against Rei’s ear, and purred at the shiver he could feel run through Rei. “So passionate and alive in everything you do. I love that fire, in you.”

“Shuuichi…!” Rei’s body pulled taut against his, and Shuuichi thought he could almost taste Rei’s wildness on his tongue. His voice was husky with how good that taste was.

“You’re so brilliant, Rei.”

Rei jerked against him, and a low moan wrung out of him. Shuuichi worked his fingers hard against the tightening of Rei’s body, drawing him out until Rei was panting for breath against his shoulder. He didn’t ease off until Rei gasped, voice thin, “Shuuichi-san.” Rei sagged against him, boneless, and Shuuichi gathered him close, warm satisfaction curling through him.

“Do you really?” Rei asked, a little muffled against his shoulder.

Shuuichi cocked his head, looking down at Rei, fingers sliding through his hair. “Hm?”

Rei didn’t move. “My passion, you said. Do you really like that?”

“I do, yes.” Shuuichi rubbed his fingers up and down Rei’s nape, waiting patiently to see why Rei thought he might say something he didn’t mean. He thought perhaps Rei could tell, because he shrugged a shoulder and said, low, “You’re so much calmer, is all. And it was letting passion blind me that was the trouble between us, wasn’t it?”

“Which is why you need a partner who can steady you.” Still pressed close, he could feel the thread of tension that wound through Rei, at that, and pressed a kiss against his hair. “Shh. We all made mistakes, that night, remember.” He waited out the spasm of guilt, waited until Rei let out an unsteady breath and relaxed against him again, before adding. “And you aren’t the only one who needs a partner to balance him. I always have.”

Rei finally looked up, at that, eyes wide, as if it was some kind of surprise. Well, maybe it was, given the shape of Rei’s quirks. After a moment, though, a slow smile curled Rei’s lips. “You’d better not be comparing me to Starling.”

“You drive infinitely better,” Shuuichi assured him, straight-faced, and chuckled when Rei growled and thumped him on the shoulder. “Truly, though.” He stroked the backs of his fingers down Rei’s cheek, pleased when Rei’s body softened against him. “I don’t mind how hot you burn in the least, Rei. On the contrary, I enjoy it a great deal.”

Which seemed to recall to Rei that they were leaning against the library desk with Rei’s clothes still undone, because he turned rather red and then laughed out loud. “Yes, I suppose you do.” He reached up to comb his fingers through Shuuichi’s hair, and murmured, “Why don’t we go upstairs, and I’ll see if I can show you how much I enjoy your cool and your control?”

Shuuichi smiled down at him, soft. He was fairly certain that both of them had faced similar trouble from their respective organizations, because of how deep their perception ran and how fast it leaped. He was willing to bet that Rei’s sharp edge and his own hard calm both came from the same need to deal with people who didn’t understand. That Rei had seen the same thing, and thought to reassure Shuuichi… he liked that. He reached back to lock and close the computer for the night, and held out a hand to Rei as he stood.

“Yes, let’s.”

Rei leaned against the headboard of Shuuichi’s bed and watched Shuuichi sleep, watched the moonlight through the window spill across his chest and shoulder, watched his long fingers lie open and uncurled against the sheets. Seeing Shuuichi so completely relaxed, in his presence, tugged at Rei’s heart with the same warmth he’d been trying, with only middling success, to keep from spilling over into more than could be contained by the label ‘trusted ally’.

Now he was wondering if he needed to contain it. Or, maybe, if containing it was more urgent than ever.

Shuuichi had offered to partner him for this work, and normally that would tell Rei pretty clearly where the boundaries were. But tonight he’d also spoken of his loyalties—to his people, not his country. If Rei was one of Shuuichi’s people, now, which Rei thought he probably was… well, where did that leave them? Rei sighed and ran a hand through his hair, trying to order his thoughts. He should probably just ask Shuuichi. His lover had never been other than truthful with him. The very thought of the two of them trying to lie directly to each other was a bit laughable.

He was just afraid of what the answer might be. Afraid that this would be another heart-connection already lost, just like his father, like Elena-sensei, like Hiro.

Of course, if he was going to lose Shuuichi once this was all over, it would probably be better to know now. That eminently sensible thought sent a sharp twist of pain through his chest, and he flinched back from it yet again.

Rei growled at his own dithering and slid back down in bed, thumping his pillow into shape and burying his head in it. He’d think about this in the morning, which would come very shortly since he was opening the cafe. Complications later; his job now (all three of them). It had worked for him for years.

Once Rei’s breathing had evened out into sleep, Shuuichi opened his eyes. Sleeping under the brooding weight of Rei’s attention had not been something that was going to happen, but Rei didn’t seem to want to talk about it yet. He eyed the tight curve of Rei’s back, thoughtfully. If this followed Rei’s other patterns, then it was about grief; that was the thing Rei tried not to talk or even think about. Shuuichi had offered a partnership, tonight, and Rei had accepted. Had that set him thinking about Morofushi?

About Morofushi’s loss?

Shuuichi nodded to himself, feeling the weight of that thought, the nearly audible click as it settled into place, congruent with all his observations. Well, if that was the case, he could certainly reassure Rei that he wasn’t going anywhere.

He’d found far too many interesting things, in Japan, to leave.


“…so it’s looking like the Organization has stayed away from all the multi-nationals, which is a relief,” Jodie said, leaning back in the Kudou’s livingroom armchair with her coffee cup balanced on her fingertips. Shuuichi smiled, inwardly, to see it; that was Jodie’s tell that she was on the track of some conclusion, and closing fast.

“What about other criminal organizations?”

Jodie frowned. “That’s harder to be sure of, obviously, but Camel’s been checking the Bureau’s records of foreign criminal contacts.” She sipped her coffee and waved at Camel.

“Nothing that looks like them, up through twenty years back,” he confirmed. “And the Organization doesn’t seem the type to share well.”

“It’s a start. The more contacts we can eliminate, the better chance of finding the positives.” Shuuichi settled back against the couch cushions, considering this new information, and also his visitors. James seemed to be partnering Jodie with Camel, lately. Shuuichi approved. Camel had developed into a steady, meticulous agent, after his miss two years ago. That was a good match for Jodie, who was more intuitive but also more impatient.

