Toma dashed through the room as quickly as he could, Mukai’s underlings behind him were doing a good enough job of securing Yamashita’s men so he could find and remove Rie from the situation in the room he'd known they'd keep her in. It was the same room they tortured him in a few times now.

He scanned the dark areas finally spotting her and saw the man beside her scram, he felt a smirk touch his lips. Good, his reputation in this house preceded him now and it was just as well this boy was a coward- Ryo, Nagase, Shige, Yuki all those men before them-

It was all forgivable if he could save her right now. Rie had messed up but she didn't deserve to die, especially not like this, taking the fall for something that wasn't her fault whatsoever. He tried his hardest to swallow the ball of concern that had formed in his throat as he saw her body quiver blindfolded. His long strides felt longer as he pushed through the punches and avoided a narrow kick. Someone came over to cover him as he finally kneeled in front of her. The whole room felt quiet even though the noises of the war around them were unavoidable.

Her face was frantic, her head moving from side to side and she jostled a bit in the binds of her rope.

More gunshots resounded and he saw her jump. “IKUTA-SAN! NOT SURE HOW YOU DO THINGS WITH TAKUYA BUT DO YOU MIND HURRYING THE FUCK UP?” Ryuusei a newbie cop yelled and he nodded apologetically. He got to work on the ropes around her hands, deftly untying them but felt his his hands freeze at the blindfold for just a second. Quickly enough though he pulled his arms around her head and untied the knot at the back of her head.

The look in Rie's eyes was one he had never seen in all of his experience with the foolish, stubborn and aggressive woman.

She looked relieved to see him.

She looked like she’d waited for him all this time and the knot in his throat as he stared at her only grew bigger.

He'd fucked up. He blinked dumbly back at her, his hands clutching onto hers ever more apologetically. That night when she'd asked him to listen to her, he'd fucked up hard.

“I told you I wasn’t going to let you die.” Despite their surroundings, tears hit her eyes and nonsensical words flew from her mouth as she tried her hardest to not cry. Her face contorted in an unattractive but not entirely unappealing manner...there was something hauntingly real about the way she was crying in front of him right now. He didn't know her story, not nearly well enough but she hadn't been ready for whatever she'd been asked to do here.

There was a small part of Rie here that had broken in this house. She brought her hands up to her eyes to cover her face as her shoulders shook.

More gunshots sounded out, someone tried to pull her away from his grasp and Toma sat up quickly kicking him away. He nodded at one of the other men with him. “At exit point 6!” He yelled out ferociously. Not a moment wasted now that they had a destination in mind. He’d been through this house far too many times for his own liking but at times like this he was grateful…and he was even more grateful to those inside this house today who would secure his path out.

The Yamashita house was far larger than the Takuya house. The gardens were richer, more plush and green and filled with exotic plant life that felt strangely out of place and overly snobbish. Everything about the Yamashitas had to scream superiority because everything about this family was meant to remind you that they were old, regal, classic money with bloody assassin history painted into their flesh.

Everything the Takuya’s had looked like a mere rip off compared but not without its own charm.

He saw guards ducking through hallways running to the scene they’d just left and he dashed in through the first door he found, which thankfully was nothing more than a supplies closet. Yanking Lillith in behind him, he felt her tremble in his hands. With more pity in his heart than he ought to have felt towards the girl, he brought her closer to his chest looking down at her with a finger placed over his lips.

Emotionally she may have been wrecked but she managed to understand as she sealed her lips but couldn't seem to stop her tears. In a manner not totally unlike rocking a baby to sleep, he placed his arms around her and moved her from side to side. She felt overly warm, like a little ball of toasty fire in this enclosed space. Or was that just him and his temperature?

He tried to focus on the words the guards outside were saying, peering at the group through the cracks in the door. “All entrances have been manned…and Lady Christine’s been secured but it doesn’t look like they’re here for her.”

“They’re here for that cop bitch.” Almost reflexively he shifted her away from the door but Lillith had stilled in his arms. She'd obviously heard.

