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Gensai Riku

Scepter 4 Right Hand

0 · 435 views · located in Tokyo, Japan

a character in “K Project; Fall Of The Grey King”, as played by CabbageAngel

Description

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Gensai Riku

Nickname(s)
Age
Gender
Clan
Role
Ethnicity
Birth Date
Sexuality
β™’| The Knight of Scepter 4, Genpsycho
β™’| Twenty-two
β™’| Male
β™’| Scepter 4
β™’| Right Hand
β™’| Japanese
β™’| November 23
β™’| JUSTICE! I mean homosexual.

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Riku is the rightly named Knight of Scepter 4, the Right Hand and best friend of the King idol king Tanabata Emi. He is also known as Genpsycho by most if not all of his subordinates because despite of his fairytale prince appearance he has an intense, somewhat ridiculous personality and he's a monster of a trainer. He's entirely devoted to his job and JUSTICE and strives to maintain order and like any other good Blue Clan member, despises HOMRA and <JUNGLE>.

POWERγ€Œβ–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹γ€XXAGILITYγ€Œβ–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹γ€XXCHARISMAγ€Œβ–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹γ€
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Riku is an idol. Or at least that's what people mistake him to be. He definitely presents himself that way. With violet eyes, dark blue hair that he keeps impeccably styled (constantly managed by the small comb in his front pocket), a pale and smooth complexion and standing at 6'2'' with the perfect body, he's the image of a high school girl's fantasy and just as well, his morning routine has paid off. His posture is straight and rigid with his head held up proudly and hand always ready on the hilt of his sword, making him look always alert and attentive. His nails are perfectly filed and he will unashamedly admit that chapstick, concealer and hairspray are a vital part of his routine - no, as a part of any soldier's routine! He never smiles, looking duteous is just his natural expression.

He practically lives in the Scepter 4 uniform and it's always super clean and devoid of wrinkles. If you get a mess on it or ruin it in any way I hope you've already written your will. He
wears red rimmed glasses and won't switch to contacts because he feels glasses make him look more respectable.
ARTγ€Œβ–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹γ€XXINTELLIGENCEγ€Œβ–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹γ€XXBEAUTYγ€Œβ–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹β–‹γ€
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Loves:
    JUSTICE! | "JUSTICE!"
    Any sort of work or task | "Whatever I can do to support our cause will always be an enjoyable task."
    Perfection | "Making something lacking in quality won't do the materials used justice."
    Jupiter Steve | "Jupiter was my first love. I completely idolised him as a child. Of course when I heard he was getting his own show based off the spin-off manga series I got excited. Without him, I never would have aspired to be the protector of the innocent I am today!"
    Ken | "Of course. If I wasn't devoted to my boyfriend, how could I be trusted to remain dedicated to protecting humanity?"

Hates:
    Injustices, big and small | "People who resort to illegal means should be punished, of course." "A stray? All animals should have a home! That's JUSTICE!"
    The sound of people chewing | "I apologise for disturbing your meal, but if you must continue eating may I request that you remove yourself from this area?"
    His personal life coming to work | "M-M-Mum, Ran-chan! Wh-What are you doing here?!"
    Being babied | "D-Don't... stroke me that way, it's disrespectful... I SAID CEASE IT!" *flips the table*
    People messing up his hair or uniform | "... Of course you must realise this makes it personal, yes?"
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▐ Hero of Justice
Riku is the sort of person who uses justice as a motivation for everything he does, and he so strongly believes in his motivation that everything he does turns out perfect... or, the thing's he's good at anyway. He's humble in the way that he doesn't believe he's showing off, he's just using everything he has to promote justice and anyone else could do the same if they tried hard enough. This mentality is applicable in all aspects of his life, for example...

*painting* "It is the fate of all canvases to be painted, of course. How unfair is it that the destiny of this pure canvas is shaped by the one who wields the brush. I will use all of the artistic ability within me to do this canvas JUSTICE!" *proceeds to speed paint an incredibly detailed Renaissance-style portrait of Emi dressed as a Greek goddess holding golden scales*

*cooking* "Every year, billions of cows die to be overcooked in a mediocre stew. But that won't be you, my fleshy victim of human hunger. I will use all of my culinary experience to turn you into the tender masterpiece that you deserve! I give you JUSTICE!" *proceeds to speed cook the most delicious meal you've ever tasted*

*movie night* "It is a shame that this film has had so much hard work put into it only to have potential audiences warded away by reviews of those who watched it with a critical mind. It's decided! We must watch this film without expectations of greatness to honor the work of those who slaved over it and deliver them JUSTICE!" *proceeds to intently watch B-grade horror movies while everyone else is asleep or just can't bare to stick around*

Yeah... so it isn't always good things that come from this mentality. He may be absolutely gorgeous to look at but once this intense side of his personality is revealed it tends to make people go "Oh, OK. *scoots away*"


▐ Strict
Your best effort is the only effort! He's a super strict trainer but he believes to lead by example, so any punishment he gives them he takes as well, such as running fifty laps around the grounds. He also has a set of "house rules" and if he catches you breaking any of them... I pity you. He's very rigid and sticks to rules and regulations and respects them wholeheartedly. The only time he would break a rule or go against the command of his King would be if it went against his moral code.

▐ Humorless
Despite his flamboyant actions and sometimes outrageous things he says, he does it all with a completely serious attitude and straight face. Also he has little to no sense of humor and won't pick up on any of the following: jokes, wit, sarcasm, irony and flirtatious banter. The only thing that people know of that makes him smile is Emi's presence. When they're together he seems to do a complete personality switch. There are two things that makes him laugh - reminiscing about the past with Emi, and one other thing that only Ken and Emi know... and Ken will never tell anyone and hates that Emi knows it too (he's a little bit... possessive, that way). If you figure it out I'll be so happy I really want to write his manly giggle. It might inspire a little bit of blood lust in Ken though.

▐ Workaholic
If that wasn't already obvious. Sometimes he sleeps at Scepter 4 HQ or lately even collapses outside of his apartment door. He's been getting nearly no sleep since the Grey King's death and it's obvious to those who are closest to him that he's pushing himself way too hard.

▐ Sensitive
He's the sulking cold-shoulder type.
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ImageIf you came here expecting tragedy... I already have an energy draining character and I'm not prepared to have two tearing up my heart. Riku's father, Gensai Hiroshi, has been a member of Scepter 4 for as long as Riku can remember and was often away working, but sometimes would take Riku with him at the child's request. He saw the work they were doing and wanted to be just like his dad and couldn't understand why Scepter 4 were disliked by his peers. As far as he was concerned they were real heroes.

Because his dad was such a workaholic (a trait that he inherited) he was away a lot, leaving Riku alone with his mother (Gensai Kaori) and three little sisters (Reika, Ran and Ruriko). He became the "man of the house" and worked very hard to look after and protect his mum and sisters, something that helped build the selflessly devoted man you see today. Also comics and cartoons influenced him into hero work (Jupiter Steve!!!! <3) but that's less admirable. He joined Scepter 4 when he was fourteen and his family have always supported him and are very proud of how much hard work he put in to find himself the King's Right Hand man. His twelve year old sister Ruriko wants to join too, but Riku feels uncomfortable about that.

He met his boyfriend, Fujiwara Ken, at a convention. Ken was a game developer at one of the panels and organised to meet up with Ruki because apparently he was working on a top secret Jupiter Steve video game. That was a complete lie and just a ruse to get Ruki to go on a date with him (Ruki didn't find the fact that Ken had organised the meeting at an aquarium suspicious and only when Ken held his hand while they were walking beneath the shark exhibition did he - no, I'm getting that wrong, he still didn't recognize it as a date and just assumed that Ken was afraid of sharks so he squeezed his hand a little tighter and gave a speech about sharks never getting justice). They've been official for about two and a half years now and have been living together for about three months. Ken has been furiously working behind the scenes during that time to get the Jupiter Steve game green lighted by his employees on account of his guilty conscience.

((Quick personality summary: Ken is laid-back guy who finds himself acting as Riku's caretaker, as though Riku may seem amazing on paper Ken knows that he overworks himself and is a useless with a bunch of things that aren't his job. He's a bit of the jealous type and can be overprotective (Riku attracts too much attention with his face and also is too busy protecting his city to watch his own safety) and Riku doesn't like that because he feels like he's being babied by him. He hates Emi because she has the childhood friend + shared tragedy bonus and feels like he's third wheeling whenever he and Riku spend time together, but he won't say anything to Riku about because the last time he mentioned his dislike for Emi, Riku sulked for an entire fortnight. Usually though, they get along - Ken helps Riku lighten up, and Riku helps Ken get off his ass.))

Gensai Hiroshi is currently being presented as 'King' to the public for Emi as he's an older and well respected member of the clan. Riku is overjoyed that he's been chosen by Emi as her Right Hand but would not want to be promoted any higher because he feels more comfortable following rather than leading. The murders that recently started happening have hit him hard and he has been overworking himself tirelessly to find the culprit, despite his family, king and Ken telling him to slow down.


Now, onto his history with Emi. Five years older than her, he met her and her twin sister Aimi when they couldn't even crawl and used to looking after his two little sisters (at the time - Ruriko was still on the way), he practically adopted them. From that point on, they were inseparable. They would hold hands everywhere they went and the grown ups would joke that their relationship would become more complicated when they were older and their dads placed bets on who would marry who. With Emi and Aimi both harvesting childish crushes on the boy (one crushing way, way harder than the other), Riku innocently promised to marry the both of them and told each of them to keep it a secret from the other. Aimi of course bragged to her sister and Emi revealed that she had gotten the promise too, and... that didn't go over well with Aimi.

