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from laundry to a laundered reputation

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“Fancy seeing you here,” a sickeningly silken voice drawled from behind, and Seto felt himself instantaneously cringe in return.


“No need to be so formal around me, Ryuuji would–”

“I’d rather not.”


The other model sat in the recently vacated chair across the brunet, a smirk relaying that Seto’s icy reply had done little, or if anything at all to deter his presence. Disregarding all concepts of personal space, Ryuuji dragged the chair until it allowed his knee to barely miss the increasingly unhappy CEO, shooting the latter an intentionally patronising smile before he slid into his new seat.

Ignoring the frigidity in Seto’s reply, Ryuuji leaned back into the chair, the high ponytail of his carefully styled long hair gently fluttering as he did. To the average person, or even the other supermodels who dotted the place, Ryuuji was quite the stunner with midnight black hair that somehow cascaded into the perfect frame against his perpetually hooded bright green eyes. Although shorter than his counterpart, Ryuuji’s incredible body proportion added miles of illusion, and given his innate talent, he soared to the top echelon of the industry alongside the then modelling Seto.

Sensing the brunet’s prickly attitude, Ryuuji couldn't help but mimic the former’s defensive posture. Folding his arms in subtle mockery, the vividness of his eyes accentuated by an uncharacteristic sharpness, unwavering as they held Seto’s glare under their covers of gold shadows

“Is there something you need?” Seto snapped irritably, less than pleased at being the target of the other model’s attention. I don’t care what personal emergency you have Ky, but you’re going to get some very choice words from me for giving this tacky never-has-been a chance to get this close to me.

“No, but it looks like there’s something you need,” Ryuuji released an arm, propping it vertically to allow his chin to rest loosely on his hand. “But don’t worry, that’s why I’ve come to give your lonesome self some company.”

“Don’t flatter yourself. I’d much rather the presence of media reporters than someone like you.” Seto pushed his chair as far back as he could, gifting himself a whole extra inch of freedom from the suffocating presence of the other man he had the absolute misfortune of being trapped in. “Unlike you, I’ve no need to prance around with a posse for others to know who I am.”

“What makes you think I need one?” The other man gestured pointedly at the surprising lack of screaming groupies around him, deliberately knocking his velvet covered knee lightly against Seto’s leather clad one as he did.

“Even they’ve abandoned you? I see that you really are on the last legs of your modelling career.”

“Hardly,” Ryuuji replied just as smoothly, taking the time to tuck the length of his fringe behind his ear, revealing the full length of his drop earring dangling delicately against his flawless skin — a dice carved from solid gold with opposing sides set as transparent crystals, in which Seto could glimpse circles of rubies gliding around with even the slightest motion from their owner.

Seeing Seto’s gaze drawn instinctively towards his jewellery, the other model continued, “Collaboration between my personal brand, and Chopard, which of course you’d know since it’s one of this season’s darling collections.”

Darling is quite the exaggeration. The items in that collection are gaudy at best, and do little, if nothing to push the boundaries of design. Single oversized earring? This season has been completely oversaturated with them even before your superfluous addition.”

Before Ryuuji could interject, the brunet continued blandly, “The highlight of the collection is the exchange of Chopard’s signature happy diamonds for jubilant rubies. Dernier cri it isn’t, but sheer laziness, and a lack of imagination it definitely is. As mediocre as your modelling skill is, it’d be a much better business decision to continue your short lived future there instead.”

Knowing better than to take Seto’s bait at a charity gala, Ryuuji chose to respond with a chuckle that didn’t quite reach his eyes, the jubilant rubies of his earring clinking as he did.

“Regardless how it doesn’t suit your love for the passé–”


“Classically boring, it doesn’t change how my collection is still the season’s best seller,” the black-haired model explained, peach coloured lips curling upwards from their previous frown, “My profits there, and me walking for the usual big names for the upcoming fashion weeks are anything but indicators of my supposed departure.”

“Sorry to disappoint, but my career is far from over, Seto,” Ryuuji twirled a stray lock of his hair, the rubies of his elaborate cocktail ring (another piece from his collection) flashing almost tauntingly at the man across him.