Shuuichi and Jodie together tended to result in explosions, in the field, which neither of them minded but which James had complained of more than once, over budget reports. Shuuichi was quite looking forward to seeing what Rei’s superiors would have to say on the topic, as he and Rei worked together more.

As if the thought had summoned him, five measured knocks sounded from the back door. Shuuichi smiled. “Excellent timing. Rei should know all the Organization’s domestic contacts that have been tracked.”

“Rei?” Jodie asked, just as Rei appeared in the doorway, only to stop short and glare.

“You again. I should have the whole lot of you arrested, if only to get you out from underfoot.”

Before Jodie’s incensed inhalation could result in an argument, Shuuichi asked, “Does ‘the whole lot’ include me, then?”

You are at least useful.”

Shuuichi laughed, quietly; Rei’s temper really did suffer when he was surprised. He held out his open hand, offering and coaxing. “Jodie and Camel brought some information. Shall we trade?”

Rei stepped into the room, which was a start, though his hands were closed tight. “What information?”

“Eliminating potential Organization contacts.”

The focus on work made Rei’s shoulders relax, even as the subject made him frown. “They have to be part of or using one of the great business houses, but tracking which one is a headache. The only one we’ve been able to eliminate conclusively is Suzuki, mostly thank to the unpredictability of the Senior Adviser. Sonoko-san seems to be in the process of securing a true idealist for the next generation, and her mother is sharp enough to keep them out of trouble, so I’m not worried about Suzuki for the foreseeable future. The rest have all had some identified contact, but only at lower levels. Imonoyama and Karasuma look most likely, at face value. They had the highest level work we know of go through their hands. But Karasuma are known to take work from any source, if it makes enough money, and Imonoyama will do anything that serves their personal ends, but good luck determining what those are.”

Jodie and Camel both looked a bit stunned by the amount of information Rei had at his fingertips. Shuuichi, for his part, couldn’t help noticing how parsimonious Rei was being, given the amount of information he actually possessed. Well, one step at a time. “Interesting that they’ve kept away from the multi-nationals, then.”

Rei’s eyes narrowed, and he strolled further into the room as he thought. “The Organization stays small by recruiting extraordinary talent. It’s why they’re so hard to find, but it might also be a weakness that someone with the reach of a multi-national could exploit.” He paused, and eyed Jodie, and finally sighed. “All right. Fine, yes, whatever.”

Jodie and Camel both blinked at this leap, but Shuuichi followed it and smirked. Rei glared at him. “That doesn’t mean I have to like it!”

“You can complain to me all you like,” Shuuichi promised, reaching out to snag his wrist, since he was finally close enough. Rei made a startled sound as he was tugged down to the couch beside Shuuichi, and stiffened at the arm Shuuichi draped casually around him.

“Shuuichi-san…!” Rei sounded downright shocked. Shuuichi honestly couldn’t help being amused by how proper Rei was about manners, considering his breezy disregard of any actual law that inconvenienced him when he was on the hunt. Now was not the time to tease him about it, though, and Shuuichi didn’t smile yet.

“Rei,” he said, quiet and firm, calling for his lover’s attention to detail. Rei stilled against him, staring, and Shuuichi caught his gaze, silently urging him to think about what Shuuichi had just done.

It took a long moment, and Shuuichi tucked that observation away to follow to its roots later, but finally Rei blinked and focused properly. Shuuichi could almost feel it against his skin, when Rei’s attention swept out through the room, touching every detail of who was present, what Shuuichi had just done, how those people (including Rei himself) would read the action. Thoughts flowed like quicksilver behind Rei’s eyes, connections snapping from one to the next. Shuuichi read some of them in the flicker of Rei’s glance. Shuuichi’s co-workers, Shuuichi’s own ex-partner, their still off-balance expressions after the last conversational leap, the partnership Shuuichi had offered Rei, the conclusions Rei was drawing right now as swift as thought. The leap to Shuuichi’s words that first night they’d spent together. Shuuichi caught the faint movement of Rei’s lips, and the current of shared reasoning was so strong he nearly spoke the words again, out loud.

I’ve found a number of things around here that make me think it might not be such a bad thing to keep going on.

And at last, he saw the recollection lock into place: Rei’s completely accurate guess, that night, that he was one of those things.

“Haven’t I said I’m not going anywhere?” Shuuichi asked, very softly.

Rei nodded slowly, breath coming quick with the weight of his own conclusion. He hadn’t stirred yet, though.

“You’ll look perfectly biddable, in comparison,” Shuuichi offered. “That will be entertaining, won’t it?”

At that, the last of Rei’s hesitation finally evaporated and Rei leaned into him, laughing under his breath. Shuuichi smiled, satisfied that Rei understood.

Jodie had a hand pressed over her eyes. “Shuu!” she groaned, flopping back in her chair. “Not again!”

Shuuichi raised a brow at her histrionics. “Should you really be complaining?” Jodie had been one of the first agents he’d taken under his wing, after all, impressed by the fire-eating ferocity she usually kept concealed under her responsible-agent face, these days. He’d always rather regretted that decision, of hers, for all he understood it.

Jodie glowered at the reminder. “Oh shut up.”

Rei’s faint snort of recognition made Shuuichi smirk. He’d always known Rei and Jodie would have a few things in common, if they ever stopped sniping at each other. He blocked the answering jab of Rei’s elbow with a casual hand. “So, about that multi-national team.”

Rei released a slow sigh and straightened, turning back to practicalities. “Fine. But you get to talk to MI6.”

“Not a problem.” At least not as long as his mother was feeling reasonable.

Camel, who had been looking out the window for the past several minutes, with the grim determination of a man stuck in the middle of a family argument, finally edged back into the conversation. “Akai-san… what team are you talking about?”

“The one we’ll need, to take advantage of the Organization’s weakness. It’s size,” he added, when Camel continued to look puzzled.

“A small team, to make sure it stays as flexible as the Organization can be,” Rei specified, in the brisk tone of someone who’d had to give a great many briefings to confused subordinates, “but one with enough contacts to gain more reach.”

Jodie sighed and sat upright again. “All right, let’s think about this.” She reached for the files she’d brought and added, apparently to the papers as she sorted them. “You’re going to keep your promise, aren’t you?”