Riku never thought too much of it. When Emi was scouted (the talent scouts took one look at Riku's face and tried to get him to join a boyband but Riku didn't have time for music, only justice!) Riku put her up on a pedestal and worshipped the air she breathed but Emi kept telling him that being a "princess" was nothing compared to being a knight, all while Aimi seethed alone in the corner.

On the day Emi's father was murdered, Riku was riding his bike to her house to welcome her back home and give her and her sister their birthday/christmas presents. Instead of Emi leaping into his arms and telling him she missed him, he was greeted to a locked door and his princess on the other side screaming for help. He immediately went to the neighbours and called Scepter 4 before running back to the house and breaking in by climbing to the second window and breaking a window and getting pretty beat up in the process. Inside he found Emi crying, trapped in her bedroom with a bookshelf blocking the door from opening. He stayed by her side and covered her ears with his bloody hands to block out the sounds of Aimi hacking at the door. They remained like this until Scepter 4 arrived. That was the moment that Riku pledged that he, as a knight, would protect his princess.

That was the turning point for Riku's character. After that experience, he became the workaholic that he is today and strived even harder to be a hero of justice. He needs to ensure that next time, instead of just saving one, he will save all of the victims.

Dammit I said there was going to be no tragedy.

So begins...

Gensai Riku's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ikeda Miu Character Portrait: Nakano Yuka Character Portrait: Sachiko Yano Character Portrait: Arata Utagawa Character Portrait: Kita Tooru Character Portrait: Alastair Payne Character Portrait: Cyneric Ozu Character Portrait: Maeda Katsuo Character Portrait: Hirai Nakazo Character Portrait: Shizuka Hibiki Character Portrait: Daisuke O'Connor Character Portrait: Mira Saromi Character Portrait: Ketsuraku Kazuki Character Portrait: Sora Arakida Character Portrait: Nao Morizakawa Character Portrait: Naoko Ita Character Portrait: Tanabata Emi Character Portrait: Gensai Riku Character Portrait: Yukimura Hisako

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#, as written by Elision
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5:45 AM | October 1st | Greater Tokyo Area

As the sun rose over Shizume city and the rest of Tokyo, the city had begun to wake up from it's slumber. It's residents, getting ready to begin their daily grind through their 9 to 5 jobs. Some already there, having stayed the night struggling to finish the heavy workload assigned to them. Others, of less orthodox professions, mucking around in the streets or on their way to school. However, for those who have managed become intertwined with the seven Kings residing in the city, the day had a more solemn meaning.

Marking exactly two weeks after the death of the former peacekeeper, a small ceremony was to be held to honor the dead King before his burial. Though few would be in attendance, too busy fighting among each other as to who the culprit of his, and other recent deaths was.

However, while they may be able to determine how their days will go, the security of their future is no longer certain. What may seem like an irrelevant decision at the moment, could very well mean whether or not more blood is spilled.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Ikeda Miu Character Portrait: Nakano Yuka Character Portrait: Sachiko Yano Character Portrait: Arata Utagawa Character Portrait: Kita Tooru Character Portrait: Alastair Payne Character Portrait: Cyneric Ozu Character Portrait: Maeda Katsuo Character Portrait: Hirai Nakazo Character Portrait: Shizuka Hibiki Character Portrait: Daisuke O'Connor Character Portrait: Mira Saromi Character Portrait: Ketsuraku Kazuki Character Portrait: Sora Arakida Character Portrait: Nao Morizakawa Character Portrait: Naoko Ita Character Portrait: Tanabata Emi Character Portrait: Gensai Riku

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WARNING: VERY LONG POST AHEAD.


Before the arrival of dawn, three small green stars were becoming one with Hibiki's ceiling. Their edges were rough and scraped at by the longest nail she possessed (on her right index finger, saved from her nibbling teeth by the unconscious desire to have something to scratch with), but they had been there too long to easily peel off the way they once might have. Her parody of a starry sky was as much of a spectacle as the true skies of Tokyo at midnight, a time Hibiki once thought was when the city went to sleep and the stars quietly arranged themselves into fantastic stories that you could read if you stayed in the dark. The slightest flicker of a light could send stars scattering. A light told them that children who should be sleeping were awake and watching.

But the city did not sleep then and the lights warded away the stars until the only ones that remained were the three she was glaring at on her ceiling. They weren't the brightest, having their own light pollution to battle with in the form of flashing monitors and screens, but she was too indifferent to properly remove them so they were OK by her. Now that Hibiki was older she knew when the city really slept. It slept in the earliest hours of the morning when the sun was not yet up and the stars had all gone away. This was the time that Hibiki always woke.

On that freakishly early morning, she found herself sprawled out on the floor in a position that was obvious to anyone she hadn't meant to fall asleep in, with her shirt flipped up and revealing her stomach and her legs tangled in electrical cords. Her one exposed eye looked dead, dragged down by the dark bags beneath it, and it stared lifelessly up at the stars which reflected in her brilliantly red iris. Hibiki peeled from the carpet as one would remove themselves from a cobweb: picking off things she didn't want to touch while making faces. Her long sheet of hair was the most reluctant piece of her to get off the ground before she wound it around her hand and yanked, breaking it free of its mango iced tea puddle prison. Several wispy green casualties were left behind but would not be missed. She crouched in her over sized shirt and boxers until something turned on in her brain and she stood up – or, as up as her spine allowed her to. She scanned the room once for anything on her security footage, her eyes lingering a little too long on her beckoning laptop, then navigated over the empty food packets, video games that focused on male bonding, a build-your-own-robot kit and lots and lots of unsorted laundry. She opened the door and stepped out to be swallowed by complete darkness, but the trip had been made so many times before that she didn't need the light to oh wait nevermind. As always she forgot how big she was ever since that sudden growth spurt and clipped her little toe on the dresser. A stack of letters slid sideways off the cupboard and something that was not her squeaked and buried itself in sawdust. Hibiki muttered an apology through her pain for disturbing her pet and dropped to the ground, felt around for the letters that fell, stacked them back up and carefully (or, as carefully as she could do anything) put them in the top draw of the dresser. She mentally flipped a switch as she hobbled through the corridor on her way to the kitchen and suddenly the apartment was lit up in harsh fluorescent lighting. Vision didn't make her any less of a lumbering zombie and now she could see how gross she looked by squinting at her disgruntled reflection in the kitchen window. A cup of cold water to the face and swirling around in her empty belly made her feel queasy but woke her to some extent and her first fully comprehensible thought of the day formed, Time?

4: 17

She moved quickly now. In the main room, she pulled out her exercise mat. Her long toes clasped the edge of it like a balancing act as she tied her hair up in the usual high ponytail with the lackey around her wrist. When done she couldn't help but deliver a swift and powerful roundhouse kick to the pink punching bag hanging beside her to just remind it of who was the boss. It left an indent and the bag swung back and forth and creaked in surrender. Satisfied, she curled down and touched the ground (just managing to, her knees could never seem to straighten) to begin her morning stretches.

4:38

Hibiki's purple hood hid her matted, mango-scented hair and headphones beneath it. Her shoulders and spirit sagged when she caught a glimpse at her sickly, boyish features in the mirror, which she zipped up her red turtleneck to hide. The next ten minutes were spent bustling around collecting yen like it was a scavenger hunt mini game. Before leaving the apartment she went to swipe an easy access packet of bubblegum from the top of a kitchen cabinet when she stopped. Her hand was caught in an invisible trap between the gum and a half empty packet of cigarettes. It was only for a second, a moment that she barely picked up on herself, that her hand swayed between the two options before snatching one up and stuffing it in her pocket with such vigor it was as though she never faltered. At the door she breathed. On the other side of the door she took out her keys and locked each padlock methodically. Outside the apartment complex, she pressed play on an upbeat track (I know I know I'm lame) of a band she favoured, yanked her hood down further and began to jog.

Her neck started cramping as she jogged through the inner city and it wasn't because she spent all that time craning over a computer screen, but good guess. The skyscrapers were too flashy in the way they reflected everything below and around them that it would be a crime to not look up at them as you ran by, a crime that Hibiki drew the line at. They would probably look better with the sun shining off of them but this was the only time that Hibiki could move through this area so leisurely. Any later and this place would be full of people and moving among them would not suit her... requirements. She jogged on the spot when she caught a glimpse of Mihashira Tower, the skyscraper that served as Timeless Palace HQ, staring at its top floor distractedly through her bangs until her own urgency spurred her forward. Even with the streets devoid of activity – well, apart from the lazy cars, pigeons, occasional person who looked like they didn't want to be seen just as she much as her and food businesses preparing for opening hours – the place still felt dangerous when lingered in for too long, almost as though someone was watching her. As she left Timeless Palace behind her, her long lost cat Suzu slunk away to say good morning to her true master.

Right around the corner from the HQ of Scepter 4, Hibiki inserted yen into a vending machine and crouched down to retrieve the breakfast it dropped for her. She poked the straw into the box and began slurping the weird liquid cereal stuff as she trotted backwards all the way to the tall black gates of the formal looking mansion. Finding humor in the thought that the Blue Clan were so desperately looking for her yet had no idea that she practically paid them a visit every day (buying from vending machines was so much less stressful than shops and shops weren't open when she was hungry this early, anyway), a smug, almost villainous smile formed around the straw between her lips. She turned her back on the building, wiggled her hips, stretched out her back and yawned then glanced over her shoulder with a look that said, β€œAnd what are you going to do about it?”, an expression hidden from security cameras by her hood. She swiftly finished her drink and disposed of her rubbish in the bin provided then did some proper stretching to warm up again before jogging away.

Her own territory felt the most comfortable for her yet was the most miserable. It was so pitiful and small and it was obvious why her members were yearning after HOMRA's territory, with it being so alive and spacious and not too uptown like Scepter 4 and Timeless Palace. The territory looked more appealing than her own because of how the Red King took care of it and cared for it... unlike her... but while she had no attachment to her territory as such (her true territory was the internet, after all), she felt a strong duty to her people... despite being happy to go her entire life without exchanging a single word with them... her personal issues had nothing to do with her loyalty, I'm sure.

