Hey, just wanted to say I love all your stories, and I was wondering if you could post an excerpt of the next chapter for Set the Skies Ablaze? and maybe When the Bell Tolls as well if you have it? Thanks!
I don’t have anything for WtBT but here’s a bit for ch4 of StSA:
~December, 1st Day~
Reisi glanced up, hiding his annoyance as one of his men burst into the office, harried and out of breath.
“What is it?” He enquired coolly, holding up a hand when Awashima made to reprimand the officer.
The man fumbled a salute before blurting out, “The Red King’s at the gates asking to see you, sir!”
The entire room seemed to stiffen, tension skyrocketing instantaneously. Thankfully, only Awashima, Fushimi, Akiyama, and Doumyouji were present, all four turning to look at Reisi with frozen expressions.
For his part, Reisi was trying to remember the last time Suoh Mikoto had ever asked for anything. That would be…
“He is on his way in now?” Reisi queried rhetorically as he got to his feet. Suoh was always so impatient. He arched an eyebrow when the officer faltered.
“Uh, no, sir,” The man looked increasingly nervous. “Should I have invited him in?”
If Reisi wasn’t already looking at the officer, he would’ve done a double-take. “The Red King is waiting at the front gates?”
It took a surprisingly large amount of effort to keep himself from stressing the ‘waiting’.
Reisi exchanged a glance with Awashima. Would miracles never cease.
Still, either Suoh had, astoundingly enough, learned some manners or the man wanted to talk to Reisi alone without any Blue Clansmen around or cameras recording their encounter.
If Reisi was a betting man, he’d put all his money on the latter.
His office only had one camera overseeing the room, and only Reisi and Awashima had access to the footage, but there was the possibility of other people getting their hands on it, however slim.
He heaved a sigh but grabbed his coat anyway.
“Sir?” Awashima looked concerned.
“It’s fine,” Reisi said firmly, dismissing the officer with a wave of his hand. “I’ll go see what he wants.”
“Taichou,” Doumyouji stepped forward. “Perhaps a guard of some sort-”
“I’ll be fine,” Reisi interjected adamantly, glancing briefly at Fushimi who was staring mulishly out the window with his arms crossed in a ridiculously childish stance.
Reisi suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. Sometimes, he felt like he was babysitting rather than running a police force.
He flicked a look at Awashima next. Keep him inside.
His lieutenant nodded curtly and Reisi strode for the door, casting a stern look back when Doumyouji made to follow. Akiyama elbowed his partner in the ribs and the former reluctantly stayed put.
Satisfied, Reisi headed out of the building, settling his trench coat around his shoulders just as he stepped outside.
Even from this far away, he could sense Suoh’s barely tamed presence pulsing at the front of the gates. If he had concentrated, he could’ve picked it up from his office.
The men on guard duty – none of them part of his elite, thank goodness – saluted as he passed them, all looking distinctly uneasy. Reisi made a mental note to step up their training – if this was how they were when the Red King wasn’t doing anything, he’d hate to see how they would fare in the face of an attack from the same man.
“Suoh,” He greeted civilly as he stepped off his Clan grounds and drew to a stop in front of the King currently leaning against one of the stone columns bordering the perimeter of Scepter 4’s headquarters.
Amber eyes slanted to the side to meet his gaze, indifference practically radiating from the single glance.
Reisi stared back evenly, neither of them willing to back down. He stiffened imperceptibly when Suoh’s Aura flared dangerously, and swiftly released his own Aura, a solid wall of contained power.
Outwardly however, nothing changed. Reisi continued staring flatly at the other King while Suoh borderline glowered back. Around them, Reisi’s Clansmen shifted restlessly, looking torn between chasing Suoh away and arresting him.
Figuring that they should get on with whatever issue was at hand before a fight broke out, Reisi tilted his head down the street, gaze never wavering. “Shall we?”
Suoh grunted wordlessly before pushing off the pillar, closing his eyes at the same time that Reisi finally looked away.
A stalemate. As usual.
“Do not follow us,” Reisi instructed with a fleeting, sharp look at the surrounding officers before setting off down the road, Suoh falling into step beside him with at least two feet of space separating them.
The apprehensive silence between them lasted until they rounded a corner two minutes later.
“How may I help you then, Suoh?” Reisi started tersely, maintaining decorum despite the unwanted company. Still, he couldn’t help tacking on, “I hope your Clan hasn’t destroyed something else that Scepter 4 will have to clean up after.”
The Red King didn’t rise to the bait, not that Reisi expected him to. Violent to a fault he might be, but Suoh actually had a shockingly long fuse.
Most of the time.
The redhead remained silent for several more feet, and when he spoke, he didn’t bother looking at Reisi.