“Always,” Shuuichi answered, level. It was why he was careful about making promises, after all. Jodie looked up, eyes sharp as they met his, and finally nodded acceptance.

“All right. Who else should we touch, for this?”

Rei kept a firm grip on his professionalism until the door closed behind Starling and Camel, and then he rounded on Shuuichi.

“You are the world’s worst tease!”

Shuuichi laughed like he’d been trying not to for a while, which only made Rei’s point for him. He spun on his heel and stalked toward the kitchen. He needed a drink, for this.

Even if it was the damn bourbon.

Shuuichi, wisely, let him get through his first long swallow, before stepping up against Rei’s back and winding his arms around him, tugging him close. Rei let him, leaning back against him for a long moment before turning in his arms to look up at him.

“So, did I get all that right?” Rei asked, quietly. “You mean to stay here, even after the Organization is done? Even though some of your people are still in the States?”

“As some were here, when I left. As some are still in England, after we left there.” Shuuichi looked down at him, steady and serious. “I’ve been separated from my family before. And Jodie knows she can still call on me, for the things she might truly need me for.”

“Your promise,” Rei guessed, and swallowed a burst of residual fear, adding, lower, “Is that what I’m going to be left with, too?”

Shuuichi smiled, bright and sharp as a knife. “Only if you grow beyond me.”

The challenge in his smile, in his voice, caught like fire in Rei’s chest, a pressure that bloomed out hot and wild, a visceral reminder of what was different, for them. That strike of sparks had been between them from the moment they met, had fired his rage when he’d thought such brilliance had been drowned deep enough in ice to press for Hiro’s death, had been the first, delicate bridge of belief between them. This was why he’d given so much of himself to Akai Shuuichi, of hatred and love both. How had he let himself become so afraid of losing the one who matched him so well and so fiercely? Rei leaned against Shuuichi, laughing softly with the unbridled rush of that thought, hands running up Shuuichi’s back. “Shut up and kiss me.”

“There, you see?” Shuuichi murmured, and leaned down to catch Rei’s mouth.

Rei let the heat of it sink into his bones and anchor there, the way he hadn’t quite let happen before. “My partner,” he said into Shuuichi’s mouth.

The tightening of Shuuichi’s arms around him drove his breath out. “Yes.”

And that was it—the mirror of his own hunger, in Shuuichi. That was the thing that let him relax into his own need, and kiss Shuuichi with all the devouring hunger in his heart, and know without doubt he would be answered.

And he was.


1. 88 is International Morse code for “love and kisses”. back

Last Modified: Jul 06, 20
Posted: Feb 04, 19
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Back Burn

Furuya is finally, if not prepared, at least willing to start dealing with Hiromitsu’s memory. Fluff, Angst, Characterization, Porn, I-4


Rei felt that he was doing pretty well at the whole ‘having a partner again’ thing, especially after several years of human interaction that was almost exclusively business. But sometimes he still couldn’t help showing how long it had been, or, he suspected, the echoes of who used to be his anchor to human connection.

Shuuichi, who had just gathered Rei casually up against his side, was looking down at him, brows arched over sharp eyes. “This alarms you,” he stated quietly, holding Rei closer for a breath.

Rei huffed, trying to relax from that telling moment of stiffness. “I’m not alarmed, just startled. It’s been a while.”

The eyebrows went up a little higher, and Shuuichi reached over and stroked a knuckle gently down the line of Rei’s jaw to let it rest, very lightly, under his chin. Rei closed his eyes and laughed, short and a little painful. Only from Shuuichi would he ever get an offer to force the issue, an offer to help him defuse whatever made him react so strongly and unthinkingly. “Not yet,” he whispered.

After a long moment, Shuuichi pressed a kiss to his temple and gathered him closer. “All right, then. Not yet.”

Rei turned to press against him, winding his arms tight around Shuuichi’s ribs, and tried to fight down the sharp jolt of memory that the solid warmth of Shuuichi’s body against his sent through him. It was getting sharper, the longer he and Shuuichi were together, and he knew he really would have to deal with this soon. He’d gotten by, so far, by clinging tight to the code of care and duty he and Hiro had built between them, but he’d also been trying his hardest to not look directly at Hiro’s memory. It hurt like broken glass running through his hands, when he did. He’d made that awkward tension work, until now, but wasn’t going to work much longer. He knew that.

Just… not yet.

Not until he had the time to remember Hiro properly. And to finally say goodbye.


Rei was just stowing his math notes, more than ready for lunch, when he noticed Fukuzawa and Seo swaggering over from their seats by the windows, clearly aiming for the new transfer student who’d been introduced today. Rei sighed. Some days, he really wished that Elena-sensei hadn’t been so right about what would work most lastingly on the bullies and assorted jerks at school. Fukuzawa was exactly the sort that made his fists itch, and re-discovering him and his little minion-in-training had been the number one least pleasant thing about Rei’s new middle-school homeroom class. For a moment, Rei was tempted to let the new kid fend for himself; since when was Rei the class peacekeeper? The class president was giving him a pleading look, though, and Tanikawa-san wasn’t a bad sort. Rei gave in and flapped an acknowledging hand at her, pushing up out of his chair. He used the grateful relief of her smile to brighten his own as he strolled back a few desks.

He nearly lost it to massive eye-rolling when Fukuzawa opened with, “From Nagano, huh? Guess you’ll miss skiing to school. In Tokyo we have to take the train.” Fukuzawa was a failure, even at bullying. At least until things got physical.

Rei tacked his smile back on and prepared to deflect that momentum. “Well, it’ll be like summer all the time, then, won’t it?” he interjected, easily.

…at the exact same moment the new student said the same thing.

Their eyes snapped to each other and held. Rei felt recognition run through him like a shock, and after it came connections, drawing themselves in his mind the way they always did. Easygoing smile, but dull, bruised looking eyes, not as if he’d been fighting but like he’d been crying or not sleeping. A recent move, and no reason mentioned in his introduction—probably grief, then. Feet gathered under him but hands open and relaxed on the desk. He wasn’t a pushover but he didn’t resort first to his fists.

Also something he hadn’t seen before—eyes that flickered over Rei with the same kind of attention to detail.

They smiled at each other, real smiles this time, at the same moment.