<JUNGLE> had the highest number of members out of the clans. Their members weren't restricted to their shabby territory, they were scattered throughout Tokyo Metropolis with other jobs and lives apart from the clan. Members could choose to remain anonymous, with their true identities and residences documented by the king. They would be known to others in the clan by their online names only so they could support the group without having the pressure of Scepter 4 shaking disapproving fists at their backs. While that was once the norm, these people were now not so lovingly referred to by higher ranked members as β€œShrubs”. You see, once upon a time, the entire group were completely anonymous and wore helmets to cover their identities when representing themselves publicly. It was during the fifty years of peace that the security focused on identity was lessened and the higher ranked, more involved members of the clan felt comfortable letting their faces and names be known. Ryuu claimed this more relaxed attitude was a good thing, as proper trust began forming amongst their ranks and with the other clans. Maybe it was good. But now Hibiki was king, and she was everything Ryuu was not, and while she had proven herself worthy of the title she had no means to prove a shrub like herself was worthy of their respect. The more she thought about the problems she had before all of these murders started made a hidden piece of her stress what the heck Ryuu was thinking, appointing someone with as much social awareness as her king. Ugh, Ryuu was so good at hyping them up to believe their bonds were more important than their brains (something that Hibiki definitely did not believe in but knew was a thing she had to fake). She wished he would hurry up and get back from the Bahamas or whatever place she'd rather be that was pictured on the last postcard he sent her.

And oh God, she still had to tell him about Naomi.

She took a quick break to check out the nightclub she "managed" while she was passing by. The Jungle looked so unimpressive in the grey light with its flashing neon signs turned off and she could tell that new graffiti had been added to its ink collection. It definitely didn't look like the ideal place to set up HQ, that was for sure, but Ryuu felt that they needed a physical hang out to regain that social interaction that kids these days were missing out on and hey, sex and alcohol are what they're into, right? The girl could even smell urine coming from the alley that led to the back entrance. Her face darkened upon remembering that's where she had to go in the evening to meet up with her new Right Hand, Hirai Nakazo. This would mark her second meeting with the man and she couldn't say that she didn't dread it.

Not passing through HOMRA's territory to the grocery store that opened at seven thirty sharp would be a disruption to routine.

At the end of her sprint she halted so suddenly that she buckled and had to clutch her knees for support. She was unused to pushing herself so hard in that last stretch. Her clothes trapped her body heat and made her more uncomfortable than she should have been after her run but she would never remove an item of clothing in public. Her heart was beating fast and there was an awful pressure against her temples, not from the exercise but from something else. Passing by the unassuming bed and breakfast that served as HOMRA HQ had become harder for her as of late. She looked up in time to see the sign switch from closed to open.


*


*


*


She wasn't planning to be here. She didn't owe the Grey King anything. Why did she come here instead of home? She approached the funeral home so hesitantly that anyone watching might have thought she was attending hers.

But she didn't attend. She ducked around the back and when she reached a bench she lurched. The wind took the long hair that protruded from her hood hostage and whipped her face with it like a spiteful poltergeist. It was quiet here, or, much quieter now that her music was no longer assaulting her poor eardrums. She could still hear the sounds of the city, which was now very much awake. This was the time that Hibiki would be sleeping, but at least there was nobody here - not near her, just... surrounding her... and through that wall. Walls weren't as solid to her as they were to others. How she was going to wade home through that ocean of noise and humanity was beyond her, but sitting here in the shadows made the problem seem almost OK.

Almost.

She took a lighter from one of the two plastic bags she held then dropped them on her bench to leave both hands free to light a cigarette. It took a dozen tries for her slightly too large hands to flip the fiddly switch but they did, eventually. Finally, she took a long draw of her cigarette only to double over and hack up her lungs. This continued until it became a worry. When she managed to stop she grit her teeth and straightened, bringing the poison back up to her lips. She coughed again, but quieter this time. She shut her eyes and breathed.

Name: Yamauchi Naomi. Age of death: 42 Time of death: Unknown. Information has been withheld from Scepter 4's systems, most likely because they know I'll be following the case. All that's determined is it happened two weeks ago, just three days after the death of the Grey King. Cause of death: Found floating in the river with damage to the skull. The β€œofficial” story the news covered was that she hit her head and drowned. That isn't true. Her power was summoning electrical projectiles. She was not immune to her own projectiles. Taking the fight underwater was an advantage against her abilities and her killer knew that.

That's all the information I have of her death. Now, I have to decide my next move.


Hibiki reopened her eyes and gazed at her sneakers gravely, the smoke of her cigarette spiraling away in the breeze.

They expect to go to war, she surmised with her chin in her palm, Worst of all, they expect me to lead them there.

She inhaled the smoke again, held in her protesting lungs, and leaned forward.

Naomi was floating downriver. Upriver is HOMRA territory. She could have floated down, but a body bobbing down Sumida river would not have made it far without being spotted. The way I see it, we have reasons to be suspicious but not enough of them. HOMRA deny our accusations and are not inviting conflict nor have anything to gain by initiating it, though, their hostile attitude towards us suggests they're not against it. So how much can we call solid proof and how much are we grasping at prejudiced straws? I know for a fact that some in particular would say anything to start a fight with our more powerful neighbors. It's moronic, that way of thinking.

Smoke left her mouth in a little puff and she paused.

But it isn't unjustified. This isn't the first murder in these past three weeks but this is only the second that they're aware of. Four Shrubs have been targeted. If they knew, there would be hysteria. My clan is already scared and with Yoshida-kun announced missing yesterday... I should be drawing connections between all of the murders by now. She grunted and ruffled her fringe in frustration. And yet the only connection is that they were killed in regular, unoriginal ways near or in their residences, none of them showing any sign that they had been murdered by a clansman apart from the fact that nobody BUT enemy clansmen would want us dead. Or... actually... That was a lie. <JUNGLE> were a notorious hacker group, of course they had made enemies with powerful people and anyway, the identities and residences of those who chose to remain anonymous were known by only her and her Right Hand. The other clans would not know who or where they were – nobody would. Hirai was not yet trusted enough to receive the list and Naomi... she was gone. Naomi was the victim of the second murder and the first was a Shrub. The assailant could not have taken the information from her, they already knew it. Besides, there was no mention of torture wounds. None that were disclosed to the public. With her dead, the only suspects would be me and Akiyama Ryuu. Obviously I'm not a murderer, and Ryuu... … …

β€œ... Pfft.”

Don't laugh. Any lead is worth something at this point, no matter how unlikely. Who had gotten that information and how? Had their faces been sold out to the highest bidder? Having so many enemies didn't help her narrow down suspects at all. I have some information on the deaths of the Shrubs, which is virtually nothing apart from the fact that the police obviously must have made the shocking discovery that the corpses were <JUNGLE> members, because each investigation dropped from their records days after they were in their system. If Scepter 4 documented information useful to all of these cases on their hard drives instead of writing it down on paper I'd have already solved this crisis, unless... they've refused to take it as a case. A dozen hackers in the underground aren't worth anything to such honest citizens.

That prospect hurt more than the original thought that Scepter 4 wanted to keep the infamous J and the Green Clan out of the loop. After all of the leads and information she had leaked them that had assisted them in so many cases, how they still hunted for her stung, but it didn't insult her like considering her clan not worth their time did. She was so troubled by this she felt ill, or perhaps that was just the cigarette.

… That won't do. They have to take it. Homicide is homicide. They already know <JUNGLE>'s crimes and they've overlooked them... mostly. Will an investigation of the murders of online gang members turn into an investigation into the identity of J? They're persistent enough that I've had to change my name and move three times already, having them working with us will leave me hazardously vulnerable.

She hunched up and sucked in her breath, hardening her resolve once more.

So the decision stands as this – either go to war with HOMRA; the Red Clan that has always beaten us, and punch the truth out of the Red King at the cost of what little territory we have, or ask for the help of Scepter 4; the Blue Clan that have always hunted us and can see us behind bars, make me forfeit my place as king or perhaps execu... The thought was so horrible she couldn't finish it. She took a quick draw of her cigarette and glanced around in paranoia. The funeral home felt like it was craning over her back. Even the sky was coming too close. It has been practiced before.

Then a third option – remain stumbling in the dark as we are stripped away one by one and <JUNGLE> no longer remains. And I have to make the decision before facing my Right Hand tonight.


Yeah, like that was going to happen. She tapped the ash from the end of her cigarette when the tremors in her hand became too much to keep it steady and it dropped. Hibiki swore and took out the box and lighter but her already fumbling hands were so shaky it was even harder than lighting the first.

β€œWhat are the two most important factors of making a decision?”

β€œFacts and rationality,” Hibiki answered just as Naomi chuckled over the top of her, β€œA good view and a fag.” Hibiki stared at her blankly from her bed until Naomi felt nervous. "You know, like, a cigarette. I'm talking 'bout cigarettes." Hibiki just grunted and raised an eyebrow to signify she knew what the woman meant. Naomi nodded and lit one up, breathed it in and sighed blissfully. "It's the same way I've made every decision. Even the one to keep your sorry ass around."

There was comfortable silence, when

"Obviously, killing your lungs speeds up the thought process." Hibiki was concerned for her, but she had meant to insult her to hide it, but not loud enough for her to notice. She did take notice and her face brightened with pride.