“Keep looking, they couldn’t have gone far. Chief Takahashi said she had to be ended tonight and there could be no loose ends.” The men ran past them and Lillith jumped away from him.

Her voice still shook but she finally opened her mouth. "Doesn't look like we have a lot of are we getting to exit 6?”

“Let’s just say…someone’s there to let us out so don't worry so much. Talia owes me.” He breathed softly. There was so much he wanted to ask her but there would be time for that later. Right now, all he had to worry about was securing the girl in his hands, and bringing her safely into the arms of her fiance as promised.

The knot in his throat grew bigger.

“Come on, we don’t have much time.” He opened the door stepping out carefully but Lillith tugged on his arm and stayed close to him.

He turned back to look at her and saw her look fearfully around them.

All he could think as the air burned through his running body was whether she had any idea that she was clutching his hand so tight he’d started to lose sensation in his fingers.

Still, he couldn't bring himself to let her go or even loosen his grasp on her hand...if anything he just held on even tighter.


Christine’s door banged open and she shot up in bed, her hands clutching the covers over her body.

She hated that they put her in the same room, the same room that she used to look at as she felt herself slip back into distasteful memories of a weight so heavy on her body sometimes she wondered if she had to live with it her whole life or if it could finally crush her to death.

“Good, you’re safe.” Her husband breathed heavily.

It didn’t take much for her to guess why he’d come running in the way he had. And it didn’t take much for her to realize either that this time Toma wasn’t here for her and there was no one coming, at least tonight, to snatch her away from the man in front of her. “Where would anyone take me now? Game over. You won Yamashita Tomohisa-sama. I’m not the one he’s here for.” She shifted her body back under the sheets stretching. “Now if you’ve had enough, can you please turn off the lights? I was trying to sleep before you so rudely barged in here.”

He was silent for some time but Christine felt her skin crawl when she wanted nothing more than for him to leave the room. She let out a sigh of relief when she felt his body lift off the bed and relaxed into the mattress when the lights turned off.

Then rather unexpectedly, a warm body crawled in through the sheets. Her back was still to him, she prayed that he wouldn’t try to touch her because this was already too much for her. “What are you doing?” She pleaded out shortly and felt his back touch hers.

“I’m just going to sleep beside my wife tonight-“

“You have enemies in here.” She thought this was rather a good excuse for him to get the hell out of here and take care of his house. The house that she’d quietly sacrificed part of herself for.

“Cops we pay for and Ikuta Toma- it’s nothing my men haven’t handled themselves before. They don't need me babying them. I need to be here. I can't be sure he's not going to come after you but I promise you I won't come after you here either. Not until you're ready.” He replied and she turned around despite her better mindset to look at his back. He kept a safe distance, a solid promise that he wouldn’t touch her.

Didn't he realize she'd never feel comfortable with him? Didn't he realize all she saw sometimes when she looked at him was his brother's eyes? Ambitious, disgusting and crawling with lust he couldn't control?

She often wondered why he didn’t just mess around with someone else and call it a day...divorce her, get rid of her- if he felt truly apologetic towards her and what had happened to her because of him then he would have. He surely would have.

But then she gave him and men like him too much credit. He had a silo-ed view of the world.

She felt his body turn and made a move to turn and get out of the bed herself when he grabbed her through her sheets careful not to touch her directly. “Stay.”

“Why?” She whispered softly feeling sleep touch her eyelids. The more she looked at the rest of his face she couldn’t deny a small sense of calm coming over her. The bottom half of his face was drastically different, when she was looking at his lips she could pretend he was a different person. Nagase's lips had been large, enveloping, swallowing. Tomohisa's were thin, small, light and when they smiled they were kind.

Between the three men who had affected her life the most she couldn't help but think of the strange way their personalities intersected. Nagase was brash, angry, grabby, but in person he was charismatic, a bit of a con artist.

Toma was too smart for his own good, he’d always been incredibly quick “ that was the primary reason she’d fallen in love with him. His mind moved with such speed it left you shell-shocked in and in awe. You wanted to be with him for the ride, you wanted to learn with him.