“On the other hand, I don’t recall seeing your name in any of the setlists for the fashion week shows. But I guess that explains why your knowledge of the season’s trends is lacking.”

“Catwalks are beyond my main source of income now,” Seto counters easily, “Why waste my own time, and effort when I can monopolise, and wield that of others with comfort instead?”

The brunet held the gaze of the other man as he moved to wrap a slender leg over the other, motion purposeful as he left it propped higher than usual, a white suede boot prominent in contrast against the glittering velvet pants of the latter.

“Being au courant with the fashion scene is but a single requirement of being the CEO of Kontrast Creative. Not only is my knowledge of latest trends impeccable, with millions of eyes on me, I’m a forerunner in the much more exclusive trend setting circle.”

“Suede, in a simple clean white. Perfect for when the weather is still less than ideal, and brilliant against the monotony of muted shades that characterise winter. Versatile, it complements any outfit, from the formal to the casual, all the while providing utmost comfort for the wearer without compromising on class. Utterly splendid in every way, which is why it’s a must-have staple for Autumn-Winter ’17.”

Wrinkling his nose in disgust, his eyes almost physically repulsed from the sight, Seto returned his attention to the travesty of the other model’s footwear, “Winklepickers have never been a acceptable choice. Not even for witches on Halloween. And velvet is so Autumn-Winter ‘16. It should be evident to you now that wearing trends, and being fashionable are two very different things.”

Before Ryuuji could form a retort (because winklepickers are incredibly stylish, it just takes someone daring enough to make a bold statement with them), a singsong voice interrupted their conversation.

“Oh, hello boys~”

Feeling dread crawl on their now damp necks, both men resisted turning their heads to the unwelcomed presence, disagreement now forgotten as they temporarily bonded to face a mutual enemy.



“Why yes, that is my name! I’m so pleased you boys finally remember! Warms my heart right back up~”

“If he has a heart, I’d be Mr. Macho 2017,” Ryuuji whispered under his breath, barely loud enough for the brunet to hear.

For the first time in his life, Seto agreed with something that escaped the other model’s mouth. He slightly inclined his head in agreement, steely eyes still focused at the similarly displeased latter instead of the intruder, and arms folded so tightly he could feel the tension strangle his own breaths.

“What a stroke of luck for me to find both Seto darling, and dear Ryuuji~ We have so much catching up to do–“

Seto suppressed his urge to regurgitate the little food he’d managed to stomach.

Taking the older male’s invitation as a cue to hightail out before said catching up happened, Ryuuji non-too-subtly stood up, lips tight as he excused himself, “I apologise, but nature calls. I’m sure you, and Seto have much to converse about even in my absence.”

With a dainty flip of his hair, the black-haired model hurried off, the patter of his heels almost ecstatic. When a safe enough distance away, he glanced back at the now outright furious Seto, giving him a look that was somewhat apologetic, but mostly victorious.

Not willing to be the inferior model’s scapegoat, Seto extracted his phone (encased in a case lined with actual diamonds outlining the holographic KC logo engraved in its centre) from his clutch, looked past the placid, yet somehow uncanny smile the older man was giving him before deadpanning.

“If you’d excuse me, I’ve a very important call to take.”

“That’s a shame. But I don’t see a call–“

“Trust me, there’s one,” Seto shot back almost immediately, already walking past the bewildered (but somehow still smiling) older man, heading towards the balcony of the ballroom that overlooked the terrace of the hotel’s grounds.

Out in the rather chilly, but still refreshing March night air, Seto was finally able to enjoy his privacy. After seeing Pegasus move on to his next unfortunate victim, Seto turned his back to the bustling ballroom. Choosing to focus on his phone instead, his fingers rapidly typed an update (not a rant, he never rants) of his night to the non-present Ky Kiske.

I’ve half a mind to leave since you not showing up had conveniently created two personal emergencies of my own.

Oh dear. How grave are they, if you don’t mind me asking?