"Did my lil' Mako-chan make a funny in the absence of a joke book? I'm actually so happy. We'll be having these things called conversations in no time." Makoto, the name Hibiki wore as her own at that time. Her cheeks burned as scarlet as Naomi's hair at her nearly sarcastic jesting and Hibiki hid behind her knees, waiting for the torment to be over. The carefree woman blew smoke from her nostrils and reassured her, "Don't worry 'bout it. When I die it'll be on my own terms. I won't end up a bloated body washed up on the shore three days after I was attacked and murdered on my way home from a date with that joke you think isn't worth the effort."


She hadn't really said that, but in that moment Hibiki was convinced that she did. The back of her throat hurt. She remembered that Naomi once attended the funeral for her aunt at this place and wondered if she was sitting at the same bench the woman sat while she smoked and reflected on her memories with her late loved one, the same Hibiki was now. The thought that her right hand could have been in the exact same place that Naomi's hand once clutched around made her palm feel strangely warm. It was a pleasant warmth, like the lingering ghost of someone's hand in hers, but she wouldn't know that. She never held anyone's hand. Giving up on lighting the cigarette, she brought her forearm over her face to shield it from the skies that were threatening to crush her. She shut her eyes and tried to breathe.

"Yo."

Hibiki had never stood up so fast in her entire life. She stood up so fast, a wave of nausea came over her and she sat back down. Her head twitched to her right to take in a small glance at he person sitting beside her to only get a glimpse of someone's torso dressed in funeral black. She returned her gaze to her unlit cigarette that was threatening to crumble in her fist she was clutching it so hard and slowly, painfully so, tilted up her head to look at the face of the man that towered over her.

That's Maeda Katsuo of Timeless Palace. She thought to herself as she stared in the opposite direction to him. That's Maeda Katsuo of Timeless Palace and I assumed his height was a typo. She thought as she licked her finger and tested the direction of the breeze. That's Maeda Katsuo of Timeless Palace and he is very tall and I'm on the grounds a funeral was held for a King and nobody knows who I am. There's only one person that might attend that people know that nobody knows. That is J. I'm the only person here on the premises nobody knows.

An endless stream of swears looped in her mind as she reached out and took the bags that separated herself from the enemy and placed them on her lap. The crinkling of plastic was the only sound to fill the awkward silence between them as Hibiki's mind ticked. She tried to light her cigarette again and again and again as she did the only thing she could do to save her identity in this situation.

"You -" her voice was so husky from not being used. She cleared her throat, keeping her chin tucked in tightly against her chest to hide her face. Damn, was there a childproof lock on this lighter or something? She could never get those things. "You were attending the funeral held here?" she asked, her voice kept down low. She then uttered a phrase she had memorised from these sorts of sad situations in films, "Sorry for your loss."

She had to make him believe that she was an outsider. In situations like these, it was lucky that lying came as naturally as breathing for her... but lately, she was having trouble with even that.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ikeda Miu Character Portrait: Nakano Yuka Character Portrait: Sachiko Yano Character Portrait: Arata Utagawa Character Portrait: Kita Tooru Character Portrait: Alastair Payne Character Portrait: Cyneric Ozu Character Portrait: Maeda Katsuo Character Portrait: Hirai Nakazo Character Portrait: Shizuka Hibiki Character Portrait: Daisuke O'Connor Character Portrait: Mira Saromi Character Portrait: Ketsuraku Kazuki Character Portrait: Sora Arakida Character Portrait: Nao Morizakawa Character Portrait: Naoko Ita Character Portrait: Tanabata Emi Character Portrait: Gensai Riku

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γ€ŒAlastair Payne」
Dialogue; b49b04
Thought; 6f1313
- - -
Papers lay all around him in a mess, his head was in his hands and he had a cigarette butt in his mouth. Thick smoke filled the room like a fog as many other scattered cigarette butts lay on his desk. He had stayed the night in his office, the top floor of Mihashira Tower, he had some work he had to complete however it had taken longer than usual and he had sent everyone else home leaving him alone with mountains of paperwork and books to balance before he could go home. Though he was argueably one of the wealthiest men in the city, he lived in a run down apartment building on the south side of town, however no one knew it was him living there, he used a different name for it and even rents a more expensive penthouse in his true name so it throws off even the hackers of <JUNGLE>. He did this on purpose for his own privacy, he really doesn't like the idea of anyone being able to find his house.

Sadly his modest home had remained empty the previous evening. As his work was more pressing, if he didn't get it done plenty of big-deal businesses would be on his back, ready to strike him down. His eyes snapped open, rimmed with red around his golden iris, dark bags clung underneath them as he groaned.
"Fuck me. . ." He grumbled rubbing his neck and slowly straightening up with several complaints from his back. He slowly stood, some papers sliding off his desk as he cursed and bent down to pick them up. I'll have Mira clean it up later. . . He thought as he dropped the papers back down. His eyes then snapped to the clock and he frowned. He was going to be late to the damned funeral! He let out a stream of angered profanity as he slid his shoes and vest on, buttoning his shirt as he sprinted down the stairwell.

He tripped over the last step and gasped slightly before scowling at it and swearing vengeance before running out. His chauffeur offered a ride but he was already far down the street lighting up a cigarette as he went. His chauffeur shook his head in awe of his hard-headed boss, but was relieved he didn't have to drive him when he was in this mood.

β–¬β–¬β–¬β–¬β–¬

He arrived at the funeral as most people were filtering out. He folded his arms and leaned against a wall smoking, trying to conceal his labored breaths for running all the way over here. A few patrons waved to him or bowed their heads as they left and he returned the favor. He had meant to make it on time to this, he really had but the day had gotten away from him and so he had missed the proceedings. Him and the prior Gray King had been rather close, he closed his eyes under his shades and silently asked for forgiveness for missing the funeral.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ikeda Miu Character Portrait: Nakano Yuka Character Portrait: Sachiko Yano Character Portrait: Arata Utagawa Character Portrait: Kita Tooru Character Portrait: Alastair Payne Character Portrait: Cyneric Ozu Character Portrait: Maeda Katsuo Character Portrait: Hirai Nakazo Character Portrait: Shizuka Hibiki Character Portrait: Daisuke O'Connor Character Portrait: Mira Saromi Character Portrait: Ketsuraku Kazuki Character Portrait: Sora Arakida Character Portrait: Nao Morizakawa Character Portrait: Naoko Ita Character Portrait: Tanabata Emi Character Portrait: Gensai Riku

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γ€ŒNaoko Ita」
Dialogue; 374D82
Thought; 5C92BF
- - -
Morning filtered into her small house, however Naoko was already up and at it, she was in the small kitchen making breakfast for her father before she was going head out to the funeral. She hummed softly to herself, a happy tune that helped her start her day. The warm tones of her house seemed a bit grayer to her today, funerals were always such a sad time, even though she didn't know the woman who died all that well, it was still a big loss. She sighed softly and then smiled again, being positive is key, she told herself as she carried the scrambled eggs, bacon and hashbrowns to her father who was sitting in the chair he always occupied. A shell of the lively man he once was, his head lolled to the side a bit, it broke Naoko's heart but she still loved him no matter how bad it got she'd never abandon her father.

"Here you go daddy," she chimed as she handed him the tray, he wasn't completed inept, he just wasn't himself. He took the tray with a far off stare and she kissed his cheek softly. He grunted softly and began eating, his eyes not blinking. She sighed a bit and turned away to go change out of her pajamas into more suitable clothing for the event she was to attend. She got dressed in simple clothes and headed back out toward the door, she went over to her father and hugged him tight. "I'm heading out, please try to rest up while I'm gone. I have my phone and I will check in okay?" nothing in response. Her smile turned into a soft look of concern as she headed out, getting into her car and heading down to the funeral. The King of her organization was there so she figured she was obligated to be there as well. She hoped everyone there was doing okay, she'd have to be there for those who were hurting.

β–¬β–¬β–¬β–¬β–¬

She arrived and sat through the funeral in the back, even tearing up a bit at some of the testimonies. She watched reverently and then as people began filtering out, she sniffled a bit and dabbed at her eyes. She rose slightly and went out, she spotted miss Ikeda and two people smoking together. She glanced around and spotted Mr. Payne off on his own, strange he hadn't been in the service? She supposed it wasn't any of her business. She wanted to find Miss Emi. She scanned the crowd and sighed softly not seeing her right away. So, she went over to a woman who was taking it rather hard and began to console her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ikeda Miu Character Portrait: Nakano Yuka Character Portrait: Sachiko Yano Character Portrait: Arata Utagawa Character Portrait: Kita Tooru Character Portrait: Alastair Payne Character Portrait: Cyneric Ozu Character Portrait: Maeda Katsuo Character Portrait: Hirai Nakazo Character Portrait: Shizuka Hibiki Character Portrait: Daisuke O'Connor Character Portrait: Mira Saromi Character Portrait: Ketsuraku Kazuki Character Portrait: Sora Arakida Character Portrait: Nao Morizakawa Character Portrait: Naoko Ita Character Portrait: Tanabata Emi Character Portrait: Gensai Riku