Yamapi- “I want to go to sleep looking at your face.” It wasn’t said with any particular tone of voice. “Yup, just that face.” He shut his eyes right after he said that and she gulped back the spit pooling in her mouth like she’d forgotten how to swallow.

“What face…?”

He was silent, but he moved closer to her and she felt her neck curl backwards away from him as his hair entwined with hers. His voice was low, and soft. “The face where I think you’re finally starting to look at me for me and not who I’m related to again. So I'll stay here, beside you...until you understand that I am me and you're safe with me. Safer than you would be anywhere else ”

Yamapi was strange.


Mukai had sat in his car, impatiently mind you, because he wanted nothing more than to be the man that rescued his fiance from the Yamashita family.

However, reason outweighed emotions and Ikuta had been the best candidate to enter the hostile territory because he was the one who knew the house better than anyone on the force and his prior experience pissing off people who wanted to see his face making out with a gun was unsurpassed within the covert team that had been chosen for this rescue mission.

The worst outcome would be that they were too late and Ikuta and his undercover team would be caught in a shoot-out.

The best case scenario was they extracted her with silence.With how close they were cutting this he seriously doubted the latter being the case.

The past hour had been the most trying of his life. For five minutes he would think his wife-to-be would be fine, she’d been in a wedding dress come Sunday because like hell he was going to give her another chance to get kidnapped…

And other times he imagined himself crying in front of a black and white frame with ashes surrounding the face of the woman he loved.

His heart lurched in his throat as he finally saw the exit post open up and a strange boy he didn’t recognize step through and bring Toma and Rie out. His stomach flopped over itself when he saw how entrenched they were-, Rie was clutching onto his body but he didn’t have a chance to look further because they ran so quickly they were in the car in seconds.

“Drive! They were going to fucking kill her we need to leave now Mukai!” Ikuta Toma barked at him and despite feeling rather irritated with the tone of the man’s voice, Mukai followed his orders.

Toma jumped through the backseat where he left Mukai’s own abnormally quiet fiancé by herself and buckled himself into the front seat beside him. Mukai swallowed words that almost slipped out jealously when he saw the nail marks on Toma’s arm.

They were quiet for quite a while.

Of course, he wasn’t sure where to start. Rie didn’t want to talk and Toma had nothing to say to the couple before him. Like the masochist he was, Mukai finally spoke up asking a question his heart lurched at the thought of. “When did you get there?”

“Right before they fired.” The Challenger Dodge they were driving swerved as he struggled to maintain some form of calm. “If we were a second later-“

“I take it back, I don’t want to hear it.” He replied curtly. “Thank you.”

He knew he should be asking Rie if she was okay, if they did anything to her, if they so much as touched a hair on her head- but he was scared because the more he heard the more he wanted to turn back and burn that clan to the ground.

“So what’s next? We ran with her and what we keep running? What about the rest of them in there?” His point was valid. He wasn’t quite sure, he never thought most of his missions through. In soccer he played forward, quite decidedly because he was the type of guy to run head first into situations without thinking.

“The other team members will extract themselves, they've been trained for situations like this countless times...but what I do with Rie, to be honest I'm not sure.”

“We go back to the department.” Rie voiced from the back of the car. Mukai tried to resist the urge to yell at her because there was no fucking way they were heading back there. That was like asking to put a target right on her forehead.

“Excuse me?” Toma parroted his thoughts for him. "I didn't go through all that trouble back there to save you to hand you over on a silver platter to your corrupted boss." The more time Mukai spent with him the more he didn’t like how much the man said his words before he could say them.

“We need proof against the chief, we can’t get it in his house because we don’t have a permit so we have to hope that he slipped somewhere at the office- Shige delivered things to his office didn’t he?”

“I know you think you're smart but you're actually a bit of a dumbass if you think you can just go waltzing into the office of the guy who wants you dead. You heard those guys back there-"

Ikuta's words were cut short as Rie glared at him and very carefully bit out. “No.”

“No?” He replied turning around to face her full front now.

