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Seven Days

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The man who claims to be Yoshimoto Kouya strides into the Numata household as purposefully as ever, pausing once he is inside the door to remove his shoes and coat, ever the polite guest. That done, he marches into the lounge to give the kitchen a cursory glance and, as expected, Kayoko and Kazushige – the mother and father of the family, as well as Shigeyuki - are nowhere to be seen. Satisfied with this he continues straight up the stairs and along the corridor to Shinichi's room where he knocks on the door and – without even waiting for an answer – opens it and peeks inside, already knowing that the boy will be waiting for him. After the success which the tutor has had with Shigeyuki it's already been decided that he will start tutoring Shinichi as well, despite the confrontation of a few days ago which left him with a wounded arm – not that the rest of the family know anything about that, of course.

"Shinichi-kun!" He grins, his expression already mischievous.  "Are you ready for your lesson?"

Shinichi is sitting at his desk; he got home from school some time ago but he hasn't changed out of his uniform completely yet, still wearing his shirt and trousers, although he has removed the blazer and tie. He slowly turns around on his chair to acknowledge Kouya's presence as the tutor appears, although to say that he greets him would be too much of an exaggeration, for the stony glare written on his face is very far from being any kind of greeting whatsoever.  He folds his arms across his chest and stares at the older man, his body language already hostile and defensive.

"Sensei." The word is uttered mockingly, dripping with bitter sarcasm. “So glad you could make it.”

"You could at least pretend to be glad to see me."  Kouya adopts an expression of mock disappointment as he steps inside Shinichi's room, closing the door behind him.  "After all, I'm here to help you improve your grades, aren't I?"

"We both know I don't want you here.  There's no point in trying to pretend otherwise."  The boy eyes Kouya warily, the hint of a threat in his eyes. "In fact, if mother and father were both here I'm sure I could come up with some way to make them throw you out for good."

"But they're not."  Kouya smiles and invites himself to sit down on the bed, which causes Shinichi's eye to give an involuntary twitch.  "In fact, I can focus all of my undivided attention on you, seeing as we're home alone."

"And we both know why that is."  Shinichi continues to glare at Kouya.  "Shigeyuki has been on his own for so long, and now suddenly he's getting invitations to go and play with classmates who wouldn't even have bothered spitting on him a month ago.  Don't you think that's strange, Sensei? And mother would never have been the type to go out for a drink with her so-called friends and leave her precious house and family unattended... yet that's exactly what's happened tonight. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"

"Oh, come on now - it's hardly surprising that your mother wouldn't want to stay at home all the time, especially not with your father spending such long hours at the office..."  

Kouya sighs then smiles, both of them knowing full well what those long hours really mean, and who he's spending them with. The subtle reminder that his own father is spending time with Tachibana Maki only serves to irritate Shinichi further, but what can he do? He's helpless until he can obtain some kind of evidence against Yoshimoto Kouya, which is one of the only reasons why he agreed to be tutored by the man in the first place. That, and the damning evidence which Kouya holds against him, but surely it's only a matter of time until he slips up and Shinichi can make his move.

“If they knew who you really were, there's no way they'd let you be alone in the house with me.”

“You're not still hung up on that, are you?” Kouya flings out his arms in a gesture of irritation. “We've talked about this! I am Yoshimoto Kouya, no matter what you might say otherwise...”

“And you're a murderer.” Shinichi remains tense. “You can stay here and play teacher with me if you have to, but don't come any closer... I can use a knife...”

If Shinichi hopes to sound strong or threatening, his words fall utterly flat as Kouya bursts out laughing.

“You think I'd already forgotten that?” He flexes his arm, the same one which received the knife wound only a couple of days ago. “And you really think I care? Really though, if you fail to get into one of the National Seven, maybe you should consider a career as a comedian... or at least learn to attack something more threatening than a bike tyre. Now, then... I hope you've been working on those verbs which I gave you?"