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#, as written by cl.love


DAISUKE O'CONNOR



✘ ✘ ✘ I wonder if "existing" is something you can laugh about... Image


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XXXXXi Theme: Crawl by Veltpunch
X Dialogue : #EE1D24 | Thought : #959595
XXX FC: Aizawa Kouichi | Nabari no O
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Daisuke hadn't planned on attending the funeral. He knew he would be out of place - after all, he'd only met the Grey King once, and he'd been only ten at the time, having tagged along with his grandfather. It was true that his place as a member of the Monochrome Alliance would obligate him to attend, but he had only been a member for a week, and he still hardly new Ikeda at all. XX
In the end, his parents had convinced him that attending the funeral was the professional thing to do, as the Colorless King it was acceptable to attend the funeral of a fellow King, despite the state of their relationship. Daisuke agreed to attend if his parents would also attend - after all, funerals weren't the most enjoyable place to be, and he wanted an excuse to leave if he needed one. XX
As soon as he got there, Daisuke immediately felt bad for having considered staying home. While it was true that he hadn't known Ikeda for long - not in person, at least - he couldn't help but understand her grief. His own King and grandfather had died four years prior, and he'd found himself in a situation akin to Ikeda's. Suddenly becoming a clan's King was nothing if not stressful. XXX
Daisuke left his parents to find a seat and approached Ikeda, bowing politely and carefully avoiding eye contact with her brother, who looked as if he would kill him if he said anything unfavorable. "Ikeda-san, I'm very sorry for your loss. You may not believe me, but I can promise you that the pain of loss does lessen, given time." Quietly excusing himself, Daisuke returned to his seat. XXXXX
The ceremony itself was respectable, but Daisuke found himself focusing on other thoughts, most concerning the recent murders. How dire is the situation? We've already had more than five murders. I doubt this would be as large of a concern if a King hadn't been one of the victims. And who even has the confidence to murder a King, especially without leaving a trace of evidence? XX
After becoming a King, Daisuke had instantaneously pulled his clan out of everything to do with the other clans. His parents were the only other members of the Colorless Clan, and at the time the O'Connor family couldn't really have cared less about the rivalry between clans. They became invisible, really, and Daisuke had even found internet theories stating that the his clan didn't exist. XX
But with the death of the Grey King, everything was suddenly so much more complicated. Daisuke's parents had convinced him to join the Monochrome Alliance in order to help keep the other clans from slaughtering each other with blame over the murders. And thus, here he was, at the Grey King's funeral. XX
Once the ceremony was over, Daisuke's parents went to talk to Ikeda, most likely to give her their best wishes and say comforting words that wouldn't do any good. Of course, Daisuke was guilty of the same thing, with what he'd said to her earlier. I suppose I really am their son. Sighing lightly, Daisuke pushed his glasses higher up on his nose and weaved through the crowds of attendees. XX
He was none too pleased to find Alastair standing outside the venue, smoking a cigarette and looking like he'd only just woken up. Daisuke's face scrunched up in distaste at the smell of tobacco, and he frowned at the Gold King, his hand gesturing toward the 'No Smoking' sign posted half a meter away. "This venue is a 'No Smoking' area. You'd think a King would have more respect." XXX

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shizuka Hibiki Character Portrait: Gensai Riku

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WARNING: LONG POST, TURNS OUT MY INTRODUCTORY POSTS ARE ALWAYS LONG AF


Riku turned the bronze handle and carefully began to guide the door open, only to cringe at the creaking it made and stop instantly. He paced outside of the room in a small circle with his finger pushing up his glasses, mentally debating how to solve the issue at hand, then decided to approach this situation as though it was a band aid. With that solution in mind, he promptly kicked down the door and darted inside of the room, his hands frisking through the clutter that was already piling up on every surface of the bedroom without him being home to attend to it when a light turned on behind him and the image of an unimpressed man with apricot bed hair apparated in front of him.

"You'll have to stop breathing to sneak past me, Riku." the older man grumbled, reclining from the lamp and settling back to face him. His pillow rested against the head of the bed and propped up his back, his arms were folded across his chest and his stare was aimed dead on the droplet of sweat beading on the quietly terrified young man's paralysed neck. Riku swallowed then turned from the mirror with a flair, but instead of looking directly at his partner his focus was torn between the man's unamused face and the waterproof jacket slumped over the end of their bed.

"Good morning, Ken. I apologise, I didn't mean to wake you," he excused himself with a deep, respectful bow before snatching up the jacket and pulling it on, his nose wrinkling a little at the realisation that it hadn't been washed. "I tried to be as quiet as possible. ("Of course you did.") May I borrow this? Have you seen my keys?"

Ken nodded once, delayed. "You're leaving?" His bloodshot eyes panned up to the clock and his eyebrows raised at what he saw. "At this hour?"

"Of course," Riku affirmed (not really knowing what the hour was and unable to see past the glare of the light on the clock) and returned to his search, "An investigation doesn't start and stop, it's worked at until it is solved."

"So... you're going to work, then." Ooh, that was bitter. Riku confirmed Ken's speculation briskly without any show that he picked up on his tone and moved to tear up the other side of the room. "... Isn't that funeral thing on today for you? I thought you'd have time off for that."

"Of course, that's why I'm leaving early. I can get some work done before that time. You have my word I'll make it in time."

"I'm not worried about that," Ken brushed aside with a roll of his eyes, "That guy's already dead, you're going to die if you don't sleep."

"Watch that tone, there's no morality to be found in disrespecting the deceased. I've had sufficient rest," Riku grunted through from the floor, his arm jammed beneath a cupboard and battling with dust and spiders. "And if I don't sleep, neither does JUSTice... pardon me." Riku corrected his sound levels, knowing that Ken wasn't a fan of his random outbursts of full volume in the mornings. Ken rubbed his ringing ears and glowered down at Riku's back.

He may think that he's mature by being dutiful like this, but when spurred by such childish motivations it's impossible to ever take him seriously...

He watched his little trooper yelp and pull his hand out sharply and felt reluctant admiration for both the young man's bravery and how stubborn he could be in his idiocy. He sighed as he shook Riku's keys from his pillow then held them up and jingled them to capture his attention. "You came home at two."

Riku's head perked and his eyes sparkled with fervor at the sight of the keys. He jumped up from the floor and bounded over to Ken's side, combed his bangs back with his gloved hand and bent over to peck him on the forehead. "I came home," he concluded like it mattered and reached out to take the keys eagerly, but they were held out of reach by a still grumpy (albeit a little pleased) Ken.

"How have you been investigating, Riku?" he pressed, "Didn't the Monochrome Alliance confiscate you evi-" He was interrupted by a finger being jammed into his lips, forcing his top lip up to show off his canines in what looked like a snarl. He stared at Riku, who shushed him and leaned in close... then plucked the keys out of his hand and ran out the door while he had the chance. "Hey -!"

*


*


*

"Just come back to bed, Ri." Ken insisted groggily as he waddled after Riku in his fluffy blue striped bathrobe, his eyes still heavy with sleep and squinting through the lights. If there was anything that he learnt after dating the overly enthusiastic bundle of diligence and more diligence for more than two years now, it was that if you wanted to keep up with him you had to be persistent and persistent Ken could be given that he didn't have to walk far.

"I thought I was on the couch," Riku tried to slip in casually but a sliver of indignance poked through. Boy had he panicked when he woke up on the sagging cushions of that old couch Ken had been offered for free from their neighbours the day they moved out. There was a reason that couch was free but it wasn't the lack of quality that had Riku frozen in fear for fifteen minutes on it before he decided that he needed to work, it was what sleeping on the couch entailed. Those fifteen minutes were spent picking apart his brain and analysing every detail of the night before he could remember, but the strangest thing was he didn't think he saw Ken or so much as texted him at all yesterday or the day before that, so what could he possibly have done to piss off his boyfriend during that time?

"Better that than the doorstep."

... He's mad with me. Riku opened the fridge door and hid his face behind it in silence, his usually proud shoulders sagging.

"I'm not mad, I'm just lazy." Ken said from the kitchen through a chuckle, noticing the beginnings of Riku's sulking behaviours take hold. "Come to bed, Riku. You don't have to sleep if you don't want to, just lie down for a moment."

"I can't," he answered apologetically and swung the fridge door shut then walked into the kitchen when Ken stood from his seat at the table and lodged himself between Riku and the corridor. Riku looked up at the imposing barricade (their height and age difference of almost seven years always made him feel like such a baby in situations like this) and just frowned at him, hoping that enough willpower would make him move. Ken just tugged the liquid breakfast from his hand and placed it on the kitchen table disapprovingly. (The fridge was packed full of these things from the vending machine close to his work - ever since the Grey King's death that's all Riku had been living off of and Ken refused to drink the stuff, despite the fact that without Riku around to cook for him his own cooking was a worse alternative.)

"Then I'm fixing you breakfast," Ken bravely informed Riku and began to walk over to the cabinet.

Ken's cooking barely crossed his mind when Riku plucked the liquid breakfast back up from the table and gave his response, "Thank you for the notion but that's unnecessary. I'll enjoy my meal fully while I'm at my desk."

"Coffee?" Ken held up the strainer. He couldn't make a cup to save his life, but Riku didn't have to know that.

"Thank you, I'll be fine."

"I'll put your uniform in the drier."

"There's no need."

"You are going to wear the same uniform you slept in?!"

"I have a spare in my office. I'll change once I'm there."

"Did you take all of -"

"I took them."

"And y-"

"That's done."

"I can -"

"Finished."

"You didn't know what I was about to -"

"I've taken care of it."

"I'll brush your teeth," Ken at last managed to get in through Riku's constant and discriminatory dismisses with an annoyed, heavily sarcastic remark. Riku being Riku of course took it for face value and shook his head seriously, his eyes shut and nose in the air.

"That has been done."

Ken glared then gave the air a little sniff before bringing his hand up to his mouth and looking away with a judging expression. "Really?" Riku covered his mouth with a gasp but the trick was broken when Ken stifled laughter... or was it. He regained his poker face immediately and Riku stared at it with a conflicted expression, trying to determine whether he could trust him or not when his own paranoia got the better of him and he pushed past to the bathroom in a hurry, leaving Ken behind to do his victory dance (which was just a self-satisfied nod. Ken? Dancing? Are you for real?). As Riku gargled after brushing his teeth for the third time that day he heard a jingle coming from behind him and turned after spitting to see Ken leaning against the doorway indifferently, the keys back in his possession and twirling around his finger.

"What is the meaning of this?" he demanded.

"It means, I'm driving."