“You guys are weird.” Fukuzawa shifted uneasily, glancing back and forth between them, and finally turned away. “Come on, Seo.”

“Well, that was easier than usual,” Rei murmured. “Hi. I’m Furuya Rei.”

“Morofushi Hiromitsu.” Morofushi relaxed from his subtle readiness, leaning his elbows on his desk, still smiling up at Rei. “So. What’s good for lunch, around here?”

Rei leaned a hip against the desk, considering. Fresh grief, hm? He remembered that. “The meatballs are always good, but the most reliable thing is the soup.” Which was true, but it was also usually the easiest thing to eat.

Morofushi’s smile turned a little crooked. “Yeah,” he agreed softly. “That sounds good. Thanks.” The thanks were obviously as much for taking a moment to consider that Morofushi might not have much appetite, as for the recommendation itself.

It was the first time someone Rei’s age had followed the leap of his thoughts, and he couldn’t help smiling at that. He could maybe get used to this.

Hiromitsu glanced at their names, written out next to the cleaning chores on the blackboard, as he pushed the broom past. “Huh. Your name really is written like the number.”

Rei’s sigh was dragged up from his toes. “I swear I’m changing it, someday. The way it’s written, at least.” And who cared if the most common alternative was usually used by girls? At least it would be a different set of predictable comments, for a while. Maybe he could switch back and forth, when he got bored of one set. He stacked a desk with a little more force than necessary.

Hiromitsu laughed and threw an arm around his shoulders. “Nah, it suits you.” His sidelong look said he hadn’t missed Rei’s reflex stiffening, and his next words were gentler. “Anything you don’t want people to know about you,” he snapped his fingers, “it vanishes, just like that. Zero.” He nodded, firmly. “I like it.”

“I’ll start calling you Hiro,” Rei threatened, though he also relaxed, slowly, as Hiromitsu’s arm stayed draped over his shoulders.

Hiromitsu grinned, not looking opposed in the least. “You think anyone else in our class will get the joke?”

Rei let himself lean into Hiromitsu, jostling him a little. “Why don’t we see?” He huffed a little at the pleased look Hiromitsu gave him, but didn’t pull away.

As much as he was Hiromitsu’s personal domestication project, keeping Hiromitsu distracted and content was his project. Their project scores were running about even, by Rei’s calculations.

He loved that they both knew it without a word being said.

Rei was willing to admit that Hiro had been completely right about joining the middle-school tennis club. It had taken care of the concerned looks he’d been getting from both their homeroom and history teachers. Everyone in or related to the club had immediately assumed an easy camaraderie, which his careful manners had cemented with no further effort on his part. Just as Hiro had predicted, the weight of a popular club behind Rei had let him head off confrontations with little more than a sunny smile. The game itself was even fun; Rei liked the whole-body effort and calculation involved in placing the ball where you wanted it to go.

But right at this moment, as Rei tried to subtly edge back from the club’s excited fans, Rei was definitely thinking twice about the whole idea.

“That last drive was so amazing!”

“Furuya-kun, you’re so strong!”

“We’ll definitely make it to Regionals this year, with you here, Furuya-kun.” Kanou-san actually batted her eyelashes at him, and what on earth was Rei supposed to do with that?

“I’m glad we have such a strong team, this year,” he tried, and nearly flinched at the wave of gleeful giggles that answered.

“Give the poor guy time to catch his breath, after that match!” Hiro’s arm draping over his shoulders was a welcome anchor, all the moreso when at least three quarters of the little crowd of fans aimed their giggling in Hiro’s direction. Rei breathed a covert sigh of relief, and leaned easily into Hiro’s side.

“There’s still two more rounds to go,” Rei added smoothly, now he’d had a moment to brace himself. “Let’s not jinx ourselves.”

The fans seemed content with that, and started to break up and drift toward the other members of the competition team. Rei relaxed some more. Hiro laughed quietly, against his ear.

“You are so bad with girls.”

“That’s what you’re for,” Rei pointed out, smiling.

Hiro leaned over Rei’s shoulder, brows raised at the (still) blank club selection form on his desk. “Not doing tennis again?”

“No. I was thinking.” Rei glanced at him, sidelong, and back down at the paper. “I was thinking… I might do one of the martial arts clubs, now we’re in high school.” He turned his pencil between his fingers, quick and nervous. “I mean. It seems like that would be more useful, if I do decide to join the police.”

Hiro brightened, a smile taking over his whole face. “Zero! For real?”

“I’m thinking about it. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t gotten practice at peacekeeping, the past three years, and it’s just… I mean, someone has to do it. And we’re good at it." He tried not to squirm at the knowing look Hiro gave him. He was good at it, and he did enjoy that part, but there was more to it. Rei kept thinking of what Elena-sensei said, that people were all the same once you peeled the top off. He’d seen that, by now, over and over again. He still didn’t feel it, very often, didn’t feel part of it himself, but he’d seen it. And if everybody was really part of one thing… that was something important. He wanted to keep that safe.

It was a lot easier to explain the part about enjoying being good at it, though, so he ignored Hiro’s look and added, "Plus, the police get a lot of puzzles to solve, right?”

“To hear Nii-san talk about it, they sure do.” Hiro rested his chin in his hands, positively beaming at Rei. “So, judo club?”

Rei made a thoughtful sound. “I was actually considering boxing.”

Boxing?!” Hiro clapped a hand to his forehead as half the class looked around to see what the noise was about. “Boxing? How is my best friend such a barbarian?”

Rei laughed out loud. “Well, someone has to watch out for you, don’t they? I heard Tachikawa-san carrying on about how you don’t like to follow through when you have the advantage, at your last tournament.”

“Tachikawa-senpai has a big mouth,” Hiro grumbled, slumping further down in his seat.

Rei turned, propping his elbow on the back of his chair, to give Hiro a tilted smile. “As long as I’m around, you don’t need to worry about it.”

Hiro looked up to meet his eyes, level and steady. “Then, as long as I’m around, you don’t need to worry about forgetting your reason to do this. Deal?”

Even after years of knowing Hiro, it still came as a shock, sometimes, how far down Hiro saw—far past the smile that their classmates and teachers were satisfied with. Rei had to clear his throat before he could answer, and his voice still came out a little husky.


