Irie Shouichi arrived at 2:47 AM, exactly an hour after Sawada Tsuyanoshi was gunned to death on the main stairwell of the Boccaccio Family Mansion. It took him two hours to acquaint himself with the situation, and another four hours to properly establish his authority. The Boccaccio had been a stalwart supporter Vongola Family, at least until the day the Millefiore had stepped into the game. White Spell squadrons were currently doing their new allies a favor by summarily executing each member of the family with a clean shot to the head. It was sure to be better than anything that the Vongola were bound to do to them once they recovered from the shock of losing their boss and rallied together. One of his subordinates had been kind enough to inform Irie about the executions, and had wondered if it would please their leader to oversee the proceedings personally. Irie had politely declined, and proceeded to walk out of the mansion, over to the nearest copse of trees and start puking out his dinner and any hope of eating a good breakfast.
Good job, Ichirobo. How very professional of you.
It was amazing how one’s inner voice could sound completely flat and unimpressed even while one’s body was bent over double, wracked with chills and otherwise feeling like shit. Shouichi tried to straighten up, felt the world tilt sideways again, and immediately slumped against the nearest tree for support. A few more minutes, and he would be a-okay. He just needed a little more time—
“Well, if it isn’t Irie-kun.”
The day was, indeed, panning out to be absolutely wonderful. Shouichi’s professionalism kicked in before his self-preservation skills did, and the brunette immediately snapped up straight, staring at the tall and now increasingly familiar figure of Byakuran.
“…Ah. Good morning, sir.”
Byakuran chuckled and waved him off. His eyes – languid and violet – slid away from Shouichi’s face, moving towards the base of the tree that Shouichi had just spent the last few moments retching unto. “It’s rather early for one to feel so sick, don’t you think?” he murmured, stepping forward. A hand stretched out, smooth, white and long-fingered. “Here, let me help you.”
Until he had met Byakuran, Shouichi had not been aware of the fact that it was entirely possible for someone to kill another with kindness, to scare them into submission by being the perfect gentleman. The young man felt it again as he took Byakuran’s hand: a brief surge of panic as Byakuran led him out into the pale light of the winter morning, that strange lightness at the sound of Byakuran’s voice, that dull ache at the pit of his heart when he looked up and into Byakuran’s eyes and remembered what he had done to get to that point and why he was even at the man’s side in the first place. It had been hard to sleep during his first nights as the commander of the Japan division – he always ended up having nightmares, or torturing himself with the possibility that maybe Byakuran knew (knew about the Plan, knew about the way Shouichi’s heart hiccupped whenever he was in the room), since Byakuran seemed to know everything. He did not know whether to consider the fact that Byakuran worked him to the bone a good thing or a bad thing. Now he was far too exhausted to dream, to wonder, to hope or to regret.
“You will be returning to Japan tomorrow, correct?” Byakuran’s voice was the smooth, silken whisper just at his ear, drawing him out of his thoughts. Shouichi ducked his gaze and decided that the sight of his black boots against the blinding white of the snow at their feet was a most interesting thing.
“What a shame… I wanted to show you around Italy a little more. No matter,” Byakuran lightly added. “You’re doing important work for me in Namimori. There will be time for us to get acquainted with each other when all of this is over.”
You’re the only ones that I can trust with this, Sawada Tsuyanoshi had said to him and Hibari Kyouya, forty-eight hours before he became a bloodied smashed something against a wooden staircase. Shouichi felt his free hand clench. He wondered, idly, if Byakuran noticed it.