“The yakuza,” Suoh said bluntly. “I want everything you have on them.”
Reisi had to stomp down on the automatic irritation that welled up in his chest. And keep his metaphorical foot there as he shot back coolly, “I’m afraid all information pertinent to our current investigation of the new power circulating the yakuza network is classified.”
Suoh stopped dead in his tracks, and Reisi was forced to come to a halt as well. “Suoh-”
“Don’t give me that, Munakata,” The Red King’s voice came out in a dangerous gravelly baritone as he finally looked straight at Reisi. “It was my Clan they attacked.”
“And it was my Clan they attacked before yours,” Reisi retorted without missing a beat. “What exactly is your point?”
Amber eyes narrowed. Reisi stared back impassively. “You got off lucky, Suoh. You didn’t even lose any men. I lost three the day the yakuza started coming out of the woodwork, and a fourth passed just two weeks after that in the hospital. If I hand over anything regarding the yakuza, you HOMRA punks will only give Scepter 4 even more work. Frankly, I don’t need the headaches.”
Suoh frowned at him, expression dark and unreadable. He said nothing, and after a long moment, Reisi exhaled somewhat impatiently through his nose and turned away.
“If that’s all,” He said brusquely, adjusting his glasses as he began moving back in the direction they had come from.
“They’re targeting Sawada,” Suoh’s voice sounded behind him, abrupt and detached.
Munakata froze mid-stride, mind flashing back to the brown-haired civilian he had talked to only a few weeks back. He arranged his features into a picture of professional neutrality instead before turning back. “I beg your pardon?”
Suoh’s gaze was now glued on the distant skyline. “Sawada’s been seen with HOMRA. They’re targeting him.”
The Red King turned and frowned at him. “That means something to you, doesn’t it? You walked him partway home three weeks ago.”
Reisi refrained from going rigid at being caught unawares. How had Suoh known? There had been no one else waiting for Sawada outside the diner that day – of that he was sure. Maybe a HOMRA member had seen them (not Suoh because Reisi could be on the brink of death and still be able to sense the Red King if the man was nearby) when they had parted ways then? Reisi had been more focused on pondering the brown-haired enigma than keeping an eye on his surroundings, and anything short of killing intent would’ve probably passed over his head.
Inwardly, he berated himself for the slip. And perhaps he should’ve tried to weasel a bit more information out of Sawada when they had been talking; clearly, HOMRA wasn’t doing a very good job protecting him if random yakuza were getting their hands on the brunet.
Outwardly, Reisi settled for closing his eyes. “Then perhaps the best course of action would be to stop interacting with Sawada-san?”
This time, Suoh really did glare at him, a hard glint sharpening his eyes. The man didn’t bother replying but Reisi grasped the message loud and clear.
“He’s not HOMRA, Suoh,” Reisi said quietly. “He’s not one of yours. Warn him off, before you get him killed.”
Suoh scoffed, slouching even further. “He’s already been seen with us. The yakuza won’t stop just because we leave him alone.”
There was a strange inflection in the Red King’s last few words that Reisi couldn’t quite read, but it made his gut tighten uncomfortably anyway.
He sighed again and glanced off to the side to gather his thoughts. “Our investigation into the yakuza is going slowly. I highly doubt we have found out much more than what Awashima has already told your second-in-command.”
The glare was back. “You won’t tell me?”
Reisi shot an annoyed look at the other man, his patience wearing thin. “Did you miss everything I just said? You-”
Suoh didn’t stick around for the rest of the sentence, already walking away as Reisi stared after him with increasing alarm. “For God’s sakes, Suoh, leave the investigation to Scepter 4! The last thing we need is a turf war that none of us will be able to win!”
The Red King had certainly heard Reisi but, as per usual, he didn’t listen. He never did, not when it was anyone other than Kusanagi and Totsuka and maybe that clairvoyant child trying to get through that thick head of his, and even then, he only humoured them if it suited him. Suoh was the most wilful person Reisi had ever had the displeasure of meeting.
He sighed a third time in rare frustration, removing his glasses and running a tired hand over his face. Encounters with Suoh always left him in a bad mood and an even worse state of mind.
And things would undoubtedly get much more difficult from this point onwards.
By the time Reisi returned to Scepter 4’s headquarters, Awashima was already waiting at the gates, saluting neatly as he got within hearing range.
“How did it go?” She enquired in an almost resigned manner.
Reisi shook his head. “As well as it could’ve gone.”
That is to say – badly, as opposed to very badly. At least the Red King wasn’t going to march off to start a war right this minute.
He glanced back in the direction that Suoh had walked off in. “…Step up the search for whoever’s responsible for those black flames being distributed amongst the yakuza. HOMRA won’t stay quiet for much longer.”