Rei pressed a careful G chord down against the fretboard of his rented guitar, and then had to shake his fingers out with a wince. “This is either going to hurt, or it’s going to take a while.”

“Hmm.” Hiro slowly picked out a C, E, and G, on his bass, and flexed his own hand a few times. “Buzzes! So, is ‘a while’ longer or shorter than two months?”

“Probably longer,” Rei admitted. “But the class is going to choose either a concert or a play. Do you really want Tanikawa-san sewing you into a costume for the cultural festival?”

Hiro made a face. “If it weren’t you saying that, I’d take my chances, but you haven’t been wrong on a pattern analysis yet.” He straightened his shoulders. “All right, let’s do this.”

They played the first couple measures together, slow and stumbling, and Rei had no doubt it would have made a professional wince. But he could hear, this time, how Hiro’s notes changed his. The two places they hit correctly together in the same time, the sound rang, so clean and right that it took his breath away. “Once more?” he said, quickly, when they finished. “I think we almost got it.”

“Yeah, we’re almost… hm. Hang on a sec.” Hiro came around to sit behind Rei, back pressed against his. “Try this.”

Rei leaned back against him, smiling. He liked that. “On one, two, three…”

They were still slow, but this time they were together all the way through. Rei felt Hiro’s sound before he heard it, in the shift of Hiro’s back against his, felt Hiro listening to him, and the two lines of music wrapped around each other like climbing vines. The harmony rang through his whole body, pure and true. Rei had to take a moment, when they ended to catch his breath.

“Wow.” Hiro’s voice was soft, and Rei could hear the smile in it. He leaned back a little harder against Hiro, feeling the matching smile pull at his mouth, despite the burn in his fingertips.


Rei appreciated that the Academy gave students their own rooms, he really did, but he also perked up at the first knock on the door of his new sliver of personal housing. Two guitars and some clothes really didn’t do much to give life to the place.

“Can I help…” Rei blinked a few times at the three people outside his door, which included Hiro (expected) and two other young men (not as expected). “Hiro?”

His friend readily interpreted Rei’s request for introductions and explanations. “Zero! These are Matsuda Junpei and Hagiwara Kenji. I thought I’d bring them by with me.” His smile was innocent, but Rei spotted the gleam in his eye and braced himself. “I think they might be almost as crazy as you, so I thought we’d all get along.”

Rei snorted. “Just because I know how to get the most out of a motorcycle,” he started, at the same moment the better groomed guy (Matsuda?) pulled himself up indignantly and said, “What do you mean ‘almost’?” The two of them stopped and each gave each other a longer look while Hiro smirked.

“So,” said Matsuda, eventually, lounging against the door frame and giving Rei a winning smile, “what’s this about a motorcycle?”

Rei gave in, laughing, and waved them all inside.

“All right, next run!” The Academy driving instructor flipped to the next page on his clipboard. “You’ll be paired up for this run, so you can practice taking the wheel in case your partner is incapacitated.” He started reading names off, gesturing each pair impatiently into line. Rei made a thoughtful sound, already considering how much the steering and hand-brake alone could control a car in motion.

Date elbowed Hiro, grinning, as the unassigned numbers shrank. “Bet you’re matched with Furuya again this time. No escape, Morofushi!”

“The hell you say,” Hiro muttered, rubbing his ribs. “I’m too young to die. Matsuda, you’ll switch with me, right?”

“Matsuda and Hagiwara!” the instructor snapped.

“Sorry, Morofushi.” Matsuda propped an elbow on a grinning Hagiwara’s shoulder.


Hiro clapped his hand over his eyes and made a small, pathetic sound. Rei rolled his eyes; he wasn’t that alarming behind the wheel.

“…and Date!”

Hiro sagged with relief. “Oh, thank you.”

“Hey.” Rei tried to sound indignant, and not like he was on the verge of laughing out loud at Hiro’s histrionics. Hiro winked as he let Date drag him toward the cars, and Rei shook his head, affectionate. Hiro was still better than he was at managing people, and had smoothed over any resentment Date might have felt toward Rei with an expert’s touch. “So, am I with you, for this run?” he asked the instructor, politely.

The man snorted. “I’ve watched you drive all day, Furuya. I know you can drive from the passenger seat, and I doubt you’d lose control, even if you were shot.” The distinctly teacher-ly gleam in his eye kept Rei from relaxing, which turned out to be wise of him. “So! We’re going to immobilize your arm, and you’ll get to prove it to me.”

Rei considered that, and smiled slowly. Sounded like a fun challenge.

All right, maybe Hiro had a little bit of a point about Rei and motor vehicles.

As time went on, they’d started getting more guest speakers, in the investigation classes, each bringing in details of a case they’d worked on for the students to try their hands at unraveling. It was usually interesting. Today’s guest, Kureha-san, had a different look to him, though, and Rei watched him narrowly as he pinned up evidence photos and explained the situation he’d found his team in.

“…arrived to find Sagami standing over Kakinoki with a gun. Kakinoki was shot high in the chest.” Kureha-san stepped back and leaned against the lectern, spreading a hand toward the class. “So. What should the officers have done?”

A rustle passed through the class as almost everyone looked at each other in confusion, obviously wondering if this was supposed to be a trick question. Rei tapped a quick search into his tablet.

“Well… grab Sagami first thing, right?” Kawashima ventured. “I mean, you secure anyone with a weapon first.”

“Render first aid to anyone who’s injured, until the ambulance arrives,” Ishige chipped in.

“Secure the scene and make sure no one leaves,” Miura added, nodding.

The last connection locked into place, in Rei’s mind, at those words, and his voice rang over the small sounds of agreement, hard and level. “No. Sagami has to get away with his escape.”

The entire class turned toward him, some startled, some outraged, some just curious. Kureha-san’s eyes narrowed as they met Rei’s. “Why’s that?”

“Kakinoki was the other half of their shell game. They used shipping containers from the same supplier.” Rei jerked his chin at the first row of photos. “Two of the photos you put up there have the labels swapped, between the two transport lines. Scheduled right, between the two of them, any given container could pass through all the freight check-points that were active that month without ever actually having been checked.”

Date straightened up, dubious expression turning sharp. “A smuggling operation. Guns?”

