The first thing that caught Saitou’s eye as he entered his office was Chou’s expression. Such a broad smile on the face of someone that lived to be entertained never signified the day would go well. “What are you grinning about?”
“Nothing,” Chou replied, blatantly lying. “Chief wants to see you.”
“Why?” Saitou asked.
Chou shrugged. “Maybe he wants an update on the other night?”
Saitou restrained his roll of eyes, not wishing to give Chou any reason to widen his grin, and headed for the chief’s office.
They were unmistakably dead. This was highly irritating.
There were three of them, and all had been alive only a few minutes ago. From the way they’d fallen, he guessed two of them had killed each other but that the last had been stabbed by some fourth party now absent. This was, as he had already noted, highly irritating.
“First, let me commend you on the progress you’ve made on this case,” was the chief’s first comment, his air that of disclaimer. “Before you took it over, Kanbu-kun couldn’t figure out whether he was looking for five murderers, three murderers and two hostages, or three thieves and two hostages.” The chief sighed. “Or five thieves. Or some combination of those options. He was wasting resources going every which-way, but you cut straight to the heart of things as usual.”
Saitou nodded acceptance of the compliment, unsure what was coming. The chief appeared unusually grim and worried, and, Saitou thought, perhaps a little nervous. It was an odd combination of emotional nuance.
Of course he’d intended to kill them anyway, but not until after his questions had been answered. He didn’t think any of these corpses were the hostages, but he couldn’t know for sure now, could he?
As he stood scowling down at them, he became aware that somebody else — somebody not dead — was present. Somebody watching the scene from the shadows under the bridge. Somebody…
He growled when he realized who it was, and stalked into the blackness to confront him.
“Since I’ve said this much, you must understand I’m not trying to undervalue your work. Your methods are unusual, but you always get results. However.” The chief crossed his arms and lowered his brows. “There are some methods I would have thought beneath you.”
Saitou frowned. “What are you referring to?”
“I never thought I’d be saying this to you.” The chief took a deep breath. “Sexual abuse is never an appropriate way to get answers out of witnesses.”
“Evening,” was Sagara’s greeting. “Nice night, ain’t it?”
Gripped with a sudden premonition that this would not go well, “What happened here?” Saitou demanded.
“Oh, it was funny,” Sagara grinned. “Great small-gang drama. I’da stepped in, but they were doing a pretty good job killing each other without my help.”
Such a flippant reply was a little unexpected even from Sagara, and Saitou’s foreboding increased. “Tell me exactly what happened,” he commanded; “start from the beginning.”
What little light there was glinted off Sagara’s teeth as his grin widened. “What’s it worth to you?”
Of all the things he might have expected to hear in this room, that was not on the list — yet it took him only a moment to realize exactly what the statement pertained to and how the news must have reached Uramura’s ears. A plan of action was slower in coming than comprehension, however. And completely taken aback was not something Saitou frequently found himself.
The chief took advantage of the stunned moment to remark, “I’m not going to speculate on why this is such a surprise to you. Just let me remind you that helping some of the innocent at the expense of others entirely undermines our purpose.”
Saitou had absolutely no patience for further delay in this case. He gripped the edges of Sagara’s gi and pulled him roughly closer. “I’ll consider not killing you.”
Sagara raised his hands to grip Saitou’s tense arms — not to disengage them, merely to hold them — and replied with no concern, “You can’t kill me if you wanna know what happened here.”
“Try me,” Saitou grated back. Sagara just continued to grin. Finally, as the sense of wasting time continued almost painfully to heighten, Saitou demanded in the same tone, “What do you want?”
“Kiss me,” Sagara replied promptly.
“Don’t lecture me,” Saitou snapped, buying time while he considered how to word his explanation for the least potential loss of face. “You don’t know the whole story.”
“And that’s what I’ve brought you here to explain.” The chief crossed his arms again. He still didn’t seem entirely comfortable, and no wonder. Not once in his acquaintance with Saitou had he been forced to carry out this sort of conversation with him, and doubtless had never expected to.
Not yet entirely sure what he could say, Saitou opened his mouth to reply.
Slamming Sagara abruptly against the wall and closing in angrily he snarled, “How many times do I have to tell you–“
He broke off when he realized his violent movement had put his body a good deal closer to Sagara’s than he would have if he’d been paying attention. Now the shameless young man was grinding against him provocatively and completely ignoring his words. Saitou shook him. “Ahou, I have no time for this.”
“You never have time,” Sagara purred. “You’d be less grouchy if you cut loose now and then.”
“This isn’t about me. There are two men–“
“Then you better kiss me quick,” interrupted Sagara.
“Sir?” The door opened and someone put his head in. “I’m sorry to intrude, but you requested–”
“Yes,” the chief broke in. “You found him?”