“You should take me more seriously, Sensei.” Again, the boy spits the title with malice, upset and frustrated that Kouya simply won't acknowledge his threats – or the efforts that he's gone to in order to gain the information about the tutor's past. “I will find out who you are and what you want, eventually. And when I do...”

“You're not listening to me.” The older man closes his eyes and massages his temples, acting as though his student has said nothing of any importance. “Have you looked at those verbs?”

"I don't care about verbs."  Shinichi remains stubborn and aloof, clearly refusing to play exactly by Kouya's rules even if it costs him his grades. He may have agreed to be tutored by Kouya, but he made no promises as to how much of an effort he'd actually make with the work. As far as he is concerned, there are bigger things at stake here than his studies, and he's eager to get to the bottom of them.  "I care more about what you're doing to this family."

"What I'm doing to this family?"  Again, Kouya adopts an expression of mock hurt.  "I'm trying to help you!  Did you miss the part where Shigeyuki's grades increased so much in so short a time that I got a raise?"

"Don't play with me."

"Don't play with you?"  Kouya laughs, almost maniacally, practically doubling over with mirth before his expression becomes suddenly deathly serious; then he leans in to fix Shinichi with an intense look, hateful and insane.  "You're the one who wanted to start playing this game, and I'm going to play it with you until the very end. Didn't I already tell you that?"

“Shut up.” Shinichi hisses. Kouya is close enough now for Shinichi to slap him, but for some reason he holds back; he's not impressed with his tutor's attitude, especially since he is convinced that he can outwit the man, although whether he will actually be able to remains to be seen. “Just shut up! You're the one who came into our lives and started causing all this trouble! I don't know who you are but you're not Yoshimoto Kouya! You're tearing us apart, pretending to care about Shigeyuki and acting like you're trying to help mother and father with their problems, but all you really want is to make toys of us all, and I won't take it any longer!”

“Tearing you apart?” Kouya gives another barking laugh, his eyes wild. “You were already in pieces before I even got here! You're only angry because you can't do what you want any more - isn't that right? Your family was so broken that you could easily slip between the cracks without being noticed. But I know exactly where the broken pieces are, and you're not going to slip away so easily any more. As for who I am... it's Yoshimoto-Sensei.”

“You're not Yoshimoto Kouya!”

“Yoshimoto-Sensei. Repeat after me. Is it so hard to do?”

“I could go to the police---”

“You won't.” Kouya does not seem at all perturbed by Shinichi and just smiles. His body language is infuriatingly confident and self-assured, and he seems to be able to tell that his student is holding back so much pent-up aggression. "Do you want to hit me?"

Shinichi stares at him from where he sits, clenching his fists. He knows full well that Kouya is goading him, although that knowledge does little to calm his temper.

"Well?  Do you want to hit me?  You couldn't stab me and you couldn't slap me, but if you really hate me that much you must be able to do something."

"I couldn't hate you any more than I already do."

"Is that so?"  Kouya cocks his head to one side.  "I wonder what I'd have to do to earn some more of that contempt... maybe I should ask your girlfriend."

"What do you mean, my girlfriend...?"

"You do have one, yes?” The tutor raises an eyebrow. "Mogami Asuka? She's been over here a few times. How much have you told your girlfriend about me?"

"Enough."  Shinichi continues to eye him warily, really not sure where this is going. This, for him, is one of the most infuriating things about Kouya. Just when he thinks he knows where a conversation is going, the man will throw in something completely unexpected which sends things in a completely different direction, and Shinichi struggles to keep up. For a boy who likes to be in control and takes pleasure from staying a step ahead of anyone else, it's something which makes him utterly furious and leaves him fuming.

"Really."  Kouya doesn't sound convinced.  "She knows I visit your house to teach your little brother.  What else?"

"She knows you're weird.” His tone is guarded, for he doesn't want to give away too much. “That there's something not quite right about you."