Rei shook his head and held up his tablet. “Wherever Sagami got his, it wasn’t directly from their shipments. The news photos of those new check-points show one of the inspectors holding some kind of sniffer. So probably drugs or chemical weapons.” He cocked a brow at Kureha-san, who smiled thinly.

“It was chemical weapons, yes.” He twirled his fingers in a little ‘keep going’ motion.

Date was frowning again. “Okay, I follow so far, but why not grab both of them while we had the chance, and roll up the whole operation?”

“Money.” Rei flicked his fingers at the timeline drawn on the whiteboard. “This investigation went on for months, which suggests this wasn’t a one-off thing. This was an ongoing operation, and neither Sagami nor Kakinoki had deep enough pockets to be the ones buying or selling that volume of weapons.”

Hiro leaned back in his chair beside Rei, whistling. “I see it. Whatever caused them to fall out so badly, one of the first things Sagami will want to do is contact their boss and make sure whoever that is hears his version first. So the priority, if we want whoever is really behind the smuggling, has to be letting Sagami think he got away clean while actually getting a tracker on him.”

Another rustle of agreement went around the room, this one subdued. Rei stifled a sigh, wondering if there was going to be another around of being frostily ignored during meals for being right too often. Hiro wasn’t tense or frowning, though; he was watching Date, who had his arms folded on the table in front of him and his head down. “The thing is, though,” Date finally said, stilling the rustle, “I don’t know if I could do it. If I saw someone shot right in front of me, I don’t know if I could think through all that right then and let the shooter go.”

Rei felt the words settle into his chest like a connection settling into his mind, solid and certain. If even Date couldn’t do it, then this—this exact thing—was why Rei was here. It wasn’t a feeling he’d ever had before, not back when Tanikawa had been maneuvering him into being the class peacekeeper, not when classmates had started coming to Rei and Hiro to solve problems, not even when he’d stood beside Hiro during the entrance ceremonies. The certainty of where he belonged and why was like solid ground under his feet, though, and he spoke out of that solidity, quiet and sure. “Don’t worry about it, then.” When Date looked up, startled. Rei met his eyes, steady with that certainty, and repeated. “Don’t worry about it.” Rei would take care of it.

After a long moment, slowly, Date nodded, accepting Rei’s unspoken promise.

“If that’s your instinct, it’s not a bad thing.” Tomoyuki-sensei stepped forward from where he’d been leaning against the wall for most of class, drawing everyone’s eyes. “That instinct is what will make you a good detective or patroller. We need that at least as much as we need analysts, to make a solid police force.” He smiled around, inviting them into the joke. “We need people who can be in the bomb squad, too, but just imagine what a whole force full of them would be like!”

The class laughed along, even Matsuda and Hagiwara, everyone settling back. When the class was dismissed, though, Hiro’s shoulder against Rei’s steered them out of the stream and toward their guest speaker. Kureha-san made an interested sound as he glanced back and forth between them. “Now, that could be useful. Have the two of you decided on a specialization, yet?”

Hiro gave the man an easy smile. “Didn’t we just do that?”

Rei glanced at Hiro, sidelong and rather rueful. Of course Hiro had seen Rei’s realization coming. “Sorry I made you wait.”

Hiro’s answering smile was far warmer than the one he’d aimed at their guest. “It’s okay. I figured it’d take a while.”

“If you’re sure now, then start looking at more public security courses,” Kureha-san directed, briskly. “You have the mindset, and there are a lot of ways we could use a team like you, if you can handle the work.”

They both murmured polite acceptance and excused themselves.

“So.” Rei tucked his hands into his pockets, as they made for their next class. “Do they want a field team or cross-division liaisons, do you think?”

Hiro’s grin showed his teeth, and he draped an arm over Rei’s shoulders. “They’re probably thinking the second, but I think we should make it both.”

Rei leaned into him with a smile, satisfied they were on the same page. “Deal.”

Rei waited for the soft clack of Hiro locking his apartment door behind them before finally giving in to the laugh that had been in the back of his throat ever since he’d walked out of the home base of a Red Siamese Cats copycat gang with evidence to convict in his pocket. He leaned back against the door, feeling a little dizzy with it, glee fizzing through him.

“It’s a good thing I do come with you, when you go out in the field,” Hiro chuckled. “You get more and more like this, the higher the stakes get.”

Rei stretched luxuriously, reaching his arms over his head, reveling in the lingering intensity of every sensation. “What can I say? I like knowing I’ve got them.” He let Hiro steer him away from the door and over to the couch and bounced down onto it, grinning up at Hiro’s snort of amusement. He took one of the two beers Hiro fished out of his fridge and settled comfortably against Hiro’s side when he joined Rei on the couch.

“I’ll never need to get a cat while you’re around.” Hiro’s fingers ruffled through his hair, and Rei leaned into them, laughing. He tool a long swallow of his beer and let a slow breath out, starting to relax from the sharp edge of a successful job, here in the security of Hiro’s presence.

Every job he came back from reminded him of how much sanity he owed to their friendship. He didn’t know quite what he’d have been, without it.

See you later, Zero.

The breath stopped in Rei’s throat, and the sounds of the night fell away, and the world fractured around him, broken apart like the drops of blood blown out from Hiro’s chest. The only thoughts that connected together any more were Rye and Kill him.

They were the only ones that made sense, bone deep, for a long time after.


Rei stood on edge of the building overlooking the roof where Hiro had died, hands closed tight around the safety rail, and let the memories come. Let himself remember the weight of Hiro’s arm over his shoulders; the endless warmth of his real smile, so much brighter than the one he put in front of his thoughts to keep them to himself; the bedrock steadiness of Hiro standing beside him, and the easy comfort of leaning against him. Rei swiped a hand across his face to wipe away the tears, and muttered into his palm, “I loved you, you idiot.” He could almost feel Hiro’s fingers ruffling his hair. I know, Zero. A laugh tangled together with the tears, and Rei put his head down on his folded arms and let both things shake him apart.

It took a while before he could get words out again, but finally he stood upright and looked up at the underlit night sky. “Goodbye, Hiro,” he said softly. It was the first time he’d actually spoken the words, and they hurt. But he wasn’t as afraid as he had been of falling down somewhere dangerous if he admitted the reality of them.