"Ken -"

Ken yawned and began to mumble, "I can't change your mind once it's made... honestly, I don't have the energy for it. So I'm driving you. It's dangerous for you to be on the road, you'll fall asleep and hurt somebody."

Riku blinked, then brought his hand to his chin and nodded thoughtfully. "Of course... how foolish of me. I'm sorry to put in this position so early in the morning." He walked out of the bathroom, stopping to pat Ken's cheek as he went by as a congratulatory gesture. "You're finally starting to see the world as an agent of justice. I'm proud of you, Ken." For some reason that sort of compliment didn't make Ken feel any better or worse. "Come, let's go." He started striding down the corridor but was hindered from progress yet again by Ken shuffling after him and grabbing the back of his collar.

"Wait. There's one more thing you're forgetting."

Riku turned, ready to raise his voice at this point, to see Ken holding up a small comb. His hand involuntarily went up to his front pocket to feel the familiar shape not there and when he reached out to take it from Ken, he avoided his grabbing hands and began to run its teeth through Riku's unruly blue hair himself. Riku clenched his fists and stared at Ken's feet, hating this, but also feeling fuzzy at the touch of his fingers running over his scalp and the care taken in tugging out every knot. Soon Riku's hair was flattened and styled and Ken slipped the comb into Riku's front pocket and left his hand curled up on his chest for a little longer than necessary. "That was close, wasn't it? Now, slow down, hero, and wait for me to get ready."

Riku watched him walk smugly down the hall and wink at him before entering the bathroom. When he heard the shower running, he fell back on the door and touched his front pocket. I suppose that this is what making up looks like, then? Were the fine teeth of such a seemingly insignificant comb all it took to rekindle the flames of desire tended by our hearts? By unknotting my hair, did he knot the strands of our fragmented love... he must expect something more than letting him touch my hair in a patronizing way, of course. The nerve of that animal. Despite that thought, Riku was glad that the tension between them had cooled.

*

*

*

The tension had most definitely not cooled, in Ken's opinion. He stifled a yawn as he puttered down the lazy streets, trying hard himself to stay awake and being thankful that the traffic wasn't so hectic at this forbidden hour. Riku had not been the only one getting no sleep and if he was around he would notice it, Ken hoped. Watching a loved one deteriorating in health and sanity is not a pleasant experience for anyone and would keep anyone up with worry. Riku hadn't come home much in the past two weeks and when he did the least Ken could do was drag him over to something cushy before he collapsed onto the floor. Last night, he found the poor sap with just one hand on the welcome mat like he had passed out upon making home run. Despite Scepter 4 being victim to a murder (Hinata Touko, a young woman who hadn't even been properly initiated into their ranks and wasn't yet aware of the true identity of their king), they were still under suspicion and it wasn't taken lightly by the clan's resident knight. Ken remembered the day well when Riku came home ranting about how The Monochrome Alliance had taken the investigation from Scepter 4 and any evidence they had with it because " - everyone's a suspect to them, even the clan that exists to uphold JUSTICE!" With such estranged relationships with the other clans of course Scepter 4 would fall under suspect, in fact, every clan must be suspect - Ken had tried to reason, but Riku had taken it personally and though he was home that evening he might as well not have been. The Monochrome Alliance had told Scepter 4 to focus on preventing fights between the clans while they handled the investigation, something that Riku ignored as he stubbornly continued the investigation by himself.

He parked the car across the street from Scepter 4 HQ (just as a purple hooded, lanky figure he paid no mind jogged away from the premises) and sighed in relief at a distraction to free him from these thoughts which just made him more tired than he already was and could be brooded on later when he had some paper to scrunch up and the freedom to grumble without Riku overhearing him. "Riku, we're here." he said and swiveled in his seat to kiss him goodbye only to find him slumped against the door, his innocently resting face propped against the window. "Psst, Ri. If you sleep now, you won't get your work done. You might miss the funeral you wanted to attend." Riku stirred, his head shaking slightly as he curled into a tighter ball. Ken smiled fondly and touched the exhausted young man's cheek. "You're more honest when you're asleep, you know that?" He reached over and fetched his book from the glove box and readjusted his seat to lay back a little, making himself comfortable for what would be the next couple hours.

Riku slept without dreams and without knowledge of the funeral that had occurred without him, or how the person he promised he'd be there reacted when he never arrived.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nao Morizakawa Character Portrait: Gensai Riku

0.00 INK

Morizukawa Nao


Dialogue: blue | Thought: darkblue



Nao leant back, rocking on his feet as he waited near the entrance of Sceptre 4's carpark. The others had headed off first, but Nao had decided to stay back and wait for Riku, who had yet to arrive. Scowling, he leant back against the wall and readjusted his tie, tugging it slightly loose as he tried not to feel worried. Riku normally came on time - when he wasn't caught up in things at least - but what with all the murders going around Where is he? He's late! He'd better not be dead - and this tie really sucks.

Not for the hundredth time, he wished that he could take the tie off. Just one grip and pull and an attacker would have a makeshift noose around his neck. The boy was dressed up to the nines - a black vest buttoned over a white dress shirt hugged his trim figure, and a thin black tie was enclosed around his throat like a noose. Covering his lower limbs were trousers that were the same ebony shade as his vest, and draped over his arm was a black suit coat. His light blue hair was tied differently from its usual half ponytail - now it was higher and more towards the center, keeping all pf his bangs from falling into his eyes instead of just his left eye.

Overall, it created a very sombre image. Hopefully. Nao wasn't really sure, but hasty research into what funerals were and proper behaviour that was kept to the dead of the night inside his room, away from prying eyes, told him that this was what most people wore, and Nao needed to fit in like a normal person would.

He had to prove (to himself? To others?) that he could be normal and unthreatening. Especially today, where the other clans would be gathering at the funeral of Ikeda Akio, the recently deceased Grey King.

Nao hadn't really known the Grey King, but he knew what the man had accomplished. He had managed to keep peace in a city where people could destroy buildings with one touch or burn them down with a flick of the wrist, and were more than ready to use it on the people they disliked - which was a lot, especially considering that half the clans hated each other. Nao didn't know what it was like, having to play moderator to people who would get at each others throats at the hint of a threat or slight, but he couldn't help but feel that it was probably pretty difficult.

Like, insanely difficult. Juggling a couple of plates while balancing on a ball and catching knives with your teeth at the same time kind of difficult. But somehow he had managed, until somebody killed him. Heading to the funeral of such a strong man was worth the pain of wearing an itchy suit and a cloth noose around his neck, even the interaction with the other clans that they would inevitably have. Sceptre 4 had enough stress on their plate with dead coworkers and managing the peace, dammit.

It's the first time I've seen everyone so worried... well, except for that time Riku caught me doing that. Nao winced at the memory, but straightened up as he heard a car arriving, his face brightening as he heard the sound of rubber meeting ground at high speeds and the engine running. Ah! That must be Riku! Finally. What took him so long? He strode steadily to the carpark, Dark boots making no sound as he followed the sound of the running engine.

While it was normally filled with cars, today it was merely half full, thanks to time off or work. Picking his way forward, Nao headed straight to a familiar looking car, making sure that there was a smile on his face as he did so. A big, broad smile, so that he looked happy and cheerful and not as if he had been worried or angry at all.

Think happy thoughts. Imagine a battery with electricity flowing through you, filling you with energy. Funny shit. And exclamation marks. Like so! Exclamation marks always make things seem cheerful! Even if they're not

Forcing his steps to be faster and lighter, as if he had springs on his feet, Nao bounced up towards the parked car, leaning down to give a little wave towards its occupants from outside the driver seat with the biggest grin he could manage. It turned a little more real as he saw Ritsu fast asleep, Ken at the steering wheel. "Hi Ken!" he said brightly, remembering to keep his voice low at the last second. "How're you doing? Are you driving Ritsu to the funeral? We're late, you know!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nao Morizakawa Character Portrait: Gensai Riku

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A fond smile tugged at the corner of Ken's mouth as he spotted a bright patch of candy blue hair while turning a corner slightly too fast in his small, bubble-roofed car into the parking lot. He adjusted his speed immediately to make a good example of himself and pulled up to a stop, winding the window down as the kid bounded up to greet him with a forced smile that Ken could see right through. It relieved him to see the boy relax into something more natural the closer he came, glad that he left such an impression on him. He poked his elbow out the window and flashed Nao a lazy grin in response to his greeting.

"Hey, thumbelina." he blurted without thinking then immediately compensated for the height joke by fishing in his pocket for a couple of wrapped fruit flavoured sweets which he slapped into Nao's hand, "Yeah, yeah, I'm doing great. I know it's late. How's the funeral? Depressing? Take those, I thought you'd need them after all that. Hide them quick before this idiot wakes, sometimes I swear he can smell when rules are being bro-"

"KEN!"

If Ken was scared, he sure didn't act like it. He just stared at Nao and communicated his exasperation through his eyebrows as his once beautiful sleeping prince transform revert back to his default personality - a knightmare. *ba dum tsk*

"Where are we? What's the time? I fell asleep in the car?! How unsightly!" Riku panicked and yanked at his seatbelt as though he had forgotten how they worked. "I'm disappointed, Ken. I thought I could trust you but clearly those are not the hands of justice on the wheel. Of course, now I must work on the investigation before -" his eyes flicked to the window and widened as he saw where they were, and more importantly, the people coming out of the funeral home and congregating in front of it. "THE FUNERAL IS OVER AND YOU NEVER WOKE ME?! MAY I ASK HOW YOU LET THIS FUCKING HAPPEN, KEN!? DID I NOT MAKE IT CLEAR TO YOU HOW MUCH I -"

"Hey, Ri."

"HAVE SOMETHING TO ADMIT, DEADBEAT?!"

"There's someone outside who's here to meet you."