“No. You almost got me killed. I tried to tell you. I tried to tell you I needed to talk to you and it wasn’t about-“ She caught herself before she said anymore in front of Mukai, willing herself not to shake as she openly confronted him. “You, Ikuta Toma-san, used me, you hurt me and then you just saved me so please until I understand what the hell I’m feeling when I look at your face, you don’t get to talk to me like that.” Mukai couldn’t help but snicker as he saw the way the gang boss’s mouth dropped.

He switched lanes. “For now, I’m going to drop the two of you off. Ikuta, do you have someone who can convince Takuya to get you out of prison?”

“Why?” He shot back rudely. “I’d much rather spend time there than in the company of you two screw ups.” Rie raised an eyebrow and he shrugged. "What, it's true...."

“Rie’s right…we need to get something on the chief because until then she'll have to keep running and you're not safe either. You’re in legal custody though so we can protect you but Rie she’s prime target. I bet you the city will be crawling with spies. So she has to get out for now…just until I can control the situation.”

"And where exactly is safe for now?” The sarcasm was back in Ikuta’s voice which was just as fine with Mukai. The more he irritated Rie, the better Mukai felt.

“My grandma’s house.” The car grew eerily quiet as he saw the highway exit merge with the local road they needed to stay on.

The tension in the car was so thick it could have been cut with a knife. “I’m sorry, did your boyfriend just say we’re going to his grandma’s house together? The three of us?” Despite herself Rie felt a smile touch her lips at the incredulous expression on Ikuta Toma’s face. She had to agree, it was rather fucked up for her to be going to her boyfriend’s grandmother’s house with him of all people.

Thankfully she didn’t have to answer him as Mukai responded for her. “It’s the only place I feel safe enough to keep her, she’s so far out and so remote-”

“And then what…? Who’s staying with her because-“

“You have to. Or would you prefer I push your trial up with Judge Hirakata?” Ikuta grumbled. Rie was a little shocked that Takuya had let his prize prodigy go down for what had happened that night. She had already heard one side of the story, and seen parts of what had happened to the Takuya clan…with all the death in that zone someone had to be held responsible and even though Toma had done such a good job of keeping the information from her, he’d failed somewhere else. Someone who worked better than her had definitely screwed the clan over.

“You’re the boss…just don’t blame me.”

“You won’t let anything happen to her…or you’ll be in trouble. I’d be there myself but considering I’m her fiancé they’ll come looking for me. I’m risking a lot just driving you guys but I took Ryuusei’s brother’s car so it should be okay.”

“Oh don't worry...I'll take real good care of her...REAL good care.” He remarked snidely letting his gaze catch hers, his innuendo hanging in the air.

"Stop fucking around so much Ikuta and I'll make sure you don't actually spend the rest of your life in a prison cell." Rie felt heat crawl up her neck and she turned to look out of the window.

She brought her eyes to her hands and took a deep breath.

She was fine, she was going to be fine. She was safe. She was happy. She had survived.

So why did she feel like she wasn't herself in this skin?


“Is everything okay?” Mukai’s grandmother mumbled as she looked between the three quiet faces during dinner.

“Sure thing hottie! Just consider yourself the luckiest woman in the world for getting the most handsome bodyguard out there!” Toma joked trying his best to diffuse the tense atmosphere that had pretty much persisted since their long car ride over here.

The poor old lady didn’t need to be dragged into their bull shit. If he had a grandmother he sure would stay away from her.

Mukai was the opposite as he shot Toma a side look that asked him to refrain. "God you flirt with anything that moves, that's my grandmother man! Rie I can understand but this is just weird.”

“Eh why not? I think we'd be great together. Age is just a number neh Risa-chan?”

“Araa! Mukai I love your new friend! Such a sweet young boy! Not at all like the men in this family.” Mukai’s grandmother giggled girlishly and Rie could only look on dumbly with her fiancé as Toma and this old lady smiled behind their hands.

“Why am I surprised…with some women it’s salt, with others it’s sugar but you sound like an asshole to both.” She muttered under her breath, she knew it was a joke but seeing him this way almost irritated her because she felt like it wasn’t real.