He also wasn’t particularly surprised to feel body-heat at his back and arms folding lightly around him. He’d known Shuuichi was following him, tonight. He leaned back into Shuuichi’s solid warmth with a sigh, and his breath only hitched a little bit when Shuuichi’s arms tightened, gathering him close. “It isn’t that I don’t want this.” Rei lifted a hand to wrap around Shuuichi’s forearm. “It’s just, for so long, it was him.”

“And so you look for him,” Shuuichi said, quietly, against his ear, “but it isn’t him you see, and for just a second it’s a shock.”

Rei stirred against him, glancing back, and caught Shuuichi’s tilted smile.

“The look in your eyes, right after you’ve made a decision you don’t like. It’s very much like hers.” He tucked Rei a little closer against him and asked, softly, “Was it only ever him?”

“Pretty much,” Rei admitted, looking up at the sky again so he wouldn’t look at the roof across the street by accident. “Hiro was the only one who could keep up with me, right from the start.” The corner of his mouth twitched up. “And he was always better at people. I saw more, but he was the one who could use what he saw to move people the way he wanted. Usually without them even noticing.”

“I remember some of that,” Shuuichi murmured, and then added in a curious tone, “Even you?”

Rei laughed, remembering their first year of knowing each other. “I noticed, but I could also see he was doing it to look after me. I usually went along with it.”

“Ah.” Shuuichi’s voice turned serious and soft, against his ear. “Then I promise both of you. I’ll look after my partner.”

Rei’s breath caught and stopped for a long moment, because that was why he’d finally been willing to try to say goodbye, yes, but he still hadn’t thought to hear Shuuichi actually say it out loud. When he finally managed to inhale again, it was unsteady, and his grip on Shuuichi’s arm was probably leaving bruises. “Shuuichi…”

“Shhh. I’ve got you, Rei.”

Rei leaned back against him, laughing low and on the edge of tears again. After more than three years of feeling like he was hanging on to his balance with his fingernails, there was a shoulder against his again, human warmth beside him again, a connection to what he protected again. “Yeah,” he agreed, husky. “Okay.”

They stood quietly together, and Rei slowly relaxed against the warmth of Shuuichi’s body, letting it sink in to his senses. This was his. When he finally calmed enough to snuggle back against Shuuichi, Shuuichi made an entirely approving sound, folding him in a little closer. Rei found himself smiling again, because as much as Shuuichi had decided to take care of Rei, Rei seemed to have found another person that he enjoyed keeping content.

Of course, there was one significant difference in what Shuuichi was willing to do to take care of Rei, which he was reminded of when Shuuichi turned his head and closed his mouth softly on the shell of Rei’s ear, shockingly hot in the cool night air. “Shuuichi!”

“Mmm?” Shuuichi sounded quite innocently inquiring while his mouth slid down, tongue stroking delicately along Rei’s ear. Rei gasped, his whole body pulling taut with the rush of soft, wet sensation as Shuuichi sucked on his earlobe. He couldn’t help a breathless laugh, though. Maybe Hiro had never been his lover, but Rei knew perfectly well Hiro would have approved of Shuuichi’s teasing.

“All right, yes,” he agreed, husky. “But in a bedroom, not on a roof!”

As soon as Rei tossed the last of his clothes over a chair, Shuuichi pulled Rei back against his chest and wrapped around him again. Rei’s smile tilted, rueful. He supposed he could have predicted that being so wrung out would set off Shuuichi’s protective streak. With the memory of his last partner fresh in his mind, he lifted his arms and reached back to run his hands over Shuuichi’s shoulders. Shuuichi’s hands spread wider, over his chest and stomach, and Rei rested his head back on Shuuichi’s shoulder, relaxing into his hold. Shuuichi’s quick, hard inhale made him smile. Hiro had liked knowing he had Rei’s trust, too.

“You’re also pretty good at getting people to do what you want, you know,” Shuuichi murmured against the arch of Rei’s throat.

Rei laughed, husky. “Yeah? Take me to bed, then.”

“Certainly.” Shuuichi pressed a kiss to his throat, hands stroking down his body to settle on his hips. “Shower first?”

Rei’s smile softened, memories of horseplay or just quiet talks with Hiro coming easier now. “All right.”

They stayed close, under the hot spray, trading the soap back and forth. Rei made small, pleased sounds as Shuuichi’s hands slid over his back, down his arms, enjoying the simple touch. He flushed a little, though, when Shuuichi knelt to run soapy hands slowly down Rei’s legs. “Shuuichi?”

Shuuichi looked up at him, eyes dark and steady, one hand resting on Rei’s knee. “Is it all right?”

A new connection suddenly drew itself, clear and solid, in Rei’s mind, one that Hiro would have seen weeks ago and probably been laughing at Rei’s obliviousness to. Akai Shuuichi had a strong tendency to protect, yes, but he held what he protected at arm’s length. Unless the one he protected could hold their own, could be a partner. Then, it seemed, he wanted that one very close indeed. “Yes,” Rei answered, a little husky. “It’s all right.” When Shuuichi stood and gathered him close, Rei let him, sliding his hands up Shuuichi’s arms to his shoulders.

That turned out to be a very good move, because Shuuichi promptly stroked a soap-slick hand down his back and slid his fingers between Rei’s cheeks, working them slowly against him. Rei’s knees unstrung a little at how good it felt, so intimate and deliberate. “Shuuichi…”

Shuuichi’s arm tightened around him, and he murmured against Rei’s ear, slick fingers still fondling Rei’s entrance. “I’ve got you.”

Rei moaned against his shoulder, unable to dispute that right at this moment. He let Shuuichi take more of his weight as Shuuichi’s fingers drew firm circles against his entrance, fingertips just pushing in before easing back. The slow surge of sensation left him panting for breath, knees shaky. Just when he thought the hot, heavy pleasure of it was going to undo him completely, Shuuichi’s hand stroked slowly back up his spine, and Shuuichi held him close until the tautness eased back out of his body.

“You feel like teasing tonight, hm?” Rei finally managed, breathless.

“Not teasing.” Rei scoffed at that, and felt Shuuichi’s silent chuckle. “Just taking it slowly.”

“I think that’s what most people call teasing,” Rei said, dryly. A smile curved his lips, though, and he leaned against Shuuichi, content to stay there, until the water started running cool.