"WH - oh." Riku stared at Nao, his eyes deadly serious when slowly, very slowly, his pale skin flushed red. Left completely speechless and unsure of what to do in this situation he remained a red, mute statue, something that Ken took advantage of when he leaned over to kiss him. He pulled away and patted Riku's steaming cheek expressionlessly then shoved him away.

"Go on, get out. I've got work. The wake is still a thing, right?" Riku got out the car stiffly. "You're forgetting something... again." He leaned in and took the comb from Ken, retracting from the vehicle while slicking his ruffled hair back into place. "Yeah, love you too. Have fun at a dead guy's party. I'll see you kids later." Ken gave Nao one last look that said, Seriously, have fun. which was really Ken's way of giving Nao permission to give his boyfriend as much shit as he felt necessary. Not that he would necessarily accept Ken's permission, given how devoted he was to the guy.

Maybe I should take a leaf out of the kid's book, Ken thought as he turned onto the main street. The image of Nao's face when he caught him after doing something... unhealthy was triggered in his mind and he reclined from the dashboard with bared teeth, hissing like he'd watched someone faceplant. Nah. A more affectionate thought crossed his mind and his violet eyes glazed over. ... He may not have appreciated it, but the rest did him good. I should probably apologise for falling asleep too, but... nah. Screw him, we haven't slept together for weeks now because of his stupid job and I deserve that much for the crap I put up with.

Meanwhile, Riku stood rigidly beside Nao, his face still burning and tongue still out of action. He drew in a big gulp of air and looked down at the boy with the seriousness and sincerity expected from a person of his integrity, the blood flushing his cheeks back to being evenly distributed around his body where it belonged. It was as though the person Nao had witnessed (on more than this occasion, this was just the first Nao had let himself be known during such... displays) never existed at all.

"Morizakawa-san, please spare me the knowledge that Emi-chan is mad at me."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nao Morizakawa Character Portrait: Gensai Riku

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Only ignorance (and longtime practice) kept Nao's face from twitching with irritation or his eyes from lighting up with anger at being called short, even if it was from someone he respected with all his heart. As it was he continued smiling and wondered, with all seriousness:

What's Thumbelina?

He had a vague feeling that it was an insult, but before he could think more about it Ken brought out-

The sweets. One orange flavoured, one grape flavoured, pressed into Nao's hand like smuggled drugs from the Mexican border, the colorful wrappers gleaming in his hand like sugar jewels.

Seeing Nao's reaction was like watching a kid receive his first christmas present. His smile beamed like a ray of light (or like a druggie taking another hit), eyes lighting up like the sun as he clenched his fists tightly around the goodies. Nothing fake about this expression, at least, just pure undiluted happiness at being given sugary candy. Nao actually looked his age for once.

Unfortunately, before he could give his thanks to Ken, Riku woke up.

Nao froze when Riku yelled Ken's name, eyes going wide with panic. Oh shit. Unfreezing, he quickly took a small, silent step back as Riku whirled to yell at his boyfriend, hiding the sweets inside his pocket. Ever since Riku had caught him eating a whole packet of Giant Gummy Bears, he'd promised to keep track of Nao's sugar intake, and Nao didn't want him to remember that declaration. Sorry, but you're on your own, Ken.

It was, although Nao would never admit it even on the pain of excruciating death, actually kind of funny to see Riku lose it at someone else. Yeah, it was kind of scary, but since it wasn't at him Nao found it hilarious. Keeping an extremely passive look on his face, Nao let a bit of a grin pass through his mask in response to Ken's eyeroll, the amused smirk in his eyes making his message clear - at least it ain't at me, man - before biting it back into a passive expression and watched the show, wondering when Riku would turn around and notice that he was standing there.

And... there. Pfft, Riku's reaction was priceless - he clearly hadn't expected spectators. Biting back a laugh and feeling a little bad for doing so, Nao smiled and gave a bright little wave as if they were having a normal greeting. "Good morning! Am I interrupting something?" He asked a little too innocently and cheerfully to not be on purpose, resisting the urge to smirk.

It wasn't that hard. The man had saved his life, after all.

Nao wrinkled his nose and turned his head to the side as Ken gave Riku a kiss, the expression making him look his age for a moment. Eww, gross, PDA! Did Ken even knew what that mean? Nao returned Ken's look with one of his own, a slightly hesitant look which slid slightly away from direct eyecontact that said uh, sure, yeah, totally gonna do that, yup, which was. Well. Not really going to happen at all if Nao could help it.

As Ken's car peeled out of the driveway, Nao turned to Riku, who was still tomato red - oh wait, it was going down. Slightly impressed, Nao noted how fast Riku's complexion went back to its normal pale peach. Looking up, the boy returned the look with a bright, cheerful smile befitting of a polite cheerful child, the best he could construct - which honestly wasn't that hard. The events from earlier had been funny enough to put some natural lift to Nao's cheeks.

It helped that it was, once again, the man who had saved his life. Acting was always easier around one of the people Nao had originally constructed the mask for, after all.

Of course, the fact that he probably shouldn't be smiling at a funeral didn't cross Nao's mind. "I'm not sure!" He replied, straightening up almost subconsciously. He smiled up at Riku, but it didn't make the words any easier to swallow. "She might be mad if you didn't appear, but she's been busy taking care of the white haired girl so maybe she didn't notice that you weren't here!" Turning around, Nao began to walk towards the area where the wake was held. "Want to check?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cyneric Ozu Character Portrait: Nao Morizakawa Character Portrait: Tanabata Emi Character Portrait: Gensai Riku Character Portrait: Yukimura Hisako

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Riku felt like reclining into a ball and crying while he rolled down a large, rocky hill, however he bit down his urge to punish himself and remained upright, pushing up his glasses with a glint in his eye.

"So, the princess has been attending to Ikeda-san? Of course, I would not expect anything less of the face of Scepter 4. It is in our duty to serve those we have failed to protect from such unnecessary evils in every way that we are capable. However, there is absolutely not a chance that my lack of appearance was missed by her intelligent eye - we go to her, Morizakawa-san, not because we question her observational prowess, but to repent for the disgraceful way I have represented Scepter 4 on this day! Even by the chance she is unaware, it is only right that we own up to our wrongdoings!"

Riku finished his dramatic speech with his index finger held high up in the air, a foot up on the hood of a car and a hand on his hip. His expression offset the ridiculous pose by appearing completely devoid of any sort of hilarity and instead looked dead-serious. His pointing finger retracted into a tight fist and he brought it down in line with his nose, glaring at it with flaming intensity.

"And hopefully, achieve justice for the wrongs that one did against me that caused such a respected clansman like myself to end up in this sorry position on such an important, melancholy day..." he muttered loud enough for anyone listening really intently to hear, hair prickling up on his neck as his terrifying aura scared even himself. The dangerous energy that surrounded him completely drained as he got off the car and turned to Nao, bowing deeply.

"I apologise for what you have witnessed here today. It is a wonderful morning, or would be if -" he looked up, realised Nao was already walking, straightened in a hurry and fast walked his way over to assume the lead. "So eager, Morizakawa-san? Of course, it is an admired quality. To Emi-chan!"

They didn't have to walk far to find her. Probably because as while they were walking towards the funeral, she and her pupils were walking in the opposite direction - away from it. The sight of the Silver King (looking as dazed out as ever) and <JUNGLE>'s personal detective (looking as intrigued as ever) on either side of the idol immediately set off sirens in Riku's mind. It wasn't because the man particularly disliked either of them (well, Hisako was part of a hacker group run by a person they were hunting, something that he often wondered about - how his usually strict king had managed to see past that and befriend the girl was beyond him), but Nao + kids belonging to other clans were not an enjoyable mix, especially for the one acting as referee. He didn't focus on that issue for long, however, as his stare was fixated on Emi; at the way she held herself like she was about to spring into dance, her smile that hid a song and her lively, big blue eyes that were flitting over to look in his direction.

"Yukimura-san, Ozu-san, good morning to you both. I apologise for the abruptness of my intrusion. Emi-chan, I apologise for not being at your side sooner!" Riku jogged up to them and bowed his head slightly at Emi's companions, then suddenly latched onto the girl's shoulders with a strong, but not rough, grip. His tired eyes gazed into hers meaningfully, scanning for any sign of redness that could suggest she had been crying. Thankfully, there were none, and he took a step away and bowed so low his glasses nearly slid off. "I must elaborate, of course. All of the Gensai family should have all been present at this event however I, the Right Hand, gave into the sin of sloth and because of that moment of weakness I have failed to positively represent my clan. I, Gensai Riku of Scepter 4, acknowledge and accept my mistakes and will accept whatever punishment you see fit."

Not to mention he had promised his friend he'd be there in attendance, but that was a personal matter he need not delve into while in the presence of other, non-blue clansmen. Right now, the reputation of Scepter 4 was on the agenda. HOMRA not showing up to the Grey King's funeral was one thing - but the Right Hand of the respected Scepter 4? What sort of uncouth madness was that!?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cyneric Ozu Character Portrait: Nao Morizakawa Character Portrait: Tanabata Emi Character Portrait: Gensai Riku Character Portrait: Yukimura Hisako

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Thought: Darkblue | Speech: Blue



"So, the princess has been attending to Ikeda-san? Of course, I would not expect anything less of the face of Scepter 4. It is in our duty to serve those we have failed to protect from such unnecessary evils in every way that we are capable. However, there is absolutely not a chance that my lack of appearance was missed by her intelligent eye - we go to her, Morizakawa-san, not because we question her observational prowess, but to repent for the disgraceful way I have represented Scepter 4 on this day! Even by the chance she is unaware, it is only right that we own up to our wrongdoings!"