I’m here to listen if you need someone to talk to.

Although much appreciated, you being here would’ve negated their occurrence to begin with.

I’d have loved to attend a gala with such a charitable cause. But unfortunate circumstances forced my hand otherwise. I do apologise.

I presume said circumstances have been resolved given the timeliness of your responses?

(The full minute of inactivity that followed nearly annoyed Seto enough to call the other man to demand for an answer.)


Efficient as usual, I see.

Just another product of your influence.

If only the rest of my staff could be half as competent.

I’m certain they’re trying their best. We all do for a boss like you.

Unlikely. Maybe I should fire everyone else and rehire, because our KPIs do not show said effort.

Perhaps it’s because they just aren’t as capable as you, and not because they shirk away from their responsibilities. Even if we wanted to, few, if any of us can hope to rival your abilities.

(Although what his friend said was a conclusion Seto came to many times in the past, he paused anyway, waiting to hear how Ky justified what he frankly believed was unforgivable incompetence on his employees’ end.)

Besides their livelihoods being dependent on their performance, you are an intrinsic motivation for us models, and the support staff alike. It’s hard not to be when you’re working for the best modelling firm in the world, and under a man with such clarity of vision.

Maybe for some of them, but others, especially the new hires, I’m considering showing the door the second it’s convenient to.

Give them a little more time to adjust. You’d be surprise at how dedicated some are to you. Take Jounouchi Katsuya for example. He has not only accepted the substantial responsibility of clearing your office, but has also been the first to constantly meet every expectation of yours so far. I’d say that comes only with the determination to succeed, and to overcome any challenge placed before him. All those are quite the rarity for a job many would deem insignificant to a modelling agency. He is but one example, and I do believe the rest of your staff is mostly the same. Just give them a little more leniency to adapt, and grow. It can be astonishing how much more some can give.

Rather surprised at Ky’s choice of example, Seto’s fingers hovered above the illuminated screen, debating the answer he had yet formed. While he knew the janitor was quite the hard worker despite his foul mouth, it was still quite a stretch to lavish such praises on him.

Before the CEO could respond, a waiter —clad in clothes that made him look more like a stiff penguin than anything remotely professional— called for his presence in the main area. The former waved a hand impatiently in dismissal after hearing something about the President of the charity starting his speech soon. Deciding that a lack of reply to Ky’s message was more than appropriate, he shut off his phone, and strutted into the ballroom, steps steady but light, hundreds of eyes mesmerised by the presence exuded from the form that the volume of his coat billowed around.



I’m a slaveeeee, for you

Amidst the silence of a mostly empty office building, a dusty blond haired man shimmied in beat to the din of his one-man disco — brows drawn in concentration as he tried (and failed) to hit the high notes, voice shamelessly loud against the deafening volume of his music player, perky derriere swaying in tandem to the melody, the single cotton bud pinched between his fingers a makeshift light stick.

The holographic wall clock showed that it was just past nine in the night, and Katsuya wasn’t even halfway done with the absurd number of dragon statues his boss kept in his office. So, to retain the little sanity he had left after what already felt like an eternity, Katsuya decided an hour ago that only the princess of pop could alleviate the monotony of his tediously laborious task.

Midway through his playlist of Britney’s greatest hits, fatigue and the late hour gradually removed his inhibitions, and somewhere during the night, his brain willingly decided to ignore the knowledge that Seto probably had no less than twenty cameras hidden in his office. With his very enthusiastic lip syncing no longer sufficient to entertain him from the boredom of his surroundings, the janitor decided to intersperse his work by going out all with his improvised dance moves, and singing (shouting), which resulted in a rather comical sight to anyone who somehow caught a sight of him through the office’s floor-to-ceiling windows.

By the time he reached the last dragon —the final one of the fourteen elaborate dragons that sat in various corners of the CEO’s office—, Katsuya was too busy grooving to his music to feel sorry for himself, or any hatred towards his employer. His motions had become almost automatic from repetition, and after the hundredth time, he had mercifully become immune to the painful stabs from the statues’ serrated fangs, and sharpened scales.