Back in the bedroom, Rei only stepped away long enough to strip back the blankets before he turned to reach for Shuuichi. “Bed,” he demanded, husky, pulling Shuuichi down after him as he stretched out against the sheets. Shuuichi followed him obligingly, and Rei made a satisfied sound, winding his arms around Shuuichi and hooking a leg around his for good measure. Shuuichi laughed, quietly. “I’m right here.”

“Good.” Rei kissed him, slow and hot, and purred when Shuuichi kissed back with just as much concentration. The tingle of want running through him didn’t fade, but the solid weight of Shuuichi’s body against his, the feel of hard muscle under his palms, the care in Shuuichi’s hands as they curved around Rei’s ribs relaxed him again. When Shuuichi kissed down his throat, Rei tipped his head back with a soft sound of pleasure.

“Mmm, there we go.” The open satisfaction in Shuuichi’s voice made Rei laugh. Shuuichi leaned up on an elbow to smile down at him. “Turn over for me?”

The heat that had settled low in Rei’s stomach curled abruptly tighter, because now he thought he knew where this was going. His voice was husky when he answered, “Yeah, all right.”

Of course, once he’d turned and stretched out on his stomach, the first thing Shuuichi did was knead gentle hands over his shoulders and back until Rei unwound against the sheets, heat soothed back down to a whisper along his nerves. When Shuuichi pressed an open-mouthed kiss to his nape, the shiver that ran through Rei was soft. Feeling the heat of Shuuichi’s mouth moving down his spine, though, Rei knew he’d been right about what Shuuichi planned, this evening. When Shuuichi’s thumbs spread Rei open, it was anticipation that made his breath catch.

The soft, wet heat of Shuuichi’s tongue against his entrance was still a shock through his senses, and Rei moaned with it. The touch was so intimate that it unstrung Rei even as he pushed back into the softness of it. Shuuichi moved with him, hands curving around Rei’s hips to support him, until Rei had pushed all the way back onto his knees, and those soft, lapping strokes just kept going. “Shuuichi,” Rei moaned into the sheets.

“Shh. I have you, my own.”

A shudder rolled through Rei at the feel of Shuuichi’s breath over wet, exposed skin, but it was what Shuuichi said that pulled a breathless sound out of him. He’d heard echos of it before in the tiny silence before Shuuichi said his name, but Shuuichi had been careful, until now, not to lay any claim on Rei. Until now. Until he was sure of Rei’s acceptance, and that care shook him deeper than the rush of sensation as the tip of Shuuichi’s tongue circled slowly against his entrance. It was Shuuichi’s words he was answering when he gasped, “Yes.

When Shuuichi’s hands tightened hard on his hips, he knew Shuuichi understood.

Rei moaned, low and open, as Shuuichi’s tongue stroked his entrance, slowly, steadily. The heat and softness stroked down his nerves until he was panting for breath, fingers wound tight in the sheets. It was good, so good, but he was going a little crazy with how slowly the pleasure was building. When Shuuichi’s tongue pressed, just a little, into him, and Shuuichi’s hands held him still through his reflex push back to meet it, it was finally too much. “Shuuichi, please…”

“Of course.” Shuuichi pressed a soft kiss to the base of his spine, easing Rei back down to the bed and curling around him. It felt so good, the solidity of him after all that slow, soft sensation; Rei snuggled back against him. Shuuichi chuckled against his shoulder, reaching over him for the pump bottle tucked into the headboard of the bed. “Do you want me to open you up?”

“No,” Rei said firmly, “I want you to fuck me right now.”

“Thought you might.” Shuuichi slid a hand up Rei’s thigh, sliding his knee up until Rei was spread out, half on his stomach. Rei made a pleased sound as Shuuichi’s leg slid up behind his; that was what he wanted, to have Shuuichi as close as possible, pressed up against every inch of him. He relaxed more as Shuuichi’s arms wrapped around him and moaned, soft and open, at the blunt thickness of Shuuichi’s cock pushing into him, stretching his muscles hard. “Mmm, yes, like that.”

Shuuichi’s mouth curved, against his shoulder, and his voice was low and rough. “I couldn’t agree more.” He rocked back and pushed in deeper. Pressed this close together, Rei could hear the breathless sound Shuuichi made, the assurance that Shuuichi was with him in the rush of pleasure. When Shuuichi’s hand wrapped around Rei’s cock, long fingers still slick, Rei groaned out loud. “Yes.”

“You’re so beautiful like this,” Shuuichi said against his ear, soft and intimate enough to make Rei shudder. “So brilliant when you let yourself go. I love knowing you’ll let go for me.”

Rei laughed, breathless with the heavy heat running through him, the slow, hard rock of their bodies together, the knowledge that his lover wanted all of him. “All yours,” he promised, and gasped as Shuuichi’s hand tightened on him, urgent.

“Yes, my own.” He stroked Rei hard, and the slow heat finally broke into a burst of pleasure that raked through Rei, sweet and wild. The way Shuuichi groaned against his shoulder, grinding deep into him, wrung another burst through him, and he moaned out loud, shuddering.

They came down together, unwinding against each other in the late-night quiet. After a few minutes, Shuuichi stirred against Rei’s back and murmured, “I thought you were lovers. You and Morofushi.”

The connection snapped into place immediately, and Rei huffed softly against the sheets. “So when I was fine with sex but tense about being held…”

Shuuichi laughed, soft and rueful. “Having your own emotions involved always does degrade accuracy.”

Rei turned onto his back and smiled up at him, wry and crooked, lifting a hand to ruffle his fingers through the sleekness of Shuuichi’s hair. “I trust you with all of me,” he said, very softly, and felt the catch of Shuuichi’s breath against his chest.

Shuuichi leaned down to press their foreheads together, hand sliding up to cup Rei’s cheek. “That you match me, on every level, is why I don’t think I could ever leave you.”

The assurance settled into Rei’s chest, warm and solid and exactly what he needed to know; his breath shook a little with it. “There, you see,” he said, husky. “We do know each other.”

Shuuichi smiled for him, small and soft. “Yes.”

They lay twined together, quietly, for a long time.


Last Modified: Jul 06, 20
Posted: Feb 05, 19
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