Saitou restrained himself from repeating incredulously, ‘Him?’ Had they tracked Sanosuke down as a witness against him? And if so, what kind of nonsense testimony was the idiot likely to provide? Even the absolute truth would — Saitou was not afraid to admit it — be embarrassing; god knew how much worse Sagara was likely to make things sound.
“Well, bring him in.”
And, indeed, here was Sagara, escorted by a couple of low-ranking officers who then, at the chief’s word, took up places by the door as if to guard the room. Sagara appeared at first somewhat defiant, but when he saw Saitou this expression vanished, replaced by sudden understanding that was quickly stifled. “So, what’s going on?” he asked in a tone that was nothing more than casually curious.
Saitou’s fury was cooling; he had the feeling he’d lost his chance for further pursuit. Which didn’t make Sagara’s information less desirable (provided he wasn’t lying about having witnessed the fight), but did make his absurd behavior more worthy of retribution. Saitou punched him in the chest.
With a grunt Sagara remarked in a tone that was a good deal less sultry than his previous, “I shoulda known you’d like it rough.”
Saitou knew Sagara would cease with the seduction attempts (which were always a good deal closer to successful than the officer would like to admit) once he was angry enough, but not only would that process take too long, an angry Sagara probably wouldn’t be willing to tell him anything. Nothing useful, anyway.
“This officer questioned you the other evening, correct?” The chief gestured at Saitou.
Sagara nodded somewhat blankly.
“Can you describe that encounter?”
Although Sagara’s face was serious, Saitou didn’t like the look in the young man’s eyes when they touched briefly on his. The deep breath he took before beginning to speak gave him somewhat the appearance of nervousness, but Saitou believed rather that he was merely trying to think fast. “Well…” he started slowly. “He wanted me to tell him what I saw those gang guys and their prisoners doing, since they’d mostly killed each other…” He hesitated as everyone looked at him expectantly.
“Fine,” Saitou snapped, and kissed him. Just to make absolutely certain Sagara would be satisfied enough not to hold out on him further (or perhaps just too dazed), he dug his tongue into the idiot’s mouth and his hand into the idiot’s pants. Sagara groaned into the kiss and squirmed, and Saitou pushed firmly aside the inconvenient wish that there weren’t a glove between his hand and the hot flesh.
When he broke away all at once, he was pleased to note that the surprised brightness in Sagara’s eyes bore no trace of further deviousness.
“I knew it,” the boy whispered.
Not caring what Sagara thought he’d known, Saitou demanded, “What happened here?”
After a moment the chief turned to Saitou. “If you would step out for a few minutes…” He gestured to the door leading to a small adjoining briefing room — not to the door into the station proper, which implied that this affair, however informally it was being conducted, was a disciplinary issue. Saitou wasn’t even sure how to react.
“He doesn’t need to leave,” Sagara said unexpectedly, drawing all eyes once more. His expression was now one of slight confusion, but, again, when his gaze met Saitou’s, there was a spark of amusement in it. Saitou would never had thought him such a skillful actor. “I don’t know what’s going on here, but I think maybe you guys have the wrong idea…”
“Were Fujita-kun’s methods in questioning you not inappropriate, then?” The chief’s tone was grave.
“Oh, they were definitely inappropriate,” Sagara chuckled, “but…” Then like clockwork the confusion was gone from his expression, replaced by skepticism. “Don’t tell me you guys don’t know…”
At this Saitou knew what was coming. He might have interrupted to prevent it, since Sagara had paused for effect, but he feared that what the roosterhead had in mind was the least of the possible evils; he was busy bracing himself for it.
“Know what?” The police chief’s tone was somewhat impatient and perhaps a little suspicious. It could be he also anticipated Sagara’s statement and began to sense the absurdity of the situation.
“Fujita and me are lovers,” Sagara announced with offhand grandeur.
With a deep breath Sanosuke began. “They were on their way from a job, far as I could tell, and they started arguing. It seemed like they were just continuing some argument they’d had before, and they kept getting louder and louder, and that was what made me really start paying attention. When I realized they must be the guys you and houki been after for the last fifty years, I was about to jump in and take ’em out…”
Saitou shifted in irritation and some discomfort. He still didn’t know whether these thieves had also been the murderers, and it was so typical… what would he have done if, when he’d come upon the scene, Sagara’s body had been among those he’d found?
“But then one of ’em just suddenly attacks the others and boom, one’s down. It was about then I realized two of the guys had their hands tied behind their backs. It all went pretty quick from there: another guy went down, and somehow one of the tied-up guys got loose and stabbed the last of the other three. Then he cut the ropes on the other guy and they ran off. It all took about three minutes.”