After he was done polishing the final piece, he gave each dragon a quick once over, making sure each did gleam with the same brilliance as Ky’s hair under the ceiling’s spotlights. Satisfied, Katsuya stretched his aching neck, and rolled his shoulders, groaning in relief at the conclusion of his unfairly long workday.

Thankful that it was still before one in the morning, Katsuya switched off his music player, hoping that the little battery that was left in it would last him through his train ride home. He swiftly wiped down the surfaces that had even the faintest imprints of his presence, gathered his cleaning equipment, and engaged Seto’s overly complicated security system before almost skipping out the door in elation at his freedom. With any luck, he’d be able to grab an oden from the convenience store in his neighbourhood before his stomach collapsed into a mini black hole of desperate hunger.

The man hurried to the nearest subway station, cursing himself for not grabbing his thicker coat, and hoping his speed would heat him up as he braved the biting wind. Trying to preoccupy his mind with anything else but the chill lashing against his bare face, he considered how deep the insanity of his boss ran for him to buy, or even commission that many dragons. Even more curious was how the dragons deviated towards their Western counterparts, none really reflecting the elegant serpentine bodies, and the dignified whiskers of the dragons from his childhood storybooks.

He knew Seto always had a fondness for dragon motifs, seeing how the latter always wore an elaborate ring of a dragon coiled around half the length of his ring finger, the generously sized gems of its eyes visible even from a good distance away. That wasn’t even the CEO’s most ostentatious dragon-themed item — auto news sites around the world went ballistic when his boss outright demanded a custom paint job of a ferocious white dragon on his personal McLaren P1 LM. Furthermore, some rumours even suggested that Seto owned a private jet shaped like said white dragon, the nose of the plane its head, and the wings the dragon’s literal own.

Unable to arrive at a better reason as to why Seto adored dragons as much as he did, Katsuya mused that perhaps his boss was secretly into Dungeons and Dragons, which would not only explain his dragons obsession, but also their unusual Western influence, and unique designs. The image of his refined employer clad in heavy purple robes, a polished staff in the grip of his hand as he shouted for his imaginary dragon was almost enough to distract from the cold. Katsuya couldn’t stifle the giggle that escaped, wisps of his soft laugher evaporating into the mostly silent night’s air. Taking the thought a step further, Katsuya imagined that Seto had lost his roll for initiative, ending up rock bottom in the tier, causing the dragon he commanded to singe him instead of the enemy.

Choosing to use failed-wizard-Seto as the default placeholder for his boss in future mentions outside of work, Katsuya continued chuckling as he entered the station. He exhaled the coldness from his lungs, feeling his skin flush at the welcomed blast of heat he was met with, happy to inhale air that didn’t feel like mini icicles piercing his nasal cavity. Noting that his train was due to arrive soon, he instinctively reached into his pocket, fingers searching for the worn plastic of his music player in anticipation of the long ride home.

Finding only emptiness, Katsuya patted his pants again. Feeling panic set in at the absence of said item, he shrugged off his coat, frantically pressing at its numerous pockets, hoping he had slipped it into a compartment he didn’t normally use instead. After he had missed his train, received wary looks from the station attendant at his frenzied motions, and had all but torn his coat apart in his search to no avail, Katsuya anxiously gripped his hips, heavy frown on his face as he tried to recall when he had last seen his music player.

Did I lose it?? Damnit, no way! I can’t afford another one right now! ARGH, today’s been absolutely shit!! Fuckin’ Kaiba… Ugh, okay, I needa calm down. Panickin’ ain’t helpin’. I know I wasn’t usin’ it when walkin’ here… Never do when in da streets this late. Did I drop it? But I don’t recall touchin’, or feelin’ it in my pockets at all when I was walkin’… Or even when I left the office… Maybe it fell out in da lift? But I’m sure my coat was empty, and I wasn’t holdin’ anythin’ when puttin’ it on… Unless I dropped it before that… Storage? Did I even have it–, no my uniform had nothin’ in it when I changed… So that leaves… Oh shit. No, no fuckin’ way– Did I leave it inside Kaiba’s room?!