"Ah, Shinichi-kun... women like weird."  By this point Kouya is grinning madly and Shinichi is starting to become more and more frantic, unable to hide his rising irritation.

"Stop messing around and get to the point!"

"Well, what it comes down to is... I've got her number, and I wonder if she'd like some extra tutoring, while I'm at it. After all, I managed to get such good results from dear little Shigeyuki, and your mother always speaks so highly of me.  Shall we find out?"  Before Shinichi can answer, Kouya is already reaching for the phone in his bag, pulling it out and making as if to dial a number - but his finger never reaches the button, because before he can press it, Shinichi has leapt from his seat to knock the phone from his hand, snarling as he does so.

"Don't you dare touch my girlfriend---"

"I don't think that's the problem."  If Shinichi thinks Kouya will be annoyed by his reaction he has another thing coming.  In fact, it's almost as though Kouya expected it, and he laughs.  "You don't like it when the attention isn't on you, do you?"

"What do you mean?"

"What do you think I mean?"  Kouya continues to grin.  "You like to be the centre of attention; it's as simple as that.  If I wanted to go around taking advantage of just any student, I could call your girlfriend and see if she's free later this evening... she very much enjoyed the lunch we had together today, and she did ask me to call her."

"You're lying!"  Shinichi is near to exploding by this point, whilst Kouya remains annoyingly calm.

"Am I?  Why don't you call her and ask her?  If you weren't so busy rushing around trying to find out pointless things about me, maybe you would have seen us in that cafe round the corner from the library.  She had the strawberry parfait, which she always has, because it's her favourite..."

He's done his best to hold back so far but even Shinichi can only withstand so much goading, and Kouya implying that he could take his girlfriend away from him is the final straw. With an anguished cry of frustration and rage, the boy launches himself at Kouya with enough force to knock him back onto the bed; even though the tutor braces himself against the attack – because after all, he had expected it - he is still somewhat surprised by the strength of Shinichi's anger.  He tries to catch the boy's wrists, but before he can do so he catches a blow to the cheek from one of Shinichi's flailing fists which knocks him sideways. They struggle for a few moments, but it doesn't take long for Kouya to gain the upper hand – Shinichi's attack is raw anger which lacks finesse and direction, whereas Kouya is bigger, stronger, and has had more experience in physical confrontation. Something which Shinichi should already have learned by now. With a weary sigh he finally pins the boy down by his arms, leaning in to smirk in his face.

"You can't stand the thought that I'd want her instead of you, can you?  That I'd want some air-headed girl who can't keep up with you, who can't match you intellectually... because she can't, can she? I never thought you'd be the type to settle for a trophy girlfriend!” Kouya chuckles, clearly enjoying every moment of this. “You can't stand the thought of me wanting to pay attention to anyone except you... because you don't think anyone else deserves it.  Because you think you're so perfect, so clever..."

Shinichi's cheeks flush with both anger and shame at the realisation of the truth, because Kouya is absolutely right, but the boy won't give him the satisfaction of admitting it.  Instead he turns away and gives a sneer of indignation, briefly struggling to try and escape Kouya's grip, but the older man is too strong, maintaining his grip as he continues to speak.

"You pose and strut, acting like the world is yours to play with and everything is here for the taking - your taking.  But when it comes down to it, you don't know what to do when you're in real trouble." He leans in close so that his face is almost touching Shinichi's own, his eyes wild. "I hate people like you."

It's enough to cause Shinichi to cry out his own hatred, and the boy thrashes out with his leg, trying to hit Kouya in the crotch; he misses, but it throws Kouya off-balance and he has to steady himself, shifting his knees inbetween Shinichi's own, forcing the younger man's legs further apart as he kneels above him.  He raises an eyebrow as his leg brushes against Shinichi's inner thigh, finding an unexpected hardness there, and then a cruel smile begins to find its way back onto his face.

"Shinichi-kun... is this exciting you...?"