None of him was real, and it didn’t look like it ever would be whether he was a sour piece of crap or irritatingly clawing like honey.

Whatever smile had been on his face disappeared when he spoke directly back to her. “You know, I never was one for sweet things.” Her stomach twisted in knots but she didn’t dare look at him as she swallowed her bowl of miso soup in one gulp.

“Then have more seaweed dear! You too Osamu and Rie-chan! You both look so skinny since the last time I saw you-“ She continued to stereotypically prattle on, about all sorts of things. Rie could only nod along as she vaguely listened to Mukai’s grandmothers tales of how much Mukai reminded her of her husband and how much she wanted to see them get married but was worried she wouldn’t make it to the wedding.

It was all well, and had Toma not been in this room, the conversation would have been much more pleasant, enjoyable even for her because Rie enjoyed small parties like this.

As it was, their situation in this room was more complicated than Mukai knew so it almost upset her to see him smiling. It wasn’t fair to him, and it wasn’t fair that the smile on her face wasn’t exactly the same.

Time passed quickly, Toma smiled more but his body tensed further. Dinner was done and he volunteered to help Mukai’s grandmother pack things away in her kitchen while Rie walked Mukai out to the car.

“You have to leave now?” She didn’t really want him to leave, and it was selfish reasons of course. She wanted him to stay so she could feel warm and safe in his embrace, so she could fall in love with the way Mukai kissed her forehead right before they both fell asleep together.

But he was leaving, to protect her. Which made perfect sense to her as cop but as more she felt like throwing a tantrum, and huffing more air into the wind that licked their faces from the water dock beside the house.

“Of course I have to leave, they’re probably already looking for me and driving back will take its time.” He leaned forward and pulled her by the wrist closer to him and she sighed in his grasp feeling his arms come around her. “I’ll be back soon, and I’ll take you back I swear.”

“Promise?” She mumbled into his sweater and leaned her head upwards happy to feel her heart skip a beat as he smiled down at her.

“With every breath in my body.” He leaned down to kiss her and she let herself fall onto his frame when she felt his long lashes flutter against the skin on her cheeks. He moved left and she moved right in perfect synchrony and at least for a moment everything felt right.

All too soon, they parted and she reached for his fingers kissing them. “Come back soon.”

“We’ve already spent too much time apart…I don’t want much longer either Rie.” He kissed her forehead quickly and practically ran towards the car. She figured the longer he spent beside her the more he must have wanted to stay beside her.

She felt her hand rise to her lips, watching the car speed away from them and pushed her hair off her head messing it up.

For a second, she’d understood her situation…and then as soon as he left it all went to shits in her brain again.

She turned around to see Toma leaning against the entryway of the modestly sized traditional Japanese house. “How long were you standing there?”

He sneered. “Oh, long enough to catch the-“ He proceeded to obscenely recreate the motion of the kiss she'd shared with Mukai with the air around him. She felt herself groan exhausted. This was not the type of conversation she wanted to have with him at all.

This was definitely not what she had envisioned in that room.

“Just stop Toma.” After the day she’d had she was more than ready to go straight to bed so she made a move to walk past him and into the house but an arm came up at the door frame and she looked up at him with more than a healthy measure of anger.

She was a little shocked to see that the anger in her eyes was reflected just as well in his. “Wow…usually I have to do a lot more than risk my life to save someone to get that look.”

“Really..? I think this is how Christine was looking at you that day when you ran and left me in Takuya’s room. Or do you not remember that?” She huffed between words cursing as she pushed his arm away from the door and walked quickly through the entryway towards her bedroom.

She wasn't rid of him yet though, he persisted jogging behind her matching her pace a little too perfectly for her comfort.

“Jealous?” He meant it teasingly but it came out sounding arrogant.

“More like confused.” She responded.

“You’re confused? I think I should be the one confused.” There was no reason for him to be confused. She turned to face him full front as she reached her room ready to slide the doors shut on his face.

“Pray tell, why would I, a mere little underling in your grand plans with yakuza bosses and mistresses, confuse you?”