He surveyed Seto’s office in his memory, combing every corner for the familiar hint of grey until his mind’s eye rested on the item at the foot of the dragon statue on Seto’s desk. Feeling his heart sink into the pits of his stomach at the realisation, Katsuya grabbed the sides of his head, frustrated outcry startling the station attendant who had been eyeing him all this time, the latter considering calling for reinforcements at the younger man’s erratic behaviour.

Why did I have ta leave it on his desk?! Damnit! I needa get it or moneybags is definitely gonna fire my ass! But even if I run I dunno if I can make it back ta catch da last train… And I ain’t got enough cash on me ta cab, UGH! Wait, maybe I can go back super early tomorrow, and be in and out before Kaiba notices….

Calming down now that he had a plan to mitigate what he had originally thought to be his inevitable demise, Katsuya eased into his coat again, blood still pounding against his ears, all the while remaining just as oblivious to the perturbed looks of suspicion the station attendant continued giving him.

Just when he thought he had solved his dilemma, Katsuya suddenly remembered how his boss’ office security rejected all but its owner’s entry outside working hours. Even if he ran back to retrieve his possession now, his efforts would be futile, and he would probably be pinned on the ground with the entire Domino police force pointing their weapons at his back for attempted robbery.

Throwing his head back with a cry of agitation, Katsuya rubbed the heels of his palms roughly into his heated face, wondering how, or if he could find a way out of the mess he was now in. Trudging resignedly into the train, the dejected man plopped himself into the nearest seat, glad that the empty cabin meant his anxious fidgeting, and restrained grumbles of regrets wouldn’t bother anyone else.

As the train pulled away from the lights of the central business district, the station assistant relaxed with a sigh at its departure, relieved that who he thought was definitely an inebriated man hadn’t delayed the end of his shift. Shaking his head, he mumbled about the loosened responsibilities that passed as acceptable in young adults these days, and shuffled back to the station’s break room, tale of said drunk man expectant on his tongue, awaiting the audience of his colleagues over a warm cup of tea.



An incessant beeping broke the stillness of the lazy Saturday morning, its shrillness prompting Katsuya to smack blindly at his phone until the screech of his alarm was snoozed yet again. Groaning at the interruption, he rolled over, and buried his head under the pillow, trying to use that little bit of darkness to escape back into his sleep.

The brightness of the sky outside meant it was likely way after his usual waking time, but since Katsuya managed to push meeting Yugi into the afternoon —the latter being sympathetic to his plight of how it was not da same spendin’ da mornin’ without music—, he was contented to sulk until his fog of self-pity lifted enough for him to get out of bed. Hiroto on the other hand, was less considerate after hearing Katsuya’s plight, choosing to focus on the latter being potentially fired. When Katsuya swung the subject back to his much more important music player, Hiroto simply told him to transfer his music into his phone instead of brooding over the loss of a nearly defunct music player. In spite of the latter’s insensitivity, Katsuya would rather brush it off than to remind the other that said brick of a music player was the first item he’d gotten with his own money, lest he was further teased for his sentimentality. Regardless of how its technology was closer to that of a toaster than current music players, Katsuya was still adamant on using it until the last of its lifespan had been exhausted (naturally, and not from the heel of whatever overly expensive shoe his boss was wearing when he found it).

After unsuccessfully tossing and turning trying to get back to sleep (which was restless anyway given how his dreams were plagued with his old music player forlornly calling out to him from the clutches of his evil boss), Katsuya pulled himself reluctantly from the warmth of his sheets, bleary eyes squinted against the glare of daylight from between his mostly undrawn curtains. Resisting the urge to fall back onto his bed again, he forced himself off his bed, the freezing tiles of his bedroom floor doing wonders to his lethargy.

After taking a very long shower —of which a good half was just standing under the weak pellets of water trying to reconcile the death of his music player—, Katsuya felt the last of his sluggishness dissipate. Finally gathering enough energy to break free from his inertia, he stepped out into the stillness of his apartment, the coolness of the air refreshing as it enveloped him.