The officers by the door twitched, and Saitou, in a moment of prescience, saw very clearly how quickly this gossip was going to spread through the entire precinct. Then there was another moment of silence.
Finally the chief turned to Saitou and asked in a measured, inscrutable tone, “Is this true?”
Very stiffly, Saitou nodded — and did not miss Sagara’s expression of triumph in so doing.
“He hates letting aaaaanyone know about his private life,” the young man continued, “but, yeah, me and old Gory here’ve been going at it almost since I was too young for that kinda thing.” Lowering his voice slightly, suggestively, he added, “He can question me however he wants.”
Another twitch from the men at the door; another long moment of silence.
“Very well, that’s all we’ll need from you, then.” And at the chief’s gesture, the other officers escorted Sagara out.
Saitou was silent and still for a few moments. This tale, though not delivered with the conciseness and level of detail he would have preferred, was undeniably useful. Whether it was worth having given the lovesick idiot undeniable encouragement he did not know, but it did answer most of his questions.
“Ran off where?” he asked.
“Hopefully to a doctor,” Sagara replied. “They weren’t looking too good.”
Saitou shook him slightly, just for good measure. “Which direction?”
Sagara tilted his head. “That way. Up the bank. I didn’t hear ’em cross the bridge.”
With a nod, Saitou released him.
“I gotta find something bigger to witness next time,” Sagara murmured in evident satisfaction.
Saitou scowled at him.
He fully expected a reprimand from the chief for not explaining himself at first, but, as it turned out, Uramura was just as intrigued as his subordinates by the suggestion that Fujita-kun was not, in fact, an inhuman entity of chiseled stone that lay only with his sword and loved only justice. So, rather than any sort of remonstrance, Saitou only had to suffer a few leading remarks before he was allowed to go about his business.
Not exactly to his surprise, the beehive-like noise of the station’s main room quieted almost to nothing when he appeared, and Chou met him with a smirk even wider than before. “Get back to work,” was all Saitou was willing to say in response to the latter’s grinning questions. Then he left the building. The noise had redoubled before he was entirely out the door.
As he had expected, Sagara joined him nearly the moment he was off the police station grounds. His expression was similar to Chou’s, but somehow a trifle less maddening.
“One of these days I really am going to kill you,” was Saitou’s greeting.
“And here I thought you’d be thanking me,” Sano grinned.
“For what? What exactly did that accomplish?”
“Besides getting you out of trouble?”
“May I remind you that the ‘trouble’ was your fault in the first place?”
“Hey, I’m not the one who was getting all fancy-fingers in my pants.”
“Don’t pretend you didn’t enjoy it.”
“I won’t if you won’t.”
“But, no, what it really accomplished,” Sano explained in self-satisfaction, “was to get rid of one of the million stupid things that keep you from getting with me. Now you don’t have to worry about people finding out and what they’ll think and all that.”
“Putting it that way might make it sound like you’d planned the whole thing… if that hadn’t been the worst ‘solution’ to that ‘problem’ anyone could possibly come up with.”
“Maybe I did plan it all.” Sano attempted, and failed, to look mysterious.
Saitou rolled his eyes slightly, a more hopeless than disdainful gesture at this point. How had he managed to catch the attention of history’s stubbornest idiot? And how was it that he never quite managed to give him the decisive negative he needed to hear?
“So now I’ve just got, what, nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine more bullshit reasons to deal with, and then you’ll be mine.”
“Ahou.” It was, for some reason, all he could think to say. But as he turned back toward the station, readier now to face the rest of his day, he wasn’t scowling quite as much as when he’d left it.
“Sir?” It was a hesitant call — almost tremulous — from behind him. Saitou had nearly forgotten about his subordinate’s presence.
“This way,” the wolf replied as he stepped back out from under the bridge and gestured up the slope. And though the younger officer tried his best to hide it, Saitou easily marked his searching glance into the shadows where Sagara stood. How much had he seen? It was anybody’s guess, as was what he would make of it. It must have seemed excessively odd, if he hadn’t been able to catch the accompanying conversation.
Well, let him wonder. No harm could come of that.
This story is for 30_kisses theme #21 “Violence; Pillage/Plunder; Extortion.”
Can you imagine having to formally reprimand someone that consistently adheres only to his own moral code and, you have a sneaking suspicion, only nominally recognizes your authority? Also I love that Saitou is so blatantly teetering on the edge of giving in but is still resisting. And “Old Gory” may be the most hilarious nickname for Saitou (or anyone) I have ever come up with. Sano is a jerk here, though.
Someday there may be a sequel to this.
I’ve rated this story . What do you think of it?
This story is included in the Saitou/Sano Collection 1 ebook.