No trace of the confusion Nao felt was revealed on his face as the complicated words passed over his head like water dropping over a waterfall... So... We head to Tanabata-sama first, since she'll notice that Riku is missing, and then we apologise for being late? And even if she didn't know we were late we apologise anyway.... I think. That is what he's saying, right?

... Well, he's definitely asking whether Tanabata-sama is with Ikeda-san.... She's the new Grey King now, right? I think.


"...Yes. I mean yes!" Nao smiled brightly, deciding to play it safe by answering what he definitely knew Riku had asked. "Tanabata-san is with Ikeda-san!" He said cheerfully over Riku's mutterings, subtly edging away from Riku and his dark aura. Nao had learnt from experience that it was best to stay away from people when they were angry (angry people were more likely to resort to violence and throw things), and he was not likely to go against that instinct any time soon. That urge only increased when Riku started to bow to him.

Nao froze. What the fuck.

"I apologise-"

I'M GETTING OUT OF HERE. No way was he dealing with this. Nao whirled and walked swiftly away from Riku in a way that was more like a run than a walk, his heart beating loudly in his chest with alarm. If it were an action movie, Riku would be the ticking bomb and Nao would be the guy running for the hills before the explosion began. His hero apologising to him?! Inconceivable! Normally it was the other way around. It was only a few seconds later that Nao realised that the sudden abrupt leave could have been taken as rude, but fortunately it seemed that Riku hadn't taken any offence, stopping mid speech and catching up with him. In fact, he spoke on, praising Nao's eagerness to head towards Emi.

Yes, he was eager. Eager to run like a coward for being apologised to, that is.

A few minutes later, they met up with Emi, Miu and Cyneric. Nao stood to attention behind Riku, giving a polite greeting towards Emi. "Good afternoon, Tanabata-sama! I've brought Riku-san with me, as you can see!" he smiled brightly at her, looking the picture of a child pleased with himself at accomplishing an errand. "I'm sorry we're late!"

Then he stood back and stayed as quiet and out of sight as Riku fussed over Emi. He gave a small nod and smile to Cyneric, unsure how to react - in public, Nao found it easier to act as if he didn't know the Silver King. For one thing, Riku and Emi might not approve. And for another, it was easier to just pretend that they didn't know each other, although they fought regularly - considering their odd schedules, they didn't really met that often.

However, it was the first time they were meeting each other at a funeral in front of Sceptre 4 and the clans, where positions actually mattered. Nao didn't know how much Riku and Emi and the others knew about him sparring with some of the other clan members, but he wasn't willing for them to find out that he had been sparring with the Silver King for information and fun after they had met god knows where. Riku would scold him for fighting such a powerful figurehead, Emi would scold him and look at him disapprovingly, he might get locked up for sparring with someone as high in status as a King.... the possibilities were endless and, as far as Nao was concerned, not likely to happen so long as it wasn't addressed in public. The less they knew, the better.

It was with this in mind when Nao faced them with a greeting. "Good afternoon, Ozu-san! He said brightly, injecting a little respect into his tone that normally wasn't there when he talked with Cyneric. He smiled vapidly, as if it were the first time they were meeting. "Good afternoon, Hisako-san! Nao smiled cheerfully at Hisako, giving a respectful nod to her just as he had with Emi. She was Emi's friend, and it paid to be nice to the person who was teaching him how to read.

It also bought him time to think of what to say to Cyneric. shitballs on a stick what should I say that won't tip anyone off?! Name, age, rank, uh - oh wait. They already know that I know Cyneric. Probably. Uh... Nao's mind raced for options.

Oh. Right! There's always that option. Smiling smoothly, Nao waited until the others finished their conversation before turning to them with a question.

"Would any of you like me to get a drink for you?" Nao asked politely, a courteous smile beaming on his face. Inwardly, he was screaming 'please say yes pleasepleaseplease let me get out of here before I mess up please' and praying to anyone (who had suspiciously familiar glasses and hair) that he'd be able to escape as soon as he possibly could. "Or do any of you want something to eat? I can get some if you want!" He asked eagerly. Anything to get out of here before awkward questions were asked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cyneric Ozu Character Portrait: Nao Morizakawa Character Portrait: Tanabata Emi Character Portrait: Gensai Riku Character Portrait: Yukimura Hisako

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#, as written by Elision
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γ€ŒTanabata.Emi」
Dialogue β™› #6495ED
Thoughts β™› #FF7F50





Emi let out a quiet laugh as Hisa leaned in to tell her the cost of her notes. Her friend was a bit too curious for her own good. The idol swore that if curiosity killed people like it did cats, the girl would have died more times than anyone could count. "We are, but I can't exactly go around giving out classified information like that, you know? It's not like we have much in the way information on them anyways, it's like chasing Bigfoot." Saying no to the eager looking girl broke Emi's heart a little, feeling as if she had just kicked a puppy. "Well, I guess it wouldn't be that big a deal if you stopped by headquarters and take a look at the case file as long as you share anything you have on J with us."

They group was interrupted by the arrival of two of Scepter Four's finest. Emi had been expecting them to show up, but hadn't seen them at all during the funeral. Maybe they were sitting towards the back? The bawling Grey King had her undivided attention for most of the event, so they could have just as easily be lurking a few feet behind her and she wouldn't have noticed. Her right hand had bowled through the dissipating group of funeral goers. Judging by his expression, the King could tell something was weighing on her friend. The hands that descended on her shoulders confirmed her theory. "Riku-chi, it's fine. You're running yourself ragged, I'm sure you needed the rest." A smile made it's home on her face as she assured her right hand that it really wasn't a big deal. Emi was starting to worry about him. Riku had always been a hard worker, but things were getting out of hand. Maybe I should find him an assistant? No, I doubt he would accept them. It would just seem like I think he's not capable enough.

While the girl was busy trying to soothe the man, she had completely neglected the younger half of the duo. Was he feeling alright? He seemed a little anxious. Maybe he just wasn't feeling well? "Nao-chan, don't worry about it. We were actually just heading back to school, so we don't have much time for snacks." Wriggling away from Riku's grip, she gave the boy a pat on the head, messing up his hair a bit in the process.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sachiko Yano Character Portrait: Cyneric Ozu Character Portrait: Nao Morizakawa Character Portrait: Tanabata Emi Character Portrait: Gensai Riku Character Portrait: Yukimura Hisako

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The second Emi touched Nao's hair, Nao froze, whole body stilling unnaturally as if he were a character on tv and someone had pressed the pause button. But it only lasted less than an instant - in a second he was pulling back, blinking in surprise and smiling as if nothing was wrong, although his eyes held a bit of irritation and confusion. That moment had happened so fast that anybody not looking would have missed it, and anybody looking wouldn't have realised it unless they were specifically looking for it. Nao fell back a couple of steps, smile hiding the torment going on in his head.

First - irritation. Emi had touched his hair. Repeat - Emi had ruffled his hair like a child (alright, he was thirteen - or fourteen, who knows - but he wasn't a child! He was a preteen! Not a child!) and his ponytail, as perfect as he could tie it as taught by Naoko during the past year, was now.... not perfect. What if Riku noticed? Riku liked perfection! And as his saviour was good at being perfect Nao was doing his best to emulate him and now it was gone.

And did Nao mention that he was being treated like a child? Which he wasn't - he had done things no kid should do, which meant he wasn't a kid like everyone thought he was! So there!

Second - it actually felt kinda... good. Like praise. Weird. Nao resisted the urge to reach a hand up to his head to check his hair- not yet.

Third...

Calm down, heart. She's the Blue King. She's not... them. Being pat on the head is ok and not a threat.

"Ok!" Nao chirped cheerfully instead. Damn, his escape path was gone.... Or maybe not. Nao took a deep breath, shoulders tensing as he steeled himself. "But you might get hungry on the way, so I'll see if i can take some for you before you go!" He said brightly, beaming his biggest sincerest smile, and with that he turned tail and walked towards the snack area as fast as he could without looking like he was running. "I'm also hungry, so I'll get some for myself too!" He said cheerfully behind his shoulder, trying not to think of whether he was going to get punished for taking the initiative for this step. It was only after he was out of sight and a good time away that Nao slowed to a normal walking pace, allowing the smile to drop from his face with a smile.

It had taken a bit long, but Nao had eventually learnt that it was ok to ask for things, ok to eat more than what he needed to survive, ok to just... y'know. Ask shit. Talk back. But this was new territory, and it was still a bit nervewracking testing the boundaries.

A lot of things were nervewracking, if Nao had the will to admit it.

Not the time, however. Bringing his hands up to his hair with a sigh, Nao neatened his ponytail the best he could with only his hands for a comb. Then he went to grab snacks - small cakes, peanuts, small finger sandwhiches. There were a few left over, and Nao wasted no time loading some into a convenient plastic bag for takeaway, stuffing a few into his cheeks too. He hadn't been kidding about wanting some himself. Chewing thoughtfully on a chocolate roll (mmmchocolate), Nao was making his way back when a man flung his arms wide, nearly smacking him in the face.

Almost instinctively, Nao dodged back, hands raising up and curling into fists as he prepared himself for a punch - but no, it was just a man gesturing expressively to his friends, letting out a hearty roar of laughter. Even as Nao watched they were already fading away into the crowd. With a frown, Nao dropped his hands - only to realise that he had accidentally knocked someone over when he had taken a flashstep back.

Whoops.

He looked down. What he saw was a small child with brown hair - a girl around a head shorter than him who looked familiar. Taking a step back, Nao's eyebrows wrinkled. "Sorry, for knocking you over," he said, sounding only a little apologetic. He had bumped into her, after all. "Watch where you're going next time, please," he added, only remembering to use 'please' at the last moment. Tucking the plastic bag of snacks into his belt as if it were a strap on pouch, Nao hesitated a bit before bringing a hand out towards her for the girl to take.

Helping people up was what Riku would have done, after all.