As he was very vigorously, and ineffectively trying to wipe his hair with a threadbare towel, Katsuya heard the unmistakable chime of his doorbell. Startled by the sound, he lost his balance as he snapped his head up in response, and ended up crashing gracelessly into the sink. Several unpleasant swears at the inanimate object later, and still wincing in pain, he called out with great annoyance, “Comin’! Just a sec!”

Without missing a beat, the doorbell rang again, this time twice in succession. Now thoroughly miffed at the impatience of whoever was behind the door, Katsuya stumbled out the bathroom, a hand still pressed against his aching back. He paused for a moment, considering if he should hurry to his room for a pair of sweatpants. Mid thought, the bell rang yet again, this time more urgently. Given how thin the walls of his apartment were, Katsuya knew that said person definitely heard the yell he nothing short of bellowed. Deciding that it was said ringer’s fault if they considered his makeshift loincloth too thin a cover, Katsuya rushed to the door mostly still in a state of undress, hands working to secure his flimsy towel around his waist.

He threw the door open, a scowl visible under his dripping wet fringe. “Can’t ya wait! A minute won’t kill ya–“

Instead of the postperson he thought he was berating, Katsuya was met with an empty corridor. More confused than irritated now, he peeked at both ends of the corridor, the complete lack of motion other than his own not helping him find who the culprit was. Mumbling about how pranksters would find any hour of the day to unleash their mischief on the unsuspecting, the blond was just about to shut his door when he felt his toe jab against a crisp material.

Looking down, he saw a small brown packet by his feet, its outer covering very obviously wrapped around its contents, and held together by a rubber band. Not able to recall if he had yet to receive any items he’d bought online, Katsuya bent over to pick the item up for closer examination, barely grazing it before he felt what he thought was the completely secure knot of his towel come loose.


Katsuya felt himself erupt into a shade of scarlet, turning around only to see that the owner of the voice belonged to the reclusive old woman from a few doors down. The same one he’d never seen leave her house more than twice in whole of the past year. Given his luck, it had to be this exact moment during which she decided was the perfect time for some fresh air. He embarrassedly croaked out an apology, snatched up his delivery, all the while scrambling to gather the material of his towel in front of his own package, gripping the cloth to his body as if his life depended on it. Heart nearly leaping out of his throat in humiliation, he escaped back into the safety of his own house with a hasty slam of the door, and away from the accusatory glare, and the curled gnarled finger of his neighbour.

Finally able to put on some clothes, Katsuya flopped on his bed gratefully, mishap from earlier forgotten. He examined the packet, finding it rather odd that there were no stamps or other identifying marks on it, not even his name. He removed the rubber band, and shook its contents out, surprised when he saw not one, but two items fall out.

Even more astonishing was how the familiar glint of dulled grey was one of the things that tumbled out. Katsuya grabbed it, disbelief only abating upon feeling the same worn material that was familiar from years of memory in his fingers. How…?

After giving in to the relief and elation at the accomplishment of what he’d thought was the impossible, his attention was drawn to the other item that lay on his bed. Is that an iPod Touch?! He held it in the light of the late morning sun, the gadget’s golden sheen gleaming in return, and its smooth metal body light and cool to his touch. Katsuya tentatively switched it on (only knowing how to because Anzu’s wonky iPhone required multiple restarts each time they met up), still in shock when he saw the monochrome logo of an apple appear on the screen.

Setting the iPod down, Katsuya pondered as to who would be generous enough to gift him the latest and most in demand music player in the market on top of returning his original Sony mp3 player. His first thought went to his supervisor, who despite his day job had multiple other substantial sources of income. However, since it was a weekend, Katsuya was doubtful that Sol would return to the office save for a reason no less than Ky being held hostage within it. (It also didn’t help that Ky was much more likely than Sol to get him something other than the occasional pork curry rice from CoCo Ichiban.) On the other hand, as likely a candidate as Ky was, not only did he not have access to their boss’ office at all, Katsuya knew that Sol would do everything in his ability to stop his partner from working during weekends.