"Don't sell your self short." She saw his throat bob up and down uncertainly before he trusted his voice to speak again. “You’re the biggest liar I’ve ever met. There’s so many fucking lies running around in my head right now.” He laughed and shook his head. “I can’t make anything of you. Most undercover cops don’t risk their life-“

“We’re even now.” She cut him off. “We’re even, so don’t use that as an excuse, you did your job. You promised you wouldn’t let me go. You promised you wouldn't let me die. So thanks...and go back now.”

She tried to make a move towards entering her room, but he grabbed her arm and pulled her back. “You think this was my job?” The throaty growl that resounded in the hallway made her fingers shudder a little in fear. “You think I was running in there doing my job? You think saving cops is my job? If I had any sense and was doing my job, I would have put a bullet in you the moment you confessed but I didn't and why do you think that is?" His question threatened no one but himself.

“Then it was the debt.”

“Yeah, it’s the debt.” He rolled his eyes as the sarcasm hung between the air. “Rie,” Her name sounded foreign on his lips and it almost made the skin in his hand itch as she heard it. Like she was allergic to him and of all the reactions she expected to have finally talking to the man who had hauntingly entered most of the dreams she’d had in the Yamashita house she hadn’t expected this. “Is it easier for you to ignore it?”

“Ignore what?” She replied back dumbly. Maybe he was right, she was a total liar because she knew exactly what he was talking about and he was right, it was easier for her to ignore her feelings towards him right now.

“The debt, if that’s the answer you’re looking for, if that’s the answer you want - I’ll give it to you.”

She scoffed. “Then what is it? The guilt of fucking around with my mind?” She pushed forward getting surprisingly angry. “All I wanted was for you to hear me out but you know you used me. I couldn’t see it in there but you used me more than Jun ever did and he almost got me killed. You came even closer than he did!”

“What is wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you?! What the hell are you doing here? Why would you- be here? Why are you co-operating, being friendly with Mukai and his family and being so unlike yourself and being so-“ He blinked quickly and she paused. “I don’t understand you. Why did you come here? I know if you wanted to you could go back, you could go back to everything so why are you here? I know what you think of me, and cops, and trust and all the things you said were important to you so why are you doing this?”

She was half expecting the answer she always got when she asked him why. ‘Because I wanted to’.

She got something only very slightly different. “Because you wanted me to.”

The idea that Ikuta Toma had done something she wanted him to sounded ridiculous even to her own head. “What?”

“You wanted me to…you wanted to save me. So go ahead. Try. You have as long as I’m in police custody. Try your very hardest.” She’d thought he was trusting her when he gave her his hand that day on the beach but she was totally wrong because nothing compared to what he was giving her now. He was giving her…power. Over him. It made no sense, she knew who he loved, she’d seen it in front of her very eyes. “Takuya gave me up and when Mukai told him he’d use me in the time he was in police custody he gave me up. So make me stay. Change me back to who you think I was. I dare you…and all of this? This is just me helping you because you’re the one who said it. I’m not cold-blooded and I lied and you are precious. You're so pure and idealistic and you’re made to be a hero. So make me like you Rie, make me a good guy if you still think you can.” She stood there blinking at him as he looked back at her and a genuine smile broke out on his face when he took in her dumbfounded expression.

Then he shook his head and he did something incredibly uncharacteristic of the Toma she’d gotten to know in Tryst. “Relax, I could have asked for much more.” He ruffled her hair innocently but there was nothing innocent about the feelings tingling down to her toes when she felt his skin against hers. Just as well that he didn’t seem to notice how stone-like she’d gotten because he started to walk away from her.

“6AM!” She burst out. “6AM. We’re going running!” He waved a hand back at her to indicate he’d heard her and she gulped down the ball firmly lodged in her throat. “We’re going to plan the chief’s demise you know!”

“Wouldn’t have it any other way!” He called out as he turned to another hallway and she huffed turning back to her room.

She was in trouble.

Author's Chapter End Notes

No previews because...hahaha but hope you all enjoyed it!


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