That meant that the only conceivable option left was also the most unimaginable — that his boss, the same one who afflicted his otherwise pretty darn good existence with complete misery, somehow managed to dig out a sliver of humanity from his blackened withered soul to save Katsuya’s weekend (and his job) from ruination.

He examined the wrapping of the package again, trying to find any hints as to who his benefactor was. Finding nothing that gave away said person’s identity, Katsuya decided to fiddle with the iPod Touch, hoping to see if its contents could point him in the direction of who the gift giver was (or just something that was contrary to that someone being his boss).

He flipped through the contents of the device, finding the default settings and background still in place. The only thing out of the ordinary was how every single song from his own music player had been downloaded into the iPod, including his numerous custom playlists. (That discovery was mortifying, because if this was indeed a display of kindness from his boss, it meant that Seto was now aware of his hilarious, and not at all immature and nonsensical playlist naming skills. His employer shouldn’t fault him for being nothing but truthful when he created FIVE STARS WHEN DRUNK, 2FAB5U and THE SHIT, THE BEST SHIT amongst many of his other gems of playlist titles.)

As he was scrutinising the playlists in the iPod’s library, Katsuya noticed a new addition titled Actual Music for Anyone with Decent Tastes. Now really worried that it was his boss who had set all this up, the blond scanned the playlist quickly. The last of his uncertainty waning, the blond scrunched his face up in disgust at how it was a stuffy mix of classical music and opera pieces. It had to be Seto. Save for his pretentious boss, no one else in the right frame of mind would listen to that posh and out-dated since three centuries ago bullshit of their own free will.

With his worst fear realised, Katsuya fell face-first into his pillow, figuring that suffocating himself was worth stopping the thought of Seto snickering at his brilliance from looping in his head. Still rather dubious at the intentions of his boss —especially with the latter’s history of pernicious treatment of him—, the janitor tried to reason why his employer didn’t just toss his music player away. Instead, Seto chose to (probably get some poor lackey of his to) return it, which didn’t add up to Katsuya especially with the former’s disdain for all obsolete technology.

Now concerned that the device was bugged, or a disguised bomb, or something similarly dangerous, Katsuya gingerly picked up the iPod. Trying to ignore how a part of him actually considered substituting his clunky mp3 player for its shiny new counterpart, he switched it off, and locked it in his safe (even if he wasn’t going to use it, the last thing he wanted was for some opportune robber to nick a present from his boss).

With the object of his deliberation finally out of his sight, the blond decided that he could worry about his boss’ motives when Monday arrived. Throwing on a tee under his favourite jacket, and deciding to go for a pair of ripped jeans (not because he felt badass at how ignoring the iPod felt like he was defying Seto) instead of his usual plain ones, Katsuya grabbed his own music player, ready to toss it into his backpack. The familiar weight and shape of it in his palm triggered a resurgence of relief and jubilation at its return, accumulating into a budding warmth that expanded in his chest, rising into his neck before evaporating from the crinkled lips of his smile.

Ready to leave, Katsuya exited his apartment, steps lighter without the weight of his loss. He greeted a neighbour he passed in spite of how her back was facing him, giving her a chipper hello that clearly reflected how good a mood he was in. When she turned to return the greeting, her eyes widened at the sight of Katsuya, a bony finger jabbed in his direction as she struggled to squawk out her condemnation at the earlier depraved action of the man before her.

Realising who he had just called out to, Katsuya dashed off to the stairwell, shouting a hasty sorry behind him as he escaped what he knew was an impending lecture of how immoral a youth he supposedly was. Stuffing his earphones into his ears, Katsuya decided that despite his faux pas, the day was still one of celebration, and warranted the spicy tunes of THE SHIT, THE BEST SHIT. Music player clasped firmly in his palm and tucked away in the safety of his jacket’s pocket, Katsuya thought that maybe, just maybe, Ky was right, and Seto wasn’t that bad a person.